First look Amazon TV review: The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel
Chris Bryant | On 28, Nov 2017
With one of the most recognisable creative voices around, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s defiantly witty, wittily defiant new project, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, was one of the most successful Amazon Pilots ever, almost immediately receiving a two-season order from Amazon Studios. Starring Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards) as a dedicated, happy Jewish housewife in 1950s New York, the show charts her strict family life, her role as a woman, and her newfound fascination with stand-up comedy – and the conflict this causes. Sherman-Palladino’s trademark charm and attitude are everywhere you look. Packed with female empowerment, moments of real emotion, and more quips than anyone can keep up with in one viewing, Mrs. Maisel is far more than a placeholder for that Gilmore Girls-shaped void in your life.
While Brosnahan’s headstrong budding comic is the shining star, she’s flanked by a cast who perfectly portray the wealthy, respectable family she loves, yet tolerates, and the streetwise club crowd, fascinated by Maisel’s talent and attitude. Gilmore-alum Alex Borstein does a striking job of being Maisel’s entrée to the world of comedy, while Michael Zegan (The Walking Dead) walks a tightrope as Mr. Maisel – a childishly ignorant, but steadfastly likeable failing stand-up himself. Alongside Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle and Kevin Pollak as the pair’s parents – all of whom are comically larger-than-life – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel achieves that elusive honour of being stocked with frustratingly flawed but thoroughly sympathetic characters.
While those accustomed to Amy Sherman-Palladino may feel this sounds familiar, it’s Mrs. Maisel’s firm rooting in late-50s New York that draws the show to wonderful new heights. With names like Lenny Bruce, and Redd Foxx being dropped, it’s clear that the show isn’t using stand-up comedy as a prop; it invests in it as an art form. Maisel deconstructs it aloud, allowing the show to not only paint a romantic view of the time period, but also to express the relentless dedication this otherwise ordinary-seeming housewife has to a form of entertainment few people pay attention to.
Overall, Mrs. Maisel is as marvellous as the title suggests. The dreamy world of stand-up comedy – as delightfully dingy as it may seem – is presented perfectly, alongside an emotive family struggle for unwavering respectability. The story of a unstoppable female force demanding to be taken seriously in America, every aspect of this show carries some of the small screen’s best witticisms since, well, Gilmore Girls.
The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.