The billboard loomed above me on La Brea Avenue: the marvelous mrs. maisel, it said in a twinkly, 1950s-style font, as a fetching young woman in a pillbox hat smiled down at me. My heart sank—not another museum-quality period piece from the gods of television. Then one day a friend mentioned the show over lunch. She’d heard it was good. That night I punched it up on my iPhone while I was lying in bed, but hit pause almost as soon as it started so I could put on my glasses and beam it onto a bigger screen. And then I tumbled into it, episode after episode, and I have to confess: It is literally a feel-good show. You see the damn thing and you feel … good. Evidently I wasn’t alone in needing just that. It won big at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards this past winter. By September—when more and more people will have seen the show, which streams on Amazon—it’s sure to be rewarded with Emmys.
Is there by now a more settled science in all of the television academy than the fact that married women of the 1950s were bored out of their minds, a lost generation stuck with the babies and pets while their dundering, no-good husbands were rewarded with the elysian pleasures of selling life insurance and rotating tires? So when The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel begins on Miriam “Midge” Maisel’s wedding day—candlelight and orchids, an ivory dress and floor-length veil—we know we are looking at a doomed creature. “This day is perfect; it’s like a dream,” she says, and she might as well be Jackie Kennedy accepting bouquets at Love Field. Here we go again, we think to ourselves, and wait for the crash: her plaintive discovery that she’s been left with the laundry and the children, the realization that the college girl full of potential is gone, and that no one else seems to miss her.