Better late Than Never: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 3
Yes, it mainly got shut down (albeit deservedly) by Fleabag and Barry last season, but there were still reasons to be joyful as Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won another seven Emmys last year, including a deserved repeat for Alex Borstein and a much deserved triumph for Tony Shalhoub. And the early notes would seem to indicate a possibility of a big repeat — it got another 20 nominations for Season 3. I should really call this review ‘Almost too Late’, but I’ve just started on Season 3. Need I mention its sublime?
At the end of Season 2, it seemed like Midge was finally going to break big when she was invited to tour with black singing sensation Shy Baldwin. There were similar breakthroughs for everyone else. Abe, who spent the last year thinking his work at Bell Labs was vital, learned it wasn’t and quit both there and his job at Columbia. Susie finally managed to earn the privilege of Sophie Lennon as her client (an incredible Jane Lynch, now promoted to series regular). Joel realized his relationship was over (his final one night stand with Midge notwithstanding) and decided to buy a club.
As Midge’s career unfolds, she finds herself in the position of so many women in her position — being recognized for her looks more than her act. There was conflict when Midge learned that Suzie had taken on Sophie as a client, and there’s probably going to be a lot more when she realizes just what a monster she’s taken on. Abe is trying to embrace his roots as a disruptor (his arrest after attending a Lenny Bruce show was a true milestone for him) and when Rose tried to get more money from her trust (it came as a huge shock that she wasn’t a blue blood but from an oil family in Oklahoma), she lassoed some of her daughter’s independence and ended up cutting herself off completely. This led to a truly moving moment when they learned they could no longer afford their West End apartment (which was as much a character of the series the first two seasons as all the regulars) and finally decided to move in with Joel’s parents. Who have just relocated to Queens.
Joel, in the meantime, has quickly gotten in over his head, and after finalizing his divorce, now finds himself owning a club on top of an illegal Chinese casino, apparently run by a Chinese medical student. And Susie has found herself over her head as she becomes a real agent, clashing with Ray (Sterling K. Brown, is there nothing you can’t do?) Shy’s manager who already has more layers than you could imagine.
As the world of the sixties finally begins to invade the comfortable fifties world that the series inhabited so brilliantly its first two seasons, we can see a level of change in this new world. It is met with brilliance by all the leads, particularly Brosnahan as she begins to find herself getting into bigger ponds that even she thought of, and especially Borstein as almost every line out of her mouth is a punch line. From her terror of flying for the first time to her adjustment to being on top of the world to slowly developing more confidence even as she gets bigger, Borstein is in one of the greatest roles I’ve ever seen. Like Gilmore Girls, the friendship between two woman is clearly the greatest part of the series, and it hurts more when the two are at odds than Midge’s problems with Joel.
I really don’t have any more superlatives for this series than I’ve already used. So I’ll give a private cheer to a new arrival. Liza Weil, Paris Gellar herself, showed up in the last episode I viewed as Carole Keen, the rare white woman behind the scenes of Shy’s tour. I’m one of Weil’s biggest fans, and as someone who cringed at her work on How to Get Away with Murder, I’m thrilled to see her back — and in fine form — with the creators who brought her superstardom. Weil has appeared on every series the Palladinos have produced and every show Rhimes has worked on, and in a side by side comparison, her work with the Palladinos beats everyone one of Rhimes’ shows. (There’s also the fact she gets killed on all of them…). I really hope she sticks around on Maisel for awhile, so she get the Emmy she’s been owed since Gilmore Girls. It would be fitting.
This may be the single greatest series Amazon has put together… so far. When Season 4 finally premieres, trust me, I’ll watch a lot quicker than I did the previous three. It’s funny, nostalgic, colorful and perfect. To the Palladinos, all I have left to say is: thank you and good night!
My score: 4.75 stars.