October 01, 2018

‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’: The comedy that laughs in the face of patriarchy

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The quality of a video-on-demand service is defined by their original content. Simply because it’s easy to have the complete series of well-loved throwback shows and have a massive movie library where one can take their pick. But to have something no one else does which can convince people out of their perpetual binge-watching of Friends? That’s a big feat.  

Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is just the show when you need a comedy kick, refreshed by today’s consciousness. Mrs. Midge Maisel led a Stepford wife life in late 1950’s New York. She gets up early to apply on makeup so she could slip back into the sheets just in time for her husband to wake up to her “naturally” gorgeous face. She’s raising two kids in a beautiful big apartment at the Upper West Side and loves to come with her husband to his late-night gigs as he moonlights as a stand-up comic.

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Production-wise, the show’s premise sets it up as a winner. Midge’s outfits burst with colors and silhouettes of that era, making you want to re-think your wardrobe. Set design is also fabulous as even the most mundane looking scenes looks like an artistic photograph.  

As with all comedies, the laughs come at a cost of a tragedy: Mrs. Maisel’s husband decides to leave her for his secretary, undoing their perfect Jewish family. Instead of trying to win him back, as Midge’s father instructs, she goes for the ultimate revenge. She learns how to be a stand-up comedienne at the very same club her husband would do his lame jokes.  

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The show is definitely a feminist comedy, written by Gilmore Girls‘ Amy Sherman-Palladino, but it carries the message without shoving it into your face, sending you back into reality. It lulls you in that comfortable realm of fiction: none of this is true but it’s not impossible that it could be real. Remember, Mrs. Maisel is doing all of her radical moves: separating from her husband, getting a job at the makeup counter, and doing stand-up in a time when Kennedy hasn’t even been elected president. So Midge gets arrested for performing in a club without a cabaret license and finds herself pleading guilty for “indecency” due to uttering profanities in public in front of a misogynistic judge.  

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When the show treads the fine line between reality and story is when you find the poignant feminist lessons. Midge isn’t out there, screaming girl power into a megaphone. She says it poignantly as she refuses to take back her husband when he pathetically asks for a second chance at her doorstep. It’s there as she struggles to write good jokes based on how she was a woman who followed all the rules men set up, only to be rejected by her husband. It’s there when she tells off a male comedian that she’s not a spy for another comedian stealing his act. “I’m perfectly capable of stealing your act myself and after I stole it, I could do it better—and in heels.”

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Having the message delivered this way keeps you glued to the screen and doesn’t turn you off without getting “too real”. We after all watch shows to escape the cruelties of life. Here the heroes always triumph and the bad guys get their karma, which isn’t always what happens in reality. But the power of fiction like  The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is how it tells us to challenge reality. In this case, it’s how a woman can have it all, and how “all” doesn’t necessitate a man. The show’s message clearly has resonated in every day life with the show bagging two Golden Globe Awards and five Emmys.  

What holds for season 2 as Midge blossoms into a defiant stand-up comic in a world dominated by men? The only way to find out is through an Amazon Prime Video subscription made possible with Globe Telecom. *winks*

Aside from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime Video offers other original content like Jack RyanThe Grand Tour, American Gods, and so much more. Globe postpaid subscribers may avail of their free six month trial by simply texting APV to 8080 and follow the steps in the confirmation message you will receive.


Screengrabs courtesy of Amazon Prime

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Amazon Prime, culture, globe, Globe Telecom, Prime Original, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, TV Shows

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