The Mavelous Mrs. Maisel pilot brings together the following: late 50s fashion, Rachel Brosnahan (not her identical twin Evan Rachel Wood), the creators of Gilmore Girls, and Amazon’s checkbook. The result is a fast-talking delight. Amazon has pioneered the concept of making some pilots available before they have been greenlighted for a full season, then allowing their viewers to fill out a survey indicating whether they’d invest in a whole season of the same. This year there are five candidates and Mrs. Maisel is almost certainly going to make it through the final eliminations, so don’t worry about wasting an hour or so on a show you will never see the rest of.
Midge Maisel is living her version of the perfect life: funny cute husband, two kids, pre-kid body, Upper West side apartment in the same building as her parents’, and the rabbi is even coming over for Yom Kippur. Her whole life appears to be a version of that feeling you get when you’re just on fire and couldn’t possibly trip or drop anything or say the wrong thing to anyone. Her children are so well-managed there’s barely any evidence they exist and her cooking is scrumptious enough to melt the hardest of hearts. Basically, Midge has it all figured out.
Her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) is an amateur stand-up comic by night and Midge has thrown herself into promoting his hobby, trading her cooking for better time slots and recording each laugh in a pink notebook. The level of control she maintains over her universe could put some viewers off (she measures her baby’s forehead frequently to see if it’s abnormally large), but Rachel Brosnahan and the writers invoke the magical efficiency of Donna Reed without allowing Midge to seem trapped in a gender stereotype. There’s something of “Lorelai on five cups of coffee” about Midge and even a little bit of the better parts of Emily Gilmore in the portrayal. Midge could plan any party to perfection but there’s little evidence that’s the only thing her world expects of her.
The plot moves forward through an expected route and Midge soon realizes that it’s not her husband who’s funny: it’s her. As soon as she does, I expect everyone will feel themselves loosen up and smile, as the one thing the pilot suffers from is the consciousness that Midge is hiding her light under a bushel without even knowing it. You spend the episode wanting to see what this broad can do because damn, has she got potential.
The show creators make what I will assert is a near-perfect pilot (Westworld‘s pilot is last year’s reigning champ), hitting all the notes a solid pilot should. All our main characters make a memorable appearance (Joel’s secretary Penny Pam takes the award for most done with the shortest screen time) and we are given a hint of the shape of things to come through Alex Borstein’s Susie and Luke Kirby’s Lenny Bruce (yes, that Lenny Bruce). For any fans of mid-century Jewish comedians, this is already obviously for you. For any devoted fans of Gilmore Girls, this is also already obviously for you. For whoever is left out of that Venn diagram, there’s plenty to entice you in: Tony Shaloub as Midge’s reticent father, bad Abraham Lincoln jokes, dreamy portrayals of The Village in 1958, Allen Ginsberg references, and did I mention the late 50’s fashion?
This week and next week are pretty much the weeks from Hell. In case you’ve never known the particular strangeness and pain of a finals weeks, it is this weird combination of manic work time where you feel so stressed you can’t find time to eat or shower or talk to anyone you love and then… down time where you are so exhausted by the previous manic time you can only really lay on your side and binge watch The Vampire Diaries until you fall asleep. I really wish I had to write a twenty-five page analysis of The Vampire Diaires. I could rock that paper.
I know a lot of my readers are going through the same stressful period as I am, or at least will be going through it soon. So I thought I would share some of the ways that I have been getting through it. Hopefully then you will emerge from your studying cave with a few shreds of sanity left intact.
How to Survive Finals Week:
1. Melatonin: It is really likely that your sleep schedule is going to be massively messed up during finals week and the week directly before it. It is also likely that when you actually do have time to sleep your brain is going to be thinking about the Louisiana Purchase or chemistry things. Melatonin supplements are a nice way to fall asleep pretty naturally and sleep soundly. A little will do you, I take half a tablet every once and a while. So don’t be getting crazy. Also, don’t be taking this like every day because then your body will get used to it and no one needs that nonsense. But having it on hand for a series of weeks like this is really helpful.
2. Apples: Or another kind of fruit, really. But I like apples. The finals week desire for chocolate and fun-dip is well-documented. Don’t gain ten pounds in finals week from a combination of stress and replacing all your meals with Kit-Kats. Grab an apple and feel that satisfying crunch. Clementines are good too. Not only will they give you energy and not drain you later, they won’t make you feel like your stomach is made of marshmallows and you will never be desirable again.
3.Videos of cats being annoyed by dogs who just want to love them: This one pretty much stands for any hilarious animal (or baby etc.) video that has gone viral on YouTube for no real reason other than that it makes you cry with joy and hold your stomach and cry “It hurts! It hurts so good!” You need to watch something besides the words dancing on the page before you. Take a couple videos long break.
4.Tulips: Go to Whole Foods and buy yourself a bouquet of tulips, find a vase, and set those up in your room. You will look at them while you study and remember that outside exists. You will also remember that it is spring and somewhere in the world there are beautiful things. You may even be able to imagine yourself after finals week frolicking through meadows and receiving or giving flowers to significant others before holding hands and skipping off on a date to see all those movies you haven’t had time to see because you are trying to memorize all the authors in the eighteenth century who used animal imagery.
5.Crazy Stupid Love/almost any episode of Gilmore Girls/any movie with a studying montage: Sometimes we feel unable to go on. When this happens turn on one of these things to perk you back up. In Crazy Stupid Love Emma Stone is gorgeous and gets to touch Ryan Gosling’s abs a lot. She also passes the bar in the film, all while looking flawless. I find it inspirational. It also makes me feel like maybe my finals week prize will be Ryan Gosling. So there’s that. The same (minus Ryan Gosling) works for any episode of Gilmore Girls or a movie with a studying montage. Add some eighties music to a bunch of shots of people cracking books, falling asleep on books, becoming miraculously smarter, going to Yale… watch that and you will be back in the game in no time.
“I live in two worlds, one is a world of books. I’ve been a resident of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina and strolled down Swann’s Way. It’s a rewarding world.”
I’m a reader. Born and raised, from Curious George and Madeline to Tolstoy and Austen. So the Rory Gilmore Reading List was a godsend. When I was watching Gilmore Girls on a regular basis I kept a journal in which I would write down every reference someone on the show made and then look up the ones I didn’t understand. Every time I watched the show I would look up fewer references, something that always made me feel like I was getting smarter.
Now Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge posts are not a new thing in the blogosphere, but I still thought I should add my two cents in. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge stemmed from a list that Australian writer Patrick Lenton compiled of all 339 books referenced or read on the show. He then challenged himself to read them all. And really, you could do worse.
So as part of this blog, I will review a Rory Gilmore Reading List book whenever I complete one, in order to try and give you all a little direction if you feel like picking up the challenge yourself. This has, of course, inspired me to binge-watch Gilmore Girls today. So I guess I know what I will be doing for the next month or so.
So take a look at the list, pick one, and read away friends! Because really, does anyone not want to be as smart and cool as Rory?