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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

Yeah, Midge Maisel is funny. No doubt about that. When she climbs up on stage, grabs a microphone and starts talking—about her life, her parents, her one-time husband—laughter pours forth from the audience like water from a burst dam.

But here's the deal: It's 1958, and women aren't supposed to be funny. Or at least, not realistically funny. You gotta have a fake persona, a schtick, a gimmick. "You can't go up there and be a woman," she's told. "You've got to be a thing."

And here's the other deal: Not everyone in Midge's life wants to be fodder for a comedy routine. In fact, her stage name, Mrs. Maisel, is just an ironic joke itself at this point: Her husband, Joel, said she could either be a comic or his wife, but she couldn't be both. "I just can't be a joke," he said.

Oh, and one last deal: Mrs. Maisel and her agent, Susie Myerson, have made some pretty bad enemies. Break a leg? Their foes are more interested in breaking kneecaps, thank you very much.

Onstage, Mrs. Maisel may be marvelous. But her life off of it, for some, wouldn't seem funny at all.

The Comedy Works

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stormed into the television landscape much like Midge herself. Indeed, some might've thought the show'd likely to come and go with nary a whisper—dropped in the overfilled television lake with barely a ripple.

Then people saw it. And boy howdy, what a ripple it made.

The first season tore through awards season like a charging bull with a thresher attached, winning seven Emmys (including the award for Outstanding Comedy Series and, for star Rachel Brosnahan, Outstanding Lead Actress) as well as a couple of Golden Globes. In the jumbled TV landscape, the stylishly frothy Maisel, like Midge, stood out: Praise for the show has been nearly unanimous.

'Til now.

Take This Show. Please.

Listen, far be it from me to say that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel isn't funny. Honestly, it's hilarious. The casting (which includes Monk's Tony Shalhoub as Midge's oft-clueless pops and Alex Borstein as Midge's tough-talking agent) is spot on, and the writing is as sharp and incisive as any I've seen in my decade reviewing TV.

But Maisel scores a TV-MA rating (the equivalent of an R in TV-ville) for good—or should we say bad—reasons. The f-word and other profanities fly like so many tomatoes at an untalented comic. Nudity can be an issue, too. Acts of infidelity inform the show's central tension, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

This unwanted and, frankly, unwarranted content is a cryin' shame for a show that clearly doesn't need to shock to make us laugh. In fact, much of what we see and hear feels not only out of character for the more staid time period it takes place in (Eisenhower's 1950s, when Lucy and Ricky slept in twin beds), but for the show itself. Maisel is a flyweight confection, one that feels stylish and sharp and even innocent.

But it's not just the superficial content that spoils this show. As good as it is, Maisel's whole worldview is problematic.

Throughout the series thus far, Midge deals with a clash of worlds that she loves: That of a wife and mother and that of a stand-up comedian. She wants both, but she can't (at least to this point) have both. So what to choose?

Midge is torn, but the show certainly isn't: Forget the marriage, follow your career, it says. Forget sacrificing for others, pursue your own personal happiness. We see that message embodied in Midge, and in others, too. Self-realization should be, the show suggests our highest goal—and if someone gets in the way, well, too bad for them.

Writing about the show's Season 2 premiere, Vulture's Sarene Leeds notes that the split between Midge and husband Joel seems permanent now: "Midge is leaving Paris with a broken heart, but as she walks off alone in the final shot of the episode, we know she's heading toward something much greater than a mediocre marriage: her destiny." Yes, scrap that mediocre marriage for personal glory: That's the American way.

That said, I find Midge's talk with her mother, Rose—who ran away from her husband and to Paris—more heartening.

"The world is full of disappointments, and sometimes people let you down," she tells Rose. "You can't just run away. … You made a commitment to this man. He's your husband."

Commitment. That's not a particularly sexy word these days. And if Midge sacrificed her career to honor the commitment she made to her husband (or if her husband sacrificed for her), it certainly wouldn't be the stuff of a funny, Emmy-winning comedy. But I can't help but think that in the end, unsexy sacrifice and commitment are the acts and virtues we should all really aspire to.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, like the marvelous Mrs. Maisel, is on a marvelous show in a way. But like Midge, it sacrifices a lot to get there.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Dec. 5, 2018: "Simone

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam "Midge" Maisel; Tony Shalhoub as Abe Weissman; Michael Zegen as Joel Maisel; Marin Hinkle as Rose Weissman; Alex Borstein as Susie Myerson; Nunzio and Matteo Pascale as Ethan; Matilda Szydagis as Zelda; Brian Tarantina as Jackie; Joel Johnstone as Archie Cleary

Director

Distributor

Network

Amazon

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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