The Marvelous ‘Marvelous Mrs.Maisel’: Success, Failure and Resilience

At the time I write to you I just discovered Amazon’s MARVELOUS MRS.MAISEL. It’s 5 a.m., I’ve just watched a couple of episodes and I’m hooked. This kind of writing makes me green with envy, but I can’t stop watching. This is what good writing is all about: building a wonderful life, ripping it apart and then re-constructing it in a liberating way. I’ve been writing all my life but it took a real act of Faith to accept this life as a serious option. It’s not an easy life and, at the time I write to you, not a certain life either. Still, the ones that make it have to accept it on Faith, have to put their heads down, work like crazy and believe in the impossible. Many times that requires a shock of some kind. The Universe paving the way.

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Amazon’s Original THE MARVELOUS MRS.MAISEL stars Golden Globe nominee Rachel Brosnahan in a well-deserved major role as a Jewish perfect housewife in 1950’s New York who’s trying to support her husband’s failing comedic hobby until… he leaves her. And that’s all I have to say about that. Featuring that Sorkin-eske kind of dialogue to which Amy Sherman-Palladino already accustomed us, this series’ intensity is much higher and the narrative sense is sharper than it ever was in GILMORE GIRLS.

J.K.Rowling made a speech, I believe in 2011, at the Commencement ceremony at Harvard that is now quite famous. She basically made a eulogy of failure. And what a speech! You can find it online, as it became viral. She spoke about her life after graduating from Harvard and how it went from bad to worse until she found herself, in her words, ‘as poor as you can be without being homeless’. For her, failure seems a necessary step to true success. A step to really find out your potential and become closer to what you can do. Rowling’s failure made her open to her writing and propelled her to create HARRY POTTER, a series that was turned down by multiple publishers before becoming almost the very definition of success. I recommend you listen to the speech. I’ve listened to it many times and will listen to it several more. The main message is, as Alex Borstein’s character Susie, in MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, tells Midge: ‘Everybody bombs’. Mrs.Maisel will find out: life is not perfect and being perfect isn’t even the best thing at all.

For some time in the past I used to make a living training executives in multinational companies. Sometimes I would ask the basic question: where do you see yourselves in 3 to 5 years? Little by little I discovered one thing: most of the people I asked this question became instantly depressed. Many people had never thought about this, about the direction of their lives. And those who did simply didn’t like the answer. Individuals accommodated to the paths their lives had taken without questioning much, accepting that it was ‘what had to be’. Few people took real risks with their lives and most tried their best not to think a lot about it. They had buried their dreams and found excuses for the holes in their souls. This will be more and more difficult to manage, though, as society is developing into a completely different animal than it was before, preparing to devour all traces of the world we know today. And most people will be surprised that their plans of comfort and their perfect paths through time will not be there where they thought they would be. Predictability is an endangered species. So they will have to adapt, think differently, wake up to the demands of change.

Failure will be inevitable for many or most in the next few years, as the world and the History of Mankind will surprise us all. But that does not have to be a disaster. Maybe some failure and some risk is exactly what the “Doctor” is ordering. Maybe failure is a true requisite for success as paradoxical as it may sound.

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Both Ms.Rowling’s speech and Mrs.Maisel’s tale are inspirational in a time like this. They remind us that many things we think as dangerous or impossible are actually quite achievable. Psychologists in war areas will often speak about children that lost everything and witnessed traumatic events, and that even then were able to find a way to make sense and to become healthy, to be resilient. Resilience is our ability to adapt to change and still persevere. Navy Seals, in turn, have their 40% rule: they figure that when your mind is saying you reached your limit, you’re actually only 40% done – you still have 60% to give. So go, Mrs. Maisel, be all that you can be! You made my day already.

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