When my son was very small, he never wanted to watch scripted TV shows, movies, or read fiction books. As his mother is a novelist, it was overwhelming. Eventually, he taught me that at the time, he didn’t like conflict: the cornerstone of most stories. He didn’t like when characters got into trouble, as Pete’s characters from “Pete’s Dragon” to Punky Brewster to Amelia Bedelia are forged to do.
Only troubles are interesting. This is what makes the drama happen. Someone wants something and will fight like hell to get it. Misadventures, confused feelings and hijinks ensue. But usually everything is settled.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the Prime Video hit about a 1950s housewife who wants to be an actress, is no exception. The main character, Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), is really good at getting into trouble. She is also, as a wealthy, thin, and traditionally attractive young white woman, good at getting by. what she is do not great to apologize.
Related: Susie’s Battle in ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
Last season, the show ended on something of a cliffhanger: Midge and her fearless manager Susie (Alex Borstein) were stranded on a tarmac as a plane carrying Shy Baldwin (Roy McClain), the popular singer Midge was the first part of his world tour, flown over without them on board, in a kind of anti-“Casablanca”.
Midge had been unceremoniously dumped by Shy’s manager, Reggie (Sterling K. Brown), on the tarmac after remarks Midge had made earlier onstage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, remarks about Shy that alluded, more than a little, to the singer’s sexuality.
Shy is gay, something Midge is privileged to know, as is Reggie, because Shy trusted him enough to tell him.
That confidence, it turns out, was misplaced, with Midge’s secret gushing into the quick, anxious fire of conscience that is much of her stand-up. She’s at her best, according to Susie and Midge herself, when she’s riffing, doing stand-up without notes, without a plan (and often, with lots of booze).
But riffing on your own life is one thing. Riddling about someone else, especially if that person is a closeted gay black man in 1950s America, is something else entirely.
gnat probably should were fired. Putting your employer’s life in danger is a probable motive. The same goes for homophobia, as many of Midge’s digs have veered into deeply wicked and dangerous territory, alluding to Judy Garland, Shy does makeup and has a huge closet of silks and chiffons. She described him as a “pretty, dainty, elegant thing, primping up in the mirror”, called him “fabulous” and said he “has a guy” for “pretty much everything” with a long gaze heard on the audience.
These remarks were intended for the approval of this public, of which she felt intimidated. Midge threw Shy, her friend, under the bus to get that approval, the cheapest laughs she could buy.
It was damaging, what she did. It was cruel. But cruelest of all, in Season 4, she has yet to apologize.
Breaking the law is funny in “Mrs. Maisel.” Unlike most girls who summer at a beach resort for a month, Midge has been arrested multiple times, starting in the very first episode when she bared her breasts after drunkenly wandering onstage at the Gaslight, a village club. At the start of the show’s fourth season, his record for arrests stood at four times. Bailed out by Susie, comic book legend Lenny Bruce and her ex-husband Joel, she faced small long-term fallout from repeated prison sentences.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video)Midge should be relieved that her sometimes-husband Joel, despite his many problems, isn’t vindictive about it (or knows he can’t handle being a full-time dad); many women in similar circumstances may have lost custody of their children by now.
But repercussions aren’t the show’s strong suit.
Alan Sepinwall wrote in Rolling Stone about the aftermath of “Maisel” comedian Sophie Lennon’s anxious opening night on Broadway when she strayed completely from the script to the delight of the audience: “As for some of Midge’s professional ups and downs, production spinoff doesn’t seem fully thought out.”
Wouldn’t another audience want to see Sophie Sauvage again (to box office acclaim)? Would Midge really have a hard time finding a place to perform after being kicked off Shy’s tour? May be. Or maybe audiences would be curious to see this dangerous comedian, even or especially without knowing the circumstances of her brutal dismissal.
Although they got into a lot of interesting trouble in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the characters face no real consequences due to their wealth, which both shields them from judgment and paves the way for second, third. . . sixth chance.
Midge learned that “nothing will stick with you/don’t look back” attitude back home. After leaving a cushy, tenure-track teaching career at Columbia University (which had provided housing for her family) and then leaving a job at Bell Labs, Midge’s father Abe is offered a new concert at the Village Voice. After fleeing to Paris, abruptly abandoning her family, Midge’s mother, Rose, returns home to a career as a matchmaker: she is an overnight success.
Perhaps there is no greater metaphor for the absence of consequences than Midge having to move her family back to her same old Upper West Side apartment, which has magically been put up for sale. .
The poor don’t have the same kind of opportunities, the same kind of things that work like magic for them. And neither do people of color, which is perhaps why in season four, Shy rushes down the aisle — with a woman — after Midge’s stage exit.
In the fifth episode of this season, Midge and Susie receive invitations to this wedding reception. And they leave.
This isn’t the Yellowjackets’ triumphant return to the school reunion. Attending this reception seems like a terrible idea, and the show continues to run into trouble with Midge and Susie committing immature and minor acts of wedding sabotage: tearing down a flower arrangement, ordering the most expensive drinks from the open bar.
But it’s child’s play. When Midge deliberately hits a server’s platter of cover plates, tripping him up and knocking them off in the middle of Shy’s speech, his face in a furious scowl, I’m not on his side as an onlooker. She knocks, and she attacks an innocent passer-by for no reason.
And when Midge follows Shy into the bathroom, anyone expecting a real, heartfelt admission of wrongdoing from the woman who humiliated her friend at her own wedding by implying that the nun was pregnant, will be disappointed.
“You had a good comic for a while,” Midge said to Shy, her voice dripping with sarcasm. ” Oh yes. Me. What happened there? I try to remember. She admits that she “stumbled” with Shy, but quickly becomes defensive, saying she was scared, intimidated by the legendary black woman comic that came before her, and “desperate for that laugh. .. And I was killing, which was my job, but I should have gone in another direction.”
There’s no Are you OK? Or: What happened after that night? Only: “I thought we were friends,” says Midge, like all bullies in the world.
When apologies finally arrive, they are lodged in self-protection and victim-blaming. “If you had let me on the plane, I would have said I was sorry…I’ll find another job.” Finally, we have it: “But I was and still am truly sorry.” It’s brief and it shows, tacked on at the end of her long talk about herself with additional, condescending jabs about her, not the most heartfelt.
Shy, to his credit, even though Midge’s homophobic slurs could have (and still could) get him killed – Shy extends the olive branch. He offers to meet up with her once he’s in town, to take her somewhere. But Midge rejects his friendship. “No,” she interrupts him. “I will not fall into the trap again.”
Fall for what, exactly? A homosexual trying to protect himself? Someone whom Midge hurt deeply doing her best – even if it’s not her place – to mend their friendship? “We’re not friends,” Midge says bluntly. “I learned my lesson.”
What is this lesson? Do not make friends with homosexuals? It doesn’t seem to be not to outside their. It seems Midge didn’t learn anything. Then, in the worst part of a bathroom scene since the many “Inventing Annas”, Midge slyly says to the man forced to marry, probably because of his unconsciousness: “Congratulations. I hope you are ok. be very happy.”
Midge is wrong here. The public knows it. Does the show?
Want a daily recap of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
For a show, especially a long one, especially a just renewed for a final season, to continue to gain momentum and not stagnate, there must be movement. The characters must go on a journey – and not just to become famous and get rich. Midge has to change along the way, hopefully into someone better.
She hasn’t done it yet.
Where Midge differs from other anticausal heroines like Lorelai Gilmore, michelle simms and yes, Punky Brewster is that she doesn’t seem to have any remorse. This could be attributed to his ambition. Midge is taken to a time when women were supposed to stay home, have kids, and be happy about it — or at least, be quiet about it. And she’s ambitious in a field where women weren’t supposed to to be at all.
But what set Midge apart at the start of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was her heart, cooking elaborate breasts because she knew people loved them, because she wanted to take care of people.
This heart is so far absent from season 4.
As a woman of that time, especially a privileged and protected woman, Midge is still figuring things out. She went to college, unlike many women of her generation, but was shielded from learning about money, the world, and her own advantages. Susie taught him a lot about life. Shy too. And Midge owes him, at the very least, an explanation she’s still learning. And she owes him a real apology.
More stories like this