Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, chats with the cast and creators of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which is in contention for 14 Emmy awards, including best comedy, best actress (Rachel Brosnahan), supporting actress (Alex Borstein), supporting actor (Tony Shalhoub), writing, and directing.
The nominations came as “gratifying” relief to the show’s creators, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, who were on set with the cast when the news broke, especially since their earlier effort, “Gilmore Girls,” went unrecognized by voters. “Our biggest frustration with ‘Gilmore Girls’ and awards was that our actors didn’t get [nominated],” says Dan Palladino. “We really wanted Lauren Graham to get a nomination. She was the number one person for us that we fought for. She deserved it.”
That the awards reflected the work both behind and in front of the camera “means the collaboration is working,” says Palladino. “Our words work for [the actors]. They made it into something much bigger than it was on the page.”
Season 2 of the series is set to debut later this year, and the Palladinos promise a more expansive take that’s “bigger and fancier.” “We felt like we didn’t want to just give [viewers] more of the same,” says Sherman-Palladino. “We wanted to expand the world a little bit. We’ve tested the patience of Amazon, let’s put it like that.”
That expansion extends as far as France, with episodes shot in “fabulous” Paris as Midge Maisel (Brosnahan) is “propelled out into the world,” says Palladino.
While the show is set in the 1950s, the issues she deals with still resonate today. “What’s nice about it is it can feel relevant without us trying to do it like an issue show, or put a political strain through it, or try to link it to what’s going on today,” says Sherman-Palladino. “It’s just her natural struggle.”
The producers praise their leading lady’s “fearlessness,” and credit that as one of the reasons they hired her in the first place. “She was not afraid to lean into the anger that Midge was feeling when she took that stage,” says Sherman-Palladino. “It was anger that drove her up there. It was rage. It was pure.”
Season 2 is set to pick up right where the first left off. “The weird thing is it ended on a triumphant note for her and yet it ended on a tragic note for her,” says Sherman-Palladino. “She just didn’t know it yet.”
Teases Brosnahan, “What happened while she was on stage, it will definitely get dealt with, and dealt with pretty quickly.”
In the second half of the podcast, Brosnahan and Borstein (who plays Midge’s manager, Susie Myerson) talk about the second season (the “worlds are going to be exploding and crossing,” says Borstein) and the massive attention to detail that has come to characterize the show, from the bottles of cologne on the shelves in the department store where Midge works to the paintings that hang on the wall in a gallery. Their costumes, too, help them get into character. “I put that hat on, I put on those pants … and I immediately get grumpier,” says Borstein.
The show at its core is about “a woman finding a voice she didn’t know she had,” says Brosnahan. Adds Borstein, “I think we’ve always had our voice. You’re demanding people listen. Midge is finally demanding: This is f—ing worthwhile and I have something to say.”
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