Show + tell: Paul Flynn’s top TV

It’s back to ’50s Man­hat­tan for more un­ex­pected stand-up com­edy and tears from Mrs Midge Maisel

Grazia (UK) - - Contents - with PAUL FLYNN Be­gins stream­ing Fri­day, Ama­zon Prime

AT THIS YEAR’S Em­mys, the new­comer an­nounce­ments went al­most unan­i­mously, in all the cat­e­gories that counted, to The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Best com­edy se­ries, lead ac­tress and sup­port­ing ac­tress were all bagged. When sea­son two drops in all its de­li­cious glory this week, Mrs Maisel, and her cutesy world of blown switch­boards, bro­ken mar­riages, Busby Berke­ley set­pieces and ’50s high camp in mob­ster New York, lands back on screen a bona fide star.

Mrs Maisel is the stage name of Miriam ‘Midge’ Weiss­man (Rachel Bros­na­han: amaz­ing). The mise-en-scène of her Up­per West Side do­mes­tic­ity was in­ter­rupted in sea­son one when she found Mr Meisel, Joel (Michael Ze­gen: not un­hot), fa­ther of their adorbs chil­dren, cheat­ing with his sec­re­tary. Miriam chan­nels her heartache into a sec­ond ca­reer as a stand-up comic, find­ing an un­likely pa­tron in the shadow of Lenny Bruce. When she fi­nally makes it to cur­tain call, Joel hears his now ex-wife bad­mouthing him from the side­lines. Et voilà: Ross and Rachel by way of Mad Men are given wings. His weak­ness can only lead to her strength.

The hit fac­tor is eas­ily dis­sectible. The hand­i­work of Gil­more Girls cre­ator Amy Sher­man-pal­adino, rev­els in its own the­atri­cal­ity, wrong-foot­ing the au­di­ence at each im­mac­u­lately art-di­rected turn. Bros­na­han goes hell for leather on Miriam’s tenac­ity while nurs­ing her shat­tered life. In the first episode of sea­son two, she trav­els to Paris to try and res­cue her mother who has walked away from her mar­riage. She finds her way on to a drag club stage, ef­fort­lessly en­ter­tain­ing a smoky room of cyn­i­cal Parisians. The rose-tinted thrill of the show – pacey and dis­tinct – is never less than an inch be­low the tear-stained maquil­lage of its sur­face.

As an en­sem­ble piece it’s pretty much flaw­less. Mrs Maisel’s butch agent Susie, her par­ents Rose and Abe, her brawl­ing mother-in-law Shirley all feel like they’ve been cast from the toast of Broad­way. But it’s the mes­sag­ing at the heart of Mrs Maisel in which its true marvel re­sides. Some peo­ple get a new hair­cut when they’re dumped. Mrs Maisel gets a shot at a whole sec­ond life. That will never not warm the cock­les of a mass mar­ket hun­gry for the tini­est morsel of sin­cer­ity among the bro­ken trust of mod­ern Amer­i­cana. Bravo and en­core, dear Midge.

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