~ by Ashley Bulayo
After receiving multiple awards this past Golden Globes, we had to take a step back and binge watch Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. All I remember of the show was seeing multiple commercials running almost everywhere. Well America, you caught my attention. I gave the show a chance because there has to be a reason why it’s winning so many awards!
Before I rant about why I love the show, here’s a quick summary of the plot: Meet Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan). She’s newly married to Joel Maisel (Michael Zegen). See where the Maisel part of the title comes in? The first episode, we’re thrown into Midge’s prime of married life with two kids and she’s the ultimate housewife. The wife who will absolutely do everything and anything to make sure her husband is happy. This includes getting up in the middle of the night to do your nighttime ritual then wake up early to apply your makeup before your husband wakes up. Yeah, crazy.
Meanwhile, Joel is a corporate zombie by day, an aspiring stand up comedian by night. Each night, Joel and Midge head on over to The Gaslight Cafe for Joel to perform his act. Midge is his number one fan. She takes notes, gives him feedback, even does everything she can to make sure he gets the best time slot of the night. When Midge finds out that Joel’s jokes are actually ripped off a famous comedian, things go a bit haywire. She encourages him to use original content on stage which results in him bombing it on stage. Embarrassed, Joel lashes out on Midge and reveals he’s been cheating on her. He packs up and leaves her with the kids.
One floor away in the same apartment complex lives Midge’s parents, Abe & Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle & Tony Shalhoub). Ninety percent of the time, we could find them caring for Midge’s kids when she’s out of the house. But the moment Joel leaves, she runs to her parents to break the news. Her mother thinks it’s something she did, her father… he’s a bit torn. He was in utter dismay since he has always instilled the idea to find a good man. Apparently, Joel wasn’t a good man.
Outraged by Joel leaving and her parents’ responses, Midge gets drunk and goes to the one place she knows the best: The Gaslight Cafe. Without even having a timeslot, she drunkenly takes the stage and performs an impromptu stand up piece. What seems hilarious to other people is really just Midge telling her life. She’s a natural funny person. This grabs the attention of talent booker Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein). Things are going all good and well until she reveals herself to the audience. Of course, she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she’s drunk. She gets arrested and then we’re off to episode two.
Episode after episode is Midge’s path to recovering from her husband. Susie ends up becoming Midge’s manager and together they work to conquer the comedy space. This took a while to come to fruition since Midge doubted herself to achieve a career as a female comedian. But nonetheless, they crossed that threshold. Together they weaved and bobbed their heads in and out to get Midge’s name out there.
It’s best to keep your eyes peeled and ears even more attentive because things are quick in this show. For it being a period piece, the writing is phenomenal and shows a different side than to what you’re used to in the 50’s. Prim and proper? That’s out the window. With Mrs. Maisel, things are raunchy, real, and relatable.
The thing that’s best about this is Midge isn’t a yearning for Joel back. She’s not fighting or begging at his doorstep for him to come back. She comes to peace with the situation, has one outburst, and brushes her hands clean from it all. No, we don’t see her episode after episode coming up with a gameplan on how to seek revenge. The show solely focuses on one thing: Midge living her life post-Joel. And in a beautiful twist of unconventional plots, it’s Joel who comes begging for a spot back in Midge’s life. See ladies, it’s not always going to be the women groveling. It never has to be that way and the stigma of this is finally paying its due.
As we see Midge’s life progress, Joel’s life only continues to go downhill. In the end, he’s come to the realization his wife is better than him. Better than he could ever be as a comedian. It’s as if we literally see his face say, “What did I do with my life?”
I’m all for empowered women and shows that change the conversation. Or rather, spark a conversation. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel deserves all the awards it earned because hell, the show really was marvelous.