In the scene being shot in Williamsburg, Midge is working at the B. Altman cosmetics counter, which is artfully arranged with period-accurate recreations of cosmetics from Almay and other companies that dominated the space at the time. Midge is working there because, well, comedy doesn't put food in her kids' mouths, when Penny storms in complaining that she's gone to from store to store looking for her. Brosnahan and Curran nail the banter, especially Curran, who flawlessly delivers a patented Sherman-Palladino spiel.
It takes a certain kind of actor, however, to do justice to the creator’s style. Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and Sutton Foster (Bunheads) previously demonstrated the precision timing required to pull off Sherman-Palladino’s dense dialogue. Brosnahan, however, only had a history of being on dramas like House of Cards and Manhattan when she signed onto the pilot. (She joined Crisis in Six Scenes, Woody Allen’s brief foray into TV on Amazon, before returning full-time to the series.)
"We were excited to see what the hell she was going to do, because there wasn't a lot of comedy tape on her. There was a lot of tape of her being dragged into containers and thrown into a ditch and all that stuff,” says Palladino. But when she came in for an audition, she won it. “She has a confidence about her that the character has to have, and that’s hard to pretend to have it.”
For her part, Brosnahan felt she was up to the task. “Maybe I'm broken or maybe I'm a super-fast talker and I just wasn't always aware, because watching Gilmore Girls, [it] was not honestly something that I had really noticed. I never felt like the pacing of that show was so crazy or different.”
Brosnahan's confidence with the dialogue -- and that hawkish New York accent, especially when delivering Midge’s monologues on the standup stage -- is contrasted by her mother Rose, who speaks deliberately most of the time. “She wears these, almost like ball gowns when she's just sitting, reading the newspaper and having her tea. In a way, I think she treats her language as if she's in a performance,” says Hinkle.
Rose and Abe reflect a worldview that young women of the era faced all the time: It didn't matter whether their man left them or not, it was their responsibility to "fix your face," as Abe tells his daughter, and win the man back. "I think the idea is continually shocking, that it's all on the woman," says Brosnahan. "I've been very fortunate in my life to have not been raised that way. But it was also unsurprising. That was something, an idea that I was familiar with, certainly.”
And while it may not seem evident in the pilot, the friendship between Midge and Susie will be front and center in the first season. "She's counterculture, she's had to kind of scrape and fight her way to survive," says Borstein, who finally gets a starring role in a Sherman-Palladino series after missing out on the role of Sookie on Gilmore Girls, instead briefly recurring as a local harpist. "She is a very different kind of woman than Midge is, which is what makes their friendship so interesting."
Fans of Gilmore Girls are going to feel at home watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But it’s different enough -- a new time period and locale, along with a freedom to swear Sherman-Palladino has never before had -- to make things fresh. And even though the Palladinos are committed to two seasons, there's an opening in case there's an urge to reunite the gang from Stars Hollow again.
“We have a Gilmore clause in our contract, meaning if we wake up one day and we've got a great inspiration for it and the right format and we call up Lauren [Graham] and Kelly [Bishop] and Alexis [Bledel] and it's like, How do you feel about getting back in the barn and putting on a show?, then we'll do it,” Sherman-Palladino reveals. But in the meantime, we’re quite content binging Midge, Susie and the Palladinos’ newest TV creations on Amazon.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is available to stream Nov. 29 on Amazon.