“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: A Reconsideration of S2

Posted: December 11th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, TV | No Comments »

The other day, an old college chum sent me a review of a film he figures I’d be interested in.

In the missive, he said something to the effect of, I guess you don’t like to read reviews in advance, so it won’t color your take on films.

To which I responded, au contraire, I read far too many reviews in advance, have favorite reviewers who are go to, and I’m sure that habit, for better or worse, does color my perspective.

I also have my own personal predilections which affect my take on a movie or TV series. Coen Brothers always get a break in advance.

Or a second season of a series I loved the first time around, like “Mozart in the Jungle.”

Or, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

At the bottom here, you can listen to my podcasted review of Season 2, rendered for my FPK reviewing duties after watching the first three of the ten episode second season of the beloved, award-winning Amazon Prime comedy.

After consuming, in short time, the rest of the Season 2, I need to posit a more refined and considered take that is positive, but not as much so.

At the time when the series is set, the 1950s, there was a common if sexist in retrospect saying, “A girl has the right to change her mind.”

Well, I’m changing mine. At least, somewhat.

At one point, in the episodes when the characters go off to summer in the Catskills, I was contemplating a total recantation of my positive thoughts. I thought that segments to be not very clever, and a somewhat dismissive satire of the phenomenon, as well as an unnecessary diversion from the tale of Mrs. Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) and her attempt to move beyond her lifestyle and enter the world of stand up comedy.

There are some other aspects of Season 2 that simply make no sense to me, and I find beside the point of the series and of little entertainment value.

From the get go, Midge’s mother (Marin Hinkle) leaves NYC and takes off to Paris, unbeknownst to her her absent minded prof hubby (Tony Shaloub) or Midge. So they take off after her.

Meh. It just seemed like this had nothing to do with the series.

I love the bright, colorful visuals of this series. It evokes the time and place. At least our romanticized notion of New York (and Paris and the Catskills) in the late 50s.

I love how the series addresses the sexual politics and view of women at the time. The premise of how difficult it was for bright, talented women of the era to move beyond find a husband, have children, sublimate your life to those endeavors. What’s a bright, talented, innovative woman like Midge doing, aspiring to work the cosmetic counter at B. Altman?

But those moments when real issues are touched are too often just in passing, less than fully realized. (By the by, Mrs. Maisel as mother is but an afterthought throughout, which I consider a serious flaw.)

As someone of the Hebrew Persuasion, I love the examination of the 50s culture of my people, though at times it seems to me somewhat overbearing, and, at times, less than fond and evocative and even a bit cruel.

But, when it focuses on the characters, Midge, her mom, her father, her manager Susie (Alex Borstein), and her ex-hubby (Michael Zegen) and their interactions with each other, this is one righteous, funny and sensitive creation.

But Season 2 tends to go off the rails too often, a pastiche here and there of the culture of the day, which, if lovely to look at and stylistic, still annoyed. Me anyway.

But, so resonant are the characterizations, especially those of Brosnahan and Borstein and Zegen, I never, despite the flaws, wavered from power consumption. I did the ten hours over four or five days.

Given that the series long ago was given a green light for Season 3, the final episode here sets the scene for plotlines to follow. I won’t spoil.

And, I thought the final scene of the final episode to be pitch perfect, very effecting, and a spot on distillation of the true theme of the series.

Which is to say, imperfections and all, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” remains poignant and compelling and entertaining.

I’ll be locked in opening night for next season.

Alrighty then, here’s that initial podcasted review I mentioned a the top, in which I’m more laudatory than I’d been had I waited to watch the whole schmear before opinionating.

A guy’s got the right to change his mind, you know.

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan



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