Historical Comedy-Drama | Amazon | 1 Season – 8 episodes (40 minutes) ea. | A
Thank you, thank you, thank you to this show for getting me out of my TV slump. It is so charming and witty, and as a show about stand up comedy should be, funny. Miriam Maisel is the perfect 1950’s housewife with a perfect husband, two little kids, and an Upper West side apartment. In her free time, she supports her husband, Joel’s, comedy side career.. until he confesses he has had an affair. On one drunken night, she does a stand up routine and she slowly starts to realize that she wants to perform comedy on her own. I am liking this trend of exploring feminism and social issues through TV shows set in different time periods. In the 1950’s, this show would have looked very differently. It would have looked down on Miriam’s movement away from family and instead doing things for herself. But it is a great topic for today. The show is very polished with brilliant use of bright, solid colors. It is definitely a happy go lucky portrayal of the 1950’s but is not cloying nor insufferably cheerful as it does not shy away from the darker side of this era exploring the ’50’s constraining limits on perceptions of women and what women can do. It explores how women were discouraged from pursuing their interests. The first time Miriam announced she was not accepting her husband back, her mother and father immediately implored her to return to her husband despite the fact that he cheated on her. And although, you, of course, side with Miriam, the show paints effort into the secondary characters, especially the ones you were meant to side against such as her father, mother, and Joel. In true Gilmore Girls style, there is whip fast dialogue and characters coming up with a perfect comeback as soon as the other opens her mouth. Though you know they do what they do for Maisel with good intentions, you see where they are misguided in giving Maisel counsel and advice. The one secondary character that makes the show is the inn’s owner, Susie Myerson, who becomes Miriam’s business partner and has a no nonsense and sarcastic personality.
Their blossoming friendship from skepticism to friendship is a joy to watch. The show does get a little repetitive because part of the show is slowly building up Maisel’s revelations, but it is so worth the watch and the 14 Emmy nominations. The editing is seamless, flitting from scene to scene, flashback to present in the most polished way as if it has no time to waste.
The writing is so smart and the jokes written for Maisel’s stand up routine is so relevant to her life and so funny. The first season sort of leaves off on an emotional cliffhanger so I will patiently wait for the second season. It should be noted as well that this show has been nominated for 14 Emmys. A perfectly bingeworthy and heartwarming show.
Historical Drama | Netflix | 2 Seasons – 17 episodes (40 minutes) | B+
I completely adored Anne with an E so I was so excited to watch Season 2 when it came out. Though not as compelling as the first, it does present new avenues for the characters without relying as much on flashback. The second season is also different in the sense that it follows two characters for its majority: Anne and Gilbert. While we follow Anne in Avonlea going to school and making new friends as usual, the most notable of which is delivered by a spectacular performance by Cory Grüter-Andrew as Cole Mackenzie. Bigger than life, the kids at Avonlea struggle to find their identity amidst social pressure to deny who they are. This prevalent and circular theme allows the show to break away from having their characters be the “token gay” or the “token black” because everyone in the show is struggling to be their true self despite heavy social and lawful oppression. No one person is isolated in their problems with their identity. While Anne tries her best to revoke feminine standards of the era, it directly juxtaposes with Cole’s desire to blend into the background and the toxic masculine standards he is forced to uphold but has no desire to. There was one particularly inspirational and emotional episode where this theme comes to head. Anne, Diane, and Cole are invited to Aunt Josephine’s party and they accept who they are as a person despite their own skepticism. If they were born in this day and age, they would have a much easier time, but in 19th century, it was suffocating. I’ve seen a lot of shows try to tackle feminism and racism but I’ve never seen it done quite like Anne with an E. The screenplay capsizes on the microaggressions suffered that take a huge toll on the characters and it is an overt analysis, but it cleverly weaves different aspects of the -ism for a complete and full picture.
I also completely adore Gilbert’s timeline. While Anne is growing to trust her intuition while going through the embarrassing stage of puberty (“What is a kiss?”), Gilbert is on a steamship trying to find his own ambition after his father died. He meets Sebastian whom he quickly becomes friends and learns more about the world than when he was in the little town of Avonlea. He meets different people and he figures out more of what he wants to do out of life.
A decent amount of story is given to Sebastian, the only POC in the show and as you might imagine, the show takes the time to explore racism through his character though he has a fleshed out story for himself especially near the end. Showing his struggles through Gilbert’s privileged eyes accentuates his struggles.
And of course, you have Marilla and Matthew who deal with growing old while still taking care of a child. The episodes still follow a sort of episodic formula but the stories tend to span 2-3 episodes instead of just one. I do think some of the storylines dragged on for too much longer than they were meant to last especially with the teacher. I was also sad that we didn’t have any Anne and Gilbert moments! There was literally only a few scenes with them but at the same time they were trying to amp up the tension between them?
Also, compared to Gilbert’s storyline, Anne’s problems feel more trite so I felt they were growing at different paces. And for those who complained about the show’s darkness in Season 1, I think will be more pleased with this season as it does not have as many flashbacks to Anne’s orphanage times and it feels more wholesome. So this season was not quite as developmentally on point but it still feels very inspirational as it was meant to be.