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REVIEW | "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, comedy-drama television series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has received much attention in the last two years. The first season debuted back in 2017. Since then, the show has taken home a Golden Globes award on top of five Primetime Emmy awards. The second season was released on Dec. 5, 2018 just a few weeks before Rachel Brosnahan, who plays main protagonist Miriam Maisel, received her second Golden Globes for Best Actress.  
Directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who also directed “Gilmore Girls,” the TV series is set in the late 1950s in New York City. It follows Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), or Midge, a young, Jewish Upper West Side housewife, and her aspiring comedian husband, Joel Maisel (Michael Zegen).
When her estranged husband leaves her for his secretary, her life takes a drastic turn. She is forced to move back with her parents, and after drunkenly finding herself on stage one night, she is thrown into the world of standup comedy. With the help of Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), her manager and a worker at the coffeehouse where Midge does her standup, Midge learns to balance motherhood and her newly found career in a series of humorous events.

The TV series celebrates women’s empowerment by exploring fictional lives of women who choose their own destiny. Multiple events in the show undermine many of the traditional roles of women during the era. During the 1950s, women were encouraged to stay at home. Financially stable women who worked were often considered selfish, as they were thought to put themselves before their family. In spite of this, Midge continues to do as she pleases. Her determination to succeed as a standup comedian left me feeling empowered, as it highlighted her strength.
Throughout the show, Midge often jokes about the roles of women in society, and this was seen as completely inappropriate during her time. In one episode, she says “why do women have to pretend to be something that they’re not? Why do we have to pretend to be stupid when we’re not stupid? Why do we have to pretend we’re not hungry when we’re hungry? By asking these questions in a lighthearted manner, she demonstrates how she does not fit into society, and how she stands up for herself. Thus, the show sends a strong message to viewers, emphasizing that traditional gender norms should not stop women from doing what they love and from speaking up. This message resonated with me throughout the show, and I felt deeply inspired by her actions.

Thus, the show sends a strong message to viewers, emphasizing that traditional gender norms should not stop women from doing what they love and from speaking up.

Although Midge challenges the norms of this time period, the pressures of society continue to affect her in many ways. Many of her habits, such as her emphasis on her physical appearance, conform to society. In many instances during the show, Midge measures her body and only removes her makeup after her husband has fallen asleep. She is very focused on how her physical beauty is portrayed in society, which reveals the complexity of her character. On one hand she breaks most of the traditional values of the era, but on the other hand she physically fits into society by following the beauty standards of the time. This contrast in her personality made me like the show even more, as I could not expect anything from Midge. The director would always find different ways to change Midge’s point of view, making the show extremely intriguing.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” defies societal norms but in a truly entertaining way, which makes it worth watching. The storyline is well crafted and the performance by the actors, specifically by Rachel Brosnahan, are outstanding as they bring the characters to life.

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