The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has lost the luster that once made it great. Season 4 of the Prime Video series finds its storytelling mired in unnecessary asides, its dialogue bordering on nonsense, and its only saving grace of great outfits. But the biggest problem facing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 is how the show seems to deny her so-called “heroine”. Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) was the spunky budding comic we rooted for. Now she’s become nothing more than a spoiled, self-destructive brat. It could be an interesting choice, but The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel persists in pretending that Midge is always right – especially when she is so wrong.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel tells the story of a 1950s woman who finds her perfect world suddenly crumbles when her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) files for divorce. Rather than obediently accept this, Midge Maisel bursts out. She gets drunk and takes the stage, frantically mocking her own situation. His moment of catharsis doubles as his origin story in comedy. She meets her new best friend/manager Susie (Alex Borstein) and embarks on a journey to make her one of the great stand-up comics.
From the jump, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel makes it clear that Midge is a bit…self-centered. She is obsessed with her looks, furious when she doesn’t get what she wants, and apathetic about motherhood. However, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 1 frames all of these attributes in a way that’s relatable. Midge uses fashion as a way to exert control over an otherwise spiraling part of her life. His rage is also put into context. Plus, Midge’s examination of her own disdain for her children fuels one of her best stand-up shows. Midge is flawed, as we all are, but she’s constantly striving to be better – as a woman and, more importantly, as a comedian.
By the time The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 opens, however, Midge has become the worst version of herself. She responds to even the most constructive criticism with open rebellion and personal setbacks with violent outbursts. The new season begins with Midge swearing revenge on Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain) and his cronies for firing her in the most embarrassing way. The problem is, she was fired for basically taking Shy out in front of a huge crowd at the Apollo Theater. And because it’s 1960 and Midge turns out to be a sociopath, she doesn’t see why that could be a dismissable offense! She is more concerned about the fact that she killed during filming.
The Midge we follow The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now addicted to self-sabotage and blissfully unaware of other people’s problems. This could be considered a fascinating part of character development. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel could explore what Midge has sacrificed in the name of being great at comedy, framing the pursuit of artistic excellence as a potentially soul-destroying choice. But Midge is still presented as the victim, not the villain. When she’s trying to make her way into free groceries, she’s brilliant; when the milkman politely explains that she needs to deposit money to establish the credit she wants to exploit? It is a devastating injustice. She responds by insulting this company and almost stealing her neighbors’ milk. (Does it strike you as odd that I talk a lot about a woman trying to steal milk on a show about a comedic woman? Well, the show devotes so much time to it.)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel still has the ingredients to be a great show – it has a brilliant cast, experienced writers and a spectacular design team – but it doesn’t know what it’s doing with its leading lady. Is she still an outsider? If so, why did you intimidate her with so many other characters? Is she the victim? So why does she always seem to narrowly win. Is she finally a villain? Well, she can’t be unless she recognizes one of her own flaws.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has reached a crossroads. Will the path the show takes lead to renewed glory or its ultimate end?
Where to stream The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
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