The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the show and the character, have spent the last several years chasing a rather specific dream. Quick-witted, engaging, and full of prospective, the two have sought to break through their respective barriers and achieve a level of renown typically reserved for more customary counterparts. In other words, they’d like to become famous and they’d like to be themselves while they do it. After a season comprised mostly of personal exploration, the latest round of Maisel episodes have finally taken a dive back into the realm of show business. Only this time, things feel a little different.
Prior to this season, the marvelous misadventures of Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge Maisel and Alex Borstein’s Susie Myerson always seemed rooted in the idea that Midge was meant for stardom. No matter the setback, Maisel remained determined and Susie maintained her staunch belief in Midge as the golden ticket. Then the duo was left sputtering on an airport tarmac, and things started to go a little sideways. While it doesn’t seem like either of the pair have given up working towards their goals, it is starting to appear that their goals may no longer be what they once were. The first half of the show’s fourth season made it very clear that Midge is no longer interested in doing business the traditional way. As their work hiatus comes to a close, and she once again takes the stage at a higher level, one might find themselves questioning if she is still interested in doing business at all.
Brosnahan’s lead is forced to face this with the return of two major figures from her past. First up, the man behind her most recent downfall demonstrates the dangers of choosing fame over family. Midge and Susie get an unexpected invite to the wedding of Leroy McClain’s Shy Baldwin, and there discover that their one-time friend has abandoned any semblance of his former life. A bathroom face-to-face between Midge and Shy, followed by an attempted back room deal with his agents, reveals the singer was willing to let go of everything he loved in order to grow his career and reap the rewards. Already disgusted by the self-important regality of his wedding and having now seen the sadness in Shy’s life, Midge leaves feeling more pity than regret.
Next, she must handle her emotions surrounding Jane Lynch’s Sophie Lennon and her recent reinstatement to the spotlight. It’s not lost in Midge, or the viewer at home, that Sophie’s arc is symbolic of Hollywood’s cyclic nature. The same type of person, dealing with the same type of problems, jumping through the same social hoops, only to once again put others down so they may rise to the top. Midge hates Sophie for all of these reasons, but she is part of the game she’s decided to play, and therefore accepts an invitation to work for Lennon on her new television show. This goes about as well as expected. Meanwhile, Midge’s self-produced show at the strip club is thriving. The comic’s methods of madness are working wonders for the business, so much so that it’s newfound attention begins to nerve the men who use it as a front.
The quandary all this unearths is one that’s been at the heart of the series since it began. What does Midge’s future really hold if she can draw a crowd but can’t work with Hollywood? With any luck, this is something the show aims to answer in the final season and a half. The hope, however, should be that Midge is on a path to unprecedented greatness. It’s easy to look at the combination of unexpected run-ins and decide that they’ll drive Midge away from what she loves to do, but Midge has never been one for determent. Instead, it’s possible this brilliant one-two punch from the writer’s room is only serving to teach Midge what she shouldn’t do along the way to her accomplishments. Perhaps one day the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will get to be one hundred percent herself on the big stage, with both friends and family still at her side.