Amy Sherman-Palladino Says ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Is Based on Her Dad — Here’s Why

The saying “write what you know” definitely applies to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and it’s writer-director-creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino. The funny, fashionable, and female-led Amazon Prime original series is inspired by Sherman-Palladino’s own life where she grew up with her dad being a stand-up comedian. 

In Sherman-Palladino’s series, the main character, Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), is a woman in the late 1950s and early 1960s trying to make it as a stand-up comic after her husband leaves her for his secretary. Back today, Dec. 6, 2019, in its third season, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel brings us more Midge Maisel. Picking up where she left off at the end of Season 2, the hilarious New York woman is ready to embark on a stand-up comedy tour. 

Since the series premiered in March 2017, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been a TV darling, absolutely dominating awards show season. It’s won 16 Emmys alone. Back when the show had been on the cusp of its debut, Sherman-Palladino opened up about the inspiration for the show that’s unlike anything else on TV today. 

Sherman-Palladino: Show’s ‘in my zeitgeist’

Sherman-Palladino, who created one of our other favorite TV series about fast-talkers, Gilmore Girls, sat down with Vanity Fair shortly before the premiere of Season 1 in 2017 to talk about the origins of the show.

When asked where the idea for the show came from, Sherman-Palladino said it stemmed from her upbringing. 

Rachel Brosnahan filming a scene for 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' on Sept. 4, 2019
Rachel Brosnahan filming a scene for ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ on Sept. 4, 2019 | Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

“Weirdly, my dad was a stand-up comic,” she said. Her father, Dan Sherman, performed Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. “So I grew up with a bunch of Jews sitting around trying to make each other laugh.” 

“And I knew Lenny Bruce’s mother when I was a kid, because she was sort of the godmother to all the comics,” she added. 

If that wasn’t enough, she had a job in comedy. 

“And I worked at the Comedy Store. So the show was not so much a conscious homage to any particular comic as it was something that was in my zeitgeist,” she said. 

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On the show, Midge stumbled upon stand-up comedy during a tailspin after things went south with her husband, Joel (Michael Zegen). She got up on stage, made a room full of people laugh and discovered she wanted to try her hand at comedy. From a well-off Jewish family (the family’s apartment rivals the ones seen on Gossip Girl), Midge kept her passion a secret from her family. Along the way, she met the famous comedian, Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) who bailed her out of jail.

After watching one episode of the show, or heck, even the trailer for the series, it’s easy to see all the pieces of the show that came from Sherman-Palladino’s own life experiences. 

Show came after ‘shooting the sh**’ in a meeting

During a meeting with Amazon is when the idea for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel came alive. Sherman-Palladino explained that she mentioned the idea during a casual conversation “with the guys over at Amazon.” 

“I was having a meeting with the guys over at Amazon, and we were just kind of shooting the sh**, and it was a little idea I had standing in the back of my head,” she remembered.

Amy-Sherman Palladino at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 17, 2018.
Amy-Sherman Palladino at the Emmy Awards on Sept. 17, 2018 | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

She pitched the idea and they obviously liked what they heard because they told her to try it. “They’re like, “Great. Go do that and bring it back.”

“And then of course, the opportunity to do any sort of show where I don’t have to think about Snapchat—I’m thrilled, delighted, because I don’t understand technology. I just want to go back to a time where there wasn’t any,” she added. 

Watch Season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video now.