There’s something sort of magical about “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Something special. Something completely engaging.
Partly because it’s different. This Amazon streaming series is the story of Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a New York housewife circa 1958-59, whose world is turned upside down when her husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), has an affair with his secretary. Midge takes to the stage to vent her frustrations … and a standup comedian is born in an age when standup comedy — when America — is dominated by men.
(If you haven’t seen Season 1, I highly recommend streaming the eight episodes.)
Part of what makes “Mrs. Maisel” so special is that it lives in sort of an alternate universe, slightly different and infinitely better than the real one. The New York City of this show is (mostly) clean and bright and filled with nicely dressed, well-behaved people. Even the dives where Midge performs aren’t exactly threatening.
The scripts from executive producer/creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her team are the engine that drives the show, but the costumes, the sets and the locations help make it enchanting.
Even Sherman-Palladino said she’s amazed by the work done by the behind-the-scenes crew.
“It’s all about what the content of the story is,” she said. “And then they go and I don’t know what they do. There’s brews and caldrons and they worship and things and puffs of smoke and then it’s just magic.”
“Mrs. Maisel” shares that with Sherman-Palladino’s previous series, “Gilmore Girls,” which was also a fantasy of sorts — at least when it came to the idyllic town where Lorelai and Rory Gilmore lived. And, like the Gilmores, Midge talks fast and funny.
Not that the two shows are that much alike. The Gilmores didn't drop f-bombs, and there was no full-frontal male nudity — which appears briefly when Midge's mom, Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle), takes an art class.
Season 2 opens with Rose in Paris (for reasons I won’t spoil here), and Midge and her father, Abe (Tony Shalhoub), soon follow. The French sojourn works, well, marvelously well — it’s goofy, heartfelt and ends up someplace other than where you think the storyline is going. It is, ahem, magical. As is a trip to the Catskills a couple of episodes later.
The first season of “Mrs. Maisel” was great. The second season is better, in no small part because the supporting characters have more to do.
Midge and her journey remain at the center of the series, but we get to know her parents better. We get to know her manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), who has an adventure of her own.
We see more of Joel, who’s not made into the villain of the piece. He’s not exactly enlightened — hey, it’s 1959 — but Sherman-Palladino crafts the character sympathetically. And there’s a plot line involving his parents (Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron) that’s downright hilarious.
Season 1 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won eight Emmys (including best comedy), a Peabody Award, a Television Critics Association Award and a couple of Golden Globes.
But that was just prologue. The first half of Season 2 is fantastic. I’m completely obsessed and can’t wait to see episodes 6-10.
Oh, and Amazon has already ordered Season 3. Yay!
Season 2 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” starts streaming Wednesday, Dec. 5, on Amazon Prime.