Life Lessons

By Alexis Soohoo

May 29, 2019 5 min read

When the iconic Miriam Maisel of the Amazon Prime show "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" entered our lives in 2017, she reminded women everywhere to break conformities and reach for their dreams. Miriam begins as a responsible Jewish wife and mother who's married to amateur comedian Joel Maisel. When he leaves her for his secretary early in the season, she drunkenly performs standup at The Gaslight Cafe, a charming underground bar, and spends the remainder of the seasons honing her comedy talents. The show documents the charismatic and vivacious protagonist as she balances a new career, her two troublesome toddlers and a flippant ex-husband. Although set in the '50s, with panoramic shots of New York that show classic cars and Miriam's bright and vibrant wardrobe, there is a plethora of lessons that the modern woman can take from our wide-eyed, fast-talking inspirer.

*Dress to the 9s No Matter the Occasion

Set amidst the overwhelming piles of midcentury sets and props, Miriam -- "Midge" -- pops on every screen across America in striking '50s-style dresses. Though modern women couldn't possibly be expected to don a beret and knee-length silk gown every time they leave the house, there is certainly something to take from Midge's wardrobe.

An article in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology discusses the concept of "enclothed cognition," the idea that when we dress better, we feel better. Wear clothes that make you feel fancier and more powerful, whether it means slipping on a pair of heels for a presentation or wearing a button-up for an inexplicable reason. Styling increases confidence. Dressing up improves posture, projects your voice and makes smiling easier and more genuine. Midge certainly had the right idea with this one, even while rolling up to Brooklyn Heights in her most expensive pearls and a full princess gown.

*Relationships Can End. Friendships Don't

Susie Myerson is the booker at The Gaslight who soon becomes Midge's manager and partner in crime. She comes from a vastly different background, where her apartment door can't be opened without first folding up the Murphy bed. This is contrasted against the sprawling, Versaille-esque flat that Midge lives in in midtown Manhattan.

Midge is going through a confusing divorce with the father of her children but is emboldened to stay out on her own as she discovers her own identity. Susie is instrumental in this discovery, where she states matter-of-factly: "I don't mind being alone. I just don't want to be insignificant."

No matter what challenges await, whether in your academic or professional life, remember to find a safe haven with your friends and family. Placing all emotional dependency on a significant other can both strain the relationship and limit one's personal achievements.

*Stop Letting Others Tell You What You Want

During one of Midge's first standup performances, she addresses the feminist theme that encapsulates the show. She indignantly asks: "Why do women have to pretend to be something that they're not? Why do we have to be pretend to be stupid when we're not stupid? ... Why do we have to pretend not to be hungry when we're hungry ?"

Though Mrs. Maisel was pointing to the image of the docile housewife, which has faded significantly since her time, students entering new stages of their education face expectations and adversities as well. Women frequently encounter barriers when attempting to rise to senior positions. Youth are discouraged from studying the arts in fear of not being able to find a job. Oftentimes, only when we address the problem and defy what we are expected to do can we find success.

*It's OK to Embrace Your Feelings, Both the Good and the Bad

Midge is unashamedly a flawed protagonist, and while comedy can be an effective distraction from her flailing personal life, her sobbing breakdowns are more powerful and heart-wrenching to watch. Strained relationships and fear of the unknown are prevalent conflicts no matter our age but particularly as we grow as young adults. Remember that there are seasons to life, and the empowering choice is to ride the waves of ups and downs and become stronger because of it.

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