There’s nothing quite like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. With gorgeous sets and costumes, the show gloriously whisks viewers back to the colorful world of the late 1950s and early ’60s. But this isn’t your average nostalgic throwback: Bucking the conventions of the time, determined, upper-class New York Jewish housewife Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) decides to become a stand-up comedian after her husband leaves her. Season three, which premiered last month on Amazon Prime, finds Midge going on her first comedy tour. But in case you’ve binged it too quickly, we put together fun behind-the-scenes info, tantalizing tidbits and exclusive quotes to fill every fan’s appetite for all things Maisel.
1. Brosnahan didn’t think she had a talent for comedy. “I spent my whole life being told I wasn’t funny,” she told Parade. “And I lost a lot of jobs because [casting directors] agreed.”
2. But for Mrs. Maisel, Brosnahan nailed her audition. “Rachel [Brosnahan] was the only actress we saw who didn’t have a fear of stand-up,” show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino told Parade. “Stand-up is terrifying, and she came into the audition and knew to lean into the microphone. The moment she did that, we knew we’d found our girl.”
3. Brosnahan isn’t Jewish in real life. But, the Chicago suburb she grew up in had a high percentage of Jewish people, so she was very familiar with the culture before taking on the role.
4. The inspiration for Midge comes from an unlikely source. “Midge is based on my dad, Don Sherman, who did stand-up in the ’50s and ’60s, along with Bob Newhart, Shecky Greene and Lenny Bruce,” said Sherman-Palladino. “He was a 6-foot-2 bald Bronx Jew, and now he’s Rachel Brosnahan.”
5. Midge’s penchant for pink reflects her outlook on life. “The first costume I designed for the show was Midge’s pink coat in the pilot episode,” costume designer Donna Zakowska told Parade. “It became her signature shade because, to me, it referred to the rose-colored glasses through which Midge sees the world.”
6. Every outfit on the show is a work of art, but Brosnahan has some faves. “My favorite outfit was the black-and-white checked shorts suit with pink kitten heels that I wore on my ride back to New York with Benjamin [in season two],” she said. Also, “it hardly gets any play in the episode [in a season two Catskills scene], but I loved this navy silk sailor dress with a hot pink bow at the neck. And that insane, unbelievably shaped hat!”
7. The fashion of Mrs. Maisel was inspired by vintage Vogue magazines and the fashion icons of the time, including Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn; and the great designers who dressed them, like Dior. “The late 1950s were a high point of women’s couture,” said Zakowska.
8. The costumes are super-intricately designed. “The costume that I had in season two, when we were in the Catskills that had these different colors, it was like orange, blue and a mustard shade. It looked kind of gypsyish—that one is one particular pattern of cloth that Donna [Zakowska] dyed those three incredible colors,” Marin Hinkle, who plays Midge’s mother, Rose Weissman, told Parade. “Then she designed how she wanted it to go around on the bodice. Then that was built over a corset. Then that, in turn, was matched in this interesting way to a hat, extraordinary shoes and then, of course, they have to put the coat on top.”
9. Midge’s and Rose’s makeup palettes are meant to complement each other. “Midge’s looks come a little bit from Rose. I have a parallel there because it’s mother-daughter in the ’50s,” makeup artist Patricia Regan told Parade.
10. Midge always has the same look for her comedy performances. “When she does her standup, she’s in the black dress so that always calls for a strong color red lipstick,” Regan said. “That’s sort of the signature look for the black dress, bright red lipstick, to show a strong female who is growing into becoming this fantastic comedian and making it on her own.”
11. The show actually inspired a lipstick line: Revlon introduced theMarvelous Super Lustrous Collection in Take the Stage Reds.
12. The glass showcases of the show’s B. Altman department store, where Midge works in seasons one and two, were vintage, found in an old shop in Connecticut. “That was a big jackpot for us,” set designer Ellen Christiansen said.
13. Miami’s famous Fontainebleau Hotel played itself in season three, with scenes actually shot there. “I looked at a dozen other hotels in the South Beach area,” said production designer Bill Groom. “But the Fontainebleau was really the place to stay for Frank Sinatra and the other entertainers of that time. The owners had just done a $4 billion renovation, so it was nicely restored.”
14. But the show did have to swap out the hotel’s furniture for vintage-looking pieces. “I had to find all the furniture and upholstery that was as close to the original as possible, plus the statues and the lamps,” said Christiansen. Fortunately, “Fontainebleau is so famous—there are many books about it, and the hotel itself has an archive of old photographs. It was a very fun project.”
15. Alex Borstein, who plays Midge’s manager Susie Myerson, voices Lois Griffin on the animated comedy series Family Guy. She’s won Emmys for that role, as well as two for playing Susie.
16. When she won her first Emmy for Mrs. Maisel in 2018, Borstein almost missed it because she was late to the ceremony. “We showed up and they wouldn’t let us in,” she told Parade. “Then finally they’re like, ‘OK, you can go in and sit down.’ Then literally, we sat down, and at that moment they announced, ‘The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are…’ So, I just made it. So when they called my name I was so not prepared in any way.”
17. Borstein and Brosnahan had immediate chemistry in their first read together for their parts. “It is really just kind of like speed dating; either it’s there or not, and it was just there,” Borstein said. “It was something you can’t really put in a script; that’s how chemistry works. We just had this Mary Tyler Richards-Rhoda kind of thing that just worked, and it worked well.”
18. Susie is based on a real-life agent. “We always saw Susie Myerson as a powerhouse in the waiting, so we had [Hollywood agent] Sue Mengers in mind, because she was the most formidable agent at one time,” said the show’s co-creator Dan Palladino. “But we wrote this character with Alex Borstein in mind, so she’s the biggest inspiration for Susie.”
19. In real life, Borstein is so over stand-up. “I did stand-up for a lot of years, and I’ll go if there’s somebody I know there to see them,” she said. “I still love seeing a well-crafted set, but it’s not my choice for a night out.”
20. Jane Lynch, who plays fellow comic—and Midge’s nemesis—Sophie Lennon, remembers the more elegant era of Mrs. Maisel. “Even if you were just going to the drugstore you put on your hat and gloves, and the men always wore a jacket and tie and all of their shirts were tucked in,” she told Parade. “My parents were around in the late ’50s, early ’60s and they wore those clothes and shopped at those same stores in downtown Chicago near the suburbs where I am from.”
21. “Sophie is a mishmash of Phyllis Diller, Totie Fields and Minnie Pearl, because women back then couldn’t just be a woman onstage; they had to dress as a ‘character,’” said Sherman-Palladino. “A lot of these female comics were well educated and into the arts, not those crazy, strange caricatures.”
22. Filming Mrs. Maisel in New York feels like theater, said Hinkle. “One of the things about being in New York is you have all these New York theater actors that are extraordinary and they’re brought in now to do all the guest star work, and then most of us in the cast have done a whole lot of theater,” she explained. “It feels like we’re doing little mini-plays.”
23. The Paris scenes in season two really were filmed in the City of Light. Tony Shalhoub, who plays Midge’s father, Abe Weissman, said they were there “three weeks, because we covered parts of two episodes there. First of all, that city is so magnificent, and what’s wonderful about it is that it doesn’t take much to put you in the ’50s in Paris. You dress up some background people, someone pushes an old-fashioned pram and then you put some old cars out, and you’re right there. It’s really fantastic.”
24. Hinkle had to brush up on her high-school French for the Paris episodes. “I spoke it in high school, 30 years ago or something. So, it was like a revisit,” she said. “I got this phone call at some point a month before we started shooting season two asking if I know how to speak French, and if I didn’t they were going to have me tutored.”
25. The Catskills scenes actually were filmed at a Catskills camp, the 150-year-old Scott’s Family Resort. “We talked to the family who still owns it, and they showed me pictures and old postcards of what it looked like in 1959,” said Christiansen.
26. Shooting in the Catskills for season two was not easy. “The Catskills were a hoot, but hard, hard work, because it was raining so much, and it was so humid and there were many bugs,” Regan said. “I’m happy we were able to just get through the bad weather and the challenges that we encountered doing 1950s makeup.”
27. The way Mrs. Maisel scenes are written and shot demands more from the actors, according to Shalhoub. “I think we have a certain different kind of challenge with this material, the language, and the speed at which we have to spin out this dialogue—the fact that we’re doing things in much longer takes, much longer sequences without a lot of cuts,” he said. “We’re really dependent on each other. There’s no showboating, one person isn’t more important than the other. It really has to be cohesive and collaborative, and I just think that’s part of the magic that makes it work so well.”
28. Shalhoub’s most memorable costume has to be the exercise jumper from one of the Catskills episodes. “When I first put on what we now call ‘The Romper,’ it catapulted me back to when I was a kid and watching The Jack LaLanne Show, which was on every TV in every household in America,” he said.
29. The actor actually credits The Romper for winning him an Emmy for the role. “No one else in my category got to wear a romper,” Shalhoub pointed out. “If they had, I might not have walked away with the Emmy.”
30. Hinkle says Shalhoub is the show’s “secret weapon.” According to her, “He’s very eccentric, idiosyncratic, but I mean that in the best of ways. His flavors are completely unique. You put Tony in your show and it’s going to be a big hit.”
31. “For Shy Baldwin’s character, we were inspired by a lot of African-American crooners at the time, like Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole,” said co-creator Dan Palladino. Midge goes on tour opening for Shy in season three.
32. Real-life comedian Lenny Bruce, played by Luke Kirby on Mrs. Maisel, died the same year Sherman-Palladino was born, 1966. “My dad was pushing through [in comedy] at the same time Lenny Bruce was,” said Sherman-Palladino. “I never met him; he died the year I was born—but it wasn’t my fault. I swear I had nothing to do with that!”
33. Sherman-Palladino was an aspiring dancer, following in her ballerina mother’s footsteps, before she discovered comedy. “Believe me, there is nothing funnier than a short Jewish girl trying to dance in a room full of shiksas,” she joked. “In terms of learning comedy, my main influences came from my father and his comic friends, and listening to Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man album. That record formed everything that I am, always, for the rest of my life.”
34. Hinkle started as a ballet dancer as well, before an injury led to her to pursue acting instead. “When I was a young dancer I had dance teachers Rose reminds me of,” she said.
35. The actress doesn’t get recognized as her character very often. “I think I’m a bit more frumpy than my character, and I’m a soccer mom running around in LA,” Hinkle said. “I have to confess I don’t look like my character because she has a wig on and wears these beautiful period clothes, which I don’t wear in my real life.”
36. Brosnahan is like the daughter Hinkle never had. “I have a son who’s an only child, and I always thought I would have many children and I wasn’t able to do so,” she shared. “In a way, the idea that I have Rachel as this theatrical daughter is just the deepest blessing. She is inspiring to me.”
37. Brosnahan finds Midge to be a bit too sure of herself. “We both approach things that we care about at 150 percent and we’re both ambitious and resilient, but, man, she has that unshakeable confidence that I feel like very few people are able to maintain for that length of time,” she told Parade.
38. The actress actually channels Midge when she’s feeling scared. “When I’m nervous, ‘What would Midge do?’ is the first thing that comes to mind,” Brosnahan explained. “I try to channel her on red carpets when I feel particularly vulnerable. She’s like my Sasha Fierce,” she added, referencing Beyoncé’s alter-ego.
39. Midge has been mom-shamed by internet trolls for leaving her children to go on her comedy tour, but Brosnahan thinks that criticism is “problematic” because people don’t say the same about “ambitious men who are also fathers.”
40. Brosnahan may be a secret Midge-Joel (Midgel?) shipper. “I feel like it’s complicated and messy and beautiful all at the same time and it feels real. They are each other’s person,” she said of her character’s connection with her ex-husband, played by Michael Zegen.
41. As in one episode of season three’s Mrs. Maisel, in which Midge runs from gig to gig, Brosnahan is frequently late. “I hate being late but I’m always about five minutes late no matter what time I wake up or leave the house,” she says. “I don’t know what it is, but that remains my New Year’s resolution.”
42. Borstein created a company called Henabee’s, which features a collection of detachable sleeves to add to sleeveless dresses. “I love them!” she said. “I use them all the time and now I’m beyond excited to try and get them into the hands of as many women who want them as I can.”
43. Mrs Maisel is a huge international hit. “I didn’t know that it would resonate with families in all sorts of cultures and all sorts of different kinds of backgrounds, and it is mesmerizing to me that a family in India would find these people familiar and exciting,” Hinkle shared.
44. Fans can pretend they’re back in the 1950s with The Game of Life: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Edition. “Maybe you’ll get married, have kids, buy a dream home, go on vacation in the Catskills, and make it as a stand-up comic. Then again, maybe you won’t,” reads the game’s description. “You could get divorced, bomb at the jokes, and end up in a dumpy apartment.”
45. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will be back for season four, likely at the end of 2020. But what can fans do in the meantime? The show is such a feast for the eyes, take in another binge of the series!
Still haven’t had your fill of the show? Fill up on 19 of the Best Quotes from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel about life, love and being a woman.