Portraying women as they really are: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

This is the first in a series of posts on this blog highlighting how women's stories are told in popular culture.

There's a gaping hole in pop culture that is hungry to be filled with women's stories.

I remember the first time I saw Girls. I thought, "Wait, we're allowed to tell really specific female stories on TV?!" Of course we are, but until that moment, I hadn't realized how missing these stories were. Now I see it as a glaring, gaping hole. (Incidentally, Girls didn't really speak to me beyond season 1 or so, but I am still so grateful for how it opened up female storytelling on TV.)

So I am so appreciative and excited when a show like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes along. In a nutshell, it's about a 50s housewife whose perfect NYC life unravels — and how she finds her voice through stand-up comedy.


Seeing a smart, funny, upbeat female lead is so validating and energizing.

It feels like, "Oh, I'm allowed to see people like me and my friends on TV, not just these warped version of women filtered through male-dominated studios."

My friend Meghan O'Keefe wrote a really lovely review of the show. This excerpt especially jumped out at me: 

Rape and violence against women are often used in television shows as narrative crutches...

Which is why a show like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel feels so revelatory at this moment. To center a show around a woman who is upbeat in the face of setback and who is, as (show creator) Sherman puts it, discovering a “superpower,” is not just inspiring. It’s important. It is a portrayal of women as they really are – dynamic characters leading their own lives, and not ancillary body parts to be crushed for shock value.
— Meghan O'Keefe, Decider.com

Amy Sherman-Palladino, the show's creator, who also created Gilmore Girls, is known for telling different kinds of stories about women on TV. As O'Keefe notes, Gilmore Girls was innovative for telling stories about the personal lives of women. This shouldn't be innovative. We're half the human race. 

I'm two episodes into The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and loving it.

What shows do you like for how they portray women?