With two wins at this year’s Golden Globes that included besting more established shows such as “black-ish” and a reunited “Will & Grace” in the musical or comedy category, the new series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a sudden awards darling.
The honors are something of a par for the course for the Globes, which has a history of recognizing buzzy TV newcomers such as “The Crown,” “Atlanta” and “Transparent.” But unless you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you could be forgiven for not having watched or even heard of the series, which debuted on the service in late November and was written by “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.
The series also earned a Golden Globe for its star, 27-year-old Rachel Brosnahan, who portrays Miriam “Midge” Maisel, an overachieving Jewish housewife in late ’50s New York City who discovers a gift for stand-up comedy after her marriage falls apart. Alex Borstein, who will look familiar to fans of the dryly dark HBO comedy series “Getting On,” plays Mrs. Maisel’s gruff manager and frequent foil.
The show features Sherman-Palladino’s trademark rapid-fire dialogue, and while it’s set in a somewhat fizzier version of show business past with the occasional cameo from real-world comic trailblazer Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby), it’s a story of female empowerment and friendship that resonates today.
“As things got weirder and creepier in the sexual predator realm, the whole idea of a truly confident female taking charge of her life, when the male in her life walked out and left, took on a little more meaning,” Sherman-Palladino said of her show backstage Sunday at the Globes.
“It’s a really fertile time, the timing couldn’t be better,” added Tony Shalhoub, who portrays Midge’s father. “What’s going on in our country right now, in our industry right now, [this story] is a respite from that and breathes a sigh of relief.”
For Sherman-Palladino, the story is something of a homecoming.
Her father, Don Sherman, was a comic from the Bronx who used to work in some of the downtown clubs of the era that inspired the smoky venues that became Midge Maisel’s stamping grounds.
“When you grow up with it, you feel like Jews invented comedy,” she said Sunday. “Back in the 1950s, that voice — not just a Jewish voice but a New York voice — it just felt like the most fun thing we could possibly do. Plus: matzo ball soup!”
Though series star Brosnahan has said she still gets recognized for her role as an ill-fated prostitute in the morally bankrupt world of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” her night at the Globes constituted one more turn in a whirlwind rise that included being at a loss for words for her own acceptance speech Sunday night.
“I don’t remember any of it other than Oprah,” she told a reporter backstage. “At which point, I forgot everything I thought I might say.”