The MAH-velous Mrs. Maisel

As the end of a year nears I find myself reflecting, as usual, on what I read this year. While I will write more about that soon, I realized I also wanted to share my favorite TV show of 2017.

Indeed, she is marvelous. And the show is MAH-velous.

What do I love about the series? I’ll start with the visual. The colors are amazing: vibrant, yet nostalgic and classic at the same time. Each scene is a feast for the eyes.

And the fashion. Oh, the fashion! Of course I find Miriam and Rose’s (her mother) wardrobes to be delectable (even if I probably would not have loved the undergarments). Dressing at that time for women like the Weissmans was both a performance and a chore, with few details overlooked from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Midge knows that what she wears corresponds to her shifting identities in different contexts, and that resonated with me. [I am also grateful that now I can go to bed with “all my goop on my face,” as my husband says, and not have to hide it…]

Not every character is so attuned to the details. While Susie Myerson (played to great effect by Alex Borstein) clearly isn’t swayed by sartorial trends, I deeply appreciate the attention the costumers paid to what she wore, because the clothing adds so much to the larger than life characters.

In addition to what you see, what you hear is a delight. I am an avowed Barbra Streisand fan and to hear her voice paired with the action was perfection. The entire soundtrack is so well thought out it’s hard not to enjoy.

However, the biggest auditory treat is the smart, snappy dialogue. I felt like watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel made me want to up my conversational repartee. The timing, the accents, and the inherit wit and warmth make the show a true standout.

Because of the focus on the verbal I really thought of the series as a book and each episode as a chapter (and, no, it’s not just because it’s a show on Amazon). The characters took shape in my mind between and beyond episodes. I felt like I wanted to know them more. And, as happens with a fantastic book, I dreaded the end because I knew I would miss these people. My heart hurt a little bit at the end of episode 8.

The actors clearly played a strong role here as well. Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the titular character, is a wonder. I kept thinking the part must be close to her real personality for her to play it with such aplomb. When I looked her up I was floored to realize she played Rachel Posner in House of Cards. Quite the transformation!

I know I’m being over the top in my praise, so I will admit two things stuck in my craw a bit. First of all the show has a weird sense of time. How does Midge get out of jail, go to exercise (looking fresh as a daisy) before 10 am, meet with Susie, etc. Oh, and deal with her children? Some episodes move through time quickly, others don’t. Because it’s not consistent at moments I had to pause to place things properly. Second– and I know this is sort of a product of the late 1950s and her social milieu– but it bothered me that Miriam was so uninvolved with her two young children. She is mainly seen passing them off to her mother or a babysitter, and I was surprised they didn’t play a part in her comedy. I also was surprised that while Judaism is front and center, antisemitism isn’t. It’s nice to see a generally positive portrayal (even if the show reinforces some stereotypes) of a Jewish family, but unrealistic to think that made for smooth sailing for Miriam as she moves into the workforce, the comedy clubs (is that part of the reason for the name change as well, which is *very* not Jewish), and out of her uptown bubble.

Because I did enjoy the show so much I *finally* started watching Gilmore Girls to get more of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s dialogue. I know, I know, I’m only 17 years late and it’s right up my Ivy League/New England alley. Getting through seven seasons should occupy quite a bit of time at the start of 2018. I’m only a few episodes in, but definitely enjoying it (and don’t think I didn’t notice Alex Borstein playing the harpist in episode 1, a role similar yet different to Susie).

My runner-up show of 2017 is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a show I came to watch because I read the Kerry Greenwood series. It starts slow, but the lead actress, Essie Davis, makes it worth it, along with the fashion. The books are a bit different (and racier) but both are worth some of your attention.

Being the reality TV show addict that I am, I also have to give a nod to Last Chance U, but that deserves it’s own upcoming post…

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Comments

  1. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Maisel. Still can’t believe you’re just starting Gilmore, but now it will be a treat. There are have been some articles and forums with some criticisms of Maisel that just do not speak to me at all. I love it! (in case that wasn’t clear)

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