It Will Take Long To Douse The Glowing Embers Of Mrs Maisel
The first thing that struck me after watching Amy Sherman-Palladino’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is the pleasant juxtaposition of witty women against mildly stupid and austere men. It is therapeutic! The show swings a few eccentric women characters like a pendulum, before a male-dominated world; the comedy acting like a prism reflecting the perturbance caused within that world.
Miriam Maisel’s character is probably inspired by the legendary Joan Rivers. And unlike the legend, our heroine falters on the stage.
If the first season chronicles 1950s New York, the second season exposes us to the womb that nurtures that life- cheap pubs and gigs, male comedians sneering at female peers, stigma of performing stand-up, greed, feverish realities of white collar jobs and Bobby (Christopher Fitzgerald) causing a rue over the usage of the words- “dirty stuff” and “pregnant” by Maisel on stage.
When compared to Season 1, the second season dwindles, with unnecessary digressions like the short stint in France and the extravagant Catskills holiday. But, on the whole, the script gathers enough momentum to keep you glued to the screen.
Not Your Staple Diet
The best thing about the show is that it is a far cry from devoutly revolving around one single character for its comic relief; almost every character throws in something or the other. It is the New York of 1950s, and comedy is considered obscene and a taboo, can be only announced in public with hiccups and shame.
Amy Sherman-Palladino does not make Maisel parade as the feminist shero. In fact, Miriam is stoically resigned to her womanly duties, a denizen of Upper West Side fancy parties. It might even disappoint some to discover that she hardly fights back with rage against the restrictions of the world that has held her captive. But, you cannot forget that it is precisely out of these circumstances that we get our pesky heroine.
She might not be the oddball, society’s rejected vagabond that Rivers was. Maisel, although sketched after Rivers, is still the Messiah who marches on stage, demanding equal rights for comediennes in a mustard stained black gown.
“Am I supposed to find them intimidating?” -squinting her eyes at the men standing on the corner “…’cause all I see is a line-up of men who had to get into comedy just to get laid”
Blue Comedy- Miriam’s Hallmark!
Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam Midge Maisel is surreal, almost like a fantasy parade strutting through each scene in a Donna Zakowska costume. While her husband Joel, played by Michael Zegen, approaches stand-up with almost mathematical precision, something to be solved with formulas, the stage becomes Miriam’s personal diary. She is scribbling passages into a microphone for the whole world to laugh at, her biting humour slowly filling up the fissures of her failed marriage.
The comedy is less likely to cause hysterical laughter, stumbling to arouse even mild amusement in some scenes. However, the wit gushing out from the mouth of a heterosexual Jewish housewife, and mother of two is something to behold. The stage on which she performs is funnily set beside the toilet, and punchlines tend to drown away somewhere in the loud flush sounds.
We love our tipsy heroine, her exuberant spirit, her impoverished comedy churned out from the sad monotony of her life; she nails it in a language that gets her imprisoned twice.
Such A Queer Melange Of Odds By Amy Sherman-Palladino
The show ditches any possible stereotype that one could associate Maisel with; Maisel is stunningly feminine with her signature auburn hair, and the crass language verging on obscenity is rationed here to jolt you a bit. She is immensely fond of Lenny Bruce, played by Luke Kirby, yet does not wriggle before taking it out on her privileged chauvinistic peers. She might grieve over her singlehood, yet she calls her father a pimp for bringing home his bachelor colleague.
The essence of the show is that it lashes out on the male-dominated, police censored world of stand-up comedy, harping on the professional struggles of a comedienne in 1950s New York, and the woes of losing out on material pleasures- all subtly communicated through Musical Comedy.
Lenny Bruce- the Sisyphus without his loincloth gives us the ultimate anecdote of spawning comedy out of personal failures. Marin Hinkle who plays Rose Weissman marches feisty, Alex Borstein (Susie) is the foul-mouthed if not a dysfunctional angel, guiding Miriam to travel to her Promised Land.
With Susie’s tongue in cheek comedy, she herself might have been a successful comedienne, if only she had half of Miriam’s privileges. As the camera pirouettes around the duo, it does justice to Sutton Fosters “I Enjoy Being A Girl” voicing Amy Sherman-Palladino ’s depiction of unapologetic and raw femininity.
At times, you cannot help but wonder what these women characters would have been capable of had Amy Sherman-Palladino written a script on each of them. The show is eerily pertinent. It is not restricted to the time period of the 50s, except for the candy coloured sets, Dorothy Draper Espana chests, cameras and period wallpapers. It is not a Johny Lever comedy, but the comedy that, in Mrs Maisel’s language, would close up the holes in your soul.