Did You Hear The One About The Nice Jewish Girl Whose Husband Left Her?
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Review
Amy Sherman-Palladino’s series have a rhythm and breakneck back and forth that very few TV writers, with the exception of Aaron Sorkin in his prime, have been able to match. Working with her husband, she created two of the most iconic females in all of TV, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore on the incredible Gilmore Girls. One of the greatest series of the 21st century, she has never quite been able to equal it, though it should be admitted that in neither of her previous incarnations, did she get a fair shot. That, however, may be about to change.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a major change of pace for the Palladinos, in that it is a period piece set in early 1960s New York City. Midge Maisel starts life as the complete opposite of every woman in a Palladino series — she’s happily married, she has two children, and in addition to her husband, Joel, having a successful job, in their spare time, he works as a stand-up comic in Greenwich Village. Very quickly, though, the bottom falls out. Joel leaves her for his secretary, Penny Pan, and her parents Abe and Rose give absolutely no support — Abe (Tony Shalhoub, who hasn’t been this good in years) tells her she should have tried harder, and Rose (Marin Hinkle, equally good) goes to her gypsy friend to find a cure for this impending divorce. You wouldn’t think that things could get worse from her, but they do, as her father-in-law (Kevin Pollak) tries to control his son’s relationship, and then when it becomes clear the marriage is doomed, takes their upper West Side apartment from them.
This is a scenario that Lorelai no doubt endured, but this being the 1960s, Midge has even fewer options. So she finds herself getting hammer, and going to the same nightclub her husband did, and delivering a far more blistering and hysterical routine than Joel ever did. (Of course, the fact that he ‘borrowed’ his best material from Bob Newhart didn’t help.) She is spotting by the talent manager, an obvious lesbian, Susie (Alex Borstein) who tells her that she may have some of the greatest potential she’s seen in awhile. She has to avoid getting arrested at the end of each of her routines, but then I’ve only seen two episodes so far.
A Sherman-Palladino series is, inevitably, only as good as its lead actress. For Gilmore Girls, she got the terrific Lauren Graham. For the criminally undervalued Bunheads, she got the legendary Sutton Foster. And for this show, the title role is being played by Rachel Brosnahan. At first glance, Brosnahan would seem an unlikely fit for this creator — her main work has been in drama, notably House of Cards and Manhattan. But considering that most of her material revolves around delivering hysterical monologues, Brosnahan more than demonstrates that she is up to the challenge. She’s always been a great talent before; Mrs. Maisel demonstrates that she can definitely carry a show, particularly considering how heavy the talent is for this series.
At this point, I should probably mention that this is an Amazon series, so not only are the Palladinos able to turn out fewer scripts than they have to, they can use all the foul language that the WB never let them (and that we never quite got to hear on Mad Men, which this series does echo at times.) The series has already gotten heavy award consideration from both the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Critics, with nominations for both the series and Brosnahan. It may be too early to say that this will be the first real shot this talent has for an Emmy (did I mention how badly they were jilted for the entire run of Gilmore Girls?), but its clear that this has some of the potential to be one of the best shows on any platform. Let’s hope that the Emmys consider this like they did Transparent and not Mozart in the Jungle.
My score: 4.5 stars.