There is something about Mrs. Maisel that draws in pretty much everyone who gives it a chance. Actually, there are several somethings:
- The Gilmore Girls Pedigree
- The bright and beautiful Period Costumes
- The cast
- The story inspired by Joan Rivers’ start in stand-up comedy
- The core of lady awesome
All of this has been noticed and adored internet wide. Rotten Tomatoes has it holding steady at 96% Fresh. These components are all, I agree, part of the charm.
Something has been missed, however. The thing that has held me addicted. The reason that I feel compelled to rewatch and maybe rewatch some more, is the glorious peerless gift of arguments well-made.
No one knows how to argue anymore; it is a skill lost in an screaming world. I grew up with it, though. My family discussed everything at the dinner table, and if you had an opinion you better back it up. There was no mercy for meaningless words. Winning an argument against someone who is also putting careful work into their reasoning is one of the best feelings. Heck, just the back and forth is exhilarating. I miss it.
This show brings it back. Midge and her parents live in a bubble of loving and understanding. And in this bubble they argue. Constantly. Not stupidly, or for no reason. It’s utilized for their main method of communication and I love it. The last show that made me so happy in the same way was The Newsroom.
Yes. Mrs. Maisel is my fluffier The Newsroom. It’s a sparkly, sweet, cotton candy version of the world. There is nothing too new about it. Familiar storyline (cheating husband, unsuspecting wife). Familiar kinds of characters. Nothing very revolutionary. But, so what?
There are nods and easter eggs aplenty for comedy nerds. Kevin Pollack gives so much to every scene and I adore him. Tony Shalhoub as Miriam Maisel’s father Abe kills me whenever he’s ranting. Which, thankfully, is a lot. Miriam is the star and it’s thrilling to see her come up with a set out of nothing, but you can tell she got this at least partially from her dad. Their sense of humor and intelligence connect them and basically every time they talk I get emotional.
Does this lifetime of learning how to point by point delve into an issue and sell her side of things give Miriam an edge on the stage? I think so. I believe that her kind of stand-up is arguing. Here’s why my day was insane. I’m not crazy, it’s everything around me. Here’s what happened, and why I am right. She presents a point, she backs it up, she builds, and hammers it home. She basically discusses with the audience, and any laughter or lack of it is the level at which she wins it. Her simply being on stage as a woman in the late 1950s is the beginning of an argument, and her crowd howling by the end is the resolution of that. She’s that good.
Warning: In the pilot episode, the writing for Abe is much harsher and almost cruel. Not to worry, because they fix it in the second episode making him much more grumpy papa bear. So if you watched the first ep and this put you off, please give Tony another chance. You won’t regret it.
Other Warning: If you are not a comedy geek who grew up on classic stand up records, Johnny Carson, and finds the construction of writing comedy fascinating, there will be references that you may not get. Do not worry too much about this. Amy Sherman-Palladino has made it so that you are learning right along with Miriam and no one gets lost. That being said … do yourself a favor and find clips of the comedians that are referenced, you might just find a new vintage love.
Verdict: You have to try it. You have to give yourself a chance to get caught up in this because if you do, it is pure fantasy fulfillment. If you don’t or you can’t I will understand. You poor dear.