The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
|The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel|
|Created by||Amy Sherman-Palladino|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||New York City|
|Cinematography||M. David Mullen|
|Running time||46–61 minutes|
|Original network||Amazon Video|
|Picture format||4K (UHDTV)|
|Audio format||5.1 Dolby Digital|
|Original release||March 17, 2017– present|
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an American period comedy-drama television series starring Rachel Brosnahan that follows a housewife in 1958 New York City who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy. The series's pilot premiered as a part of Amazon Studios' spring pilot season on March 17, 2017, to critical acclaim, and was picked up by Amazon for a two-season order on April 10, 2017. It was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino serve as executive producers.
The first season was released on November 29, 2017, to positive reviews. The series won two Golden Globe Awards (Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Musical or Comedy for Brosnahan) and five Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Brosnahan. It was renewed for a third season on May 20, 2018, before the second season had aired.
Miriam "Midge" Maisel is a Jewish housewife living in New York City in 1958. Her husband, Joel, is a businessman who moonlights as a struggling comedian at The Gaslight Cafe. Midge supports Joel, providing feedback about his sets, but becomes disillusioned when she discovers that Joel has stolen one of his best routines from Bob Newhart.
One night, after a particularly unsuccessful performance, Joel confesses to Midge that he has been having an affair and leaves her. Midge goes to her parents for support but is instead met with criticism for choosing to marry Joel and a demand to persuade Joel into returning.
After drinking too much wine, Midge returns to the Gaslight Cafe and impulsively goes on stage, delivering an impromptu set about her predicament which the audience finds hilarious. After baring her breasts in an attempt to demonstrate how attractive she is, Midge is arrested and taken to jail for indecent exposure and performing without a cabaret license.
The squad car contains another comedian who was also arrested: Lenny Bruce. Midge, who had seen Lenny perform, returns to jail the next morning to bail him out and ask him if he loves performing stand-up comedy. Bruce warns Midge that the comedy business is terrible, but Midge takes his warning as encouragement and teams with Susie, a comedy club employee, to hone her act.
Cast and characters
- Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam "Midge" Maisel, a Jewish housewife who discovers a flair for stand-up comedy. After her husband leaves her, she finds a job as a make-up counter girl at B. Altman.
- Alex Borstein as Susie Myerson, an employee of The Gaslight Cafe and later Midge's manager.
- Michael Zegen as Joel Maisel, Midge's estranged husband, who leaves Midge for his secretary. He is also an aspiring stand-up comic, but only relies on the routines of Bob Newhart.
- Tony Shalhoub as Abraham "Abe" Weissman, Midge’s father.
- Marin Hinkle as Rose Weissman, Midge’s mother.
- Bailey De Young as Imogene Cleary, Midge's best friend.
- Nunzio and Matteo Pascale as Ethan Maisel, Midge and Joel's eldest child.
- Matilda Szydagis as Zelda, the Weissmans' live-in maid.
- Brian Tarantina as Jackie, the emcee at The Gaslight.
- Joel Johnstone as Archie Cleary, Imogene's husband and Joel's coworker.
- Holly Curran as Penny Pann, Joel's former secretary and girlfriend.
- Cynthia Darlow as Mrs. Moskowitz, Joel's secretary and Penny's replacement.
- Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, a well-known New York City comedian.
- Kevin Pollak as Moishe Maisel, Joel's father.
- Caroline Aaron as Shirley Maisel, Joel's mother.
- David Paymer as Harry Drake, a successful manager of comedians with clients including Sophie Lennon.
- Mary Testa as Drina Romanoff, a psychic that Rose frequents.
- Zachary Levi as TBA (season 2)
- Jane Lynch as Sophie Lennon (season 2; guest season 1), a successful stand-up comic who relies on shticky gimmicks about her life in Queens and her frumpy appearance. In reality, she is a rich aristocrat with refined taste and wears a fat suit on stage.
- Gilbert Gottfried as Strip Club Emcee ("Pilot"), an emcee at the strip club where Midge and Joel first see Lenny Bruce perform.
- Matthew Cusack, Mike Rosengarten, and Eric William Morris as The Kingston Trio ("Pilot"), a folk group that Midge and Joel see at the Gaslight performing the song "Sixteen Tons".
- Caitlin Mehner as Honey Bruce ("Pilot"), the wife of Lenny Bruce.
- Max Casella as Michael Kessler ("Because You Left"), Midge's lawyer.
- Alison Smith as Jane Jacobs ("The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets"), a community activist whose rally Miriam stumbles across in Washington Square Park.
- Allen Lewis Rickman as Red Skelton ("The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets"), a comedian that Miriam and Susie see perform at the Copacabana nightclub.
- Carolee Carmello as Loretta ("The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets")
- Wallace Shawn as Herb Smith ("Doink"), a hack comedy writer who Midge briefly hires after she bombs a set.
- Frank L. Ridley as Sal ("Doink"), the bartender at the Old Town Bar where Joel and Archie go to drink.
- Nate Corddry as Randall ("Mrs. X at the Gaslight"), an amateur comedian who does improvisational skits with Midge at parties.
- Will Brill as Noah ("Mrs. X at the Gaslight"), Midge's brother.
- Justine Lupe as Astrid ("Mrs. X at the Gaslight"), Noah's wife and Midge's sister-in-law. She is very insecure about the fact that she's not Jewish.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"Pilot"||Amy Sherman-Palladino||Amy Sherman-Palladino||March 17, 2017|
|In 1958 Manhattan, Miriam "Midge" Maisel is a contented, young, Jewish, Upper West Side housewife who has been married for four years. She occupies herself with raising her son and daughter and facilitating her untalented husband's dream of becoming a stand-up comedian at The Gaslight Cafe. When her reality is threatened by his decision to leave her for his secretary, she drunkenly discovers that she herself possesses a previously unrealized talent for stand-up comedy. Arrested for baring her breasts onstage, Midge finds herself in a police car with Lenny Bruce. Susie bails Midge out, and Midge bails out Lenny Bruce.|
|2||2||"Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme"||Amy Sherman-Palladino||Amy Sherman-Palladino||November 29, 2017|
|Joel breaks the news of the separation to his father. Both Midge's and Joel's parents are unhappy about the breakup. To make people happier, Midge invites all four parents plus Joel to dinner at her apartment. Conflict erupts. After Joel's father reveals that he plans to evict Midge and the children from their apartment, Midge leaves her own dinner party to go back to the Gaslight, where she performs again and is arrested again.|
|3||3||"Because You Left"||Daniel Palladino||Daniel Palladino||November 29, 2017|
|Midge, in jail again, is bailed out by Lenny Bruce. Midge's parents, who were babysitting her kids until 1:30 a.m. are baffled about Midge's new life. Midge and Susie engage a lawyer, but in court, Midge clashes with the judge and is found in contempt of court and put in a jail cell until she comes up with a $200 fine. She asks Joel for the money to pay her fine, which he agrees to do. Meanwhile, Midge's father Abe visits Joel's father Moishe to ask if he can share the cost to keep the apartment where Midge and the children are living, and Moishe agrees. Midge joins Lenny Bruce at the Village Vanguard, where she does a short set. Susie visits the Friars Club to talk with Harry Gray about managing Midge. Joel asks Miriam to give their marriage another go, but she says no.|
|4||4||"The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets"||Amy Sherman-Palladino||Amy Sherman-Palladino||November 29, 2017|
|Midge moves in with her parents. Abe wants to turn off TV where Ethan is watching Howdy Doody, Midge suggests she could have TV in her room where she could also watch Jack Paar, but Abe is reluctant. Midge takes Ethan to visit Joel in his new apartment, which she discovers he shares with Penny Pan. Susie takes Midge to a record store of rare and little-known albums, where Midge buys a record by Redd Foxx, and meets Virgil and Oz. Susie also takes her to many other clubs to see other comics perform, including Red Skelton. Midge wants to be friends with Susie, but Susie claims she just wants a professional relationship. When Midge gets home late, Abe angrily says he won't buy her a TV. Miriam decides she needs to get a job.|
|5||5||"Doink"||Amy Sherman-Palladino||Daniel Palladino||November 29, 2017|
|Midge applies for a job running elevators at B. Altman, but is hired instead for the makeup department. Performing at the Gaslight, Midge has her first experience in failing to get laughs. She decides to try hiring a comedy writer: Herb Smith (played by Wallace Shawn.) When Midge performs jokes Herb Smith wrote for her, she bombs even worse, and tells Susie she's giving up on having a stand-up career. Meanwhile, Joel takes Penny Pann to meet his parents, who are charming to her but agree, "No." Archie cancels a double date to go with Joel and Penny to see The Music Man on Broadway, making up a number of excuses why they cannot attend. Midge goes to party with her makeup counter friends and has a great time making people laugh. Susie stares unhappily at the telephone she bought in order to be Midge's agent.|
|6||6||"Mrs. X at the Gaslight"||Scott Ellis||Sheila R. Lawrence||November 29, 2017|
|Midge entertains (unpaid) at parties hosted by her new B. Altman friends. She meets and briefly performs with male comic Randall (Nate Cordrry), who later introduces her to his agent from William Morris. Columbia University professor Abe is recruited to join Bell Labs. Midge's brother Noah and his wife Astrid (a gentile who enthusiastically converted to Judaism to impress the unbothered Weissmans) visit to join in the celebration. But when Midge's family goes out to celebrate at a Chinese restaurant, the occasion is spoiled because Joel and Penny Pann are in the same restaurant. Joel apologizes to Midge before noticing that she no longer wears her wedding and engagement rings. When Midge visits Susie at her apartment, Susie bluntly tells Midge that they are in a partnership and Midge doesn't require a man to be a successful comic. Midge tearfully apologizes yet insists that Susie needs to support Midge personally if they're going to be professional partners, and the two reconcile. As the episode ends, Virgil and Oz are shown from above enjoying a tape of Midge's earlier comic performances. Not knowing her name, they label the tape they have "Mrs. X at the Gaslight."|
|7||7||"Put That On Your Plate!"||Daniel Palladino||Daniel Palladino||November 29, 2017|
|Midge hones her comedy act. At work, Joel's ideas win him fans. Susie tries to get Midge a chance to open for comedienne Sophie Lennon. Abe brings home a surprise dinner guest--a divorce attorney. Rose is furious, and not consoled when Abe confesses that Joel already tried to come back but Midge turned him away. Rose seeks consolation from Drina, but Drina has vanished, replaced by "Madame Cosma." Joel tells Abe that, with his new promotion, he can pay for everything Midge might want. Midge visits Sophie Lennon, discovering that the beloved comedienne "from Queens" is really a rich and arrogant graduate of Yale University. Onstage "Sophie" is a gimmick, wearing a fat suit. The real Sophie tells Midge that women can't succeed without gimmicks. As Midge leaves to meet her parents in synagogue, Sophie forces a mink coat on her for a parting gift. In synagogue, Rose loudly demands to know where the mink coat came from. Later, at the Gaslight, Midge lampoons expectations imposed on women, and makes fun of Sophie Lennon, exposing her act in the process. Sophie's agent Harry, in the audience to hear Midge perform, is furious, and tells the terrified Susie, "You're on my bad side!"|
|8||8||"Thank You and Good Night"||Amy Sherman-Palladino||Amy Sherman-Palladino||November 29, 2017|
|Susie and Midge get drunk at a bar, upset that Midge made fun of Sophie Lennon, and now Harry might try to ruin her career. The next day, a hungover Midge hosts a birthday party for her son, where she reconnects with Joel and ends up sleeping with him in her childhood room. It appears that they may get back together, but Joel later overhears a bootleg tape of Midge's first act at Virgil and Oz's record store, and gets angry. At the big company meeting, a deflated Joel announces that he wants to quit. Midge's "shit gig" at a stripper show is canceled because of Harry. Susie begs Lenny Bruce to come back to the Gaslight to help Midge, which he does. Midge's set is a great hit, and at the end she introduces herself as "Mrs. Maisel." Joel watches Midge's act, argues with Susie about it, then sadly leaves the Gaslight, attacking one of her hecklers while admitting her act was great.|
Amy Sherman-Palladino was inspired by childhood memories of her father (a standup comedian based in NYC) and an admiration for early female comics such as Joan Rivers. Sherman-Palladino explained the show concept as follows:
I wanted to do a story about a woman who thought she’d scored...She’d gotten it all, and then, bam, it all falls apart. And in falling apart, she discovers an ambition and a need to speak, and a voice that she just frankly didn’t know was there.”
On June 6, 2016, it was announced that Amazon had given the production a pilot order. The pilot episode was written by Sherman-Palladino, who was also expected to executive produce. On March 2, 2017, it was reported that the pilot would premiere as a part of Amazon's Spring 2017 pilot season on March 17, 2017. On April 10, 2017, it was announced that Amazon had given the production a series order consisting of two seasons. The series was expected to be executive produced by Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino with Dhana Gilbert serving as a producer. On October 10, 2017, it was reported that the series would premiere on November 29, 2017.
On May 20, 2018, it was announced that Amazon had renewed the series for a third season.
On August 5, 2016, it was announced that Rachel Brosnahan had been cast in the pilot's titular lead role. In September 2016, it was reported that Tony Shalhoub and Michael Zegen had joined the pilot's main cast. On October 6, 2016, it was announced that Marin Hinkle had been cast in one of the pilot's main roles. In May 2017, it was reported that Joel Johnstone, Caroline Aaron, Kevin Pollak, and Bailey De Young were set to appear in recurring roles.
On May 23, 2018, it was announced that Zachary Levi would appear in the second season in a recurring capacity. On August 15, 2018, it was reported that Jane Lynch would reprise her role of Sophie Lennon in recurring capacity in season two.
Principal photography for the pilot took place from September 27 to October 14, 2016 in New York City. On October 4 and 5, 2016, filming took place at 96 St. Marks Place in New York City where exterior shots were being filmed. Residents of the building being used for filming were reportedly unhappy about the disruption that the production would cause.
The "apartment" where Midge and her husband Joel live was created on the same set as the apartment where Midge's parents live, but with more modern (late-1950s) design, inspired in part by Doris Day movies, according to production designer Bill Groom. The retro looking typeface used for the main title is called Sparkly and was designed by Stuart Sandler of Font Diner.
The series has been met with a positive response from critics since its premiere. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has an approval rating of 94% based on 70 reviews, with an average rating of 7.63 out of 10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an upbeat addition to Amazon's original offerings, propelled by a playful yet poignant performance by Rachel Brosnahan." On Metacritic the series has an average weighted score of 80 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The pilot episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was one of Amazon Video's most successful ever, achieving an average viewer rating of 4.9 (out of 5). The review of the pilot in The Guardian praised the "combination of [Sherman-Palladino's] banging dialogue and the utterly winning charm of Brosnahan", while The A.V. Club praised the "outstanding" production design and said "this is a series that's as confident as its heroine—and what a heroine she is. Midge is already layered, conflicted, hilarious, and charming." A critic for Slate called the episode "a knockout", stating that the stand-up element "introduces a welcome streak of discipline, both verbal and thematic, into Sherman-Palladino’s charming but manic work."
The Jerusalem Post highlighted the exceptionally well done "Jewishness" of the work, calling it a "comedic delight of a show, combining Sherman-Palladino’s knack for witty dialogue with the colorful, rich world of 1950s New York and the intensity of family drama and changing times." NPR similarly highlighted the effectiveness of the comedy in the show, writing "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel isn't aiming for realism. It's a heroic fantasy. And Midge's humor, one might say, is the ultimate version of staircase wit. Recklessly honest, she says what female comedians would've said half a century ago — if they had only been free to say it."
Awards and nominations
- Truong, Peggy (August 2, 2018). "Everything To Know About 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Season 2". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
Midge and Susie are going on the road. As ASP told The Hollywood Reporter after the 2018 PGA Awards, "I want to see those two girls stay some nights in shitty hotels and playing some dumpy clubs." The duo's stops will include the Catskills, the "Borscht Belt," where everyone from Joan Rivers to Buddy Hackett frequented for three decades until the early '70s.
- Busis, Hillary (March 16, 2017). "Gilmore Girls Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino Explains her Marvelous New TV Series". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
The show charts the improbable journey of one Miriam “Midge” Maisel (House of Cards alum Rachel Brosnahan), a perfect 50s housewife who seems to have everything—until her life implodes in a spectacular way. After the fall, though, Midge discovers a secret talent she never dreamed she might have: a knack for stand-up comedy.
- Zuckerman, Esther (November 28, 2017). "Corsets and Comedy: Inside Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
“I wanted to do a story about a woman who thought she’d scored,” Sherman-Palladino explains to a group of reporters. “She’d gotten it all, and then, bam, it all falls apart. And in falling apart, she discovers an ambition and a need to speak, and a voice that she just frankly didn’t know was there.”
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- "The 'marvelous' Jewish story of Miriam Maisel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- "Zippy And Delightful, 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Spotlights An Unlikely Comic". NPR.org. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
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