‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ is the best show of the Time’s Up era
Amazon’s popular series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is back for its second season and, surprisingly, the candy-colored dramedy might be the best show in this Time’s Up era.
Spoilers below for the second episode of “Maisel” Season 2.
In the second episode of Season 2, 1950s housewife-turned-standup comedian Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) goes to perform at a comedy club. Her set keeps getting pushed back, first one hour, then two, as male comedians take her spot and make sneering jokes about her audacity of being a “chick comedian.” When the host finally introduces her, it’s with this line: “Welcome an adorable lady — who, if she can’t make you laugh, can at least make you dinner.”
Midge takes the stage and proceeds to verbally annihilate the men.
“Comedy is fueled by oppression. By lack of power. By sadness and disappointment. By abandonment and humiliation. Now who the hell does that describe more than women?” she says, as the room laughs. After mocking each of the male comedian’s sets, she surveys them and says, “All I see is a lineup of men who had to go into comedy just to get laid.”
It’s undeniably satisfying to see Midge defend her place in this world and lash out at those who question it. And, most importantly, the scene is very funny.
Many shows that have responded to this cultural moment have been so gravely serious, they border on misery-porn (the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale”). Or they’re otherwise intense and heavy (comedian Hannah Gadsby’s popular Netflix standup special “Nanette”).
This isn’t to say they shouldn’t be — systemic sexism is a complicated issue, and it is serious. But by coating it in bright colors and humor, “Maisel” makes it palatable to audience members who might otherwise avoid more serious fare. It’s a Trojan horse kind of approach to delivering the message.
There’s value in presenting serious topics disguised by humor — and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” knows it.
Season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Video.
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