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Television Review

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Review – The Stand Up show that quickly runs out of laughs

Ayesha Askar-Harris questions the lingering popularity of one of Amazon's biggest hits

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel! Or rather, maybe not so Marvelous – perhaps just mediocre. I’m a sucker for the mock-50s aesthetic that makes even the grungiest parts of 50s American life look glossy, but I think The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is perhaps a little bit too Marvelous for her
supposedly so hap-hazard life.

It took me a while to dislike Mrs Maisel. I was stuck with things to watch and then Amazon flaunts some bright pink and a charming female lead and I’m set! The first episode had me. I saw a woman who was a victim of her time, a woman trying her best and still falling short of people’s
expectations. Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) doesn’t become the forgiving housewife when her husband leaves her, she spends the series developing her own comedy career and moving away from 50s social norms.

It all sounds great. A real feel-good show. That it is, I did to an extent enjoy watching Mrs Maisel. The illusion started to fade as soon as Joel (Michael Zegen) leaves his wife, and her response is to do a one in a million comedy set. This is my running issue with the show; it’s all too perfect. Everything seems to go her way – even though she falls victim to her husband’s adultery. But these appear seemingly just to flesh her out. I let the bright colours and glossy 50s downtown aesthetic slide by, however, am I to believe that this would be reaction of a 50s housewife who measures her thighs once a night?

Her choice to get a job and choice not to return to her husband is very minimal. Midge remains surrounded by friends and family and her children, whom she expresses she’s not very fond of in her sets. The only example we get of that is that they’re never on screen. Midge doesn’t seem to have very strong feelings towards her children and they appear to only be a pedestal for her “single-mother comedian” gig Amazon is trying to sell to me.

The whole show feels like a comedy act. Every character seems to have their own stand-up act
they’re coming in with, leaving a lot of scenes feeling void of any character relationship. Susie
(Alex Borstein,) Midge’s manager, always has an answer for everything and in some instances this
can be a charming character trait. However, seeing as everyone and their mother is meant to be a
comedian, when the manager is begging for a laugh as well, it just becomes a bit overwhelming.

The only reason I hung in until to the end was for the sets. The sets and costumes are so perfect, but if I wanted silent beauty I would have gone to a gallery. I am, however, watching a show that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It doesn’t take long to get tired of the typical feel-good tropes with a
protagonist who can do no wrong, to a cold-hearted father who is really getting with the times, that
aren’t even the times, (they’re just 21st century ideals pushed onto a cushy New York apartment
and finished off with a dusty pink bow). For a show that’s about a comedian, it’s not funny and it’s
not inspiring, the best thing you can get from The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a Pinterest board.

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