Melissa Rivers claims mother Joan Rivers inspired The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel… but feels ‘violated’ over the ‘lack of acknowledgment’ from the Amazon show
Melissa Rivers has claimed that her mother, the legendary comedian Joan Rivers, is one of the inspirations behind Amazon’s hit series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and feels disappointed that she hasn’t been properly acknowledged for it.
Joan died in 2014 at the age of 81, and Melissa suggests that her life mirrors that of the lead character Miriam “Midge” Maisel who swaps being a housewife for a stand-up comic in the 1950s, while Joan made a similar pioneering leap in the 1960s.
‘Everybody’s saying, “Oh, it’s Joan, it’s Joan, it’s Joan, it’s Joan” and yet I never hear from the people that make it or the actors,’ Melissa, 53, said during an appearance on the Behind the Velvet Rope with David Yontef podcast on Thursday.
Speaking out: Melissa Rivers claims mother Joan Rivers inspired The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel… but feels ‘violated’ over the ‘lack of acknowledgment’ from the Amazon show (pictured 2013)
However, Melissa admits that she has never seen an episode of the show, but was moved when Jane Lynch mentioned her late mother in her Emmy acceptance speech for her role in the series.
Lynch was awarded for her work playing the character Sophie Lennon, a successful stand-up comic, who relies on jokes about her frumpy appearance – she thanked Joan and other female comedians of that era in her speech at the 2019 Emmy Awards.
Melissa explained that although she thanked Lynch and sent her flowers for the nod to Joan, she still has difficulty bringing herself to view an episode.
‘I can’t watch it. Like, it really profoundly upset me,’ Melissa said. ‘It was more about the lack of acknowledgment of my mother’s career and my mother’s legacy.’
Inspired: Melissa suggests that Joan’s life mirrors that of the lead character Miriam “Midge” Maisel who swaps being a housewife for a stand-up in the 1950s (Rachel Brosnahan pictured)
Melissa added that the character, played by Rachel Brosnahan, was ‘clearly a compilation’ of the female comedians of that era, including her mother, who rose to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show.
‘Not even saying like, it’s completely her, but to say she was one of our inspirations,’ she continued. ‘And because of that, I felt so violated in a weird way… Not even saying like, it’s completely her, but to say she was one of our inspirations.’
Joan is inarguably considered to be a pioneer of women in comedy, in the same way that the character of Maisel is groundbreaking for that period of time.
While Melissa says in the interview she is not interested in taking any legal action, she would have just liked an acknowledgment from the show makers.
Pioneer: Joan with her husband Edger Rosenberg, left and daughter Melissa in 1987
‘I would have no legal grounds, not one, but on a human level it still hurts me,’ she explained.
‘I want to be happy that they win and I can’t be. And I could be completely wrong. People could say, “You know, you’re crazy. You’re being stupid.” But to me, like I said, all they ever had to do was reach out and acknowledge.’
She added” ‘All I ever wanted was a note, maybe a thank you in one of the acceptance speeches after all these years.’
The Amazon Prime show has been a huge success since premiering in 2017, winning countless awards across the board.
There have been three seasons of the show, and was renewed for a fourth in December 2019.