The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Streaming on Amazon Prime
Metadata: 2017 | TV-MA | 1 season, 8 episodes, 50m each
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Why I watched: After The MMM came out last year, my sister harangued me until I watched it. We both loooooved Gilmore Girls, which was created by the same duo responsible for MMM, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. Amazon has announced that Season 2 is coming out soon, so what better time than now to re-watch Season 1?
You might also like: Well, Gilmore Girls, of course, which is streaming on Netflix. (You can just skip A Year in the Life, the ill-fated 2017 reboot also written, disappointingly, by the Palladinos.) Bunheads (2012) on Hulu, created by Sherman-Palladino, was canceled after only one season, and it often graces lists of shows that were canceled way too soon.
Sorry Gilmore Girls, but The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—a dramedy about comedy—is hands down Amy Sherman-Palladino's best work. Set in 1950s New York City, MMM introduces Miriam "Midge" Maisel (played by the triumphant Rachel Brosnahan), a glamorous young Jewish housewife who has absolutely everything figured out—until she doesn't. Her signature characteristic is masterfully controlling all aspects of her seemingly-perfect life: she has a fancy education, a wealthy husband, two kids ("a boy and a girl"), a beautiful home, a perfect figure. If she has a profession other than wife and stay-at-home-mom (already a full time job), you could say she's a "fixer."
Midge's husband Joel, a Vice President at some firm or another, doing who-knows-what, aspires to be a comedian. A few nights a week, he and Midge head to the Gaslight, a club in the Village, so he can practice his routines. Inevitably, he secures terrible slots in the wee hours of the morning, and, with equal inevitability, Midge fixes it. She cooks perfect brisket and uses the delectable meat to bribe the club manager each night to get Joel a better performance time. She takes notes on his performances in a little pink notebook and goes over them with him each night. It's a fun "couple thing," one that Midge really leans into, until the night Joel performs a routine that isn't his. The thing is, she realizes, Joel isn't really that funny. But Midge really is.
In perhaps the funniest scene of the pilot episode, Midge isn't actually trying to be funny. We watch her get into bed with her husband—with full make up on—and then wait until he falls asleep, before getting up to remove her false eyelashes, scrub off her makeup, apply cold cream and foam rollers, and crawl back into bed. She wakes and rises before dawn, and applies makeup (eyelashes included) and perfume, removes the rollers, brushes her hair, and gets into bed for the third time that night. She pretends to sleep as Joel wakes and gently teases her for sleeping through the alarm clock. We are to assume she has done this every day of her marriage, all four years of it. It is totally hilarious, if cringe-worthy (relax, girl!), but it's also a brilliant decision on the part of the show. This close attention to Midge's nightly routine juxtaposes splendidly with the new nightly routine she soon adopts.
For all Midge's herculean efforts, by the end of the first episode her perfectly arranged and veneered life has utterly fallen apart—and right before Yom Kippur, when she is set to have the rabbi (a real coup!) and thirty other guests over to her home to break fast. As she is bailed out of prison the morning of Yom Kippur (yep, that happens), she says to no one in particular, "I had it all. I had everything I ever wanted. And it's falling apart." What happens over the the course of the next seven episodes is supremely funny and touching.
For the love of all that is holy, watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel already. And if you already have, watch it again. Trust me, it's even better the second time around.