It’s hard to shake the feeling that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a series that arrived at a relevant time. A woman trying to make her way in a man’s world during a time when a man’s place and a woman’s place were set in stone in a societal way that was unfair at best, or sexist at worst.
With the world in today’s age going through so many needed changes, and with statistics showing how unfairly the world is still locked in your favour to work if you’re a heterosexual white male, there is something both satisfying and dramatic about Midge’s plight to make it as a comedienne.
It makes the final stretch of “Mid-way to Mid-town” such a glorious delight. Midge finds herself last on the bill after being pushed down the order of comedians going on stage in a bar, after a big name no less, and still manages to not only win over the crowd, but to wipe the smiles from the men who pushed her to the last spot at the club her latest gig is taking place.
It’s a scene that starts as if it’s going to be a cringe-filled, embarrassing and deeply painful moment as we watch our titular heroine get the floor swiped away from underneath her, only for it to end with her turning the tables in glorious fashion.
READ MORE: Our review of episode one
It’s a brilliant contrapuntal moment compared to where last week’s episode left us with Midge in Paris walking away alone. In fact, contrapuntal is the word of the day here when one analyses the plotting compared to where the series was in the season premiere.
As we catch up to some of our characters compared to where we were last week, we find them in moments and situations that are the opposite of where we left them; Midge is back in New York, Joel is getting knee-deep into his dad’s business, while Rose and Abe are enjoying Paris and finding themselves in a good place with regards to their marriage.
There is almost a problem at first where one might be thinking they’ve missed an episode in regards to Abe and Rose’s happy place, which is almost a complete one-eighty to where we left them in “Simone”, but Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub are so good and the Paris sequences are so much fun and romantic that to complain feels very churlish.
Where in “Simone” the Paris sequences were busy and fast, complete with long takes and incredibly fast dialogue, here they have more of a romantic travelogue feel as Rose and Abe find themselves in a good place, enjoying the city, its people, Rose is taking in the art while Abe is wearing a beret having animated conversations with the locals. It’s great fun.
Opposition is also found between Joel and Midge. After that heartbreak of a telephone conversation last week, Joel is still trying to do right by Midge, but doing so by taking an active hand in helping her find a new apartment, which seems strange given his stance last week and how much he tries to sell the apartment to Midge based on the how close it is to The Gaslight, while Susie house-sits for Midge and finds herself enjoying a more affluent house and lifestyle.
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There are always a double acts in Sherman-Palladino’s work, such as Lorelai and Rory, or Lorelai and Sookie in Gilmore Girls; and there is no denying that Midge and Susie are the most valued relationship at the heart of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Just from a visual point of view the image of the petite Borstein and the very tall Brosnahan makes them a fun pairing, but the writing and the performances from both just help make their relationship the icing on the cake.
The differences in their social status and lives does make one frequently question if these two could ever be friends outside of Midge’s pursuit of comedy. With Joel offering Midge a new apartment and Susie having to go into hiding due to the threat on her wellbeing by the vengeful Harry Drake (David Paymer) from last season, one almost wants the two of them to make the decision to move into the apartment that Joel is offering. But neither the episode nor the characters ever make what seems like the easiest and most obvious decision. We see Susie looking after Midge’s son Ethan and it almost feels as if the episode is setting us and the characters up for some new paradigm this season, but by the end of the episode we haven’t been taken there.
Instead, the episode builds up to our two lead characters getting revenge on a small part of the comedic patriarchy and the results are as funny and triumphant as anything the series has done yet, given an extra dose of relevance watching it in 2019. It can’t help but lead you into the end credits with a big grin.