It’s no secret ’round these parts that I love films and television set in the midcentury almost as much as I love the films made in the midcentury. Mad Men, plus cancelled-too-soon series like Manhattan, Bomb Girls, Pan Am, and Good Girls Revolt have been among my favorite TV creations in recent years.
Speaking of Good Girls Revolt, I’ve been pretty mad at Amazon for getting rid of that one, but I’m happy to say they’ve redeemed themselves… not only by bringing out a fantastic new midcentury series, but by casting one of Manhattan‘s regulars in the starring role!
Rachel Brosnahan, who played the wife of a nuclear scientist on Manhattan, has now earned a Golden Globe for her starring role as Midge in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Midge (proper name Miriam Maisel) is a housewife living in late-1950s New York City. Her husband, Joel, is a businessman by day and wannabe comedian by night.
Midge is supportive of her husband and tries to be the perfect wife, but her world is turned upside down one night when she learns that her husband has been having an affair… and that he stole some of his best routines from Bob Newhart.
What’s a gal to do on a night like this but to get a little tipsy? Midge finds herself at the Gaslight Café, where Joel usually performs. On a whim, she gets on stage and begins ranting about the failure of her marriage.
She wins a lot of laughs from the audience, and decides maybe Joel isn’t the comedian in the family after all. With the help of Gaslight employee Suzie, she decides to give her own stand-up career a shot.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the woman responsible for Gilmore Girls, so you can expect a lot of fast-talking and quirky characters. The show is wickedly funny and had me laughing out loud several times each episode.
Brosnahan’s award at the Globes was very well-deserved. I loved her on Manhattan and am so excited to see her excelling in this role. She’s the perfect Midge — spunky, outspoken, talented, and confident… but not always so sure of herself, and not invincible against the problems she faces as a woman in the comedy world, or as a newly-minted single mother.
The show serves its story well by focusing very closely on Midge and her journey, not following side characters in their own subplots or switching character perspectives too often. Brosnahan’s comic timing is fantastic, but she also brings a genuine emotional impact to the ups and downs of her character’s life.
The series balances comedy and drama very successfully, exploring marriage, family, friendship, and what it meant to be a woman in the midcentury. (Some fascinating parallels and contrasts are drawn between Midge and her mother, for example, and the bond that grows between Midge and Suzie is great to watch.)
On top of all of that, the costumes and set design are stunning, from the neon signs to the dark-cornered comedy clubs, the brightly-colored dresses to the perfectly coiffed hair.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel deserves every bit of praise it’s been getting and earns a very high recommendation from me! Catch the first season now on Prime Video.