As a working mom of three kids under five, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to watch television, but when I do, I usually find myself hiding in the laundry room, folding a mountain of clothes and watching a show on my phone in two minute increments.
Because, lets face it, that’s about how long anyone in the house leaves me alone.
Lately, for me, that kind of show has been The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
There is much to love about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s main character, Midge Maisel. She always looks fabulously put together. Perfect lipstick and hair? Check. Gorgeous clothes? Check. Matching shoes, hat and purse? Check. Perfect toned body despite having two kids under 4? Check. Midge’s banter with Susie also is awesome and the packing/travel scenes with her parents are hilarious. They must have been a blast to film.
Appearances aside, Midge is also smart and sassy and breaks many stereotypes of her time. She almost always has a good retort for the men who attempt to sabotage her career or send her back to the kitchen where they think she belongs.
It’s easy to get lost in the show and sometimes an episode will end, and I’ll find myself still surrounded by unfolded clothes. Oops. Guess I’ll just have to start another episode.
Many parts of the show, down to the hair curlers and Ponds Cold Cream, seem to be accurate, according to the the social norms of the decade and role of a 1950s-60s housewife. The beginning of the first season certainly reminds me of the advice for wives listed in my grandmother’s Good Housekeeping Cookbook: Give the children a snack before your husband comes home so they are quiet, have a drink ready, have your makeup touched up, and have the dinner meal timed to be ready to serve about 15 minutes after he arrives home from work.
There are lots of things to love about Mrs. Maisel, but can we talk for a minute about the elephant in the room … Mrs. Maisel’s children.
There’s a whole host of issues going on there. But seriously, these kids have got to be the quietest, most well-behaved children in the world. Midge navigates all the upheavals in her personal life and demanding social calendar with almost zero consideration for what her children are doing or for her need to care for them.
I know it’s just a television show, but there is one thought that keeps popping into my head as I’m watching …. and that is “Who the hell is taking care of Midge’s kids!?”
We watch Midge go out night after night without a care in the world for the early morning shenanigans that go along with having young children.
I’m often torn between incredulity and jealousy.
Doesn’t she know those kids are going to still be up at the crack of dawn?!
Who’s going to get up and make them breakfast?!
Who’s changing diapers and preparing bottles?
Season 2 shows Midge flying off on a last minute trip to Paris. Neither her mother – who decides to move to Paris in the beginning of the season – nor her father – who is off to bring his wife home – or Joel, the children’s father, are watching the kids. In fact, when Joel learned Midge went to Paris when she called him, he didn’t even ask about the kids.
Throughout the TV show, we see Midge spending time with her friends, handing over her kids to strangers in the park while she gets involved in a protest rally, and leaving her kids unattended in a car. She goes off to a summer retreat in the Catskills, where we see her dancing, boating, flirting and lounging around in a swimsuit. What the viewer doesn’t see is her kids. Midge’s children are literally not in the picture. Mind you, these kids are supposed to be around 1 years old and 3 to 4 years, give or take.
Throughout the seasons, we rarely see the children and no one ever seems to be worried that they are cared for in any way. They are an afterthought, a token mention here or there, and part of the background of the show. Other than the times it’s convenient for the show writers to include the presence of Midge’s kids, they are absent enough in her daily life that it clearly puts this show in the fantasy realm. It’s almost comical – in an unintended way.
What we don’t see is Midge’s struggle to find someone to babysit the kids, or having to get up early after being out all night with exhausted eyes and ragged hair as her kids shriek and play and demand breakfast. We don’t see her dealing with poopy diapers, spit up on her clothes, or toddler meltdowns. When she’s asked to go on a six-month comedy tour, Midge answers yes without hesitation – no need to think about who will care for her children. Tra la la, life is wonderful.
I guess that’s the kind of freedom that comes along with living with your parents and having a full-time, all-purpose housekeeper, cook, babysitter?
OK, maybe I’m just jealous. Maybe I’m too levelheaded to totally suspend disbelief. Maybe I’m just living in an exhausted, three children in five years daze. Regardless, I can’t stop myself from thinking “But what about the kids?!” I’m alternately jealous of her freewheeling life and concerned over their imaginary futures.
I’ll definitely keep watching and enjoying the show. When my inner mom pipes up with a “pssssh, that is totally unrealistic” thought, I’ll just have to have another sip of wine and tell her, “Quiet, I’m watching my show.”