#Opinion

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Tells Us Everything Wrong In Society

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The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, an Amazon Prime Original, has come forward as an inclusive show talking about issues and stereotypes of 1950 Manhattan without being offensive or derogatory.

In 2019, the series received 8 major nominations and four awards with 20 Primetime Emmys to date. While being a drama-comedy, it also spoke about the societal issues of Manhattan in the year 1950 in its own way along with dealing with the life of housewife-turned-comedian, Mrs Maisel.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel was first released in 2017 with its season 3 released in the year 2019. Amazon announced season 4 back in December 2019 and is expected to be released in December 2021.

The Emmys winner comes across as a feminist show for many. With a woman-centric plot, it talks about the life of Midge Maisel, a housewife who becomes a comedian, a career dominated by men in an era that does not really see women standing up and speaking out loud.

We see the character development of Midge from a dependent housewife to an independent woman who stands up to crack jokes as well as challenge society.

Here’s a list of issues it spoke about throughout the seasons:

  1. Jewish Identity

The Jewish identity forms the basis of the plot in a way. Midge hails from a Jewish background and the show addresses the prolonged stereotypes in the Jewish culture. It talks about an era when the Jews became Americans and started settling in the Upper West.

It is an era when the young Jewish men started pursuing comedy and often mocked the Jewish women for being needy and ostentatious.

While most comics often mocked their “Jewishness” to make jokes, Midge celebrates her identity and used it to her advantage. In the scene during her first stand up, when someone from the audience commented that she should go back to her kitchen, she cleverly replies, “Oh sir, I’m Jewish. I pay people to do that.”

  1. Gender roles

Another aspect shown in the series is the prevalence of gender roles. The 1950s was an era where men dominated women. Unlike today, there was less or no advocacy of gender equality. Women were expected to look after the family and household while maintaining their status in society.

Men, on the other hand, were supposed to go out into the world and earn bread. They were supposed to be taken care of and respected while women were often left behind the curtain.

The show challenges this bias by giving the lead to a female character in a way that the plot is narrated from a female point of view. It focuses on bringing the women out of their houses, into the world to create an identity of their own.

“Womanness” is defined by the way how a woman looks and carries herself and is set by beauty standards. The pursuit of the male gaze also hardly sees Susie Myers as a woman for her “manly” attitude and appearance.

  1. Homosexuality

The show features homosexuality exactly the way it was pursued by the people of the era. It called upon the stereotypes relating to the gender queer and the hesitation of queer people in coming out. In season 3, Midge befriends and opens for singer Shy Baldwin’s performances. While we see a budding romance between the two, it is later revealed that he is gay.

Midge finds him on a yacht: drunk and beaten up, when he admits that he brought a date back from a bar and was beaten up by him pointing out that he was gay. He wanted his sexuality to remain a secret or else it would have jeopardised his career and would be questioned by many. Midge realises this and keeps it a secret until she unintentionally jokes about him comparing him to a gay person.

  1. Class difference

The class difference in the show is depicted by the Upper West and the working class. While Midge comes from a well-to-do Upper West family, Susie is a working-class manager. The contrast between the two worlds is highlighted very well while keeping it out of the friendship of the two women.

The Upper West is shown as civilised and cultured while the working-class is more barbaric, a hub of drunkards. The women of the Upper West have a status to maintain, to be well-dressed and behave properly in contrast with the working class who are tougher. The Upper West females are more engaged in gossips, kitty parties and beauty standard while the working-class women seek to earn money and work hard for their survival.

  1. Women in the comic industry

The show displays a huge gap between male and female comics, which is relevant even today. It features the bias and discrimination female comics had to face and the stereotypes of the comic industry.

Sophie Lennon, a parallel of Midge Maisel one of the few successful female comics in the 1950s. Her success is regarded to her comedy of the female appearance which fuels the stereotypes. She advises Midge that they are mere objects which Midge refuses to accept.

Views expressed by the author are their own.