It’s that time of the year(ish) again! It’s time to dive into the Marvelous universe of the not-so-family-friendly Mrs Maisel as she continues her tumultuous ride from being a homemaker to becoming a sensational comedienne in the 1960s’ mostly boys-only comedy scene. The first three episodes of the final season of Marvelous Mrs Maisel premiered on Friday, taking us down the last yard.

A Glimpse into the Future

The show’s producer-duo Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino always had an idea of when they wanted Midge’s story to end. While there was never a doubt whether Midge would become a big star or not, the hook of the show was really her journey. The cold opens of the first three episodes of season 5 do confirm Midge’s stardom, but they also do so much more than that.

Travelling ahead in time, we reach the 1980s where we watch 60 minutes of Midge Maisel’s now infamous career in under 6 minutes, confirming that we are on the brink of Midge’s success. And boy, oh boy, does it feel like an overload of information (in a good way)!

We learn about Maisel’s sold-out 18-night run at the Copa Cabana, and her career-changing performance at Carnegie Hall where she was arrested, which led to her popularity among a younger fanbase and an extensive college tour. In addition to being an Emmy winner and Grammy winner, she is also awarded the French Order of Arts and Letters. And the host continues to regale us with her many celebrity friendships, long list of high-profile marriages and an even longer list of men in her life. However, the most shocking revelation of all was the end of her friendship with Susie.

Midge and Suzie’s friendship was the soul of the show. Amy Sherman-Palladino centres her shows around her duo of leading ladies, like Lorelai and Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls. You’d think an Upper West Side Jewish housewife and a Greenwich Village club manager couldn’t possibly have anything in common – and this can be confirmed when you see Midge and Susie together – but somehow, they work! Midge and Suzie’s witty repartee glows with the foundation of their unique, unusual friendship throughout the show. And they build the essence of the show. They get each other and always have each other’s backs. “You’re the one person who understands me,” says a very emotional Midge in the first episode of season 5. And as much as this revelation deviates from the happy ending I was waiting for; I cannot help but wonder where it all went wrong.

A comparison with the past

A surprising addition to Marvelous Mrs Maisel’s customary narrative in the final season is the active roles played by Midge’s children with her first husband Joel, Ethan and Esther. Of all the possible cold opens, I would have never expected the first episode to open with Esther at her therapist’s office. Or foresee Ethan going to rabbi school in Israel.

Marvelous Mrs Maisel is essentially the journey of a female comic into the then-man’s world of comedy. We watched Midge be on the receiving end of sexism in showbiz at every step of the way – from booking stand-up gigs to getting jokes on air in a talk show. And she proved herself every single time. This trailblazing path fuelled by Midge and Suzie’s ambition, negating the prevalent sentiments of the time that women aren’t funny and that they should stick to singing and looking pretty, was a massive finger to the entertainment industry of the 60s.

And yet, at the end of the day, when we look at the consequences of Midge’s ambition and rise to success, we also see Esther’s frustrated tirade against her mother and Ethan’s resignation of the fact that she was still his mother. I suddenly found myself back in season 4 when Mei chooses her career as a doctor over having a baby with Joel. “I can’t have it all,” she says, overcome with an emotion that isn’t foreign to women even today.

Ethan and Esther’s roles began as supporting sidebars, an addition to Midge’s character of “a wife with two kids living on the Upper West Side”. And in the first 4 seasons, they also become the premise of many jokes – Ethan’s bizarre behaviour, Esther’s unusually large forehead and literally, the fact that Midge often forgot they existed. However, the new season moves out of the comedic aspects of Midge’s maternal skills and explores the real-life repercussions of her actions. We even watch little Esther jump out of bed with her mother and move back to her cot.

So, did Midge’s success come at the cost of her relationship with her children? She talks about how she was raised in an environment that compelled her to have children. Would her life have been better if she was given the choice to never have them in the first place? Can women really have it all? 

And everything we love about the show in-between

Watching Marvelous Mrs Maisel is like watching a flawlessly choreographed musical, without any of the characters singing (for the most part). There is a rhythm and tempo to the back-and-forth of dialogues, punctuated with the right laughs (there are wrong laughs – Midge explains it very extensively in episode 2). The conversation is witty, lightning-fast and filled with profanities. The beautiful art direction and perfect background score make you feel like you’re falling down a rabbit hole into a bizarre, whimsical world. But more than anything, it is the characters that bring the show home.

Abe Weissman continues to endearingly grow on us, if that’s even possible, despite his child-like attention to only himself and his constant fear of the world. His obsession over spelling a name wrong in his article is easily one of my favourite Abe moments on the show. Rose matches Abe’s oddness by contacting her analyst son in the CIA to raid her match-making rivals. And Moishe and Shirley continue to be their quintessential selves, even in their apparent break-up (and very quick make-up, it seems). We see Joel slowly returning to his red-flag ways and Lenny Bruce (played by the very talented Luke Kirby) be charming, funny and Midge’s biggest cheerleader. And we’re blessed with cameos from Palladino show veterans such as Christopher Eigeman, Kelly Bishop and Milo Ventimiglia.

The impeccable character building that consistently does right by the character paired with incredible casting is what makes Marvelous Mrs Maisel a comfort to watch every time. And as much as I cannot wait to watch how the show ends, it feels like the bitter-sweet ending you feel after finishing a really good book or a satisfying movie. On the bright side, there are still 6 more episodes to go before we have to say goodbye. So, till then – you’ve been a terrific audience. Thank you and good night!


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