The MarvelousMrs. Maisel is Amy Sherman-Palladino’s newest creation available for streaming on Amazon Prime. And let me tell you, ladies and germs, this show is well worth the binge.The show opens in 1958, and follows the indefatigable Midge Maisel. Midge is a much-beloved upper-west-side housewife who is seemingly in possession of an idyllic life. She has a charming husband, two kids, and a gorgeous, gigantic apartment. In the pilot episode we see just what a gem Midge truly as she whole-heartedly supports her husband in his endeavors to become a stand-up comedian.
However, things take a turn for Midge after watching Joel (her husband) bomb pretty spectacularly at The Gaslight. She also realizes that Joel’s set has been “borrowed” from Bob Newhart. She finds Joel packing to leave her and upon prodding, he confesses that he has been having an affair with his secretary, Penny Pan.
Still reeling from this news, Midge turns to her parents. Their reactions, while hilarious, are utterly un-helpful and at a loss Midge goes to The Gaslight. Midge commandeers the mic and is a roaring success. She also lands herself in jail for indecent exposure, foul language, and performing without a cabaret license.
The episodes that follow are fun, witty, and hysterical. The cast is superb, Rachel Brosnahan gives an exemplary performance as the quick talking and even more quick witted Mrs. Maisel. Alex Borstein shines as Susie Myerson, Midge’s manager who helps her navigate the waters of becoming a stand up comic. Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle also give outstanding performances as Midge’s well-meaning parents. They are supported by a more than competent ensemble and the result is magnificent.
My one criticism of the show is that it is pretty heavy handed with Jewish jokes. For instance, the show is rife with Jewish fathers complaining about how much things cost, and Jewish mothers guilting their children. It isn’t dissimilar to the type of stereotyping and jokes that run rampant in 90s sitcoms like the Nanny. However, Amy Sherman-Palladino was raised by a Jewish father and Southern Baptist mother, so it’s not surprising that she felt comfortable including these jokes. Also the show is loosely based on the life of Joan Rivers, who herself joked widely about being Jewish.
Regardless, TheMarvelousMrs. Maisel is delightful. Midge Maisel is a quirky, lovable protagonist. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for any midcentury tv show or movie, hence my deep and abiding love for Mad Men. But my fondness for TheMarvelousMrs. Maisel is more than that. It presents a highly entertaining and although funny, thought provoking show. Aren’t we glad that we live in a world where women no longer get arrested for swearing in public? And how did such a world ever exist? While the question of how is not necessarily addressed in this wonderful first season, we do see our heroine fighting the good fight. We see her persisting despite the odds. We see her daring to try something new, and we see her succeeding.