If you ever needed a reason to invest in Amazon Prime, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is it. The writers and producers of “Gilmore Girls,” Amy Sherman-Palladino and husband Daniel Palladino, have done it again with this series following a female stand-up comedian in 1950s New York.
The show follows Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) as her marriage begins to crumble and she tries to find her place in the world through comedy. Audiences fall in love with Maisel from the first scene, when she gives a speech at her own wedding, cracking jokes about her whirlwind relationship with her fiancé Joel (Michael Zegen) and her Jewish heritage. And they continue to be enraptured by Maisel as it’s revealed that her husband, a businessman and aspiring stand-up comic, is cheating on her with his secretary. This type of news is always emotionally devastating, but in a more conservative 1950s era America, it was especially tumultuous.
Maisel winds up going out to one of her husband’s old comedy haunts in a fit of emotions and ends up being much better at it than he is, providing original content and genuine emotion, which he very obviously lacked. She falls into a quick friendship and business partnership with unconventional manager Susie Myerson (played by Alex Borstein, a Palladino favorite).
As a perfectionist, Maisel is wholly determined to succeed at that which her husband failed. She keeps immaculate notes in regard to the crowds’ responses every night and religiously studies other comics, finding herself immersed in a world she didn’t know existed. As a newly independent woman, she explores her city, she gets in trouble, but most importantly, she finds herself.
The show depicts the period wonderfully. Taking place primarily between uptown New York in the Maisel’s upscale apartment building and the Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village, the colors pop, the outfits are spectacular and the sets are straight out of a vintage store. From Everything down to the clunky, original “speaker-phone” and the Pyrex casserole dish that Maisel makes her trademark brisket in, the setting is spot-on. The gasps that come with a woman going out on her own as a single mother, getting a job and pursuing racy comedy to boot are all perfectly fitting of the decade. Maisel’s independence is boundary-pushing for the 50s, but still hits home as women’s voices are just starting to be heard by modern media during this era of the “Me Too” campaign.
The soundtrack is also exceptional, pairing classic, popular songs from the period like Barbra Streisand’s “In Old Peking” and Anthony Newley’s “A Wonderful Day Like Today” with emotional montages or comedic conversations. The episodes’ credits also always run in tandem with an upbeat song from the time.
“Music has always been a little like a character to us,” Sherman-Palladino said to Vulture.com.
Brosnahan stuns. As a relative newcomer to the spotlight, she brings Midge Maisel to life, delivering witty monologues effortlessly and bringing strong emotion to the scenes where her marriage and previously perfect nuclear family and social circle are all but falling apart. Her comedic timing and sarcasm never disappoint.
While Brosnahan is, of course, the star, Midge and Joel’s parents make a valiant attempt at stealing the show. Midge’s father, the scholarly and scorned Abe Weissman (Tony Shalhoub) delivers the perfect amount of disgruntled, slightly disappointed fatherly advice and has a hilarious rapport with Joel’s father Moise Maisel (Kevin Pollak). Breathy, ultra-feminine, stereotypical mothers Rose Weismann (Marin Hinkle) and Shirley Maisel (Caroline Aaron) also have an amazing chemistry, sharing a dramatic conversation in regard to the state of their kids’ failing relationship.
Since its release in March of 2017, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has racked up a slew of awards, including the Golden Globe for Best Performance to Brosnahan, the Golden Globe for Best Television Show, Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Comedy Series and Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series also to Brosnahan.
The second season will likely begin shooting in spring of this year, but no air date has been released yet.
Julia Mancini is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.