Last week, Amazon dropped “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and it’s a real charmer. From Amy Sherman-Palladino of “Gilmore Girls,” the comedy-drama is about a young Upper West Side housewife in 1958 who gets dumped by her husband and stumbles into the world of stand-up comedy. On the stage making jokes, Midge Maisel develops independence and a new sense of identity, freeing herself from a culture and an era that prefer women to remain at home. There’s tons of Jewish humor, as well as insight into what does and doesn’t work in comedy.
But the big revelation of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is its star, Rachel Brosnahan, who plays Midge. She makes the two different sides of Midge — the mother who cooks brisket and the snarky lady who lobs jokes — equally believable. You can see how this good daughter (to parents played by Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub, both excellent) has been hiding her best side her entire life, choosing instead to throw all her supportive energy behind her husband, who doesn’t deserve it. She has been devoting herself to one goal: domestic bliss. Now that she’s tapping her reservoir of jokes, many of them crude, all of them autobiographical, there’s no stopping her.
Brosnahan also has the skill essential to most actors in a Sherman-Palladino show: She can give very fast line readings without sounding too much like a woodpecker.
Brosnahan has been around for a while, with roles on “The Blacklist,” “House of Cards,” and “Manhattan.” But I never paid too much attention until now. She’s indelible in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — yup, she’s marvelous.