‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ actresses, Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, share hidden talents, bucket lists, regrets and more with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on “Six Minute Marathon with Savannah.”
‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ actresses, Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, share hidden talents, bucket lists, regrets and more with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on “Six Minute Marathon with Savannah.”
The second season of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s 1950s comedy about an indomitable performer is as delightfully escapist as ever.
There are a handful of fleeting moments watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when reality bites. Like when a well-intentioned woman in a Paris nightclub gives the stand-up comedian Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) the number of a psychoanalyst, telling her, “He’s done wonders for my friend Sylvia Plath.” Or every time Susie (Alex Borstein), Midge’s manager, is referred to as “that” or “it.” The pleasure of watching the series, for me, is always slightly tempered by the anxiety that Midge has lost or forgotten one of her children—an event so plausible that the neglect of baby Esther has been written into Season 2 as a running gag, where even Esther’s first word seems to be a response to the fact that she’s so persistently ignored.
None of this, though, is the point. Of course The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a fantasy: The strands in its double helix are formed out of old Leslie Caron movies, Borscht-belt humor, millinery, and whimsy. It’s gorgeous, spun-sugar escapism, with pearls, a potty mouth, and a Lilly Daché pillbox. Whenever anything even bends in the direction of inconvenience, it’s swiftly dispatched by Midge’s indomitable optimism and/or her rapid-fire repartee. A cheating husband, sexist comedians, threats of violence from an overzealous manager—all are overcome in what feels like minutes, bitter fruit squeezed ferociously by Midge into the captivating lemonade of her comedy act.
The first season of Mrs. Maisel won critical acclaim, two Golden Globes, and eight Emmys. The second, released in its entirety Wednesday on Amazon, is just as beguiling, even if it circles the runway a good few times before landing. If Season 1 was the origin story for how the wreckage of Midge’s failed marriage helped her find an unlikely new calling, Season 2 is the part where she has to reconcile the two very different faces of her superheroic identity. By day she’s a working mother (with more narrative emphasis on the “working” part), operating the switchboard at B. Altman after a makeup-floor fracas with her husband’s ex-mistress got her booted from the Revlon counter. By night she’s an up-and-coming comedian (the word struggling doesn’t really apply), honing her act and fighting her boorish rivals, whom she humiliates onstage.
Amy Sherman-Palladino, who wrote and directed half of the 10 episodes (her husband and producing partner, Daniel Palladino, wrote another four), goes all in on the escapism front, sweeping Midge and her parents, Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose (Marin Hinkle), off to Paris in the first episode, after Abe finally notices that his wife has absconded to the city. The scenes that follow are loaded with every cliché in the 1950s-film playbook: street musicians, obstreperous French apartment managers, couples in clinches on the banks of the Seine. It’s a lavish, lovely spectacle, even if it quashes some of the momentum surrounding Midge’s career, a question mark that seems to frustrate Borstein’s superb Susie. (“Money is my main goal,” she tells Midge. “I don’t have any, and I’d like some.”)
Midge’s privilege, pointed out by some critics in Season 1, becomes more exposed in the new episodes, if not fully illuminated. Midge’s boss at B. Altman tells her that she’s the “most presentable of the basement girls,” a lightly veiled statement that ushers Midge back from switchboard purgatory to the first-floor cloakroom. Susie repeatedly reminds Midge that their stakes in her career are very different. For Midge, comedy is a thrilling diversion, but for Susie—who becomes at least partially homeless and scrounges food wherever she can find it—it’s a lifeline. In one scene, Susie comments nakedly on Midge’s “doorman and your maid and your child care and your bottomless closet,” a moment that seems to nod to Midge’s frequent moments of delusion (in a subsequent scene, Midge blunders into an ill-advised wedding speech that brings the bride to tears).
Brosnahan’s performance, though, doesn’t leave much room for unlikability. She’s just too charming, too unflappable, too determined to bend the world to her will. In the fourth episode, Midge, her parents, and the kids (it’s unclear for a good 10 minutes whether Esther is in the car) head to their annual summer vacation in the Catskills at a Dirty Dancing–style camp called Steiner Mountain Resort, complete with a beauty salon, 10-pin bowling, rowboats, and its very own welcome song. Mrs. Maisel’s costume designer, Donna Zakowska, goes to town in the new locale, dressing Midge and Rose in an endless array of floral-print sundresses and bonnets and cat-eye sunglasses. It’s a reminder that few shows on television look as unfailingly lovely as this one, or have the budget to scheme up such elaborate period productions.
The Catskills excursion also gives the show the opportunity to provide the world with a visual bonbon it never knew it needed: the sight of Tony Shalhoub, in a tan romper, going through the motions of a 1959 fitness routine. Shalhoub is, as ever, one of Mrs. Maisel’s greatest gifts, and the second season makes ample space for Abe’s endearing eccentricities, as well as his renewed relationship with Rose. The show also spends more time with Shirley and Moishe Maisel (Caroline Aaron and Kevin Pollak), Midge’s in-laws, and the strange dealings of their clothing business (one of the more engaging plot threads involves Shirley having squirreled money away in locations she draws on a treasure map because the Maisels don’t trust banks).
For all its costume-party clothing, hijinks, splashy locations, and detailed montages (and Sherman-Palladino takes the opportunity for a montage every time she gets one), the heart of the series is ultimately Midge’s comedy. Anything else the show might do, whether it’s heartbreak on moonlit Paris streets or comic interludes in Rose’s life-drawing class, feels like wheel-spinning. That’s why it’s so gratifying whenever Midge finally gets on a stage—any stage, and the mechanics of the first few episodes have her finding a fair few by happy accident. It’s her true gift, her irrepressible passion, her calling. Midge’s most successful stand-up routines find power in truth, whether she’s pinioning sexist comics who colluded to make her the last person onstage, or feeding off a French audience that finds her tales of her husband’s infidelity highly unremarkable.
Sherman-Palladino’s writing is never sharper than in Midge’s act, and Brosnahan’s timing and charisma sell her completely as a nascent star. Mrs. Maisel is the kind of show that could easily go on forever: Not because of its thorny romantic subplots (Zachary Levi plays a new suitor for Midge in Season 2, even though her chemistry with Luke Kirby’s Lenny Bruce is more interesting) or Midge’s engagingly offbeat relatives, but because the trajectory of Midge’s career seems so obvious. Sherman-Palladino has written a woman who’s fearless, blunt, and brilliant at what she does, and watching her rise is Mrs. Maisel’s trump card, even if the show is taking a moment to truly play it.
Source: The Atlantic
“She’s f—ing good!”
Those are the words Midge Maisel’s husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), uses to describe his wife (Rachel Brosnahan) as a stand-up comic in the season 1 finale of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Throughout the first season, Midge kept her new career a secret from her entire family. But in season 2, which launched on Amazon Prime Video on Wednesday, the jig is up and Midge is forced to blend her two lives.
“The first season followed Midge discovering her voice in a brand new way after her picture perfect life fell apart and season 2 tracks the ripple effect how this explosive secret she’s sitting on,” says Brosnahan, who was nominated for a second Golden Globe on Thursday morning. “Her newfound career in stand-up comedy affects everyone around her and then in turn how that limits her well-practiced ability to compartmentalize those different parts of her life.”
Brosnahan is particularly thrilled with how her character’s relationship with her manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), has evolved in the new season.
“It’s been really wonderful exploring how their friendship becomes more intimate and their partnership becomes more real for both of them,” she says.
While the actress is honored to be nominated for her work in season 2 (especially after her Golden Globe and Emmy wins for season 1), she wasn’t exactly waiting by the phone for the Golden Globe nominations to be announced early Thursday morning.
“I’m in Prague and because of the time difference I was a little bit confused about when all this would be going down, so I actually was on a walking tour of the city and had just stepped foot inside a large Gothic cathedral when my phone started buzzing, I was trying not to look at it out of respect to the church!” she says. “But it’s great to know we’re not the only ones who are proud of it and we’re just so grateful that people continue to love the show as much as we do. The real win was to be able to play a role like this with creators and writers and directors that I admire so greatly and with this cast, I mean, come on! All of this stuff is just icing on the cake and it’s nice to be invited back to the party. It sounds so cliché but it’s so true, I’ve already won.”
Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
The star of Amazon’s period piece set in the ‘50s New York comedy scene also talks season 2.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is all about the trials and tribulations of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a wife abandoned by her adulterous husband Joel (Michael Zegen) who decides to radically transform her personal and professional life. It’s also about a slew of strong supporting characters played by the likes of Marin Hinkle, Tony Shalhouband Alex Borstein.
And through it all, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel manages to remain one of the fastest shows on television. It’s almost as if co-creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino purposefully wanted to keep their performers on their toes, but the cast doesn’t seem to mind – especially Brosnahan.
“Our prep time was often short between shooting episodes,” she tells Metro, “so learning that volume of dialogue as quickly as was necessary was definitely the biggest ongoing challenge for us.”
Even so, like Borstein, the Emmy Award-winning actress is up for the challenge. After all, despite the forgivable assumption that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 would slow down a tad following its rapid first outing, nothing could be farther from the truth.
“Things didn’t feel like they slowed down to us,” says Brosnahan. “Midge is still her same fast talkin’, fast walkin’ self. She’s spinning so many plates at once while trying to keep her comedic alter-ego a secret from her family.” As a result, she notes, filming for season 2 actually “felt faster than ever from the inside.”
Throughout the first season, Midge spent her nights refining her natural comedic abilities with the help of her fellow comic and manager, Susie (Borstein), while juggling a day job and two children. Season 2 is much of the same, which makes sense as it services the story Sherman-Palladino and Palladino want to tell. But it’s the show’s attention to historical detail, albeit with a few dramatized flourishes, that has caught the attention of comedy aficionados.
The co-creators are known for their detail-oriented writing style. What’s more, the new season’s writer’s room included two playwrights and two comedians, the latter group consisting of Jen Kirkman and Noah Gardenswartz. Their inclusion is especially felt whenever Midge or another comedian character is performing onstage, but Brosnahan and company also appreciated their involvement for another reason: realism.
Television shows about stand-up comedians are a dime a dozen. This is as true for “Peak TV” as it was for the advent of the modern sitcom. Yet the details in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are remarkable. Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) recurs throughout both seasons, as does the Phyllis Diller-esque Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch). Even the black evening gown, matching gloves and pearls Midge wears in her final performance of season 1 is reminiscent of Joan Rivers.
All of this, and more, helps the program stand apart, and Brosnahan couldn’t be more relieved for it.
“I’m so relieved that most of them don’t hate us,” she says. “It’s been encouraging to hear from quite a few comedians that, despite usually hating depictions of stand-up in film and on television, Midge’s journey resonates with them.”
She concludes “the process of honing material, vying for prime slots and even losing a grip on one’s societal filters apparently seems familiar to them.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
There was a sense of déjà vu at work as Rachel Brosnahan received her Golden Globe nomination for actress in a comedy or musical series Thursday. This year began with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star winning the Golden Globe in the same category for the first season of her show. Now, as 2018 draws to a close, she has been nominated for the second season, which debuted Wednesday on Amazon.
“It’s just wild,” said Brosnahan, reached by phone as she was playing tourist while on location for an upcoming movie set in Prague. “It’s the warmest welcome for Season 2.” Below, she speaks about her nomination and some of the key sights in the Czech Republic capital.
The day would seem to be starting on a good note for you, right?
I’m actually in Prague, so it’s just gotten dark. It’s evening for me. I was very awake when I got the news. I’ve only been in Prague for a couple of days so I’m still not quite with the time difference. I was actually on a walking tour. And I was in a Gothic cathedral, I guess, and was trying not to look at my phone as it was going off. I just continued on the walking tour. I waited until I got out of the church to check my phone.
The Globes have sort of become part of the show’s success story — did it seem that way to you, that last year’s win gave the show a boost?
Absolutely — 100%. We had just aired the first season when nominations were announced last year. It was really what helped people find us to begin with. We are so grateful to be recognized for a second — they are absolutely part of the beginning of our story. It both feels like eternity ago and like yesterday.
Do you think that Midge would do well hosting the Globes?
I think Midge [Brosnahan’s character in the show] would be so great at this; Rachel, uhhhh.
What do you remember from the ceremony last year?
Very little, honestly. I feel like I was just buzzing the whole night. I was so nervous and excited — so many conflicting emotions. I just remember seeing Oprah and forgetting everything, including my name. It was a really special night. One I have completely forgotten and one I will never forget.
An element of the show that people have really admired is the dynamic between Midge and Susie — here were two friends who didn’t spend their time just talking about men. Was that refreshing for you?
It was unbelievably refreshing for me as an actress to read this friendship. And for it to be at the center of Midge’s story. There aren’t nearly enough shows — although, there are more now — but growing up, there weren’t nearly enough shows that explored the ins and outs of female friendships. They can be ugly and messy and intensely intimate and magical all at the same time. We definitely explore more of those dynamics in Season 2.
Have you had time to talk to Alex [Borstein] yet?
Not yet! I just got finished with this walking tour. I’m on my way back to my hotel to send some texts and emails.
What’s been the best part of that walking tour? Maybe we can give Prague visitors some tips.
We went up to Prague Castle, which is extraordinary. And just getting to see so much of Prague in this 2 ½-hour tour. It was amazing. It gave me a lot of ideas of where I’d like to go back to and explore more. I’m here for another 10 days or so. I’m shooting a film out here called “Ironbark.”
How do you plan to celebrate tonight?
I’m gonna walk around Prague some more and find a restaurant and have a beer. And I just found out that Benedict Cumberbatch, who is also in the movie, was nominated for “Patrick Melrose.” I’m gonna have to track him down and give him a squeeze when the walking is over.
Source: Los Angeles Times
When forming her character, the actress looked to both historical and contemporary female comedians.
When we first meet Midge Maisel of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, she thinks she has it all: a husband, a beautiful apartment, and two healthy kids (though she seems to forget about them fairly often). Hell, the rabbi is even coming over for Yom Kippur—a coup that Midge mentions to anyone who will listen.
Of course, it doesn’t take long for her perfect world to fall apart. Halfway through the pilot episode, her beloved husband Joel up and leaves, abruptly revealing an ongoing affair with his secretary. At a loss (and more than a few drinks in), Midge stumbles onto the downtown stage from which Joel once poorly riffed. The starts to tell jokes and she’s good—really, really good.
So begins Midge’s quest to become a Great Stand-up Comedian, aided in no small part by her manager, Susie Myerson, and real-life midcentury comedian Lenny Bruce. By the end of the season, she’s performing regularly, and often getting in trouble for it—whether with the cops or, as in the finale’s cliffhanger, with her maybe-not-ex-husband Joel.
We spoke with Rachel Brosnahan (now up for her second Golden Globe in the role!), to get an idea of where Midge’s head is at the start of season two—and of where she might go in the future.
What comics did you look to when you were trying to figure out how to play Midge?
Before I’d ever met [creators and showrunners] Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] or spoke to anyone about it—having read the script and done some research about the first female comedians—I discovered a woman named Jean Carroll, who I’d never heard of. She was a whip-smart, beautiful, hilarious comedian, and I found her work as early as 1955. I initially thought that Midge must be inspired by her. I later learned that Midge is just Midge, and sort of inspired by a lot of different comedians.
So I looked toward Jean Carroll, Joan Rivers of course, Phyllis Diller, Moms Maybley, Don Rickles, Elaine May. Yeah, many, many people. I love research; I’m a nerd.
Did you do any historical research to get into a 1950s state of mind?
I did a lot of research about what it meant to be a woman and a housewife during that time. I went on eBay and bought a lot of vintage Good Housekeeping magazines, and other women’s magazine titles that are escaping me. I read the kind of advice that women were being given, and taking in, and teaching their children. And yeah, watched a couple documentaries about New York in the 1950s. I just tried to place myself in the period.
Was there any advice in those magazines that stuck out to you as particularly insightful?
Oh gosh. The stuff that disturbed me the most were the articles advising how to get a husband. You know, “make sure you smell nice; make sure you don’t talk too loudly, or wear colors that are too bright.” Basically, “be seen in an appealing way, but not heard too much, but enough that you seem smart.” I mean just the number of rules and restrictions— how much you should eat, you know, in front of a man—were… disturbing. Unpleasant.
To say the least.
Yeah. But you know, but there was also some great advice about dress patterns and good decor. It was fascinating.
I’m sure. It seems like a whole other world.
Yeah it was. I found some amazing advertisements. Because I’d obviously read the pilot, with that now infamous scene where Midge goes to sleep with her makeup on, and wakes up in the middle of the night to take it off, and wakes up early in the morning to put it back on. I pulled an advertisement where a woman was pictured in bed with a full face of makeup on. I was like, “this, this is the message we were sending.”
Do you have a favorite costume that you got to wear?
So impossible to choose. We have so many incredible costumes. Our costume designer Donna Zakowska has continued to outdo herself in this season. She really has.
We’ve entered summer, which is a new season for the show, so Midge has some fabulous summer dresses and a good swimsuit. I go back and forth on my favorite. It’s probably her summer dress which she arrives in the Catskills in, which you see a little bit of in the trailer. It’s this beautiful yellow floral dress, and it has a yellow hat and matching yellow shoes and a cute little yellow bag. And I just love it. It’s a happy dress.
Do you have to wear period undergarment like girdles or corsets?
So I’m in a corset. It’s not a period corset, thank goodness. It’s not one of those stick your foot in someone’s back and pull as tight as you can corsets. Its purpose is only to change the placement of my waist. Because per our brilliant Donna, in the 1950s it was very fashionable to have a very long waist, the longer the better. And so a lot of the costumes and designs are done that way. My waist is more of a 1940s shape, it’s kind of right in the middle of my body, and so the corset just punches my waist down a little bit lower. But it is tight. And I’m in stockings and petticoats and heels and things.
I’m grateful that we’ve done away with a lot of that. Although the Kardashians are bringing corsets back. I’m very confused about that.
Yeah, I’ve met some people who do waist training.
No, no! As someone who accidentally waist trained, don’t!
Are there any contemporary female comics that you admire?
Yeah. I love Sarah Silverman. Ali Wong is one of my favorites. I watched Baby Cobra a bunch of times to get ready for shooting the pilot. I’ve seen this comic Laurie Kilmartin a couple times in and around New York and she cracks me up. So many good ones out there right now.
Did you ever do any non-Midge-related stand-up to get the hang of it?
No, absolutely not. I would be so traumatized; I don’t think I’d ever be able to get up on a stage. Because a huge part of being a stand-up is writing your own material. And I’m not a writer, I’m an actor. I’m so fortunate to have such brilliant writers creating Midge’s stand-up for me.
No, I’ve definitely never tried my hand at stand-up, but I’ve gone to see a lot of it. I enjoy watching from a distance. From a safe distance.
What do you want see for Midge in season three?
I want to see her be wildly successful. I want to see her make a firm commitment to pursuing this path. We’ve watched try her hand at something new and rise to the top of it very quickly. And in season two I think she’s going to be confronted with the sometimes gritty reality of what that chosen career path looks like. It’s not easy to break barriers in a completely male-dominated industry; the kinds of unique obstacles that she will face as a result are not all sunshine and rainbows.
So in season three, I would like to see her be willing to fall without a safety net. She’s always had this support system, she’s got her family and her friends some kind of back-up finances. The stakes are not quite as high for her as they are for Susie. I’d like to see her willing to take the leap and let them be higher for her too.
Source: Town & Country
Photos of Rachel attending a press conference for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel have been added to the gallery.
Sorry I’m a little late posting this as I was on vacation. I am thrilled to announce that Rachel won the Outstanding Lead Actress in A Comedy Series award at this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards for her work as Mirium ‘Midge’ Maisel in Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The show garnered a total of 8 Emmy wins including Outstanding Comedy Series. I’ve added photos from the awards and related events to the gallery. A HUGE thank you to my friends Jay, AliKat, & Claudia for their very generous donations.
Congratulations to Rachel & all of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel cast & crew. You guys deserve the recognition for all of your amazing work.
Best Performances is TV Guide’s Emmys video series highlighting the best acting performances of the year. Actors take viewers behind the scenes of their Emmy-nominated performances and explain the secrets of their craft.
Doing stand-up comedy is hard, but acting like you’re really good at stand-up comedy might be harder. And yet Rachel Brosnahan has won the hearts of critics and fans alike doing just that through her performance as Miriam “Midge” Maisel on Amazon’s breakout hit The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Over the course of the eight-episode first season, Brosnahan takes Midge from a devastated, deserted housewife to a triumphant New York City stand-up comedienne. The season’s final episode, “Thank You and Good Night,” which Brosnahan has submitted for consideration at this year’s Emmys, shows the full arc of Midge’s journey as she reconnects with her husband Joel (Michael Zegen), fights with his mistress Penny (Holly Curran), and ultimately learns to rely on herself to make her big comedy comeback.
Brosnahan’s real shining moment in the episode comes in the final scene, when she performs her first tight, rehearsed stand-up set and absolutely nails it. While Brosnahan, who is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, cut her teeth on serious dramas (House of Cards, Manhattan), she already knows that pulling off a funny scene means playing well with your scene partner, even if there’s a dozen of them.
“I knew that was a moment where you needed to see that Midge had found her voice as a stand-up. She had grown so much. She’d succeeded, she’d bombed — and both kind of on accident. This was purposeful, this was intentional. It was direct and she killed it,” Brosnahan explained for our Best Performances video series. “It was a lot of pressure, but thankfully we have some of the most incredible background actors on this show, who are scene partners in those scenes, who really give it all they have. They listen to me tell the same jokes for 16 hours a day and they laugh and give so much energy back. Really, I owe them so much for making those scenes come alive.”
The final scene isn’t the only instance in the episode in which Brosnahan pulls from her fellow actors’ energy, though. The actress shared a behind-the-scenes secret that explains why her showdown with Curran came off so electric.
“We went to college together. We’ve known each other for years and years and years, so to actually get to work together was … the best,” Brosnahan said. “Penny had hardly said anything through the entire first season. She had almost no lines and then to see her finally marching in and just opening her mouth, and the kinds of things that came out of it — that scene was a blast.”
“It was really such an incredible moment to see [Curran] shine, and [for us to] go toe-to-toe with each other, to go face-to-face and duke it out,” she continued. “It was cathartic to get to tell Penny off in a real way.”
The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Monday, Sept. 17 at 8/7c on NBC. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is currently streaming on Amazon.
Source: TV Guide