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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 5

All good things must come to an end. And, so, we say goodbye to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

A bittersweet ending but a satisfying one. I watched the entire season in one sitting. That wasn’t my intention. I wanted to savor every last second, but I was locked in as soon as it started.

It starts with the time jumps that fill the entire season. There seems to be a love/hate relationship with this strategy, but I loved them. It allowed the audience to see where our favorite characters land after all the years of Midge trying to pine her way to the top.

The one person whose story arc shocked me was Joel. I wouldn’t have pictured him winding up in prison. He had a temper at times, and while he understood the subtle art of working below the table, he was truly trying to build his own business without his parents’ influence. But then again, he did it for Midge. He did everything for her. It was apparent throughout the series that they still loved one another. Their actions spoke much louder than their words. To put himself in the hands of the same mobsters he warned Susie about says a lot about his character. I think he regretted cheating on her and splitting up their family, but he had to accept that she was going to move on without him. And he decided, that if he was going to have her in his life at all, then it would be as her friend, supporting her through all her endeavors.

Rose’s story line broke my heart a little. We jump to about 12 years in the future to see her making a commercial for her matchmaking business – only to find out it wasn’t making any money. Midge insisting on being on the brink of bankruptcy and working herself to death to continue making her mother happy was beautiful to see. When you look back at the many arguments they had about her career choice, it was nice to see how supportive they were of each other in the end. We caught a glimpse of this in the final episode when Rose and Abe made it to Midge’s appearance on The Gordon Ford Show. Rose was so elated to be there to support her daughter. And when Midge hinted that it may not work out, a mother’s worry immediately came across Rose’s face.

So to know that Rose was sick, and shortly after Midge’s big break, is an example of how fragile life can be. Rose was always so full of energy. The eternal optimist in me wants everyone to have a happy ending, but unfortunately, that’s not always realistic. Even though they implied she didn’t have much time left, it was nice to see that Rose still exuded her calm confidence as she floated down those stairs.

I wish we could have seen the end of Abe’s storyline. But we did get the chance to see him come full circle during his dinner with the other men in Episode 8. His whole world was shattered when he realized Ethan wasn’t going to be the genius he assumed he would be. And, instead, that birthright was passed on to Esther. As intelligent as Abe is, the thought never occurred to him that a female could be as inherently smart or successful as a male.

He is only now coming to terms with the different ways he raised his children simply because one was a boy and one was a girl.

“Our collective blindness has caused so much harm.”

I do believe Abe loved both his children, but he was stuck in the mindset of the patriarchal world that he grew up in. He admitted to Midge when he and Rose moved into the apartment with her that it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, but it took him until this very moment to realize that Midge has likely always had the capability to succeed on her own, even in a man’s world.

“My daughter is a remarkable person, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that to her.”

We also know that he changed his ways. It was clear he took Esther under his wing. In the opening scene of the season, she tells her therapist that her grandfather was the only person she could talk to; that he was the only one who understood her. It may have taken Abe 64 years to see someone for who they truly are, but at least he got there in the end.

At that same dinner, I was taken aback by the comments made by Arthur when he said they were living in a new world, in a new century, with modern technology that was constantly evolving. He noted how he and Abe were born in the 1800s. For them, the 60s were a modern world, and it was vastly different than anything they could have imagined. It puts into perspective that the era this show takes place in is what we now consider history. But it wasn’t that long ago.

I’ve often looked at the show and wondered where my own family members would have fallen in this timeline. Midge would have been the same generation as my grandmother, Ethan and Esther would be my parents, and Ethan’s children are my generation. To think about how my grandparents grew up versus my own parents versus my siblings and I, puts an extra dash of reality on this fictional show.

Episode 6. An ode to Susie. It fit her perfectly and showed how I imagined her life would play out. Successful, crass, and rich. Even her fallout with Midge was believable. They were so close for so long that something was bound to blow up eventually. However, I’m glad they reconnected and stayed friends to the end. This show may be called The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but it was just as much about Susie and her relationship with Midge. Without Susie, Midge would not have become who she was.

Other observations:

  • I’m surprised by Ethan’s career trajectory. I’m not sure why, but it seemed kind of random. We don’t see any of the kids’ teen years, so all we know is that he was “happy” as a child. In that regard, I would have pictured him being an elementary school teacher or maybe even an artist. But I would not have imagined living a rural, minimized life in Israel. Maybe this was his way of building his own identity separate from his mother’s fame and his sister’s genius? Maybe I’m just reading into it too much.

  • What was the deal with Hedy’s and Gordon’s marriage? I got the impression they had an open relationship, but it seemed like there was more to it than that. Why did they get married in the first place? Status? Convenience? A business decision? Whatever the case, they appear to care for one another, but there’s clearly a lot of tension. When Hedy tells him to put Midge on the show, she says it’s because he owes her, and that clearly angered him. What exactly was that all about? What did I miss?

  • Speaking of, I wish there were more interactions between Hedy and Susie. I understand why their scenes together were limited. That would have opened a whole can of worms that there weren’t enough episodes for. But I have a strong feeling their relationship is likely what made Susie who she is today. Stubborn, headstrong, a loner, and a little angry at the world.

  • This may be random, but I always found it odd that they called Midge a “lady writer” at the show. I assumed it was a dig at her gender, but then Gordon introduces her as their lady writer when she appears on the show. He said it so casually, and everyone just accepted it as normal. Is this how they referred to women back then? Every time they said it, a part of me wanted to gag. It sounds so condescending, so for that to be your actual, official title…whew, we really have come a long way.

  • Why wasn’t Moishe at the show? They said he was on pain killers, but that still seemed kind of odd. I mean, even Archie and Imogene made it. Was that always part of the script or did something happen behind-the-scenes with scheduling or the actor?

As Midge walks through her New York palace in the final scene, we see the wealth and fame she has acquired. She has clearly met her goal of indelible fame – maybe even surpassed it – and is still working constantly, a testament to her work ethic and drive. But there’s a part of me that thinks it looks lonely. The only other people in her home are staff. Her only loving glance is at a wedding photo of her and Joel.

At least she still has Susie, and their nightly Jeopardy! date in a small, cozy room filled with memorabilia. She may have met her goal, but I imagine this room is what truly feels like home.

In her impromptu set on The Gordon Ford Show, she said we’re told that “ambition is an unattractive trait in a woman.” But instead claims that what is truly unattractive is not going after what you want. Midge is the epitome of determination. She wasn’t going to let anything stop her because she knew what she deserved. She knew what she was working toward, and in the end, she proved to everyone who doubted her that what seemed impossible could be done. And you can do it, too.

Tits up.

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