The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season Four | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season Four)

Prime Video, February 18, 2022

Feb 16, 2022 Photography by Prime Video Web Exclusive
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The fourth season of the 1950s-into-1960s period comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel gets off to a shaky start. Last we saw Miriam “Midge” Maisel (the multiple-award-winning Rachel Brosnahan), she was unceremoniously fired from her plum gig as the opening comedian for popular crooner Shy Baldwin (LeRoy McClain) by his terrifying manager (a clever and sinister portrayal by Sterling K. Brown) for her inappropriate set at his hometown gig at the Apollo in Harlem.

The opening scene is a flash-forward where Midge, pissed off and taking it out on the microphone, spits “REVENGE!!” as she recounts how, once again, a man ruined her life and how she was dressed magnificently while it was happening. Rewind to the fateful night of the firing, and Midge is, gratuitously for viewers, ripping her amazing clothes off in the first of two cabs that are carrying her, her manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) and her many outfits back to the city.

The shock of her life blowing up doesn’t last long. The ever-buoyant Midge treats this bomb like a hiccup, the same way she’s treated every bomb that has exploded in her life. Impossibly upbeat with, apparently, no flaws and no real problems, Midge magically fixes her jobless, homeless situation with a swish of her skirt. Just like in Season One where she seamlessly went from conventional young wife living on the Upper Westside to divorced aspiring comic with two small children, and a limitless to-die-for wardrobe—one that has its own room when she moves back into her parents’ (the impeccable Tony Shalhoub and regal Marin Hinkle) apartment, same building, different floor.

Her ex-husband Joel (the unappealing Michael Zegen) walks out to be with his dimwit secretary and Midge gets an instant comedy career out of it. When she goes to B. Altman, the department store, to apply for a position as an elevator operator, she walks out with a job as an expert makeup counter girl, Revlon no less. Childcare? No problem! Somehow, there is always someone invisible watching her kids. Or her kids are invisible, like when the family went to the Catskills for an extended holiday in Season Two and the kids were not seen once. It’s so improbable, Midge might as well just wiggle her nose or cross her arms and blink hard.

As edgy and hip as Midge is, she loves the traditions and lifestyle she grew up with. She steps in her mother’s footsteps in many ways—except Midge trolls nightclubs and comedy clubs, jumping on stage and using her family for fodder. Somehow, she still lands a “nice Jewish doctor,” one that can keep up with her and appreciates all her quirks—whom she dumps for an offer from the aforementioned Baldwin.

Encounters with racism, homophobia, sexism, addiction, alternate lifestyles, misogyny happen on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, particularly in Season Three, but oh so lightly. Nothing really throws Midge off-course. She just keeps talking and talking and talking, as is creator and executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino’s (Gilmore Girls and Bunheads) wont. Also, a signature Sherman-Palladino move, bringing actors from her previous shows. Liza Weil, Bailey De Young, Emily Bergl, Brian Tarantina to name a few. Even Borstein kept showing up on Gilmore Girls. In Season Four, we have one of Lorelai Gilmore’s boyfriends, Chris Eigeman (Jason “Digger” Stiles), as Midge’s father’s editor at his new job at The Village Voice, playing a character that is the carbon copy of “Digger.”

Meanwhile, Bergl, who plays Susie’s sister Tessie, is pimped out by Susie to their insurance agency, which they defrauded when they committed arson. Now, not only does Susie have Midge’s money, which she previously had gambled away, but Tessie is working at the insurance agency and “seeing” the boss, or as Susie delicately puts it, blowing him in the bathroom at lunch. Midge’s problem armor is rubbing off on her manager.

Midge’s parents are also blessed with the same problem armor as their daughter. When they lost their apartment, they moved in with their ex-in-laws. What a humorous—and horrifying, but extremely far-fetched solution. Now, Midge has bought back her apartment, using money she borrowed from her ex-father-in-law and she’s moving in her parents—and their live-in, uniformed housekeeper, Zelda.

With her winning smile and quick tongue, Midge reestablishes credit at the various businesses she frequents. Very reminiscent of Lorelai getting all her vendors to do what she needed them to do at the inn, whirlwind-like, no one knowing what just happened to them. But when her milk vendor won’t extend her credit is when she finally breaks down sobbing.

What the second episode of Season Four states (only two episodes were made available for review) is Midge’s turn in the comedy space to a female version of Lenny Bruce: foul-mouthed, saying what’s on her mind, no matter what the outcome. If that means regular stints in the slammer so be it. This alone is worth continuing to tune into The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It is, after all, charming, and everyone likes a story when a someone who is repeatedly knocked back, comes out on top, on their own steam, through their own determination, employing their wits and skills. Failing upward, as it were.

The implausible portrayal of Midge as irrepressible works because we want it to. Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker compared The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s trajectory to that of Joan Rivers’ in real life. Except that Joan is split into bad and good. All that’s bad is portrayed in Midge’s arch-enemy, successful comedian, Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch)—who is having a planned nervous breakdown at a high-end institution. In contrast, Midge is all that is good. She is always winning at everything. And perhaps that’s why we can’t take our eyes off of her. (www.amazon.com/Marvelous-Mrs-Maisel)

Author rating: 6/10

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