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The first thought as I entered the marvelous world of Mrs Maisel was why am I watching a series of another wife who loves her husband too much and is confined in yet another home of patriarchy?
But as the series progresses, it becomes clear that this is clearly not the case. This is the case of a woman who slowly starts to love her own self and in the process, she makes a life…and some laughs out of it!
“I want to be big, the biggest thing out there!”
Midge Maisel(Rachel Brosnahan), the protagonist of the show Marvelous Mrs Maisel, is a young woman, a mother of two, an amazingly witty wife and a well-to-do upper west-side homemaker whose life is perfect until her husband decides to leave her.
As she chooses the stage to do her drunk rants of a failed marriage, her raw talent and her knack for the right timings get her recognised by a downtown rough girl Susie Mayerson (Alexandrea Borstein) who get moved enough to become her manager.
As the series progresses, we see how Susie encourages her to become a stand-up comic, because she sees the raw talent flowing through her and wants her to be recognised all over the world for the amazing and rare skills she has.
“I have been living alone all my life, and that’s how probably I will die. But I don’t care about being alone, I just can’t be insignificant.”
Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a power-packed series located in the 1960s of New York which strongly narrates the blatant sexism and the stereotypical story of a deeply rooted patriarchal society. And how Midge breaks it down, one stage and one act a time.
As Midge tries to get on various stages to make people laugh, she is constantly faced by superiority and patronization.
In fact, one of her introductions goes something like, “We got a girl comic coming up, Don’t get too excited fellas! She keeps her clothes on”
Commonly mistaken as a singer, when Midge tries to explain how she’s in stand up comedy, she’s often faced by downright discouraging reactions.
For instance, when she’s asked what her gimmick is, Midge says “No persona! I’m just me,” to which she’s replied with “Oh no no no! That will not work. Nobody laughs at a woman when they look at a woman they just want to sleep with her. Do you want to be a thing? You gotta cover up that hole!”
But she’s not the one to cover up that hole. She’s the one to turn outright disgust into comedy and let her work debate for her.
“Everybody is a comic because something in their life went horribly wrong. Men in general run around telling everyone that only men are funny. Comedy is fueled by oppression, by the lack of power, by sadness, disappointment and humiliation. Now, who the hell does that describe more than women?”
One of the most glorious things of the series is the relationship of Midge with her manager Susie. Their contrasting personality creates amazing drastic friction between their worlds and reflects how beautifully the ‘uptown’ and the ‘downtown’ combine together to create a change.
Susie Myerson with Midge Maisel
Susie’s character is way ahead of its time in the way, she devotes herself to make Mrs Maisel a big name. Not only does it portray women empowering women but it also shows how when a woman sets her mind to something and believes in someone, she’ll go to any length to protect her, defend her and make her big. Even if that includes dodging life threats, patronising big names (hence, the life threats) or sometimes even running around with a plunger!
Susie makes sure that she uplifts Midge, thrashes her down for something stupid and even appreciate her when she makes Susie’s club a hit with her performance.
“You have a tight ten, you are a woman with a tight ten. People were peeing their pants tonight, we’re gonna need to buy a new mop!”
Midge brings out the deepest rooted fears of women in a patriarchal society and challenges them through the power of microphone. In fact, in one of the instances, Midge explains to her boyfriend(spoiler!) that how she’s used to all the butt pinching, groping around in the dark, and “accidental touch.” and how she ‘girdles’ her way out of it.
“It’s midnight on a Tuesday and the highlight of men’s evening is seeing a chick fail! Am I supposed to find them intimidating?”
She makes sure that when she gets on the stage, she not only speaks for her, but she speaks for every woman out there who is oppressed or patronized.
“Why do women have to pretend something they’re not?
Why do women have to pretend to be stupid when they’re not stupid?
Why do we have to be helpless when we’re not helpless?
Why do we pretend to be sorry when we have nothing to be sorry about?”
Marvelous Mrs, Maisel is created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the mind behind Gilmore Girls. Amy’s inspiration was her father Don Sherman, who was known as the ‘First Sit-Down Comic’ because he was the first of its kind who used to sit down and joke about the daily anxieties and complexities of life much like Mrs Maisel’s comedy.
The series, so far, has won three Golden Globe Awards (Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and two Best Actress – Musical or Comedy for Brosnahan) and five Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Brosnahan. But most importantly, it has won the hearts of all the striving feminists out there to keep on going in becoming who they truly want to be.
With Marvelous Mrs Maisel, started a revolution of comediennes to come out and be proud of how they reached where they reached. This is reflected in one of the Amazon Prime YouTube’s channel playlist which is a list of Indian comediennes including Kaneez Surka, Prashasti Singh, Aishwarya Mohan Raj etc with each of them performing a gig about their journey, dedicated as a tribute to Mrs Maisel.
As Rachel Brosnan said in her acceptance speech for winning The Emmy for outstanding performance as a comedy lead for Mrs Maisel
“One of the things I love the most about this show is that it’s about a woman who’s finding her voice anew and it’s something that’s happening all over the country right now. One of the most important ways that we can find and use our voices is to vote!”
It is clear that the character of Mrs Maisel has deeply inspired her and continues to inspire the many to become the strongest voices they ever were!