“Nobody would have bought this show,” says Amy Sherman-Palladino. “Nobody would put this show on a regular network. It just wouldn’t happen. They wouldn’t have put this character on any network.”
The show in question is Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, from Gilmore Girls creator Amy and her partner Daniel Palladino, and the character is Mrs Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a young Jewish housewife in 1950s New York who discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy. It’s hilarious, it’s delightful, and at times it’s pretty risqué.
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From the moment she gives a speech at her own wedding (yes, unusual) and deadpans to her Jewish guests that there’s shrimp in their dinner, it’s clear that Miriam has a wicked sense of humour. But it’s when her husband suddenly leaves her that she really discovers her comic powers.
It would be hard to set any boundaries on Miriam, which is perhaps why she wouldn’t thrive on terrestrial TV. If you reigned her in, you’d immediately kill the comedy.
Mrs Maisel fits into the world of a 50s housewife, with her perfect home and aerobics classes and brisket-making, her weight obsession and impeccable clothing and desire to be a good hostess. But she also fits into this new world she discovers: the world of stand-up comedy. Here she can be foul-mouthed and make dirty jokes, smoke her first joint, offend the morality police and embrace her anger.
“An outlet like Amazon is very, very open to this. This is an unusual series,” says Daniel, who serves as an executive producer. “It’s an unusual title; a network wouldn’t have used that title. It’s an unusual protagonist in Midge; I don’t know that traditional networks would be so interested in the whole Jewish culture that we’re representing.
“It just gives you a freedom to be very specific in a way that I think a lot of the audience is going to respond to because it’s going to be very fresh to them. So that’s a big boon.”
Amy adds: “They understand that they [Amazon] are going to people who have very strong opinions. Sometimes in a network situation, that is a downside for them. They don’t want to battle you to get you to do what they want, they just want someone to do what they’re telling you to do.
“Whereas Amazon is seeking out people who they feel have a very strong point of view and maybe they will give them something that is a little more special. If they have that, then they’ll back off and give you that space.”
It was while making Gilmore Girls that Amy and Daniel clashed with network executives. After failing to come to an agreement over their contracts, the duo left the show after six seasons in 2006 and were replaced by David S Rosenthal for the controversial final season.
Last year’s Gilmore Girls revival A Year in the Life was instead made with streaming giant Netflix.
Now Amy and Daniel have signed a two-year deal with Amazon to make a couple of series of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and develop other projects for Prime Video.
“I’d say that one of the ultimate freedom is that there are no commercials, which we’ve been enjoying just not having to think about all those breaks,” says Daniel.
Amy adds: “It opens your story structure up beautifully because stuff can just flow; you don’t have to worry about selling tampons.”