The TV show created by Amy Sherman-Palladino is a spectacular dramedy about a reluctant stand-up comedienne in the 50s
The new child of Gilmore Girls’ mother Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is a delightful, rich, vibrant TV series aired on Amazon Video and winner of two Golden Globes, respectively for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Musical or Comedy to Rachel Brosnahan for her portrayal of Miriam “Midge” Maisel.
Midge is Lorelai Gilmore’s spirit sister from another era. Aficionados of Lorelai and Rory can catch a glimpse of their unforgettable wordy crossfires from the very start of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, when she, the bride, gives a toast at her own wedding.
Cheerful, lively, witty Midge has everything a woman could ask for in 1958: a handsome, rich husband, has a passion for stand-up comedy, two children, and a beautiful apartment on the Upper West Side. Under this perfect surface, her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) cheats on her with his secretary, Midge’s children don’t seem to be particularly fond of her and the apartment actually belongs to her father-in-law, who kicks her out after she separates from his son.
Midge, who’s always been more gifted for comedy than her husband, decides to give stand up comedy a go and goes on to perform at the Village club smashed drunk, ranting about her now non-existent marital life and throwing shade at her rival Penny Pann (Holly Curran).
As Midge gets arrested for flashing her breasts to the audience, grouchy Gaslight Cafe’s employee Susie Maierson (Gilmore Girls alumna Alex Borstein) sees more than just a pair of perky boobs. She sees a diamond in the rough: Midge is a stand-up comedienne, but Midge herself doesn’t know it yet.
The reason why Midge doesn’t know she can be a comedienne – a better one than her husband will ever be – is that society has already chosen the mould in which she needs to fit, measuring her tights year after year to stay in shape. If you think this only applies to the Fifties, you may want to think twice. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a period yet modern flawless 8-episode dramedy from which we can still learn a thing or two about how to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, as Mad Men’s Peggy Olson has taught us before.
Midge’s finding for her own place in the world happens through her research for a stage name. She struggles to find one that defines her perfectly, yet she doesn’t want to use her own to protect her family and her identity.
What’s in a name? More than Shakespeare’s Juliet could ever imagine. Midge’s identity as a woman is far from fitting into a monolithic category. She will learn she is a comedienne indeed, rather than just a mother, a wife, a daughter. She is all of these things at once and yet none of them defines her. She will learn – and learn it the hard way – she doesn’t need a man, all she needs is a name. Being known as Mrs. Maisel to her audience feels like a coming out. Midge is finally free to express herself in all of her multiple facets and to give a new meaning to her married name.
Her journey to self-awareness and self-determination features emotional breakdowns, several brilliant acts (and just as many bombs) and an unlikely friendship with her manager Susie, whose surliness hides a lonely life in a down-at-heel studio.
There isn’t a single thing which feels out of place in this TV show. Perfectly timed humour, a comic, honest rendition of New York’s Jewish elite Midge belongs to, and a few Easter eggs for Gilmore Girls fans to hunt. A hint: both involve snow. And to add to it, Gilmore Girls’ very own Lauren Graham will allegedly appear in the second series. Do we need to say more?
If Gilmore Girls’ last four words have somewhat failed the fanbase, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel surely won’t.