“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” dominated the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards back in 2018 when it picked up five total honors, including the crowning “Outstanding Comedy Series” and “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” awards.
Despite its critical acclaim, though, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a show that has seemed to fly largely under the radar among the general population.
It’s unfortunate that the show hasn’t skyrocketed to any kind of widespread popularity, given the fact that, if there is anything the Amazon Prime Video series has proven in its three-season run so far, it’s that it’s exactly the show people could use right now.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” follows the story of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a 1950s Jewish housewife who decides to pursue a career in standup comedy after her life takes a series of unexpected and shocking turns.
As viewers watch the events of Midge’s life unfold, they are also invited into the lives of the people closest to her, including her manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), husband Joel Maisel (Michael Zegen), parents Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle) and in-laws Moishe (Kevin Pollak) and Shirley Maisel (Caroline Aaron).
Along the way, the show also introduces an array of endearing recurring characters, like renowned comedians Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) and Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch).
It’s hard to give a further synopsis without spoiling the show’s events, but it’s no spoiler to say that the show centers on one harsh reality: life isn’t all black and white—there is a lot of gray in between. It’s messy, confusing and ever-changing.
The series is exactly what so many people need right now for that very reason: it cuts to the core of what being human is all about.
Of course, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is defined by its brilliant wit and humor, which are ultimately the catalyst for its award-winning run. The dialogue between its characters is flawless, particularly when it comes to interactions among family members and in-laws that often hit a little too close to home for viewers. It’s no wonder that two of the shows Emmys during its decorated 2018 showing were handed to its creator Amy Sherman-Palladino for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series” and “Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.”
However, it’s hard not to also credit the series’ success to the fact that a show set in a time period that its viewers never experienced is somehow simultaneously one that feels so raw, real and relevant to modern-day life. Quite frankly, the series may not have worked if set in any other time than the 1950s, where societal expectations and standards seemed especially heightened.
What “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” gets right is that it has no distinct antagonist. In fact, the show’s most glaring “villain” is the pressure placed on its characters by themselves, each other (even if unintentionally) and the standards of a 1950s society.
At its heart, the series is about the way its characters choose to react to the pressures and circumstances around them. Do they succumb to them? Do they defy them? Do they ignore them altogether?
Along the way, viewers watch characters fall, fail and grow because of it. Nothing is ever perfect. There is often no black or white when it comes to whether one should root for or against a character’s feelings over a situation or subsequent decision.
It’s easy to empathize with both sides of a conflict throughout the show, which is indicative of real life when it comes to disagreements between a person and someone they love. It’s human nature to want to be right in an argument but to also want to avoid feeling anger or resentment toward the person on the other side.
While the first and second seasons of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” focus more on how characters respond to circumstances largely out of their control, the third season takes a shift toward personal responsibility: how do the characters respond to the choices they make for themselves?
Midge’s development into the third season is especially indicative of this. As she adjusts to her new life, she possesses more control over her own destiny. More than ever, she is opened up to the reality that her choices have consequences, both good and bad.
It’s refreshing to see a show understand and convey so flawlessly that there are no “villains” in the day-to-day life of the average person. Life is rooted heavily in the way people respond to the circumstances surrounding them, to the choices made by the people around them and to the choices made by themselves.
What ultimately results is a series that is equally hilarious, thought-provoking and inspiring—a reality check that people need more than ever.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” deserves every award it has received. After a solid third season, which premiered in December, it has proved that it’s on no track to slow down any time soon.
As the series prepares for its confirmed fourth season, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
Filmnetic Grade: A