What ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Taught Me About Believing in Myself

Man and woman sitting on the floor with wine watching TV.

I can vividly recall the moment when six friends shut the door of apartment 20 for the final time; the closing scene of “The Office” that flashes back to Michael Scott hanging Pam’s watercolor on the wall; when Buffy saved the world for the last time. They were moments marked by an intense feeling of sadness. And now, as another beloved series comes to a close, I can already predict the tears. 

There’s a name for this. It’s called “Post-Series Depression.” I can just imagine our ancestors rolling in their graves at such a concept. The notion is that we become so invested in the fictional lives of others that we experience a sense of grief or loss when a TV series ends. However laugh-worthy such a diagnosis might appear, it is nonetheless entirely real, and many of us will have experienced this at some point in our lives. 

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” entered my life in 2017 and sees its final series air this month. While the show has been met with critical acclaim and amassed a number of awards over the years, I surprisingly don’t know anyone in my personal network who watches it. It appears to be reserved for my husband and me on the nights when I can manage to stay awake for an extra hour after I put the kids to bed. I wonder if I’ll miss the show or our synchronised laughter the most. 

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The series follows Mrs. Maisel, better known as Midge, on her journey to find success as a female comic. What makes the premise so compelling is the setting she finds herself in. A Jewish mother living in 1960s New York with dreams beyond domestic life represents a complete disregard for the societal norms of that time. As a woman, she sends an empowering message – to never yield to convention, to pursue our goals no matter how impossible they may seem, and that women are funny. 

While I’d like to pretend the backdrop of 1960s’ ideals is a thing of the past, many of those stereotypes continue to underpin much of the female experience. There is an entire generation of women who are drowning in a sea of unreasonably high expectations. Many of us were raised on the assumption of traditional gender roles while also being empowered to be independent. The truth is, trying to achieve both can feel overwhelming, if not impossible. Of course, a female comic today would not be out of the ordinary but there’s a greater theme at play here. As I continue to navigate the workplace, raise children, and maintain a home, I look to Midge and her flagrant dismissal of gender expectations as a source of inspiration. Her jokes serve as far more than a comedic performance. They are symbolic of a woman unafraid to get hers. 

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This kind of empowerment isn’t always easy to find on TV. This is where Mrs. Maisel made its mark – at least on me. Unlike Midge, I don’t often put myself first. Most women don’t. Ensuring the needs of our children and, I’m ashamed to admit, often our husbands can feel like the central – and only – focus in our lives. Midge is the gentle nudge that says “you can do it”; that I might have purpose beyond the role of mother and wife. For Midge, it’s comedy – for me, it’s the dream of writing. And, after years of watching her story unfold, I wonder who will now provide that nudge. Who will embody the boldness that dares us to believe in ourselves?

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It seems I won’t be the only one pining after a series, as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” joins a number of popular TV shows ending their run in 2023 including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Succession,” and “Cobra Kai.” But that is the nature of the beast – all good things must come to an end. We are, of course, offered the solace of being able to stream these shows again for the rest of our lives, like a soothing sort of Groundhog Day. And as her final curtain call arrives, we applaud Mrs. Maisel for her bravery, for never failing to make us laugh, and, most importantly, for reminding us that our dreams are always worth fighting for. 

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