This 1950s New Yorker is the hero your to-watch list has been waiting for…
As season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is about to drop, there were murmurs (well, a chorus of celebration) around the office from its extremely devout fans.
Hands up, I’d not seen the show.
But after their rave reviews and animated sales pitches (“well, it’s about this woman in 1950s New York who does stand-up, and she splits up from her husband and she’s really funny…”), I took it upon myself to swap my usual TV diet of crime drama (which was getting out of control) for something a little more lighthearted and frankly, more aesthetically pleasing than a crime scene/forensic lab/prison cell.
Little did I know that I’d be swiftly googling ‘Marvelous Mrs.Maisel season 2 release date’ in just a couple of days.
Here’s why Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel has become an unsung hero on my TV screen in the space of a week.
1. She plays by her own rules
In a nutshell, devoted Jewish housewife Midge (the Emmy award-winning Rachel Brosnahan) is married to Joel (played by Michael Zegan).
Joel’s a city worker who is moonlighting as a stand-up at the underground bar, The Gaslight Cafe. Slight problem – he’s just not that good.
After the revelation that Joel’s been having an affair with his secretary (the ridiculously named Penny Pan), Midge does what most of us would do; she gets blind drunk and goes out.
It’s then that Midge takes to the stage to give an impromptu – and utterly brilliant – set at The Gaslight.
It’s so good in fact that she gets herself an agent (the unforgettable Alex Borstein), tightens up her act and gets arrested. Twice. In short, our kind of woman.
2. She’s a style icon
Hats off to costumer designer Donna Zakowska for the sartorial splendour of the show. In fact, Zakowska designed all of Midge’s outfits from scratch to reflect her dramatic character development throughout the series.
You’ll be treated to a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it mise en scene of candy-coloured hues, neat silhouettes and feminine lines to represent Midge’s 1950s housewife phase.
As the storyline develops, we see Midge opting for fiercer reds and greens (check out her green outfit when she starts work at the department store – it’s pure perfection).
You’ll be digging out your 50s-esque headscarves and red lipstick by episode two: fact.
3. She’s strong
In a period where being a single mum was not really heard of, Midge takes it on with strength and optimism. After leaving Joel, Midge moves back in with her parents (the endearingly named Mumma and Papa).
Not letting this deter her from living her best single life, Midge plays the situation to her advantage.
It’s here in their family home where we see Midge’s character shift from estranged wife to powerful single woman (there’s a beautiful scene with her father when she tells him she’s got a job) and her determination to not let her marriage breakdown hold her back.
4. She says it how it is
Throughout the series we see Midge’s attitude and behaviour shift. She becomes more true to herself and it’s empowering to watch.
Her previous ‘good housewife’ routine of going to bed with a full face of make-up in order to delude her naive husband into thinking this is what she always looks like goes out the window.
Instead we see her staying up, swigging beer and eating cold mac and cheese in the middle of the night.
She sums it up perfectly in the episode “Put that on your plate!” during a crowd-dividing set at The Gaslight.
“Why do women have to pretend to be something they’re not?” she asks the crowd. “Why do we have to pretend to be stupid when we’re not stupid? Why do we have to pretend to be helpless when we’re NOT helpless? Why do we have to pretend we’re not hungry when we’re HUNGRY?!”
Pass us the mac and cheese.
5. She’s relevant
Midge and her sidekick, Susie (Alex Borstein) are unapologetic as they take on the predominantly male comedy scene of down-time New York.
They swear, they drink (a lot!), and they speak up against the patriarchy.
Undeterred by her typically nuclear family and their incessant pleas for her to get back together with her husband, Midge is a rare example of a powerful on-screen single mother; unlike the stereotypical depiction of being miserable, victimised and often incapable.
Midge is fierce, she’s independent and someone who inspires us all to get up, chug a shot and follow our dreams.
Series 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is on Prime Video now.