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Free Minds & Free Markets

In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Everyone Just Wants to Be Left the Fuck Alone

The series, which returns to Amazon Prime on December 5, depicts a burgeoning counterculture fighting for free speech.

You may have already seen season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel after ordering books, paper towels, or whatever you buy on Amazon Prime. The series took home eight Emmy awards in 2018—including the prize for "outstanding comedy series"—and critics have applauded the series for its portrayal of a woman in a man's world.

But just as important is the portrayal of a newborn New York counterculture that didn't want anything to do with the state. These people just wanted to be left the fuck alone.

Midge Maisel is a fictional late-1950s Upper West Side New York housewife, who discovers after her husband leaves her that she has a knack for stand-up comedy. The domestic life she thought she wanted goes up in smoke. With nowhere to go, she stumbles onto an East Village comedy club stage and in a self-deprecating manner tells the audience exactly how she feels. The night ends with Maisel flashing her breasts to the audience and getting arrest for indecent exposure. En route to jail, she runs into Lenny Bruce, a real comedian of the era who was routinely arrested for telling allegedly obscene jokes onstage. Bruce just wanted to pursue cutting-edge comedy for an audience that wanted to hear it. Maisel is cut from the same cloth.

As Maisel is arrested, the comedy club erupts in support. It's indicative of a time when Village residents were feeling the encroachment of the state all around them. In one episode, Maisel encounters a protest against the building of the Lower Manhattan Expressway—a real project spearheaded by Robert Moses—slated to slice through middle of Washington Square Park. The rally is lead by Jane Jacobs, the real-life activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). Jacobs thought central planners shouldn't get to decide what a city should be, but rather individuals should be left to make the choices that determine how a community grows and functions. (Reason on Jacobs.)

Perhaps the most individualistic theme of the show is that Maisel doesn't even fall into the second-wave feminist category that history books associate with her time. Her brand of feminism is less about being part of a movement and more about personal choice. She wants to skip between her proper Upper-West-Side life and the loose, pot-smoking world of a downtown comedy club whenever she sees fit.

Maisel is building her own world. And that includes pearls, bright red lipstick, and saying fuck a lot. And it's pretty fucked up to send in the cops for just that.

The second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel premieres December 5 on Amazon Prime.

Produced by Paul Detrick. Shot by Meredith Bragg and Austin Bragg.

Photos of Lenny Bruce; Credit: LFI/Photoshot/Newscom
Photos of Jane Jacobs in home; Credit: Ron Bull/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Photo of Jane Jacobs in front of house; Credit: Frank Lennon/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Uncle Jay||

    Free speech?
    Oh, please.
    The masses here in the Union of Soviet Socialist Slave States of America don't need free speech.
    They need a few enlightened and wise people who have been indoctrinated in the finest re-education camps to monitor and censor their conversations and writings if you want a real free country.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    ...if you want an emotionally safe country.

    FTFY

  • Rock Lobster||

    The tolerant left: "Hate speech is not free speech!"

    Everyone else: "Well, what is hate speech?"

    The tolerant left: "Any speech we hate."

  • Alcibiades||

    Berkeley got mass-fucked up the ass today by the Ninth and YAF:

    https://www.yaf.org/news/yaf-wins-landmark
    -free-speech-lawsuit-uc-berkeley-to-pay-70000
    -and-rescind-unconstitutional-policies/

    Hope they enjoyed it.

  • Juice||

    The night ends with Maisel flashing her breasts to the audience and getting arrest for indecent exposure.

    They're really nice too.

  • DamnDirtyApe||

    Yes, yes, they are.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Mrs. Maisel's breasts:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdmqn9JIuzc

    (if tits could talk)

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    critics have applauded the series for its portrayal of a woman in a man's world...She wants to skip between her proper Upper-West-Side life and the loose, pot-smoking world of a downtown comedy club whenever she sees fit.

    ::Eyeroll::

  • Juice||

    Nice Spam.....

  • damikesc||

    Does the series discuss how these self-same free speech activists became the most censorious school marms the world has ever known?

    The limits on speech of the 1950's by "pop culture" is DWARFED by the limits today.

  • Careless||

    How would a series set back then possibly do that?

  • Benitacanova||

    Flash forwards?

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Morning after regrets?

  • loki||

    Could you imagine the outrage if you were to say "MIDGETED" instead?

  • DamnDirtyApe||

    Great show.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "It's indicative of a time when Village residents were feeling the encroachment of the state all around them."

    and opposed it instead of demanded it.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    Palladino is a truly great writer of witty dialogue.

  • Matthew Chalice||

    It's kind of funny, reading about the show's politics and then reading through its lead's Twitter posts. Further proof that a show's ideology is rarely that held by its performers.

  • NoVaNick||

    I've watched it. Yes-there is a nice boob scene and the show depicts a simpler time when free speech was valued for what it was. Now to take a Critical Theory axe to it: the protagonist is privileged, white, Judeo-Christian, heterosexual, and cis-gendered. The series therefore has no relevance to the current struggles of non-white, non-binary, LGTQIA, oppressed peoples.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Not only does "Everyone Just Wants to Be Left the Fuck Alone" Everyone want to be left alone to fuck.

  • Rock Lobster||

    And in the age of both social media and free internet porn, the phrase, "Go fuck yourself," bears on the conversation from more than one direction.

  • Brandybuck||

    ""It's indicative of a time when Village residents were feeling the encroachment of the state all around them""

    Today's Village wants all the state encroachment it can get! No impediment to progressive utopia that a few more interventions can't get rid of.

    The 1950s counterculture was not quasi-libertarian in the least bit. They were merely rejecting Big Father for Big Mother. Instead of a paternal government they wanted a maternal government. Father State would not punish them for being bad, instead Mother State would kiss their owies and make them better while punishing the kid down the street for making fun of them.

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