Amy Sherman Palladino is a pop culture magpie. Â In Gilmore Girls, she would collect little references to all those movies and songs that you forgot and laced them throughout Lorelai and Roryâ€™s fast-paced conversations. In her newest adventure, Palladino could have potentially been at a disadvantage. Â In Amazonâ€™s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel a housewife stumbles into stand-up comedy and struggles to put her life back together. Â The challenge, however, is that the show is set in the 1950s. Â A decade with pop culture references that are staler than Cracker Jacks from the 1950s to the 2017 ear. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel overcomes this problem by creating the perfect loophole. Â The loophole: the show doesnâ€™t rely on references like the Gilmores did. And yet, even though Mrs. Maisel doesnâ€™t rely on pop culture reference, the show tends to remind me of many of my favorite things.
Ladies with Can Do Attitudes
Midge Maisel is spunky. Â Spunky is a descriptor that is applicable to very few women. Â For the dull, itâ€™s sarcastic. For the assertive, itâ€™s condescending. Â For ladies like Mary Tyler Moore and Midge, they are perfectly described with this adjective. Â Â Midge talks people into better show times with brisket. Â She makes the toast at her own wedding. Â She is even intentionally posed in this iconic position to showcase just how spunky she can be.Â The show is in cheery contrast with the typical portrayal of â€œthe woman scorned.â€
Perfectly Written Memorable Lines
In an odd turn of events, Midge meets Lenny Bruce. Â Midge sees this as the perfect opportunity to get advice from the comedy legend. She asks him if he would prefer to have any other job in the world. Â The result is one of those perfect moments, set-up by perfectly crafted writing. Â Bruce replies:
If there was anything else in the entire world that I could possibly do to earn a living, I would.
I’m talking dry cleaners to the Klan, crippled kid portrait painter, slaughterhouse attendant.
If someone said to me, “Leonard, you can either eat a guy’s head or do two weeks at the Copa,” I’dÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â say “Pass the ******* salt.” It’s a terrible, terrible job.
It should not exist, like cancer and God.
Itâ€™s irreverent, but Lenny proves that he loves stand-up. The moment gives you that flicker that this show is special.
Recently, the fashionable profession on TV to have is to be a stand-up comedian. Â Â Shows like Crashing, Lady Dynamite, Iâ€™m Dying Up Here and the now defunct Jim Gaffigan Show and the potentially defunct, Louie, all show the seedy life of a comedian.
We get it. Â Comedy is tough. Â People bomb.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes at the profession from a different angle. Â Midge sees the challenge of stand-up and is intrigued. Â She isnâ€™t a stand up because she hates herself. Â Â She enjoys having her voice heard and making people laugh. Like the showâ€™s creator, Midge enjoys working and re-working lines to create those perfectly written memorable lines.
Period Piece DelightsÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
There is so much eye candy in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Â The pink Pyrex that holds the brisket is cheery. Â Midgeâ€™s capes are a thing of beauty. Â Iâ€™m even intrigued by the magical face cream that Midge smothers her skin in at night. As a rule of thumb, period pieces get five extra bonus points in my heart. Â But, it’s not just the things in the show, itâ€™s what they are doing. Â The choreographed exercise class that Midge and Imogene (whose name Iâ€™m obsessed with!) take is one of the greatest scenes in 2017 as far as Iâ€™m concerned. Â The world needs more people working out with glass Coke bottles. Â The choreography is unexpected.Â The married ladies workout so they can â€œeat cheesecake.â€Â The divorcees workout because they are desperate. The fast-paced aerobics match the fast-paced conversations that fly by.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel isnâ€™t meant to be studied as history. Â Unlike Mad Men, the show doesnâ€™t set out to be extremely realistic. Midge is a spunky woman who is trying to live her dreams.
Thatâ€™s all the realism I need.