Earlier this year, Amazon released a pilot for its new original series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The series is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who is well known for her work on the hit 2007 show, “Gilmore Girls.”
The pilot received great praise with an average rating of 4.9 out of five stars, making it one of Amazon’s most successful releases to date. Because of this, Amazon ordered the first season of the show, which intially became available for streaming in November 2017.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” stars Rachel Brosnahan as the title character of Miriam “Midge” Maisel. Set in the late 1950s, Midge is a typical Jewish-American housewife living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her husband and college sweetheart Joel, played by Michael Zegen, is a businessman who tries his luck as a comedian on the side. Midge is a full supporter of Joel’s interest in comedy and does a lot to help boost his career, including baking brisket to bribe club owners to give him the best show time available.
Joel, who had been stealing acts from the famous comedian Bob Newhart, realized that the only praise he ever got was from routines that he did not write. After coming home from an unsuccessful performance, Joel packs up a suitcase and abruptly leaves Midge the night before Yom Kippur and admits that he had been having an affair with his secretary.
Distraught and heartbroken, Midge gets drunk and goes back to the club where Joel had just performed. She unknowingly goes onstage and begins a drunken rant about what had just happened to her. With an audience waiting for the next act, Midge had their full attention as she went on about her problems such as how she was going to lie to the rabbi on Yom Kippur about the reason Joel left and how she was the best wife he could ever have.
Midge’s unintentional comedy routine is the focus of the season. She meets Susie Myerson, played by Alex Borstein, a woman who works at the club where she first performed and becomes her manager. Throughout the season, the two of them work together to help Midge’s potential comedy career, facing the challenges and criticism that a woman would have to deal with when trying to enter the business.
What makes this series incredible is how well Brosnahan’s character defies the portrayal of the high class housewife. In the 1950s, women were only expected to cook, clean, birth children and cater to their husbands’ needs. Midge also faces scrutiny from her father because he believes that it is her fault that Joel left her. Joel makes various attempts to get back with her, but Midge refuses because she learned that she is capable of much more without him.
Viewers can easily see a coming-of-age aspect of the series as Midge learns how to make it on her own. She breaks away from the stereotypical housewife persona and begins to aquire street smarts from Susie, all while dealing with the prejudice that women received when trying to make it on their own. Midge is a truly lovable character and viewers cannot help but root for her.
Another notable part of the series is the intriguing set design. Ellen Christiansen and Heather Loeffler did an outstanding job of picturing 1950s New York with elegance, thinking through everything from the subway cars to the manually controlled elevators. The only flaw of the set design is in one of the park scenes where viewers can spot modern-day traffic lights in the background. The best sets in the series were the Upper West Side apartments. Christiansen and Loeffler perfectly displayed the high-class lifestyle with their choices in decor and luxuries, like the butlers, elevator operators and housekeepers.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Brosnahan for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy.
The first season consists of eight “marvelous” hours of binge-worthy episodes. The limited amount of content makes viewers want more.