A couple times Mrs. Maisel displayed her naivete and privilege

Warning: Spoilers ahead, specially if you haven’t seen the latest season

I like the Amazon Prime show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It’s a story of upliftment, of empowerment, and of good comedy.

But there are times when the story shows a well crafted naivete and white privilege. These have really stung, because it becomes very apparent that while the good-natured comedienne grows as a person over time, she also ends up doing very real damage.

The first instance is in the first season, when Mrs Maisel spills the beans on the private life of a fellow female comic. She does it out of angst, and it’s truly misplaced. It’s not her place to tell the story. It’s not her right to divulge details revealed to her in confidence. The affected woman has created her own cocoon in a man’s world, a space where she’s comfortable being who she is, while her outside persona is completely defined by what she is told by her agents, audience, and powers-that-be. To dish out that bit of privacy is plain wrong. Further, the show and Mrs. Maisel herself, are appalled that the comedienne responds with an attack on the budding artist, as if this response is unfair and disproportionate.

As the first season unfolded, I did not give much credence to this event, thinking it’s just an obstacle in the hero’s journey telling of this tale. But looking back, this was a spiteful attack by one woman on another, who used her privilege to divulge details she was privy to, simply because she did not like the demeanor of someone who was forging her own path.

The second instance is in the latest season, where Mrs Maisel talks on stage about a person who is gay and not out of the closet, particularly because this person is black and revealing this detail about him would completely and viscerally destroy him. Mrs. Maisel is put on the spot and without thinking, again, about what is private and what is public, talks about the person’s affectations in a very blasé manner. While watching the episode, I was filled with dread. At any moment, the shoe would drop and her words would cause a maelstrom which she would calmly sit out of, while others’ lives are ripped apart. Luckily, the moment does not come. The public and those in power do not realize or do not take any action on her revelations, but what does happen, in the climax (spoiler), is that the person who has her confidence till now, simply drops her, showing her that her actions have consequences.

This second act showed me that while the character has some growth, she has not truly understood what her words mean, and that comedy, while often borderlining on the private lives of people, should not ever hurt. It should not transform from good-natured leg-pulling and cynical critique to a destruction of lives. Maisel often tells those around her that she talks about them on stage, and very clearly tells jokes that are too revealing. But to talk about things that she has no right to talk about, and doing it often, tells me that there’s a vein of this show which is highly unpalatable. This 1950s housewife who is thrust into the world because of events beyond her control does not have, as would be expected from a 1950s housewife, any semblance of her privilege, and its destructive powers.

The show is still good, and a few painful moments, which are followed by immediate punishment for her, do not take everything away from the series, but they do take away any respect in our eyes for such people.

Image Courtesy: IMDB

Binge Notes

turned-on flat screen television

I and the missus recently finished the final season of Modern Family, and it’s left a void in our casual TV watching experience. We tried to fill it with a series of shows but nothing has come close to the wonderful nature of Modern Family – funny, yet familial.

We tried watching The Office and Parks and Rec, but we’re both not really fans of this style of comedy. MF was an interesting exception, because it focused more on the story than on the explanation. We’ve tried to watch Community separately before, and didn’t ever feel like we want to watch it.

We binged on Mirzapur (on Prime Video) and it is a horrible show. I can’t believe that the entire premise is just shock and gore. There even is an instance in the show where a character waits for a second, before shooting someone in the head and then commenting, partly to the audience as much as to the other characters in the scene, “that he was waiting to give everyone false hope”. Just a crass show overall. The ending was a nod to The Godfather, but while the story is good, the direction falls much, much short of what you’d expect from this sort of a tale.

We watched a show called Hunters, and it’s good, with quirky asides (a la The Good Fight), and casual references to comic books, but it’s a sad show overall. Clearly, our hope of replacing Modern Family with another feel-good show is failing miserably.

We watched the latest season of West World, but anything from HBO has become nothing more than a ritual. After what they did with Game of Thrones, any time they produce a good show, there’s that underlying wonder of how they’ll tank this one.

We tried to watch the latest season of Dead To Me (Netflix), but it’s just a sad show – a shell of what the first season was. Also, we’ve had enough of irritating characters from another show we’re watching – Station 19. It’s good for the most part, but their lead character is just horrible, selfish, and best kept off-screen for the most part. We’re both in agreement on that. Hence, when such a character surfaced in Dead To Me, we stopped watching the show.

We also watched the latest season of Four More Shots Please, but again, it’s more ritual than active watching, because while the story is feel-good in moments, those moments are fleeting.

Finally, we’ve landed on two shows which will give us a short-lived happy-time – Kim’s Convenience, and Derry Girls, both are on Netflix, and both are funny, quirky, and wholesome.

Anybody have any good recommendations, please?

Vice News Tonight should not have covered these two topics on April 27th

We watch Vice News very frequently. Every few days, we’ll sit and watch the Vice News Tonight for the last few days. It’s almost become a ritual now – a few days of Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu, then one night of Vice. It’s a good way to get a very different perspective on world news.

I’ve never had any problem with the way they cover their topics. But recently, I saw the April 27th episode and I have a request and a complaint. Vice News Tonight made a mistake with these two topics –

  1. Milo
  2. The writers guild strike

The Milo topic should just not be covered. Why give a vile man any more screen space than he deserves – none? The entire segment was just dedicated to giving him as much time to show his face as possible. That’s just offensive to anyone with any sensibility.

The writers guild strike is an important and interesting topic. But after the initial explanation of the topic, the Vice News reporter launched into a story about how the writers’ strike has helped Donald Trump in the past. There are many different perspectives from which this topic would be very interesting and I’m sorry to say but this was by far the worst of them all.

I understand that Vice must give a certain level of creative freedom to their reporters and must also consider a lot of variables when thinking about how to best present a story. But among all those ways to cover the story is also the wrong and untimely one. Had the question been about Donald Trump’s rise to celebrity, this would have been the right approach. But it wasn’t. It was about how the writers’ guild strike would affect people – viewers, writers, and those dependent on the writers to churn out scripts. The segment ignored all of them to focus on the one man who could easily not have been brought into the topic.

Vice also ensures that when we see a topic, we look at the money behind it. The report about bats and the white nose disease told us how bats save billions of dollars worth of crops a year. The report about Nollywood told how it is a $3 Billion business, instead of just focusing on the cultural aspect of it. The report about Bananas and monocultures showed us that depending on a single clone of a crop is just bananas. But when it came to the writers guild topic, they went off on a tangent.

Hopefully Vice will not make such editorial mistakes again. I love every TV offering by Vice and feel they really hit the mark every time. Which is why it’s irritating when they missed this one time.