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Review: ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ 4 Is Great TV but Cracks Are Starting to Show
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Review: ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ 4 Is Great TV but Cracks Are Starting to Show

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Rachel Brosnahan, has had a major career setback and is back to square 1.

Updated
Movie Reviews
4 min read

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Review: ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ 4 Is Great TV but Cracks Are Starting to Show

(Note: This review is based on the first 2 episodes of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 4. Look out for spoilers from seasons 1-3.)

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is returning with its 4th season after a two-year hiatus owing partly to the pandemic throwing shooting schedules off-kilter. “Revenge,” proclaims Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) right at the start, with smoke swirling around. It’s soon clear that the show, true to its nature, is picking up right where it left off in season 3.

A still from The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 4.

(Photo Courtesy: Prime Video)

The two-year gap between the two seasons, especially with the years taking such an immeasurable toll on us all, makes it a little tough to suspend today’s reality in limbo before entering the 60s with show creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. But once you do, it’s like you never left.

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Season 3 ended with Midge Maisel and her friend-manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) being dropped off at the tarmac, after Midge was dropped from pop singer Shy Baldwin's (Leroy McClain) world tour, for all but outing the closeted singer during her set. Oh, but Midge is not one for introspection- Shy isn’t the first person to fall prey to Midge’s selfishness (although this is arguably the most serious).

She insists that the crowd loved her show, (seemingly) unintentionally oblivious to the damage she has caused- outing a public figure is rarely safe in 2022, the 60s was a whole different ballpark.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 4 (judging by the two episodes available for review) is about Midge Maisel’s not-so-marvelous career slump.

The performance at the Apollo has essentially blackballed the snarky comedian but she is armed with a desire to change the game altogether.

I am a sucker for content with a self-destructive protagonist or a has-been artist (Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard remains a favourite) but Mrs Maisel 4 isn’t gunning for that trope. Midge is back to her old house from before the divorce with a loan from her ex-husband Joel Maisel’s (Michael Zegen) father Moishe (Kevin Pollak).

Michael Zegen as Joel Maisel.

(Photo Courtesy: Prime Video)

This reset, so far, seems like the show is back to season 1 and some of the jokes feel repetitive especially with a performer like Brosnahan- viewers have come to expect something new from her every time especially with an Emmy to her name and she has delivered so far. So while the reset is an exemplary plot point, will the makers take it forward?

There is still so much to love about the show. The show’s creators clearly understand the period and its fashion- every scene is a spectacle and it feels like a Broadway show; every character is performing. Mrs Maisel 4 is still set piece galore- the scene at Coney Island where the entire cast is yelling at each other in the Wonder Wheel is classic screwball comedy.

The Maisels and Weissmans at Coney Island in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.

(Photo Courtesy: Prime Video/ Christopher Saunders)

The one with Midge and Susie essentially turning into hecklers when she is denied a spot at a club because they ‘already had a girl’ is insightful and hilarious. This season doubles down on the sexism that surrounds Midge- she doesn’t get a delivery of milk because the credit was in her husband’s name, for instance.

On the other hand, there’s also the story of Susie and her sister Tessie (Emily Bergl) committing insurance fraud. Those scenes seem a little out of place while we try to trace Midge’s next steps but Bergl is such a pleasure to watch.

There’s also Joel whose restaurant is doing ‘too well’ for the Chinese owners to run a successful crime syndicate (the caricature is toeing the line into racism but doesn’t seem to have crossed it yet).

If season 4 doesn’t manage to bring together the multiple plot lines, it is going to get too entangled in itself.
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The show’s insistence on keeping Joel around continues to boggle my mind- he is a part of Midge’s kids’ life sure but does he have to be a part of her life too?

The show is set in the 60s, one of the most memorable periods in the women’s rights and civil rights movement. A scene (trying to avoid spoilers) in a prison with a majority of the prisoners being Black women does allude to the possibility of the show exploring the setting it is in. It wouldn’t be out of character for The Marvelous Mrs Maisel to address its setting- one can dream.

Tony Shalhoub (as Abe Weissman) and Marin Hinkle (as Rose Weissman).

(Photo Courtesy: Prime Video)

The entire cast, be it Brosnahan, Bornstein, Tony Shalhoub (as Abe Weissman) or Marin Hinkle (as Rose Weissman), are as stellar as can be. However, Jane Lynch as Midge’s rival Sophie Lennon is magnificent in her scenes.

There’s still the hope that the show will give more substance to Susie, outside of her partnership with Midge. I only hope the show isn’t too marveled by its lead- while it’s okay for the audience to be enamoured by a character, a show can rarely afford to be. Otherwise, it’ll make Susies out of us all, stuck on the Miriam Maisel-track-mind.

The fourth season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel releases on Amazon Prime on 18 February.

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