The critical award darling The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is returning for its 4th season in February of 2022, and it is promising to be yet another season where Midge doesn’t learn anything or take accountability for her actions. Sounds like an Amy Sherman-Palladino production.
All shade aside, regardless of the class critiques we can offer about her work, Amy Sherman-Palladino knows how to craft stories about people that are engaging and fun—even if they make you sigh at times.
When we last saw Midge, she had been dropped from the Shy Baldwin tour for making fun of the sexuality of the headliner at the Apollo Theater. It was a very cringe-worthy scene because we saw Midge be overwhelmingly ignorant about both race and homosexuality in that season in ways that didn’t really make any sense for the character. As a result of this, Midge was left on the runway of her big break.
In a new trailer, that has not stopped Midge from thinking she has an upward place to go. She’s done helping other people’s shows—she wants to be a headliner where she can fully be herself.
Of course, when has Midge not been herself?
I think one of the things that is both great and frustrating about Mrs. Maisel (and honestly all of Sherman-Palladino’s work) is that its lead is allowed to navigate with an air of confidence that a lot of women don’t often get.
When we look at the history of prestige television, it is filled with unlikeable, selfish, chaotic men who make life miserable for those around them, but have a charisma that keeps them engaging. In many ways, that is the character of Midge. Despite all the issues I have with her character, she does, due to the talent of Rachel Brosnahan, manage to channel that spoiled ego into something magnetic.
Yet, what keeps Maisel from being able to use that same excuse at times is the fact that the show is absolutely wish fulfillment in a way that other shows are not. Are there men who romanticize Don Draper, Tony Soprano, and Walter White? Yes, but the narrative is constantly showing us what failures they are by the crumbling world around them, by the trauma put onto their children, and by the bodies left in their wake.
So when we criticize the issues of Maisel for not having Midge’s children ever be a part of the story, it isn’t to shame working mothers, or to act as though Don Draper was a gold star dad; it is to highlight the failure to acknowledge class that has been a part of Sherman-Palladino’s work.
It doesn’t make the show unwatchable, but considering it is a show about wealthy white Jewish Americans (where all the “upper class” Jewish characters are played by non-Jewish actors, and the working-class Jewish characters are played by Jewish actors), it is worth pointing out that the wish fulfillment is only elevating the privileged.
Oh! Most importantly, unlike previous seasons—this won’t be released in binge format. We have weekly releases to look forward to when season 4 arrives on February 18.
(image: Amazon Prime)
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