Melissa Rivers Says Mom Joan Inspired Marvelous Mrs. Maisel : There's a 'Lack of Acknowledgment'

Ally Mauch
·4 min read

Melissa Rivers is speaking out about the legacy of her late mom, revered comic Joan Rivers.

Melissa, 53, made an appearance on the Behind the Velvet Rope with David Yontef podcast Thursday and revealed her feelings about TV series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, claiming Joan was one of the inspirations for the titular character but that the show never reached out to her about it.

"I understand both sides. I'm sure they were worried because, well also, the world is so litigious, but I wish I had gotten a note saying, 'Your mother was one of the inspirations for this, and we hope you enjoy it and here's a T-shirt. Here's a link to the first episode, to the pilot,' you know?" the TV personality said when asked about the Amazon Prime series, revealing that she's never seen an episode.

"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, and 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 or anything saying, 'Hey, she was one of my inspirations.'"

A representative for Amazon Studios had no comment when reached by PEOPLE.

Noam Galai/WireImage

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Melissa went on to note that the main character, Miriam Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan), is "clearly a compilation" of the female comics of the 1950s and '60s — "a lot of my mom, but clearly a compilation of a lot of the women of the era," she said.

Joan, who died in 2014 at the age of 81, is widely considered to be a pioneer for women in comedy. Melissa said that the only person who mentioned her mom in regards to the show was actress Jane Lynch, who thanked Joan and other early female comedians when accepting her Emmy Award in 2019 for her role in Mrs. Maisel.

"I was in tears and I sent her flowers the next day saying, 'Thank you,'" Melissa said of Lynch, 60.

Nicole Rivelli/Amazon

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"So, yeah. I can't watch it. Like, it really profoundly upset me … it was more about the lack of acknowledgment of my mother's career and my mother's legacy," she added. "They're scared to say she was one of the inspirations. And I don't know if it's because they were scared that I would be litigious or what, but that really hurt me. And especially because it was so soon after she died. And the joke is everyone tells me I would love the show."

The Fashion Police alum said she has no interest in taking any legal action, but would have been the show's "biggest cheerleader" if only they had reached out to acknowledge that Joan was among the inspirations.

"I would have no legal grounds, not one, but on a human level it still hurts me," she said. "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 continued. "All I ever wanted was a note, maybe a thank you in one of the acceptance speeches after all these years."

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Despite Melissa's claims, the creator of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amy Sherman-Palladino, has often spoken out about taking inspiration for the series from her father, who was a stand-up comic.

"We took my Dad's life, his stories, and a lot of stuff I heard about growing up. We have stolen it completely, did not compensate my parents at all, and thrown it into the show," she said during a Deadline panel last year.

"So all of the childhood drama and tragedy has served me well. Here's why you don't go to therapy to work out your issues because you'd have nothing to write about. It's all an homage to my Dad," she said.