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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Steele Agosta

's Marvelous

Do you know what’s marvelous about Mrs Maisel? The Amazon Prime Original tv series, which recently finished its fifth season, made it clear that Mrs Maisel herself wasn’t always very marvelous. She had anger issues. She neglected her children (which ordinarily would really steam me in a character). She was completely out-of-touch with other people’s problems, and – for a character who was a stand-up comedian and who needed to be able to read the room – she often could not read the room.

So why did I want to root for her to succeed? Well, first of all, my golly, the wardrobe.

I admit, I do love eye candy. And no, I don’t necessarily mean good-looking men (although I don’t necessarily NOT mean good-looking men – Zachary Levy anyone?), but I mean all the fabulous wardrobe items and the incredibly detailed sets. I love a show that gives me all this in spades (Downton Abbey, am I right?). But when you also add fabulous writing, great acting, a unique storyline, gorgeous directing, and just plain being one of those shows where everyone involved is at the TOP of their game, well, you had me at Hello.

Without doing a spoiler, and speaking mainly to those who already know the show, Midge’s final time at the microphone, on the Gordon Ford Show, was just the total summing up of what the show was about. What Midge was about. She said:

They say ambition is an unattractive trait in a woman. Maybe. But you know what's really unattractive? Waiting around for something to happen. Staring out a window, thinking the life you should be living is out there somewhere but not being willing to open the door and go get it. Even if someone tells you you can't. Being a coward is only cute in The Wizard of Oz. The show is set in the late fifties-early sixties, a bit prior to Women’s Lib, and Midge had grown up with her mother as a role model, a woman who obsessed over the unattractively large forehead of her granddaughter, and having the right kind of sheets. The idea of doing something spontaneously, independently, or outside the world of the homemaker, was pretty outrageous and Midge only managed to make that leap after her husband dumped her for his secretary. Talk about a wake-up call.

But this wasn’t just Midge’s story. Every. Single. Character. got their own arc. Her father. Her mother. Suzy, her manager. The writers and directors really graciously offered nearly everyone in the cast their moment to shine. Luke Kirby, who played Lenny Bruce. Michael Zegan who played Midge’s ex-husband. LeRoy McClain, who played singer Shy Baldwin. Her best friend, Imogene. Her in-laws. Even characters with less screen time, such as Mrs. Moskowitz and agent Harry Drake. I love that kind of generosity in a large-cast show.

I recently bought the book Madly Marvelous – The Costumes of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, with lots of photos, and many stories and thoughts by Donna Zakowska, the costume designer for all five seasons. The background information is fascinating and the attention to detail amazing. There were scenes with TONS of extras, and the correct period costumes were created for all of them.

As I’ve written before, I adore group efforts where everyone does their very best. Starting with high school marching bands. Orchestras. Ballet troupes. If I were a sports fan, I’m sure I’d feel that way about the 1998 Denver Broncos. (I had to look that up.) I just want to give a standing ovation for these folks.

If you haven’t watched The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, you should. Don’t expect to love Midge at every moment, but do reflect on what she had to get beyond in order to reach her goal. Nearly every single person in her life thought she couldn’t (and shouldn’t) even try. And if you HAVE watched Mrs Maisel, then watch it again and pay closer attention to all the genius. It’s totally worth your time.

by Carolyn Steele Agosta

Thanks for reading! If you'd like to read more blog posts, go here. For my serialized novel, Strangely Satisfying Obsessions, go here. To learn about my books, go here. And to sign up to receive notifications of new blog entries, go here and scroll down a little. I appreciate every single reader!

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