‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ woos Emmy voters at FYC showcase at Hollywood Athletic Club

Female empowerment and the #MeToo movement were top of mind at a Q&A panel for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” held Saturday at the Hollywood Athletic Club. Stars Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Marin Hinkle, and Tony Shalhoub joined creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Daniel Palladino for a panel discussion moderated by director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” the “Ghostbusters” remake).

The comedy series centers on a 1950s housewife (Brosnahan) who becomes a stand-up comedian after her husband (Zegen) runs off with his secretary. Sherman-Palladino revealed that she wanted to explore what would happen when “a woman who really has a specific place and a specific role to play decides to break out of that role and go against the time.”

The male-dominated world of stand-up comedy — which Sherman-Palladino learned about firsthand from her father, the late comedian Don Sherman — felt like the perfect arena for her convention-bucking heroine. “If you’re going to put a woman in the worst possible position ever, it’s comedy,” she explained. “To do it in 1958, when a woman really was not supposed to talk too loud or have thoughts that weren’t clean and pure” was almost unheard of. Even today, despite the glass ceiling shattering of Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, “it’s still, ‘Hey baby, show me your tits.'”

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Actress at the Golden Globes and Brosnahan also nabbed the Critics’ Choice Award. Curiously, she had  zero experience as a comic prior to performing in the series, but she believes that there’s a key distinction to make.

“What I’m doing on the show really can’t be compared to stand-up,” she divulged. Doing multiple takes of jokes written by someone else in front of an audience paid to laugh “can’t be compared to going out there [and] putting your self-worth on the line for a laugh. I can’t claim to have any experience with that.”

Amazon Studios rented out the historic Hollywood Athletic Club for the event, transforming the building into a showcase for their contenders that can be viewed until April 27. The period costumes and sets from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” were on full display for Emmy voters to admire while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The location is of special significance, since it was the site of the very first Emmy ceremony in 1949.

In addition to Brosnahan’s victories, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” took home the Globe and Critics Choice prizes for Best TV Comedy/Musical Series, as well as the Producers Guild Award. Can its narrative of female empowerment in the age of the #MeToo movement help propel it towards Emmy glory?

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Video produced by Tom O’Neil

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