What I love about ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
More and more I am thanking my husband Rob, as he has found some of the most amazing television programming.
Our televiewing habits aren’t what they used to be. I remember a time when, while still living in New York, Thursday nights were huge at my apartment. A pal or two would come over, and none of us would dare answer the phone while “Friends” was airing.
Nowadays, we can binge-watch our favorite shows one after another, thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. It was on this last streaming service that Rob found “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
True, I saw huge billboards in Times Square advertising the show, but it wasn’t until Rob said it was good that I took a more serious interest. And thank goodness I did, because this show is fantastic.
Besides the show itself winning an Emmy, Amy Sherman-Palladino won for best writing and directing, and stars Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein won their own golden statues for best lead actress and supporting actress, respectively.
(Ms Brosnahan also won the Golden Globe earlier this year for the same role.)
Set in New York City in the late 1950s, Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Ms Brosnahan) is living the ideal Upper West Side life with her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) and two children, and her parents (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle) only a few floors away in the same apartment building.
Joel is an aspiring stand-up comic and performs regularly at the Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village, with Midge taking copious notes on his performances, and bringing brisket in a large Pyrex baking dish to get him better time slots. However, one unsuccessful night at the Gaslight for Joel starts a lightning-fast series of events that turns Midge’s life upside down.
Yes, the writing and direction are excellent. Of course the acting is beyond top-notch.
But what I love about “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is how a 1950s housewife living what was the idyllic life for the time period is being given a voice.
In a time when a woman’s place was at the side of a man and firmly planted at home, Midge, albeit accidentally thanks to a bottle of red kosher wine, finds herself with a literal platform to speak about the absurdities of her life, including her husband, children and mother.
In a later episode, after meeting another comedic icon (the fictional Sophie Lennon, played by the hilarious Jane Lynch), she asks why women need to pretend to be something they’re not in order to be successful.
“Why do we have to pretend to be stupid when we’re not stupid? Why do we have to pretend to be helpless when we’re not helpless?” It’s a question that we’re still asking in the 21st century, the battle of the sexes not ever being truly over.
My personal takeaway from this series is that there are shoulders upon which many female entertainers today are standing. In the world of stand-up comedy, Mrs. Maisel gathers inspiration from pioneers like Jean Carroll and Joan Rivers: well-dressed, gorgeous, smart and uproariously funny. These were women that bucked convention, poking fun at the things women were supposed to be: married in their 20s and the perfect homemaker. Nothing wrong with this, but this can’t be what women are only meant to be.
Yes, women can be who and what they want to be. Even via a cruel and hilarious twist of fate.
To my friend, “Glee” alumnus and regular piano bar duet partner Darren Criss, congratulations on winning the Emmy for best lead actor in a limited series, for playing the role of Andrew Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”
And, to my friend and “Miss Saigon” cast mate Jon Jon Briones, how exciting it was to see you onstage at the Emmys! Nakakataba ng puso talaga!