Amazon Prime Video’s pilot scheme is an interesting one. It allows fans to engage with shows and let Amazon know which ones are worth making full series of. It can be really disappointing when your favourite show doesn’t get made but entirely rewarding when finally that full season comes along. It is usually quite a long wait though so be prepared to suffer for your dedication to anything new that comes along! One such gem is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which made its pilot debut way back in March to rave reviews across the board. Led by Rachel Brosnahan, best known for her Emmy nominated role in House of Cards, Mrs. Maisel’s pilot had it all. Drama, emotion and plenty of laughs which is no surprise as the show was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino of Gilmore Girls fame. Only time will tell whether Mrs. Maisel will reach such heights but early indications definitely show that Sherman-Palladino has done it again.
You could argue that Mrs. Maisel is the show we need today here in 2017. Our titular character is a strong, confident woman pushing her way through the world with her imperfect nature and determination to succeed. Miriam (Brosnahan) certainly has her struggles, especially when it comes to her marriage to Joel (Michael Zegen) who decides to leave her in the opening episode for his secretary. Yet this heartbreak drives her towards a drunken meeting with a stand-up stage and the rest is history. What started off as her husband’s dream suddenly falls at her fingertips and everything is about to change. With Susie Myerson (Family Guy’s Alex Borstein) by her side, the world is their oyster and her talent deserves to be seen. As you can imagine it’s not quite that easy though.The best thing about Mrs. Maisel is the cast who feel absolutely perfect for their roles across the board. Brosnahan has such a power behind her performance that mesmerises an audience and makes her so relatable that you can’t help but support her. When she laughs we laugh with her. When she feels down we want to pick her up again. Miriam, aka Midge, is such a rewarding character to invest your time in that you so desperately want her to be happy and for her to find success. She may be a little potty mouthed and unpredictable, especially when drunk, but it’s those livewire moments that anchor the more mundane and depressing reality of the real world. And her utterly bizarre friendship/working relationship with Susie makes for some fantastic scenes. This is Borstein at her absolute best.
Credit also to Tony Shalhoub, known to many for his eight seasons as Adrian Monk, who encapsulates Midge’s father Abe completely with all his frustrations and disappointments and difficulties in life. It’s clear that he absolutely loves his daughter but he also has certain expectations of her, as well as wanting his own life to be far less complicated. He’s a real highlight whenever he’s involved, playing a father with very traditional values and views who has to learn to cope with his daughter’s more modern approach to life. The whole show deals with an ever-changing landscape on family values and religion in the 1950s, especially the challenges of being Jewish, and Mrs. Maisel highlights how it’s tough from both angles – as parents and as a daughter.Beyond all the personal drama we get to see Midge have a lot of fun and branch out into her own world. While her husband is stealing material from Bob Newhart, she’s sat there with a notepad writing her own ideas down. Her thought process never stops and she’s always looking for humour even in the most difficult of circumstances. Why not use a broken heart to your advantage? She starts to realise that what seemed like a perfect life previously wasn’t that at all, for her or her husband. Even if she’s getting arrested for public indecency and bad language and other things, at least now she’s free and doing something she actually loves.
And that’s exactly what The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is about – Midge’s journey into becoming her own person with her own identity. It shows comedy as a male dominated world, both on stage and in the audience, but she gets up there and does her thing with pride. Does it go right all the time? Absolutely not, and sometimes she completely bombs like any other good comic did back in their primitive days. But much like after her marriage breakup she comes back stronger and learns from the experience. Midge learns to take control, although the repercussions are never ignored and Sherman-Palladino loves throwing a spanner in the works every so often. The course of true love never did run smooth for our heroine, whether that’s with a man or her comedy.
The series only runs for eight episodes but allows the characters enough room to breathe without getting stretched out with filler. We even get a few fun guest stars like Glee’s Jane Lynch to provide a few added sparks along the way. But this is very much Rachel Brosnahan’s show and it wouldn’t be half as successful without her ability to charm and devastate in equal measures. Mrs. Maisel isn’t a barrel of laughs from start to finish like it could be, but instead gives a much-needed backstory to its main cast and allows you to fall in love with them. By the end of the season you feel as if you’ve been on a complete journey with Midge and it’s a hugely rewarding experience. I had high expectations after the pilot and thankfully they were met and even exceeded in places. Mrs. Maisel is indeed as marvelous as the name suggests.