Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a revelation.
It’s the kind of drama that you don’t see very often on screen, but paradoxically it’s also a drama that will feel super-familiar to many viewers because Amy throws in so many of the ingredients that made us love Stars Hollow and Emily and Lorelei and Rory so much.
At the centre of all the action is Mrs Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a young 1950s Jewish housewife in the fancy part of New York who is living the perfect life with her husband Joel (Michael Zegen).
But when Joel unexpectedly announces he’s leaving, she gets drunk and heads to a comedy club where she unleashes her inner stand-up comedian. And by “unleashes”, we mean, “spontaneously delivers a side-splittingly funny rant about her husband and his affair with his secretary who can’t even operate an electric pencil sharpener”.
She is “discovered” by the dive bar’s sardonic employee Susie Meyerson (Gilmore Girls’ “Miss Celine”, Alex Borstein) who is determined to make her the Next Big Thing, even if New York’s morality police aren’t too keen on this posh Jewish woman and her racy humour. Mrs Maisel is suddenly living in two worlds: her old, respectable life and the messy business of stand-up comedy.
Brosnahan has impeccable comic timing, so it’s no surprise that Susie pricks up her ears when she first hears Midge’s raw talent come pouring out in a drunken rant on stage: it is absolutely believable that she would blow people away and surprise them with her searingly honest humour.
Here’s a show with characters who are endearing and funny and fierce, but also wonderfully infuriating. It’s a celebration of female friendship, independence and self-discovery, and it also has the father/daughter and mother/daughter relationships and conflict that made Gilmore Girls so compelling.
Oh, and this is an Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino drama – so all the dialogue is quick-fire, extremely smart and damn funny.
And speaking as a Jew-“ish” person, it’s also pretty wonderful to see this 1950s New York Jewish community on screen. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel manages to avoid being stereotypical, even with all the self-deprecation and “Jewish humour”: at heart, it’s about finding the funny side of everything, even your own emotional suffering.
In fact, Midge actually reminds me of another Jewish icon: Barbra Streisand as the sardonic and hilarious Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Both of them respond to rejection by becoming furiously funny.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel has a certain lightness to it, a sense of joy and genuine warmth. It has the same special something that has kept fans returning to Gilmore Girls as a comfort-watch for decades and that earned it a cult following.
And if you find yourself just as addicted as we did, don’t worry: there’s already a second season on the way.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season one will launch on Amazon Prime Video on November 29th 2017