Why We Find The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Mesmerizing
Why We Find The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Mesmerizing
By Marianna Heusler
Babyboomers.com Staff

I must admit when the series first came out on Amazon Prime, I didn’t watch it. Everyone told me how much I would love it, especially since my Honeyspoon Mystery Series also takes place in the 1950s and the series is rich in nostalgia. But I was reluctant to add more money to my monthly bills. Then the pandemic hit and I was staying in. The world had become a dark, dismal and difficult place. Besides I was ordering a lot from Amazon, so I broke down.

From the first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I was hooked. Obviously, nominated for some many Emmys the third year in a row, I’m not alone.

The series is marvelous, mesmerizing, addictive and amazing.

Why?

It’s all in the details. The flawless writing, the rich and complex characterization, the gorgeous clothes, the splendid settings and the spellbinding music

To say that the series is well written is an understatement. The plot may seem simple enough. Midge Maisel, a married Jewish housewife, aspires to be a stand up comedian in the 1950s, defying her friends and her family and her traditional role as mother and wife. But this isn’t just about Midge and her journey. There are twists and turns and unexpected climaxes in this well plotted program as a parade of eccentric characters try to give their lives meaning.

Rachel Brosnahan sparkles as the marvelous Mrs. Maisel, caught between two worlds, as she manages to be both ambitious and vulnerable. When I heard that Tony Shalhoub was playing her father, I had my doubts. I adore him as Monk, the germ phobic detective and I couldn’t see him in another role. But he is brilliant and so is his wife played by Marin Hinkle, who is struggling with her own role as a wife and mother. I don’t know who discovered Alex Borstein as the tough talking, frequent cursing Susie, Midge’s manager, but that casting agent also deserves an Emmy. Borstein is humorous and conflicted as she navigates in a male dominated world. And Michael Zegan is perfect as Midge’s flawed husband.

And, oh my God, the clothes! Such pretty vivid colors and who can forget Midge racing through the streets of Manhattan in her pastel coat and her kitten heels? The fifties were a time when women dressed, even if it was to wheel their baby in a carriage, as big as a Volkswagen, in the park. It was a time when shoes matched a handbag and gloves were coordinated with hats. No running out of the house in sweat pants, just because you were only going to the butcher. To dress in something pretty and bright may seem shallow but I don’t think so. My sister, Betsy, works in a hospital and doctors and nurses, and admin, and janitors all stop by her office every day to take a peek at her colorful outfit and her carefully coordinated accessories. They say it brightens their day. Pretty clothes have the capacity to lift your spirits and, for a moment, you are transported. And The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel did that in spades.

And the settings? Who wouldn’t want to live in those spacious apartments on Riverside Drive ?  The large rooms with the picture windows and the comfortable furniture, the piano, the books, the cozy kitchen, where the table with stacked with brisket and sweets and things we’re now afraid to digest. Who wouldn’t wish for a Zelda (even if at times she was sullen and sassy) to pour our coffee and cut our pancakes and deliver our dinner in our massive dining room to our interesting guests? I loved the episodes when Midge worked in Altman’s. As a New Yorker, it was my favorite department store. How beautifully it was captured in this film – the crystal chandeliers, the glass cases chock full of lipsticks and creams, you could almost smell the perfumed air. At first when the family left for the Catskills I was somewhat disappointed. But not for long. I loved the little world where the Weissmans retreated to every summer, the lake, the boating, the contests, the elaborate meals, the beauty salon, a precious, lovely tradition where we all wish we could only escape.

The scenes in Paris were dazzling and Miami came alive with the bright bathing suits, the blue water, the sunny skies, the lounge chairs and the sweet cocktails.

Whoever chose the music, which ran through the episodes was a genius. The tunes were so synchronized with the characters and their plights. We listened to Doris Day and Peggy Lee, and a young Barbra Steisand. We heard concertos and symphonies in the background as the characters muddled through their daily lives.

But what really sets this series apart beyond the rich characterization, the vivid clothes, the colorful settings and the poignant music is the way it touched on the same issues that we’re still struggling with today.

The series got some negative comments when Midge decided to go on tour and left her two small children behind. She was accused of being a bad mother. In a recent interview Rachel Brosnahn addressed the controversy. She said that far from abandoning her children, Midge left them in the care of two loving sets of grandparents and a very capable father. She went on to say that men go on tour all the time and no one says a peep. The age old question –can you have a marvelous career and be a marvelous mother at the same time?

If you’re a movie star with girls swooning over you, will you destroy the fantasy if everyone learns that you’re gay?

Is it worth giving up everything you own, your job, your apartment, your trust fund, to stand up for what you believe in – to make a point?

How do you live with regret?

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel doesn’t answer these questions but raising them elevates the series from a highly conceived comedy to something deeper and more significant.

The series is like a ray of sunshine and takes us back to a time when the world was bright and shiny. I am grateful to everyone who worked on the program, which brought me so much enjoyment.

I can’t wait for the fourth season!

Marianna is an Edgar nominated author of nine published novels and over a hundred short stories. Check out her latest novel, Mrs. Peabody's Party Line.

 

Image: Peabody Awards / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)





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