We live in a world where every single aspect of society has been impinged upon by a patriarchal viewpoint that finds it beneficial to applaud masculine values and demean women. Despite being intelligent, resilient, intuitive and strong, a woman is not allowed to let her voice heard as easily and as agreeably as a man. We suppress them with excuses that ‘they aren’t physically strong’, ‘they have no might’, ‘they aren’t capable’, and yet we keep them away from opportunities where power is not a job-requirement. The President of a country doesn’t need to be a body-builder, the Army general does not need to have six-pack abs, a Scientist does not require a six foot frame. And yet, despite the despicable rules put forth by a regressive society, women have proven time and again that they can do everything that a man can, and more.
The President of a country doesn’t need to be a body-builder, the Army general does not need to have six-pack abs, a Scientist does not require a six foot frame. And yet, despite the despicable rules put forth by a regressive society, women have proven time and again that they can do everything that a man can, and more.
Pardon me for putting you through that rant but I wanted to give you a taste of the pent up diatribe that a woman wakes up to everyday. Stand-up as an art form has been one of the few platforms where people from all walks of life can say things that they can’t in a conventional social construct. Even though stand-up comedy is a fairly new phenomenon in India, it has been around in other parts of the world since the 40s. Cafés and Clubs have been the cultural hot-spots where artists of all genres would come out to try their hands at open mics. Even though stand-up promised a voice to anyone, notwithstanding their sex, the latent patriarchy did seep into it over the years. Women stand-up comics are still few and far between as compared to the flurry of male comics that crop up every week. Take a test. Name five female stand-up comedians in India in 30 seconds. Drawing a blank ? Okay now think of five male stand-ups. Yep, there you go. Even in the 21st century, men are loath to hear a confident woman speak her voice.
Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is set in 50s America where a cultural transformation is sweeping through the land. New art-forms are being realized in every corner and people are embracing it with vigour. Miriam “Midge” Maisel is an Upper West Side girl, born and bred in an affluent Jewish family without want in life. She falls in love with Joel and together they make a couple as quirky and as in love as Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 days of summer. Joel is a closet stand-up comic and dreams of making it big in the circuit someday and Midge is fully supportive of him. However, after bombing miserably at an event, Joel is a broken man. In an impulsive moment he blames Midge for his failure and walks out from the marriage. Midge is heartbroken at the sudden turn of events. She gets drunk and gets on the subway to the Gaslight café, the very place where her husband had bombed. In a stupor, she gets on stage and rants about her broken marriage. Even though she doesn’t realize what she is doing, the manager notices the roaring laughter that she gets from the audience.
Cut to a few weeks later and the manager at the Gaslight café, Susie Myerson , convinces her that in her fifteen years of observing stand-up she had only been blown away twice and that Midge’s “performance” was one of them. Midge, however, is not sure as there’s a lot going on in her life. She has to navigate the tight Jewish community that she lives in, not to mention her very possessive parents who had not taken the separation lightly. After much persuasion, Susie takes her on a comedy hop through town to show her how its done. Midge is intrigued by the prospect and starts trying out on her own. She has a natural flair for observing people and telling stories and is an instant hit, until she tells an insulting inside story about a comedy icon and is barred out of the comedy circuit. Midge and Susie are flustered that they had been chucked out even before their career had taken off. Midge is now faced with a daunting challenge of establishing her own name in a world where men still rule the field.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a fast-paced and vibrant period comedy-drama about an unlikely protagonist in an unconventional journey to becoming a stand-up comic who is just herself. She talks about life as it is without the farcical garb of a fake character or a caricature. Rachel Brosnahan is incredible as Mrs. Maisel putting invigorating energy into the character. She can be caustic and inspiring at the same time, strong and weak in the same moment. Alex Borstein as the manager of the Gaslight café is a misfit who lives in a cardboard box but one look at Midge and she is sold to her potential as a comic. Despite being an unpredictable cynic, as a woman she steadfastly stands by Midge and makes it her life’s purpose to break her out to the world. Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle as Midge’s parents Moishe and Shirley are colorful characters who are fervently unreasonable at times and behave childishly in scenes that are hilariously played out.
Amy Sherman-Palladino’s portrayal of 1950s America feels starkly similar to modern day and the only thing that binds them together is the kind of unabashed stand-up that is taking place in the clubs. Even though the values are 60 years old, the conversations feel modern and progressive thanks to Midge’s strong sense of humor and her infectious confidence. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a breath of fresh air in terms of the concept, the production value and last but not the least, in terms of a woman telling her story to the world without any inhibition, exactly as it should be.
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of the show and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.