Rating 5/5 – I admit a bias when it comes to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I love comedy. My wheelhouse might be spaceships and cape and underwear power fantasies but I love stand-up, sitcoms, improve (to a point) and everything to do with the art of making people laugh. I consider “Who’s On First” to be the most brilliant routine ever performed and I am old enough to remember that new episode of Happy Days when a young Robin Williams played the funniest alien since My Favorite Martian. (Look it up, kids.) So this comedy-drama about a happily married woman who suddenly finds her life completely turned upside down, get’s drunk and goes up on stage at a seedy comedy club located in Greenwich village captured my complete binging attention. It has great action, a good cast and the feeling of understanding the personality of the Village helped too. Let dig a bit deeper.
The Marvelous Rachel Brosnahan
I am a fan of House of Cards – if you’re allowed to be a fan of House of Cards these days – but one of the storylines I hated the most was Rachel Brosnahan who played a hooker name Rachel that got caught up in Frank Underwood’s dealing just because she was unfortunate to pick the wrong John at the wrong time. I completely hated how they ended her story. I will give Rachel Brosnahan credit, the character of Rachel is a huge leap from the character of Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel, the fresh face young housewife trying to support her husband in his work and his failing comedy. From the moment when her husband leaves her for a younger woman (practically a teenager) to the first time she steps on stage and her new life as a comedian begins, it was a nicely paced believable journey. The most important part of this is the jokes were actually funny, both on stage and how all the various characters interacted with each other. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is Rachel Brosnahan and no other character could steal this one from her.
The Marvelous Alex Borstein
As much as I loved Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam one of the best characters in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was hands down Susie as the play by Alex Borstein. Susie the foul-mouthed, streetwise veteran of comedy clubs who see’s Mirian’s potential and wants to make her the next big thing. Or the next Lenny Bruce, who we will get to in a minute. Susie is the polar opposite of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She’s been around awhile, knows a lot of comedians because they’ve been through the club she’s work at forever and while experienced in many parts of the business also have doubts and worries but doesn’t like the let it show. This could have been a completely stereotype character. For instance, they could have been the bull-dike stereotype movies and TV shows love to use for these characters. (Seriously, go watch Orange is the New Black for this trope on steroids. ) Susie takes us back to those hard grown characters who don’t take shit but are determined to guide the newbie to their fame the old-fashioned way. In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Susie and Miriam have great chemistry as a 1958 odd couple of the comedy circuit and, in my mind, it completely works.
The Marvelous Lenny Bruce
You cannot talk about comedy without dropping some pretty big names. Lenny Bruce is one of those names. Living in the teen part of the 2000’s it’s hard to believe that you could get arrested for saying “ass” or “shit.” The stories of Lenny Bruce constantly getting pulled offstage by police because he said one of the seven dirty words are legendary. In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Luke Kirby plays Lenny Bruce just as his career and reputation begin to grow. He becomes the imperfect Obi-Wan for Miriam as she gets bit by the performing bug anThe Marvelous Mrs. Maiseld decides to seek his advice. Luke Kirby did a great job and Lenny Bruce and the show does a great job making him an important supporting character without letting the whole Lenny Bruce personality overshadows Miriam and Susie.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Supporting Cast
The supporting cast for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a who’s who list of character actors of comedy. Kevin Pollak and Tony Shalhoub play the fathers of the couple and do a nice job sparing off each other and the rest of the cast. Marin Hinkle is excellent as Miriam’s doting mother a woman who takes helicopter parenting to a hilariously exaggerated degree, and even Wallace Shawn showed up to play Wallace Shawn, a trick few actors can really get away with. But it’s been his thing since Princess Bride and his character fit the world Miriam found herself in.
The Marvelous Greenwich Village
I found The Village between its last real bohemian phase and the dawn of incorporation and gentrification. It’s started with a weird stand-off in a park by Alphabet City and ended in much of that free-thinking, be who you are and fuck the man attitude that drew artists and writers to the place. Plus it’s hard to recognize that once upon a time Greenwich Village was considered a cheap area. The Village has an attitude, a sort of mythic soul you only feel when you’re there. Once upon a time, you feel it as soon as you crossed 14th or Houston, depending on the direction you were going. Comedy has been a part of The Village long before I was born. When you hang out there everyone has a story about seeing this musician or this comedian. The amount of legends born from that area is a legend in and of itself. Did The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel make the village feel like you were at the cusp of the civil rights and hippie era when underground would become a thing and young people with balls would completely change the entertainment industry forever? Actually, it did. Maisel was from the upper west side of the 1950’s when there was a clear split between having and have-nots, black and white. It didn’t shy away from those issues either.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a show worth watching. It’s funny, smart, quick and has great dialogue. The stark differences between life in the Jewish families and life in the Village were nicely done, and everyone got their chance to ham it up or shine. You’ll especially love Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein as unlikely friends turned allies. The characters make mistakes but they’re human mistakes and you never felt anything something was happening just for the sake of the story. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel gave us a great first season and I am looking forward to the next one. On Amazon.