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You Should Be Watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


Full disclosure: if you couldn't already guess, I'm a ride-or-die Gilmore Girls fan, so you know I'm slightly biased. However, I'm prepared to argue that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is one of the best reasons to subscribe to Amazon Prime since the company got into the instant gratification game.

As Glen Weldon said on a recent episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, if you're here for Amy Sherman-Palladino's kind of "fast-talking brunettes who are charming monsters to whom the entire world genuflects—and their imperious moms," you're probably already on board with this show. But in case you're not yet on the Midge Maisel bandwagon, let me persuade you. (Minor spoilers follow, but nothing that will destroy the fun of watching.)

First, midcentury design and fashion nostalgists will have a field day. The show gives you a gloriously specific sense of time and place, which just so happens to be the yin and yang of Manhattan's Upper West Side and Greenwich Village in 1958.

Watching it makes me feel like I'm in an alternate Mad Men universe, where Don Draper might be spotted skulking around by the Gaslight Cafe, fresh off a rendezvous with his Midge. (oooh! Two Midges! I bet Mad Men Midge and her Beat cronies frequented the Gaslight from time to time.) Or that Rachel Menken might appear as the real brains behind the department store where Mrs. Maisel ends up employed.

I could watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for the parade of gorgeously designed coats alone—and one coat does become a plot point eventually, so clearly they're meant to be noticed, and as a vintage Pyrex enthusiast, I was very concerned with the fate of the Pink Daisy casserole dish that's also integral to the pilot episode.

These are subtle details, to be sure, but even more so than in the twee scenery of Stars Hollow or the imposing facades of Chilton, Yale, and the ancestral Gilmore home, design illuminates each character's personality and motivation. (Here's more on the show's set design on Apartment Therapy.)

While the dialogue is of course that patented Sherman-Palladino brand of snappy and speedy, it's still legit funny. Even if you're not into stand-up comedy, don't let that be a turnoff here. (It's like how Friday Night Lights wasn't really about football, but about the relationships of the residents of Dillon, Texas.)

The premise of a housewife stand-up comedienne is the bones of the operation, but suspend your disbelief to watch the performances of Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Marin Hinkle, and Tony Shalhoub. They're all eating that beautiful scenery for all its worth, and it's a joy to watch.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a well-constructed, gorgeously rendered, zippily-paced, lovely, 8-episode escape. That should be enough to convince you to give it a try.

And if you're rooting for a Maisel-Gilmore crossover, guess what? The inimitable Lauren Graham has already been bending ASP's ear about a role in the second season, so get excited, world.

Photo Credit: Amazon/Sarah Shatz