Is Mrs. Maisel really so marvelous?

January 25, 2019

MaiselAfter hearing so much buzz about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, we logged into Amazon Prime and proceeded to binge on both seasons.

Visually, it’s a feast of color and style. The 1950s fashions are the best part for me, even though the performances are top-notch and the writing is clever and very funny. The color combinations are unique and fun and the styles are worn with pizazz by all of the actresses. The sets are also just perfect for the times.

So what’s not to like?

Plenty, if you listen to all the online critics. Because everyone’s got an opinion and so many love to find fault. Yes, even with Mrs. Maisel.

Stereotyping Jews

As a Sicilian-American, I know my way around stereotypes and I also know that there is a glimmer of truth (or more than a glimmer) in most stereotypes.

Italian-Americans have complained about the excessive stereotyping in the Godfather movies, for example. But not-so-fast: for me it had the ring of truth. The over-the-top wedding in the Godfather was pretty much identical to my first wedding. Yes, some people who attended had Mob ties, although our family was not in the mob. My father was pediatrician to mob kingpin kids, something that made me a little antsy but didn’t bother him. Yes, two people in my family made book and a good family friend disappeared, thought to have been done away with by the Mafia.

These things don’t happen in all Sicilian families but they do happen, as I can attest. And the drama makes good entertainment. That’s just fact. I have no problem with that. Maybe because I’m a writer. Everything is fodder.

In Season 2, Mrs. Maisel’s family goes to the Catskills and some Jewish viewers thought the scenarios were too stereotypical. But really, that’s what entertainment relies on, in my opinion: stereotypes and that little bit of truth that lies behind them. I’m just not in that politically correct mode, not even when it comes to my own culture. Because I see the ring of truth in those stereotypes of my people.  And have no problem with a fictional situation depicting them.

Tone Deaf Costumes

However, I can’t disagree that the wardrobe head was tone deaf when s/he put Catskills resort employees in striped uniforms reminiscent of what concentration camp garb. What were they thinking? No, no, no. Maybe s/he was too young to be aware of this but our generation is only TOO aware of it.

Annoying, Self-Centered Characters

You may have read one of my recent posts about the show, Transparent, also on Amazon. We hated every character. They just weren’t likable. And yet, the show was GREAT. So I have no problem with annoying, self-centered characters if that behavior is in the context of the story. Which it is. I’m never going to say I love those characters or Mrs. Maisel and company,  but I will say they are entertaining and the performances are exceptional.

When did we think “bland” and vanilla made for a good story?

Overt Displays of Wealth

This criticism cracked me up. Overt displays of wealth are GREAT entertainment! I love seeing them. They add color and fantasy and fun to a story.  And yes, sometimes even humor.

So here’s the deal: Mrs. Maisel is a cartoon and there’s nothing wrong with cartoons. Not one thing. They are tremendously entertaining!

Do you watch the show? What do you think?

16 comments on “Is Mrs. Maisel really so marvelous?
  1. I totally agree with you! As a Texan, I can say that most portrayals of Texans in movies and TV are greatly exaggerated and border on cartoonish, but there’s that glimmer of truth that makes me laugh. I admit I didn’t notice the similarity between the Catskill workers uniforms and concentration camp clothing, but as that could be the only thing remotely similar in those episodes, I think it’s just a random coincidence more than anything. I’m sure they wanted to make them distinctive, so it was either stripes or polka dots, since there’s already so much color!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Those resorts in the Catskills are still there and I don’t hear anyone complaining about it in Dirty Dancing? The recent criticism I’ve read is about the comic scenes because she’s an actress playing a comedian and other comedians feel that falls flat.

  3. Debbie D. says:

    My “Baby Boomer” self is so fed up with the über political-correctness being foisted on the public these days! I LOVE Mrs. Maisel and think it may have been inspired by Joan Rivers’ life to some degree. I agree with you that stereotypes do have an element of truth to them. It seems to me that everything portrayed in the series is fairly accurate for that 1950s time period. I didn’t really notice the Catskills uniforms. Surely that was unintentional?

  4. Laurie Stone says:

    I’ve tried to get into this show many times, but can’t. One of the problems is I never find her stand-ups that funny. I can’t root for her as much as I want. I agree, its lovely visually, but the rest leaves me cold.

  5. JANE GASSNER says:

    I’m working my way through Season Two. Here’s what I like about it: it sends me back in time to my adolescence as a Jewish girl in Pittsburgh in the 50s and 60s. My family didn’t go to the Catskills for the summer, but we knew New Yorkers who did. I so envied Judy Ross across the street (her father was in plumbing supplies)whose family spent the Easter/Passover break at the Concord. I’m tripping on the hair clips make for the hairdos in the days before rollers. I used to follow some very complicated patterns for pincurling my hair in Teen magazine, but the result never looked like I expected. It’s all the little things that I’m enjoying.A trip down Jewish memory lane.

  6. M Robinson says:

    I love, love, love the show! I did find a couple of the characters, and the overly chatty banter, annoying at first. But just like in real life, some people ARE annoying. So..maybe that means a well-written character. I’m a Gen X-er, so I find the show completely absorbing because it is all so different than my life. I love the clothes, the New York scenes, the club scenes, all of it. It’s a visual feast. For me, the Catskills episodes swept me away to something that I’ve heard about, but never experienced (and sometimes wish I could). And the use of color in the Catskills episodes was fantastic. (I didn’t catch the uniforms…) For me, the show is a fantasy of sorts and the characters are just that.My only issue – Miriam and Joel really need to spend some quality time with those kids.

  7. Donna says:

    Raymond and I have watched every single episode twice! We love every second of it, I think Tony Shalhoub is incredible I think the writing is so much fun…I loved the doctor she started dating…I cannot wait for more

  8. Exotic stereotypes make life more interesting and colorful. Stereotypes are like empty balloons, they are there, all different colors and sizes, just waiting to be blown up by film-makers and series creators to add fun to the party of life. It doesn’t take much to destroy a blown up balloon but is it any less real than an empty one? I know many stereo types can be negative and destructive for those who are affected by them but some are fun and impressive to those on the outside of them. And they do make life more fun for those of us whose stereotype is so bland no one makes films about us! ? I especially love seeing films and shows with overt displays of wealth – they’re great fun to watch and dream on! Have seen this show come up on my AP but never clicked on it – I will now thst I’ve read this. Thanks for the tip!

  9. Cathy says:

    I watch the show and love everything about it! The acting is superb. The one thing I didn’t notice was the resort employees outfits. Didn’t have clue.

  10. Touché! My husband and I just started watching the show in Dec, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Midge! Of COURSE the show is a complete caricature of a very small slice of life in 1950s America (as is every single other show ever made about life in 1950s America, ***including those actually made DURING the 1950s*** – after all, were this not the case, whatever would American Studies majors [which I once was] write long and rambling essays about?] Yes, Midge is completely and naïvely clueless about How The Other Half Lives, yes so much of the show is totally improbable on so many levels – BUT – everything from Midge’s jokes about parenting small children (to which I can relate even if she does seem to have a miraculous abundance of free child care), to her father the mathematician (I am married to one of those, and both he and I find her father to be 100% spot-on accurate, to the point that Dear Husband will tell you it’s REALLY a show about a mathematician who happens to have a family), makes me laugh out loud at least once per episode.

  11. H Munster says:

    The biggest problem with Mrs, Maisel is that her standup routines are not funny.
    The funniest character in the entire show is Midges father played by Tony Shaloub.
    Many of the characters are outright boring, like the exhusband Joel, what a lame character.

  12. janis sklare says:

    I watched the first 2 seasons and usually had trouble staying awake.I tried, but really no interest in this stupid annoying show. And,Midge’s standup routine is just not funny. She’s always annoying or pissing someone off. And, she talks way too fast, even when she’s not on stage doing her horrible comedy routine. I can barely understand her most of the time. Her hyperness makes me anxious. And her foul mouthed wise cracking agent gets old quickly. Honestly, I don’t get the hype about this show. Im prob just too old, nearly 60. This show holds no value or entertainment for me. When season 3 started a couple of weeks ago, I opted not to watch.Waste of time….

  13. Ricki says:

    I’m also around 60 and I love it from start to finish. If my mother had been funny, she could easily have been Midge Maisel.

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