When Emmy award winners were announced on the night of Monday at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, more Kenyans would have known why the fantasy epic Game of Thrones won yet another accolade. The popular HBO series (now in its eighth season) has many local fans (of which I am not one).
But they probably would have known far less about The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, which won even more trophies on Monday night than did Thrones. The two shows were the overwhelming winners on Monday evening.
One a drama, victorious over A Handmaid’s Tale which won the trophy last year — the other a ‘freshman’ comedy still in its first season. Nonetheless, it won five trophies setting the record for the night.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel won for Best Comedy series at the 70th Emmy Awards. It won Best Actress in Rachel Brosnahan who plays the title role, that of a frustrated 1950s New York City-based housewife named Miriam or ‘Midge’ who finds herself doing stand-up comedy.
Her cast-mate Alex Borstein bagged the Best Supporting Actor’s award. And the creator of the Amazon-streaming series, Amy Sherman-Pelladino won for best scriptwriting and best directing of a comedy.
During her acceptance’s speech, Brosnahan gave a brief summary of what the series is about and why it resonated so well with the judges of this years’ cable-TV shows. (There was only one network TV show that won this year, namely Saturday Night Live, the irreverent ‘sketch comedy’ show that regularly lampoons leading American politicians.)
“It’s about a woman who’s finding her voice anew. It’s one of the things that’s happening all over the country right now,” said Brosnahan whose character literally stumbles into stand-up comedy.
Midge had been a happily married housewife, content to play the conventional middle class American woman’s role of supportive spouse.
Even though she had gone to one of the best women’s universities, she was living in pre-feminist times when women’s liberation and gender equality hadn’t crossed her mind.
She was fully prepared to support and encourage her husband’s futile ambition to become a successful stand-up comic. Yet when it became obvious that he’d never make it as a comedian, he left Midge for his office secretary.
Caught by surprise, Midge ended up taking to the stage herself. First it was out of a sense of outrage at the injustice of being dumped by her spouse. Then it happened at the spurring on of close friends who saw her comedic flare and potential.
Midge is a complex character who inadvertently ends up breaking out of her middle class cocoon. It’s not an easy break but the series explores the beginnings of a cultural revolution in which women begin to question their second class social status and challenge the status quo.
Midge is a woman in her 20s, and like many young women, she’s at a fascinating stage in life when she’s making discoveries about herself all the time. Her story transcends American culture and may speak to women wherever they’re making choices which way to go in their lives.