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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 4

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

I love this show. The writing, the characters, the costumes, the colors, the cinematography. I was late to the party with this one, but when I finally jumped on the bandwagon, I was hooked. I binge watched Seasons 1-3 in only a couple weeks. But then life got busy (and then there was a global pandemic), so I took a long pause before getting back into it.


When news came out about the fifth and final season, I was struck by a flurry of emotions that went from surprise to melancholy and then panic.


“They’re already on season 5? When did that happen?” “Awww, my favorite show is ending?” “Wait, I haven’t watched Season 4. I need to catch up before it ends!”


And so, without hesitation, I did.


There were moments in the first episode that reminded me of the formula that makes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Midge’s hijinks that seemingly make no sense (taking her clothes off in the cab; no more opening acts), the way she walks and talks, and of course, the fabulous outfits. But it didn’t take long for everything to fall back into place. And that brings us to this review:


The season opens with a standup set about revenge. I presume this is going to be the theme of the season, but who exactly is she going to take revenge on and how is she going to do it? People know her name and her act, but she’s still an up and comer. And let’s be real. She’s a woman, and it’s the 60s.


The Women


Speaking of which, there appeared to be a lot more pointed references to being a woman during this era than in past seasons. From what I remember, it was always implied but not so in-your-face.


Here, we’re seeing an illegal strip club, Tupperware parties, the birth of the MLM craze and their predatory nature (been there done that), when Abe shows Midge his tiny paycheck and laments how daughters shouldn’t be helping fathers, and the scene when Midge goes off on the milkman because he won’t deliver to her since the account was in her ex-husband’s name.


But part of the beauty of this show is that despite all of this, the women still take charge at carving their own path: Midge, Susie, Sophie, Mei, and even Rose.


Rose thinks she’s not as confident as Midge, but she’s amazing in her own way. She’s starting her own business and has proven to be successful at it. In my opinion, many of her matchmaking strategies are to focus way too heavily on looks and making a woman submissive to a man, but she believes in her abilities and truly believes she’s helping. She proves her prowess in Episode 3 when she’s forced to take a grieving Susie to work with her. I thought this was the funniest scene of the entire season. It was a true working mom moment. Rose, the mom, and Susie, the bored kid who wants attention. It is absolutely hilarious. Rose is trying to be professional while having an impatient, petulant child kicking at her feet (a precursor to remote work I suppose). But through it all, she proves to Susie how she is good at her job. Even though I disagree with some of her methods, she stands firm in her abilities. She knows she can do it. And, heck, it shuts Susie up. The whipped cream doesn’t hurt, either.


One last thought on the women of the season: L. Roy Dunham. Good bait and switch to make this character a woman, but what really was the point? To introduce a female character other than Rose who doesn’t like Midge’s comedy. And does she really not like Midge’s comedy or is she just using Midge to get ahead in her own career. It’s already helped her move up in the ranks at the paper, but why introduce her just to make her go away to never be heard from again? Are we going to see her in Season 5?


Sophie


Loved seeing Sophie. I honestly thought her character was done after her failed attempt at Broadway. But what a glorious return. She’s as ridiculous as ever. And Dawes is still at her side. Is he loyal? Is he crazy? Not sure, but he is smart. Because when the well went dry, he was out. Dawes ain’t no fool. He wasn’t sticking around if there wasn’t any money left. He may have been degraded in some ways, but he understood he had a good thing. And that “good thing” was probably an exorbitant amount of money. And he came back as soon as the pennies were rolling again. It seems they both know their place in each other’s life, and deep down, I think they truly care about one another.


Shy Baldwin


The Baldwin wedding made me very sad. It confirmed the end of a genuine friendship while offering closure for Midge. It’s also painfully obvious that Shy is struggling. I can’t help but feel that this wedding is the beginning of the end for Shy.


In today’s world, the curtain has been lifted on the so-called Golden Days of Hollywood. We now know the secret lives many celebrities were living while the PR machine was pushing an entirely different narrative to the public.


It’s the lies and manipulation that lead to a slow burn to alcoholism and addiction. The affairs, the multiple marriages and subsequent divorces. The scandals that get buried under the rug by a couple of lighthearted interviews. Sadly, I think Shy is headed down this path, and unfortunately, I don’t see him coming back from it. And you know it didn’t have to be this way. But he is not in control, and he knows it. He’s trying to mask it, but I don’t think the mask will stay on for too much longer. And if it does, then he will slowly slip away with it still on, dying not as himself, but who they wanted him to be.


This is beautifully juxtaposed against Sophie’s attempts to claw her way back into the spotlight with her interview on the Gordon Ford Show. She was open, honest, and vulnerable. It’s a redemption arc that I would hope for Shy, but deep in my gut, I know that’s not the path he’s headed. Sophie has had a longer career, has more connections, and to be frank, she’s white. Keep in mind, this is still pre-Civil Rights Movement. On top of all of that, Sophie has Susie, who is willing to go to bat for her clients. Shy, on the other hand, is a money-making puppet to his management, which is evidenced by their attempts to buy off Midge and Susie. In today’s dollars, their offer went from $20,000 to $120,000. Protecting Shy’s image is all they care about. Clearly, Shy will be alone for the rest of his life.


The Finale


A lot happened in this episode: Moishe having a heart attack, Lenny and Midge finally getting together, and the raid at the women’s club. But the one thing that really got me thinking was Midge’s talk with Mei at the hospital about their future together as a blended family.


What’s going to happen here? I’m assuming it’s still early in the pregnancy, but has Mei given any thought to the future? And if she has, she clearly has a very different vision of what Midge and Joel are thinking. It hadn’t even dawned on her that she would be their kids’ stepmother. Or that Joel assumes they’re going to get married, and she’s going to take his last name. And Midge brought up an excellent point in the previous episode. She’s interviewing for residency and could end up anywhere in the country, but Joel refuses to give up the club. So, then what? I’m sure Mei has a thousand things running through her mind, but if she sticks with Joel, is she willing to stay in New York if there’s a better career option elsewhere? She is clearly an intelligent and driven woman. Why does Joel assume she will be willing to give up everything she has worked for simply because she is pregnant with his child. Because of the era they’re living in. I’m sure this exact scenario played out thousands of times, and it was always expected for the woman to be the one to fold. It’s clear they love each other, but how is it all going to work out? I’ll be interested to find out next season. My guess is that Mei is not going to marry Joel. And this could just be my modern day way of thinking, but she may also explore her….options.


Lenny and Midge. Four seasons of buildup to this moment. They seem perfect together. They “get” one another. But the scene with Midge in the bathroom finding his drugs breaks my heart. Admittedly, I had never heard of Lenny Bruce prior to this show. I thought he was a fictional character until I read online comments about Luke Kirby’s portrayal of the comic. So, I googled him and learned of his death. Optimism tells me the show is just being true to Lenny, the person, but realism is telling me this may be foreshadowing. Either way, it’s a sad reminder of how easily people can hide how much they’re hurting – even the ones who make us laugh.


And thank God Lenny talked some sense into her at Carnegie Hall. Who in their right mind cancels on Tony Bennett? I’m sure one could argue he was a bigger star than Shy Baldwin. That act ticked all the other boxes she’s been wanting. It was high profile, high paying, and local. All the people she could ever want to meet or impress would be there. I understand having faith in yourself, but you also got to be smart. Sometimes, it really does help to play the game, especially with someone like Lenny by your side.


One last quick note: I still can’t get over the beauty of the long shots this show pulls off. When the raid takes place at the club, there is not a single cut for roughly 1:14. The amount of time, choreography, blocking, rehearsal, and just sheer talent blows my mind. It gets me every time.


Now, on to Season 5. I have purposely avoided all reviews, notes, and comments, so what are the unanswered questions that we will hopefully see resolved in the final season?


Mei, Joel, the baby, and Shirley’s reaction. Midge finally getting her spot. Susie and the (lovable) mobsters. And, hopefully, also getting her spot. Rose succeeding beyond belief in her business. What happens to Lenny?


And does Midge get her revenge? Because we didn’t see it this season. She spent more time shooting herself in the foot because she likely was afraid of what could actually happen if she did reach the level of success she’s been seeking. Sort of like how Sophie sabotaged her Broadway debut because she was too close to what she wanted and got afraid.


There’s a lot to wrap up in the final season. I’m sad to see it end but excited for what’s to come.


Let’s go.

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