The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel TV Poster Image
Strong women, lots of energy in charming period piece.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Midge making a go of a comedy career after a personal loss presents a powerful message of female strength. But there are lots of iffy messages about looks and weight, particularly from Midge's mom, who worries that her (very slender) daughter isn't wearing "thinning" clothing and that her granddaughter isn't pretty enough: "I just want her to be happy and it's easier to be happy when you're pretty." Midge herself says that her college roommate was "friendly and fat, which was good because I'll have someone to eat with who doesn't steal my boyfriend." She also measures her body parts daily to make sure she's staying thin. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Midge is a strong and tenacious woman who may inspire viewers to go the extra mile when trying to make things happen. Her friend/manager Susie is a woman who doesn't conform to the gender stereotypes of the period, and doesn't care -- she just wants to make her mark on the world. 

Violence

No physical violence, but at one point Susie asks Midge if she was "chick-raped" in jail. 

Sex

Breasts are visible in nonsexual contexts: a woman dancing in a burlesque bar loses one of her pasties; Midge exposes her breasts on a comedy stage to prove she's still sexy. A couple has sex against a wall with moaning and thrusting, but no nudity. Women bleach their pubic hair; a bare backside is briefly visible, but genitals are covered. 

Language

Cursing and language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "hell," "p---y" (implying a man is weak), "whores," "balls," and colorful expressions: "Holy f---ing Christ-balls."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes take place at bars where characters drink cocktails, beer, and wine. At one point Midge guzzles from a wine bottle, says she's drunk, and climbs onto a stage to do an impromptu performance. Jokes talk about sniffing airplane glue, smoking pot, and drinking champagne. Many side characters smoke, but not main characters. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a comedy about a 1950s housewife who becomes a stand-up comic after a breakup. The character is charming, effervescent, even inspirational as a portrait of a woman who simply refuses to let anything stand in the way of her success. There are also lots of iffy messages contained in jokes. Midge's mom worries excessively about looks and weight, criticizing her daughter's looks and saying that her granddaughter isn't pretty enough and won't have a happy life. Midge herself measures her body parts daily to make sure she's staying thin. Her body anxiety also plays a part in a scene in which she exposes her breasts onstage in order to prove she was a good wife (good wife = good looking). Breasts are also visible in a scene in which a burlesque dancer loses a pastie, and a bare butt is visible when a woman bleaching her pubic hair runs around in agony. A couple has sex against a wall with moaning and thrusting, but no nudity. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "hell," "p---y" (implying a man is weak), "whores," "balls." Many scenes take place at bars, and characters handle emotional blows by drinking heavily and then making choices they might not have made when sober. Many characters smoke, but not main characters. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byR F. December 13, 2017

More nudity

I could only watch about 3 min of this show because in that three minutes they show girls bleaching their pubic hair and then a burlesque dancer with pasties gy... Continue reading
Parent Written byTressie H. January 10, 2018

Watched from a recommendation

I watched this from the recommendation of a podcaster. Yes it is a lot like Gilmore Girls in the fast talking and quick wit. However, the language and vulgari... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bylivspec January 15, 2018

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is MARVELOUS

I just started watching this show with my mom and it is FANTASTIC. Quick witted, positive, funny, and delightfully set, I wholeheartedly recommend this show to... Continue reading

What's the story?

Co-created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls, Bunheads) and Daniel Palladino (Family Guy), THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL introduces us to the inimitable Miriam "Midge" Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a Manhattan housewife in 1958 whose main concerns are keeping a nice house, hanging on to her figure, and advancing the stand-up comedy career of her husband, Joel (Michael Zegen). But when her life takes an unexpected turn, she discovers she has hidden talents. So, with the help of her bullheaded new manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), Midge takes on the coffeehouses and basement comedy clubs of Greenwich Village in the hopes it will lead her all the way to a career-making appearance on Johnny Carson's late-night show. 

Is it any good?

Laced with wit and sass, set in a mid-century dream of upscale New York, and starring an actress who could easily pass for a third Gilmore girl, this winning comedy is a delight. At a time when women were supposed to be demure little housewives, confining their interests and passions to producing perfect dinners and obedient children, Midge is a firecracker -- albeit one who's doing her level best to fit into an Upper East Side mold. "Who gives a toast at her own wedding?" she asks the camera in her first words of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She does -- because despite a mother (Marin Hinkle) who's always criticizing her, and a husband who doesn't appreciate her, Midge knows her own worth. She knows she's funny, and she knows that when she gets on a stage in front of a microphone, people laugh -- and that doesn't happen for everybody. 

It helps -- Midge's career, and our entertainment -- that she's starting off in an era in which comedy was big, and getting bigger; when comedy albums sold, and a chance to sit on Carson's couch could launch a funny person into stardom. Lenny Bruce makes an appearance, as does the Friar's Club, pot-smoking beatniks, grimy Greenwich Village clubs, and any number of other vintage delights. Best of all is Alex Borstein as Midge's determined manager, a women who sees something amazing in Midge, a star quality she herself lacks. "I've accepted that I'll always be alone," she tells Midge in her authentically miniscule, moldy Village apartment from atop her Murphy bed, her eyes burning fiercely. "But I don't want to be insignificant." A whole world of misfits will see themselves in Susie and Midge, two women who are underrated by everyone -- but themselves. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the time period in which The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was set. What jobs were typically open to women at that time? Was "performer" or "comic" one of them? What female comics can you name from the 1950s? Would it have been harder or more unusual for a woman to succeed in comedy? Is it harder or more unusual now? 

  • How do Susie and Midge demonstrate courage and teamwork in building Midge's comedy career? Why are these important character strengths?

  • Both male and female characters mistreat women in this show. What examples of sexism can you name? How does the show want us to feel about its female characters and how they are treated? 

TV details

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