Oh goody, she’s back.
Midge Maisel, I mean, the sharpest wit and fastest mouth in Manhattan, who flat out charmed viewers last year in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amy Sherman-Palladino’s rollicking (and deservedly Emmy-winning) comedy series about a 1950s housewife who channels her boundless energy and proto-feminist frustrations into a stand-up comedy routine.
Season 2, which began streaming Wednesday on Amazon, picks up from the first season’s walk-off, with Midge (played to hyper perfection by Rachel Brosnahan, who also won an Emmy for the role) spinning the plates of her precariously compartmentalized life.
Separated though not yet divorced from her ego-bruised husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), Midge now toils, if you want to call it that, in the subterranean phone banks of the swanky B. Altman department store. It’s a demotion from the cosmetics counter, which she nevertheless masters, answering a battery of incoming calls all day with the gusto of someone who won’t have to see or hear the letters ADHD together for a good 30 years.
As other operators beg Midge to rescue them from the tangle of wires and call transfers, Sherman-Palladino executes one of the first of many sweeping, lusciously transporting camera perspectives across Midge’s pristine, vividly hued midcentury paradise, where even the shabby parts of town practically sing and zing with charm.
The beauty seen in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — the costumes, the sets, the lipstick, the vintage New York and, this season, equally dazzling side trips to Paris and then to the Catskill Mountains — is a necessary counterbalance to what can only be described as the show’s dependence on obnoxiousness as a heroic trait.
Yes, I said, it: “Mrs. Maisel” is an almost scientific study of the ups and downs of living one’s life loudly, boisterously, hurriedly and obnoxiously, which isn’t always a bad thing. Those who have admired Sherman-Palladino’s razor wit in award-acceptance speeches and followed her work (including the classic “Gilmore Girls” and the underappreciated “Bunheads”) take a particular comfort in her ability to represent and bring to life the sort of female characters who cannot, will not shut up. And why should they? Part of the fun of watching “Mrs. Maisel” is to applaud its singularly sublime message: I won’t shut up. You shut up.
It’s a valentine to women who fearlessly wield their command of language and humor. Women who, when faced with the equally obnoxious rules of a society that tells them to be quiet and tone it down, will instead respond with more words at more speed. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a lesson in the artful uses of obnoxiousness, especially for those of us living in the brutishly obnoxious present.