The Emmy-award winning The Marvellous Mrs Maisel seems to have been a media darling over the last few years and was, from what I remember, one of the first real successes for Amazon’s Originals, a show that proved that Amazon could compete with the likes of Netflix. As is my usual wont I’ve come to it rather late, with three seasons already up for streaming by the time I finally got around to it.
Turns out its really quite good- as someone who loved Mad Men, which rather shared Mrs Maisel‘s period setting, this show was right up my street. Regards that period setting -in this case late 1950s New York, which actually predates Mad Men by a few years- it looks utterly divine, absolutely gorgeous. Of course as I wasn’t around back then to experience it first hand, but it certainly looks damned authentic, and rather more ambitious in scope than Mad Men, featuring more exteriors. There is something irresistible about 1950s New York; the decor, the clothes, the cars, the smoky atmosphere, the wonderful songs of the period that feature in the soundtrack; its all rather romantic and fantastic and larger than life. For someone like me in the UK, there’s something quite sexy and beguiling about it, something of a lost, magical world.
Central to the shows appeal – far and above that wonderful period detail of its setting- is the fantastic performance of Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam Maisel, a housewife who turns to stand-up comedy in the wake of her unfaithful husband leaving her. Brosnahan has a long list of credits in television behind her, but nothing that I have seen – my worst offence being House of Cards, which I really should get around to- so as far as I was concerned, watching her was like seeing an unknown in an incandescent performance that surprised and amazed in equal measure. With a very fine supporting cast that includes Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Michael Zegan (Boardwalk Empire) the show absolutely fires on all cylinders. The writing is slick, the one-liners sharp and the art direction, as I have noted, quite sublime. The show does falter slightly with a few nods to predictability – there’s certainly few shocks and surprises here- but that really is just a nod to it being what it is; warm, funny, life-affirming comfort food.
Just the ticket for a Covid 19 Autumn then, which makes leaving the three seasons ’till now a really fortuitous accident.