After pop culture classic Gilmore Girls and the short lived Bunheads, writer/director/producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and writer/producer Daniel Palladino are back with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Quirky small towns are traded in for New York, but the trademark fast talking heroine stays. And since the titular character of Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is a 50's housewife turned comedian, she might just be the Palladino's most relevant creation so far.
“What I didn’t want to do–because it had been done so often before–is write a woman living in the ’50s gazing out the window wondering if there’s more to life,” said Sherman-Palladino to TIME magazine. And she definitely didn't. Her latest lead loves her life. First we meet her as the perfect housewife, taking pride in looking beautiful and keeping up with measuring herself every day. But as the pilot nears it's end, Mrs Maisel's perfect bubble bursts, and she is drawn towards the stage, finding herself drunkenly doing stand up. As she realizes later, it's something new to love and find meaning in.
It's the transition to comedy that makes Palladino's period piece so contemporary and some might even say necessary. In the middle of stories of sexual assault and how women often are mistreated in the entertainment industry, the female helmed show with a strong female lead, portraying one woman's transformation and newly found independence, is a breath of fresh air. And then of course there's its inherent relevance because of what we now know about Louis C.K. A male comic who's sexually harassed women and sometimes in doing so has stood in the way of female comedians careers.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel addresses what it's like to be a woman in a men's world. In one episode Midge gets called out while she's on stage, by a man who says that she is not funny, because she's a woman. And in another even a female comedian, played by Jane Lynch, tells her that “Men don’t want to laugh at you. They want to fuck you." As you might guess all of that only makes Midge's drive stronger.
Even as Midge fights sexism and hones her voice, the show doesn't get dark or desperate. Palladino's ever so quick witty pace never slows down, and the titular character's charm doesn't fade. If anything, she only grows more interesting and well rounded during the 8 episodes. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel begins as a story about an overlooked woman (she's much funnier than her husband who attempts and fails at stand up), but by the end, that's not something you can call Midge (or Brosnahan, who does a fantasic job and shines during the stand up scenes) during her final performance.