Trailer "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" Season 5 (Amazon Prime Video)
One of the hardest things a writer can do is write a piece about creation. In particular, of course, one that is praised and considered groundbreaking. For example, there are so many movies and series about budding bands releasing hits and conquering the world with them, but very few of these made-up songs have become real-world hits. When talented television/film writers are forced to read excerpts from their books, the result is often shaky and embarrassing, and the wisest of them bypass the hurdle by describing the story in general.
Perhaps worst of all, a series about fictitious comedians who achieve huge success must make its heroes laugh at us. She may be fine (the affable "Hacks") or otherwise (the "funny one" sweating from exertion), but something fundamental about her won't work unless we're convinced that the comedian is really talented enough to conquer the world. That's why what "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" has done throughout her life, including in the closing season and the final episode that premiered Friday on Amazon Prime Video, is so incomprehensible.
Material from which legends have been scrubbed. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Photo: Philippe Antonello/Prime)
The great advantage of "Maisel" – conducted by filmmaker Amy Sherman-Palladino, a musicals lover and former dancer – is her total devotion to the ideas at her heart: comedy, grandiosity, New Yorkism, Judaism. Scenes, both on and off stage, can't just be scenes. They must be luxurious, squinting, colorful, photographed with long shots and spectacular camera movements. Where something enormous can be created, that's what will happen, and where there can be comedy, every drop of comedy will be squeezed.
If the impatient Abe (the mighty Tony Shalhoub) is waiting for information waiting for him in The Voice, the person giving it to him is in the middle of a sneezing attack. If Susie (the amazing Alex Burstyn) arrives at the Wolford Theatre to deliver an important message to Midge (the stunning Rachel Brosnahan), the decorated strippers in the dressing room will be busy tapping the ceiling with a broom to figure out what animal is hiding there. A conversation scene will usually be filled with interruptions and distractions and dancing over several conversations at the same time.
At times it's a little exhausting. We didn't really need to see Midge's full performance as a garbage worker in the fourth episode of the final season. The many detailed strip shows in season four really weren't required, just as there was no need for Shay Baldwin's narrations from start to finish in season three. But for better or worse, it's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." It was her devotion to it and her trusting hand that created her eye-catching world. The talent that bursts into her every dimension is also what lifted up the heroine at her center, placing her in the sky like the star she is, even in moments when she was at her lowest.
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Preoccupation with heritage grounded what might have become too big. Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Photo: Philippe Antonello/Prime)
The brilliance of season five was how it took that ingredient and sprinkled it over the years. We knew Midge would break through. That's what the series is about, the bumpy road to fame, even if it's not explicitly stated. She's just too talented not to happen. The last season chose to show us this by glimpsing into the future, and also by assembling the way there by forays into the past. Among other things, it was a pretext for Maisel to deal with the legacy — from Midge's adult children's resentment toward her, to Ive's disillusionment with his granddaughter and then his daughter.
This aspect grounded what might have become too big and shiny. Maisel has always known how to juggle the extremes. After all, this is a series that opens with a woman whose world is destroyed before she goes out and tries to fulfill her dream. But in the last two seasons, she's gone even deeper. The 2019 death of Brian Tarantina, who played Susie's partner Jackie in the Gaslight Club, seems to have sobered the series to some extent. He also instilled in her a thought that knows how to be sad and sublime, which is most evident in Abe's conversation with his friends in the chapter before the end.
In more basic ways, as a final season would require, "Maisel" moves back and forth in time to remind us of how far we've come with the characters (one of the brilliant key moments was the presentation of Midge's memorable costumes kept in a large warehouse – a visual means of flooding both history and this all-important feature in her character). At the same time, she introduced us to what we had been waiting for: the great success of Midge and Susie.
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Thank you, good night! "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Photo: Philippe Antonello/Prime)
The sixth episode of the season was a display of purpose, in every sense. It featured a future roast night celebrating Susie Myers, who by 1990 was already one of the greatest artist agents in her field, and in my eyes immediately became the best episode of the series. As a kind of perfect concentrate that encapsulates the entire season, which itself reflects the entire series, it was funny, witty, interesting and very moving. He brought everything together: he also promoted part of the plot of this particular season, also reliably filled in information gaps for us, also summarized and mentioned past exploits (and made us want to watch from the beginning), and in his touching climax also restored our souls about an anxiety-inducing plot line: the knowledge that a deep conflict had erupted between Susie and Midge to the point where they were no longer in touch.
Above all, the episode served as a model of the series' love for its characters and the way it solidifies them in eternity. Presents the history of its heroes as materials from which legends have been scrubbed. In fact, legends were drawn from them. In this way, the transition between times turned out not just to be a thickening or tying up ends, but as an element that makes the story of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" mythological, epic.
Combining writing devoted to comedy and a talented performance by Brosnahan, Midge Maisel became as groundbreaking a figure as those she drew from. And after three years in the world of the show and five seasons in reality, we finally see it happen. Note, spoilers for the final episode from here on: before the admiring and encouraging eyes of Joel, Abe and Rose, Archie and his uncle, Shirley (Caroline Aaron), and the ever-cracking mantle of Gordon Ford (Scott Reed), the anticipation and hardships of Midge make her moment of triumph especially sweet and wonderful.
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Earn their place in the pantheon. Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Burstyn, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Photo: Amazon Prime Video)
However, it doesn't end here - there are two epilogues later. Once again, the series jumps back and forth in time, emphasizing what is most important to her. The first shows Midge and Lenny Bruce (the phenomenal Luke Kirby) sitting together at a diner six months earlier. Lenny, the only regular character in the series based on a real person's name, has always been Midge's mentor and confidant, both in the original sense of the term and in the sense he always believed in, sometimes even more than she believed in herself. Despite his tragic end, the signs of which are already visible at the beginning of the last chapter, we return to a magical spot to remember him in all his charm, wisdom and influence.
The episode then jumps in time to the latest stage we've ever seen in Maisel – 2005. Midge has long been an American icon, she continues to perform and be busy and employ a fleet of assistants, and lives in a luxury apartment overlooking Central Park. But the choices she made in life came at the expense of other things, especially love and family, and at the end of the day her magnificent palace cries out from Rick. But it doesn't end here. Despite the tart taste left by Midge's large, silent home, she's not alone. She still has Susie. Even thousands of miles apart, they continue to spend time together and laugh as they used to.
What has been evident over the years in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is that it is not the story of Midge and Suzy's rise to prominence, but the story of their shared rise – the friendship and special bond forged between the two. In preparation for the season, Brosnahan and Burstin filmed for an Entertainment Weekly project in which they dressed up as some of the greatest friendship couples in American television history: Laverne and Shirley, Lucy and Ethel from I Love Lucy, Mary Pink from Mary Tyler Moore, and so on. It's not hard to imagine another pair of women who would one day dress up as Midge and Susie in a future special project. They and the series starring them have honestly and undoubtedly earned their place in the pantheon. Pick up boobs.
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