The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Season 4)
It’s always fascinating to see Amy Sherman-Palladino just maintain the consistency of the comic timing of every one of her characters. Unlike say, Aaron Sorkin where each and every one of his characters sounds smart and has an IQ above 120 (even the janitor), Palladino manages to make everyone sound funny without sounding out of place, and their interactions included jokes, sight gags and references in the rat-a-tat humour she has been famous for since Gilmore Girls.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel about the hijinks of a female housewife living on the Upper West Side of New York become a comedienne due to an existential crisis caused by her cheating husband is at its most basic a very funny show in terms of dialogue. What each season has exhibited however is the show’s willingness to craft individual scenes as comedic bits while adding to the narrative as a whole. Take the Ferris wheel scene, where Midge is explaining to her family members about how she was fired at the end of the previous season, each of her family is present in a different carriage in the wheel and the chaos ensues. The chaos feels chaotic to the characters at the moment but to the audience its comedic gold. On the one hand, each dialogue is unique if a tad bit archetypal to the character; on the other hand even the throwaway lines and the digressions are hilarious. You couple that with some gorgeous cinematography and production design and Mrs Maisel brings to life the cotton-candy version of America with enough bite in it to not make it seem saccharine and treacly.
The show manages to right itself after the last lackluster season because it manages to escape from the clutches of the Catskills and the romantic interludes of Midge. Don’t get me wrong Rachel Broshanan is hilarious and she knows Midge like the back of her hand, but the audience wants to see her character manage to get into conflict she can’t sweet-talk or joke her way out of. Season 4 finds her and her manager very much in hot water, after being dumped by Shy Baldwin at the end of last season. How she manages to pull herself back up despite completely falling off the tracks from a career point of view is the character arc she goes through. This manages to make Midge realize her teachable moment, while also coming to the reckoning between her and her parents about her job and their reservations about it. On the other hand, the Susie track follows Susie as she tries to go legit, gets into hot water with mobsters and manages to craft her legitimate business as a manager, bringing in newer characters into the fold as the season progresses. Alex Borstein and Rachel Broshanan are still fantastic, with their chemistry off the charts.
From a subplot standpoint, the writers’ decision to craft Joel into a sympathetic character who is still on Midge’s side is a risk that is paying off. Joel and his relationship with Mei, the daughter of the landlord of Joel’s nightclub is one of the beating hearts of the season. But the strongest subplots in this season are the Abe and Moishe character arcs. Abe (Tony Shaloub) now taking the job of a theatre critic in The Village Voice comes into conflict with his character integrity and the conflict that arises within his community. And Tony Shaloub brings to life Abe’s idiosyncrasies and insecurities with a flourish. Similarly, Kevin Pollack as Moishe manages to add layers to a very caricaturish role of Moishe, thus leading to a very heartwarming moment between Abe and Moishe, and also a very sweet albeit weird moment between Abe and Shirley, Moishe’s wife, who as a character had been criminally underdeveloped throughout the last three seasons.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel isn’t perfect. Its propensity to indulge in extended musical numbers at times, the Rose subplot of the matchmaker wars (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, it’s as dumb as it sounds) are a few of the kinks the show still has to iron out. But what Mrs Maisel has going for it is always its USP – Rachel Broshanan as Maisel, Alex Borstein as Susie, the crackling ensemble cast and the humour. Which is only improving or downright consistent every year. Let’s hope it manages to close out Midge’s story within the next season or two with a bang. I am here for it either way.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.