Mrs. Maisel's Second Season Is Golden
Bart Sullivan, 02-05-2019

Rachel Brosnahan stars in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video.
Nicole Rivelli / Amazon Prime Video
There are few instances of television series creators succeeding with multiple series, but Amy Sherman-Palladino & Daniel Palladino, after their success with Gilmore Girls, have once again created a powerful cult series with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Mrs. Maisel surrounds the title character, Miriam “Midge” Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, an uptown homemaker in the late-1950s, who suddenly becomes a stand-up comedian after a drunken-yet-hilarious performance at the Gaslight, a dingy, beatnik club in New York City. The performance is brought on by her husband suddenly leaving her after his own failed comedy performance, right around the time Midge discovers her own talent for stand-up. She impresses the Gaslight crowd with her spur-of-the-moment routine about her husband having left despite the pains to which she has gone to please him, catching the eye of Susie (Alex Borstein), a Gaslight employee and wannabe talent manager, who helps lead Midge into a secret life of stand-up comedy.

The second season, released in December on Amazon Prime, finds Midge performing in the Catskills and around the country, which interferes with her personal life, while the rest of her family deal with their own struggles. Marin Hinkle shines as Midge’s mother, particularly while grappling with feelings of inadequacy, while Tony Shalhoub’s turn as Midge’s father, a mathematics professor at Columbia University, is one of the funniest and greatest parts of the series so far.

As with the first season, Maisel’s jokes, both on stage and off, are reminiscent of the historical period, yet also timely. Midge’s entrance into a nearly all-male profession is taken by her peers—save for Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby)—as a joke itself, and her performances are often pushed to the end of shows to accommodate male comedians who steal her jokes or mock her presence on the roster to begin with. When she does succeed on stage, she gets better bookings, but only at the expense of alienating her family and friends, who ridicule her choices and blame her comedy for the bad things in their own lives. This has adverse effects on Midge’s life outside comedy as a department store employee, mother, and divorcée.

After nearly sweeping the Emmys with five wins (Shalhoub’s performance somehow not among them), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won the Golden Globe this year for Rachel Brosnahan for Best Performance by an Actress in Television Musical or Comedy, alongside 2 nominations; Best Television Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role on Television for Alex Borstein. These wins and nominations spell a golden future for the series indeed.

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