What does it take to become a star? More importantly, how many times do you need to fail before you make it? Further, what if it never happens? Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) sets out in the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to try her hand at being a road comic while opening for singing sensation Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain). There are a great many challenges to being on the road that Midge and her manager Susie (Alex Borstein) don’t account for while also enjoying the good life of paid-for hotels and trips to exciting destinations.
Season two ended with Midge taking Shy’s offer to open for him on tour, making Benjamin’s marriage proposal null-and-void while also being away from her family for six months. The season only runs eight episodes, but with extremely high production values, fast-banter writing, and great performances the season leaves you satisfied and wanting more.
On the Road
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3 takes us through a 1960’s postcard book from New York to Las Vegas to Miami. All locations are perfectly nostalgic and bright. The travel works as act breaks for the season as each section offers its own style and purpose. While still in New York, the complexities of going on tour stun Midge’s family while her parents struggle to find a new home after Abe quit Columbia in season two. New York is home base while Vegas is a mistifying money-making scheme and Miami is a respite from the real world. The season dazzles as costume design, production design, and fantastic cinematography transport you to the Midge Maisel theme park. Rachel Brosnahan continues to bring depth and charm to Midge without a hair out of place, of course.
Tracking shots abound to take in the surroundings. Miami is also where Midge runs into friend Lenny Bruce, who apparently lives in Florida now. The characters have always had a nearly romantic relationship. Finally in Miami, we begin to see far they are willing to go. In a crackling sequence to two spend an evening together in some of the best scenes of the season. The best shot of the season takes place in a Cuban-themed restaurant. If only they were allowed to really go there. The show, yet again, leaves us hanging.
Midge’s comedy throughout the season is fun and extremely light. Maybe today’s comedy is a bit sharper than what is perceptively possible for a 1960’s audience, but Mrs. Maisel doesn’t work too hard to push the envelope. It lands and it’s funny, but I wouldn’t call it insightful.
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It’s all too pink
Watching this show is a treat for the eyes. Yet, at times this season needed some salt to counterbalance the sweetness. Attempts at real commentary float around the series but never seem to land. The truth of a Jewish road comic touring with a black singer should set in at some point that neither were always welcomed. But alas not quite. Midge learns truths about Shy that create room for his occasional diva behavior or lateness. The story moves forward telling the audience to pocket the inferences rather than use them at the moment they are presented. By the end, this creates a compounding issue for Midge who uses what she learned about Shy a little too much on stage.
Susie has a little too much fun in Vegas as she begins a gambling operation. Between playing craps and betting on sports with New York bookies, it becomes slowly clear she is in big and losing. What could be a major blow to her relationship with Midge is resolved all too quickly. The other conflict for Susie is Sophie Lenon. She tapped Susie to be her manager last season and now wants to be a Broadway star. Susie’s naivete and inexperience work in her favor as she muscles the production into being only for Sophie to fall apart. Susie doesn’t seem to take a hit for the failure, but Sophie does. The character works as opposition to Midge’s rise to success as Sophie avoids rising to the challenge.
Abe and Rose also struggle this season with finances following abe blowing up their lives in season 2. Rose narrowly avoids sheer panic in trying to piece their lives back together. A Midge and Rose confrontation is a great scene where the two realize how similar they really have become. Abe has become a renaissance man determined with no financial plan. The Abe and Rose story is introduced and used as comedy or silly drama, but it is not yet resolved.
To the bitter end
Season one ended with the introduction of Midge’s persona, Mrs. Maisel, while the season two ending continued her climb to the top. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3 ending is a sharp stop. In an attempt to avoid major spoilers, the series completes the year on a sour note. Although the season is packed with everything you love about Maisel, the ending does show Midge fail big for the first time. So, what does it take to be a star? She thought she knew. How many failures create success? Midge thought none. What if you never make it? Now, this feels all too real. Susie and Midge are tasked with starting fresh by the end, but the drama will need to work itself out in season four.
What did you think of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 3? Share in the comments!
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