inspiration for creative women

Dissecting "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

A review of the Amazon original series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", written and directed by Gilmore Girls creator Amy-Sherman Palladino and starring Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” follows Brosnahan’s Midge Maisel, a housewife in 1950s Manhattan who embarks on a career as a stand-up comedian after her husband leaves her.

My love for Amy Sherman-Palladino runs deep. As someone who grew up watching “Gilmore Girls” every Tuesday at 5pm, I have missed the incredible wit and pace of ASP’s dialogue and the quirkiness of her characters. While the Netflix reboot of my beloved childhood show was more or less satisfying (a whole other blog post in itself), I think the Amazon pilot The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is Sherman-Palladino’s finest work in a long, long time.

The show is set during the 1950s on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a world filled with family secrets, gossipy neighbors and Chanel-clad facades of perfect domesticity-– not completely unlike Lorelai Gilmore’s childhood. The two concepts differ most obviously in that ASP’s new heroine Midge Maisel does not have a community of outlandish, sympathetic characters to commiserate with. Instead, it is the lone responsibility of Mrs. Maisel to break free from the grasp of this suffocating society. She is an unapologetic rebel, albeit a reluctant one at first– and Sherman-Palladino couldn’t be any more perfect to write such a role.

In a media landscape now saturated with women taking charge of their careers, home lives and body images, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a historically-accurate departure from that. Midge Maisel is a woman who wakes up hours before her husband to brush her teeth, wash her face, style her hair and sneak back into bed-- all to maintain the illusion that she actually wakes up looking like a Neutrogena ad. And she enjoys it, no less. This woman is reveling in her housewifery, loving her calorie-restricted existence. It’s when her life stops following the plan she, her parents and the entire Jewish community have mapped out for her that Midge is awakened to the real possibilities of life. That she can do more than bake brisket and bribe MCs to benefit her husband’s creative outlets is a stunning realization for Midge, furthered by her friends and family's continued narrow-mindedness for the trajectory of her life. Midge finds creative solidarity in the incomparable and horribly unfashionable Alex Borstein (perhaps now filling the lesbian-before-her-time role that Sookie St. James was originally envisioned to be).

Since the pilot is the only episode currently available, I can only speculate that the series will continue to unfold in more outlandish ways over the coming years. It is important to note that Amazon has signed for not one but two seasons of this show based solely off the pilot, making this is the first show in Amazon streaming history with a multi-season order — an enormous but unsurprising achievement for Amy Sherman-Palladino.