The scene opens on a room of kippa- clad men sitting around tables, watching the blushing bride give the toast at her own wedding.
“This day is perfect. It’s like a dream,” she says. “Or a nightmare if you’re my father. ‘How much for the flowers? Who eats mushroom caps? Do the caterers have any idea what the Jews went through a few years ago?’” Thus begins The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a new pilot TV show now available on Amazon Prime from Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls. Miriam “Midge” Maisel, played pitch perfectly by Rachel Brosnahan, is the classic 1950s Upper West Side Jewish society matron.
Addressing the crowds at her high class wedding, Maisel pledges her love and devotion to her groom, Joel: “I love this man...
and yes there is shrimp in the egg rolls.”
Many of the guests – including the rabbi – gasp and flee the event, causing the kind of scene Midge just loves to be in the middle of.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is one of five pilot shows Amazon released on Friday, and now it is up to Prime members to offer their feedback, and help the website determine which shows will be awarded full seasons.
After the wedding, the show fast-forwards four years, and Midge seemingly has it all – the husband, two kids, perfect pre-baby body – a 25-inch waist she measures every day – and brisket to die for. But there’s more to Midge, it turns out, than meets the eye.
Ensconced in their Upper West Side home, the Maisels hang out with all the right people, but still humor Joel’s hobby of performing stand-up comedy downtown.
The Maisels are far from observant, but their Jewish culture is evident in every scene, and it’s refreshing to see a show so unapologetic about it.
Midge happily bribes the club manager with brisket to get Joel a better time slot and – finally – after four years, the rabbi seems to have forgiven the family for the shrimp incident and is coming over for Yom Kippur breakfast: “It only took four years of apologies and a dreidel signed by Sammy Davis Jr.,” she quips.
Later, arguing with her husband, he laments that the rabbi gets more laughs than he does just during his sermon.
“You’re jealous of the rabbi?” she retorts.
“He was in Buchenwald, throw him a bone.”
Fans of Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls and Bunheads will recognize the writer and producer’s signature rapid banter and impeccable balance between comedy and drama. Brosnahan is in every way the star of the show, bringing a vivacious, largerthan- life quality to the role. But Tony Shalhoub as her father, and Alex Borstein as a comedy club bartender are likely to play significant roles – and there’s even a cameo by Gilbert Gottfried! While Midge’s life seems all picture perfect, a series of events has her reconsidering her carefully laid out plans, and lands her unexpectedly (to her at least) on the stage of a sleazy downtown comedy club.
For viewers, the hour-long show was all building toward Midge’s slightly drunken turn in the spotlight, when her perfect comedic timing became clear as day. And, like she threw herself into everything else in life, Midge takes just a little coaxing to realize she can take on this world as well.
The show has gotten some of the most positive reactions of all Amazon’s pilots, with The New York Times calling it the “standout” and noting that “the moments of emotional authenticity that do break through shine beautifully and brightly.”
And The Guardian said “while the streaming service’s latest batch are hit and miss, one shining star” – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – “twinkles brightly.”
So will we get to see more of Midge and her comedic career? That’s up to the viewers.
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