Season 1: 5 stars
Season 2: 5 stars
Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a period comedy-drama set in 1958 Manhattan, New York. It follows the self-discovery journey of Mrs. Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a housewife-turned-stand-up-comedian. It’s created by Amy Sherman-Palladino who is best known for creating the cult classic Gilmore Girls. Since its initial release in 2017, the show has been well-received, most notably earning 34 Emmy nominations and winning 16. Believe me, it’s definitely worth every hype.
The premise begins with Mrs. Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan), an upper-class Jewish American housewife whose husband has an affair with his secretary and leaves her, and from there unexpectedly stumbles upon a career in stand-up comedy. The story plays out as Mrs. Maisel faces immense pressure from her family to return to the so-called regular life all whilst she shows herself in a male-dominated industry. There aren’t a lot of elements but the few that it has are fleshed out well to always keep the plot interesting enough to move forward, coupled with absolutely delightful characters delivering witty line after line. There’s always something to look forward to in the story, but the highlight of the show has to be the characters.
The character of “Midge” is an interesting one - it’s so natural to fit every expectation of an elegant 50’s lady without being overly stereotypical. She is likable from the very beginning - smart, chatty, graceful, and unbelievably hilarious. Sherman-Palladino’s sharp writing has molded a multidimensional character with incredible one-liners, and Brosnahan’s superb acting brings this character to life. I especially love how the theme of feminism is explored through the lens of Mrs. Maisel, where she seeks feminism not for the sake of it but is rather motivated by her passions. This perfectly captures the essence of the awakening social movement fueled not by sudden revelations but simple everyday matter.
The supporting cast also shapes this show in many ways - I love how each and every single one of them is portrayed. First I was beyond thrilled when I saw Lenny Bruce (played by Luke Kirby) appearing in the first episode. If you didn’t know, Bruce is a well-known stand-up comedian of the time in real life. In the show, Bruce serves as a friend and champion of Midge. I can understand why Sherman-Palladino could not resist incorporating such a character - and I’m all for it. Second of all Susie Myerson (played by Alex Borstein) is Midge’s manager; every scene with both of them is a definite laugh-out-loud. Midge’s family - her husband Joel (played by Michael Zegen), Rose Weissman (played by Marin Hinkle), and Abe Weissman (played by Tony Shalhoub) all are such fun and characteristic roles that helps build a necessary layer to the show.
Another favourite theme of mine explored in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the idea of “tragedy fuels comedy,” which I feel like we have all known all along but no one really points it out. Midge’s monologue hits so close to heart and best summarises the rising genre of tragicomedy, “Comedy is fueled by oppression, by the lack of power, by sadness and disappointment, by abandonment and humiliation. Now, who the hell does that describe more than women? Judging by those standards, only women should be funny.” This is also exemplified by Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag.
Last but not least, we cannot have a review of this show without shedding light on its outstanding costume design. Let’s have a round of applause for the costume designer Donna Zakowska, who took the extra mile and custom-made all of the costumes to stay true to the 50’s fashion. Midge’s wardrobe stars the timeless, classic “New Look” silhouette that accentuates the hourglass figure with an emphasis on the shoulder line and the waist. I love Midge’s top-to-toe rouge pink outfit with a tea-length dress and monochrome coat and matching beret and purse. Every detail comes together to shape to the role of Mrs. Maisel, where through fashion we can see how she’s still putting her best foot forward, embracing life with confidence and cheer.
The third season premieres on December 6, 2019, on Amazon Prime Video. It’s currently at the top of my binge-watch list, and I am in desperate need of a healthy dose of the fifties comedy, fashion, and charm. To quote Mrs. Maisel, “Thank you and good night.”