Television

TV: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 1)

December 30, 2017

Amy Sherman-Palladino brings her trademark, lightning-fast dialogue to the late 1950s in the compelling and delightfully funny The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is the perfect uptown housewife in Manhattan, raising two kids and doting on her husband Joel (Michael Zegen). Her unconditional support of Joel extends to his dream of doing stand-up, for which she regularly bribes the owner of a Greenwich Village comedy club in order to improve his time slot. But underneath Midge’s carefully composed surface is a spontaneous, witty firecracker just waiting to explode — and when Joel unexpectedly leaves her, she improvises her own transgressive comedy set, catching the eye of club employee Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein). Turns out Midge has an uncommon gift, one that Susie thinks she can spin into a brand new career. But Midge’s new passion for comedy flies in the face of everything her strict, conventional parents Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose (Marin Hinkle) have raised her to become.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel hits the ground running with a stellar pilot, then refreshingly expedites its first season arc in eight zippy, tightly scripted episodes. Unfortunately, its New York City is far from diverse and the world of its characters is rife with effortless wealth and unexamined privilege. But it’s also fiercely feminist in its depiction of Midge’s inner struggle between societal/family expectation and the boundary-pushing inner forces that drive her humor and identity. Brosnahan shines in a showy, challenging role, while Borstein and Shalhoub provide spectacular comic support. Overall, an addictive, compelling inaugural season that will hopefully lead to many more.

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