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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Season 1 - Advance Preview

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the latest show from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, is pretty much an utter delight of a series. Set in New York in 1958, the show follows a young, well-off Jewish housewife, the titular Mrs. Maisel (and believe me, she is marvelous), played by the brilliant Rachel Brosnahan in a star-making turn, who becomes a stand-up comic once her very ordered and meticulously crafted life begins to fall apart.

The show's pilot, per Amazon tradition, was released quite some time ago, and immediately caught the attention of a lot of people, and I'm sure the wait for the show's official release has been agonizing for fans of Palladino, especially given the controversy over the recent Gilmore Girls Netflix revival. Well, I assure you, the wait was worth it, as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an incredibly assured and confident piece of work. From the opening moments of the pilot, which sees our protagonist Miriam "Midge" Maisel give a toast at her wedding, the show is as sure-footed as its main character is when we first meet her, and stays that way even when Midge unravels.

The show is electric when Midge is focusing on her potential comedy career, as Palladino and co. consistently mine gold over the four episodes made available for review whenever she is paired with Alex Borstein's Susie, Midge's knowledgeable but inexperienced manager. Whenever the show begins to explore the distinct and vibrant world of the New York 1958 comedy scene it truly comes alive, especially given the unique avatars it uses.

I really can't say enough good things about Brosnahan here, and while this is a series with many terrific qualities, she is what will generate most of the initial discussion about the show in the coming days and weeks. In the pilot (spoilers incoming) Midge's wannabe-comedian husband leaves her for his secretary, and she, in a drunken state, makes her way on to the stage of a comedy club and seems to completely transform, channeling her terrific wit for a very different use than usual. And Brosnahan, aside from having a great command of the dialogue, had to convince that Midge could feasibly undergo such a transformation, and she did, and continues to do so, with seeming ease.

In fact, Brosnahan is so good and magnetic in the lead role that whenever she isn't on screen, and the show is dealing with the fallout of the end of her marriage, it loses a lot of its energy. This isn't really the fault of the show's very adept supporting cast, which includes Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle as Midge's parents and Michael Zegen as her husband Joel, but is more due to the fact that the show seems so excited whenever it looks forward, that it didn't really make the looking back all that interesting. That being said, Brosnahan even manages to spark some life into the often lifeless family-drama, in the rare instances when she is involved.

And so while I hope the show figures out how to make the family drama more compelling (though it will likely never be as compelling as its protagonist's journey), I will be watching the rest of the season for Midge herself, both because of Brosnahan's performance (which, if the gods are just, will get some Emmy recognition next year), and because of how incredibly engaging her story is. The show itself is incredibly excited for where it's going, and I can't help but be excited too.

Grade: B+

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