Amy Sherman-Palladino explained the show concept as follows: "I wanted to do a story about a woman who thought she'd scored...She'd gotten it all, and then, bam, it all falls apart. And in falling apart, she discovers an ambition and a need to speak, and a voice that she just frankly didn't know was there."
Many of the doorposts throughout the series have a small box attached to them. This is a mezuzah, a case containing passages from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21), which Jews traditionally affix to the door frames of their houses as a constant reminder of God's presence. A mezuzah also functions as a sign that a Jewish person occupies the house or works in the building onto which it is affixed, so in this series, the frequent sight of mezuzahs on doorframes is one of many indications that most of the characters are Jewish.
Although this has not been stressed on the show to nearly the extent that it has been for the Weissmans and the Maisels (Midge included) the character of Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) is also supposed to be understood as Jewish. In a November 2017 interview with the Jewish women's magazine Hadassah, Borstein confirmed that Susie is Jewish: "Borstein describes the Jewish Susie as very strong, wanting to be part of her own destiny and not just letting life happen to her. 'I've always known most Jewish women to be that way,' she observes." In a December 2017 interview with The Jewish Journal, Borstein said that Susie reminds her of several of her own family members: "My grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, was very funny, very dark and bitchy. My mother went back to school later in life to get her MSW or MFT psychotherapy degree, one of those f-- series of letters with a bunch of "m's" in it. They were tough broads who kept reinventing themselves, and there's a piece of Susie in there."
The "apartment" where Midge and her husband Joel live was created on the same set as the apartment where Midge's parents live, but with more modern (late-1950s) design, inspired in part by Doris Day movies, according to production designer Bill Groom.
Midge's (Rachel Brosnahan) first open mic takes place on September 23, 1958, which was in fact, Erev Yom Kippur. Although the family makes a big deal about having the Rabbi over for breakfast after Yom Kippur, Midge and her mother are both shown eating and drinking on Yom Kippur (despite it being a fasting holiday) and Abe and Moshe are both shown working on Yom Kippur (despite it being one of the few holiday even secular Jews spend in synagogue).
Amazon's official promotional copy for this series included the fact that Mrs. Maisel has "an elegant Upper West Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner." For anyone who is Jewish or even remotely knowledgeable about Judaism, this is an odd assertion, since Yom Kippur is the best-known of several fasting observances in the Jewish calendar, and therefore no dinner would be served on the holiday. After Yom Kippur is over, Jewish families do traditionally gather for a meal to break the fast, but this meal is called a "Break-the-Fast," not "Yom Kippur dinner." The meal is referred to correctly in dialogue during the actual pilot episode.
The review of the pilot in The Guardian praised the "combination of Amy Sherman-Palladino's banging dialogue and the utterly winning charm of Brosnahan", while The A.V. Club praised the "outstanding" production design and said "this is a series that's as confident as its heroine-and what a heroine she is. Midge is already layered, conflicted, hilarious, and charming."
Gilmore Girls (2000) fans will remember Alex Borstein, who was originally cast as Sookie, but played Drella, the harp player from the Independence Inn, appearing here as an East Village bar veteran, Susie, who takes Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) under her wing.
A critic for Slate called the pilot episode "a knockout", stating that the stand-up element "introduces a welcome streak of discipline, both verbal and thematic, into Amy Sherman-Palladino's charming but manic work."
Principal photography for the pilot took place from September 27 to October 14, 2016 in New York City. On October 4 and 5, 2016, filming took place at 96 St. Marks Place in New York City where exterior shots were being filmed. Residents of the building being used for filming were reportedly unhappy about the disruption that the production would cause.