The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season One


Phillip Maciak, Jane Hu, Aaron Bady over at the LA Review of Books:

Here’s the thing about Mrs. Maisel, though: it’s perfect. I don’t even mean that in a strictly evaluative way. Like, I don’t think it’s the best show of the year (hey,The Leftovers!). What I mean is that perfection is a compositional quality and aspiration of the show. Its arguments, as Aaron has also tweeted, are “symphonic,” its visual aesthetic is flawless, the casting is so sharp it feels likeHarry Potter for Jewish American character actors, the stand-up sets are exactly as solid and charming as they are diegetically supposed to be, everybody says either the perfectly right thing or the perfectly wrong thing, its complications are precisely calibrated, its surprises are precisely spring-loaded, its best jokes all have call-backs, and Midge Maisel’s ankles are always the same circumference. There’s nothing messy or ragged or loose or baggy about this show. And that makes it good, but that also makes it a very particular type of show.

Gilmore Girls, for instance, was not perfect in this way. Neither was The Leftovers. Neither was Friday Night Lights. Frasier was perfect. So was Breaking Bad, and so was The West Wing. In other words, perfect and not-perfect are aesthetic categories here. Perfect shows do what they’re supposed to do; not-perfect shows do what they’re going to do. Not-perfect shows can be better than perfect shows and vice versa, but it’s a risk to do either. There were moments when The Leftovers did something so seemingly ill-advised that it could have derailed the whole series. But, in the—frequent—case that The Leftovers pulled it off, the show was transcendent. On the other hand, the perfect shows operate at such great heights and require such high-wire execution that, when they falter, it’s very very noticeable. Gilmore Girls was a long, meandering, free-associative, sometimes rapturous monologue; Mrs. Maisel is a tight ten.

The other thing, though, is that Mrs. Maisel is a perfect show about perfection.

More here.