TV Review – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Finally. A hero’s journey that has Marvelous traveling companions.

(Caution: minor spoilers ahead.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon’s ambitious new series. I suppose I expected something similar to Gilmore Girls which was also created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. There are definitely a few similarities: strong female protagonists, well-written, rapid fire dialog and broad characters who are often “larger than life.”

What I didn’t expect was a plot-driven mix of comedy of with a heart-racing, palm-sweating, season-ending climax.

Rachel Brosnahan plays Miriam Maisel, a young mother in the thick of New York’s Post-War Jewish community. She’s married to Joel, a businessman and an aspiring comic who soon leaves her for his secretary. But what seems like the end of Miriam’s life as she knows it, soon gets a new start when she discovers that she’s the real comic of the family.

Assisting her on her journey are her doting, nagging parents, her perky coworkers at the department store makeup counter and, most importantly, her manager, Susie Meyerson (the fantastic Alex Borstein.)

I always admired the casual-ness of Gilmore Girls. But the fictional setting of Stars Hollow always felt like Hollywood’s idea of small town hokeyness. And it was hard to take seriously because of the often rudderless main characters.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a much more evolved show with real locations, fewer episodes and much higher stakes. After Joel is put in the doghouse, Miriam and Susie’s relationship takes center stage. Like Gilmore Girls, this show is about women and how they help each other survive in a world that is most often tilted in men’s favor. Miriam and Susie’s relationship has a complex evolution, but their moments together always feel earned and real. They fight, they make up, the have victories and heart-breaking failures, but, in the end, you know that they have each other’s backs.

And about that ending. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but suffice it to say, I was literally on the edge of my seat. I know. It sounds unbelievable, but the climax of the season comes at just the right time and is so satisfying to watch. I haven’t felt this satisfied by a season finale since the series finale of Parks and Recreation. And some of the supporting roles are so good: Kevin Pollack, Tony Shaloub and Wallace Shawn. And Jane Lynch has an amazing cameo as a veteran female comic whose onstage persona is in direct contrast to her real life – something that Miriam finds hard to swallow and eventually leads to some major fireworks.

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