Lately we have been watching on Will’s laptop on Prime the comedy The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The setting is the West side of New-York city in 1958-60. The story of a young woman Miriam Maisel (Midge) to her friends and her family, her father a professor at Columbia and her mother a Jewish matron. The setting being the late 1950’s all the context is very faithful to that era, so you have to remember or know what it was like then, the segregation between Jews and Gentiles, the Beatnik movement which will turn into the Hippie movement later, women questioning their role in society, a world still dominated by Father’s knows best and rigid conservative norms. All that is about to change and this is the background in which the actors evolve. It is jarring looking at it today in 2022 some 63 years later. Midge is 26 years old she would be 89 today, her too kids in their mid 60’s.
The inspiration for the show is Joan Rivers. Like Midge, Joan got her comedy career started in the 1950s at the Gaslight Cafe. Rivers is also a Jew and a New Yorker, two identities of Midge.
The music of the show is wonderful and so appropriate to the settings, the costumes are the best quality and very much of the time and all the scenery including the story line in Paris are actually Paris, no backdrop in a studio. It must have been an expensive production. Three seasons have been done and apparently a fourth is coming in February. I liked the part where they all go each Summer to the Catskills to an all Jewish resort called Steiner, not unlike Grossinger’s or the Concord, so popular then but gone now. The show reminds me a lot of the life then when I was growing up and how that world no longer exist. Midge works at the cosmetic counter of B. Altman in NYC, a now defunct big department store which catered to the luxury market when she is not doing a comedy act in N.Y. night clubs many of which were significant in their days with people like Lenny Bruce.
There are a lot of laughs but also some passages which remind you of what life was like and the focus on the hetero model, family, kids, social standing. Looking at it now, it all seems so strange and distant.