The Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 3 review: This one will give you a sugar rush
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 3 review: The most gorgeous show on our little screens, with the exception of Crown perhaps, is here to offer you some holiday cheer. Savour its beauty and repartee as Midge goes on the road.Updated: Dec 06, 2019 10:09 IST
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 3
Cast: Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle, Kevin Pollak, Caroline Aaron
Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is in no mood to give the luggage a rest. Season 2 went to Paris and Catskills, season 3 finds us on the road as the singing-wisecracking entourage of Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), think a Mrs Maisel version of Nat King Cole. There is so much travelling that even Susie (Alex Borstein) trades her crumpled paper bag for a suitcase – asking her to give up the bag would be too much, inviting a “I need to teach you to pack” from Midge.
Expert at high speed verbal ping-pong, Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is opening comic for Shy, and if anything, she is more marvellous than ever. She and Susie go to Las Vegas, they go to Florida. They play craps and they try their luck at slot machines, they swim, and they sweat. But mostly, they gallop through rapid crosstalk, bringing us to Midge’s earlier assertion that “only women should be funny”.
Watch the trailer here:
There is a reason that Marvellous Mrs Maisel drops around Christmas time. It is a show that you need to enjoy over holidays – marvel over those fabulous dresses; gape at the spectacle that are its set pieces, one more elaborate than the other; savour its gags. The show created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and husband Daniel Palladino wants you drunk on the holiday cheer so that you won’t ask for substance, for there is little.
Mrs Maisel is stuck in its own trap – having given us a heroine full of fighting spirit and with a closet full of skirts in the first season, the show refuses to change its shtick. To be fair to Brosnahan, she has enough charm and neurotic energy to carry us off one more time, but she is straining with the effort.
Season 3 begins with Mrs Maisel in arms of Mr Maisel (Michael Zegen), sneaking off in early hours for a USO Social. Is it just me or Joel is omnipresent in the show, his story getting as much screen time as that of his plucky, far more entertaining wife? He now wants to open a club and gets an illegal mahjongg den and Mei (Stephanie Hsu) as a bonus. Joel really has a type and Mei appears to be a Chinese stand-in for his soon to-be ex-wife.
At home, the life of Midge’s parents (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle) is as adrift as their story arc in the show. Joel’s parents Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron make a shrill appearance, or five, and there are so many squabbling in-laws’ jokes that you can take.
Marvellous Mrs Maisel’s current season stands out more for everything it refuses to address than what it does. The show steadfastly refuses to talk about Susie’s sexuality while piling yet another joke about her being mistaken for a man. Alex Borstein plays her character with vim and vinegar but the pugnacious audience favourite needs to get her due. She is scrappy, she is butch and one of the few who is allowed to show her cracks. By refusing to address her sexuality, is The Marvellous Mrs Maisel showing us the taboos that existed around the subject in the 60s or its own inhibitions? To this point, I am leaning towards the latter.
Talking of taboos brings us to what is perhaps the best episode in the current season, the one where Midge meets with Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby). While Midge is learning to play by the rules (almost), the character based on the real-life comic great is one of this show’s greatest achievements. The two have shared a platonic relationship but this time when they meet in Miami, the sexual tension is palpable. While Lenny makes sporadic appearances in the five episodes that were offered by Amazon for review, I hope the rest of the season has more of him.
And that brings us to the elephant in the tastefully set-up room – refusing to acknowledge the racial dynamics as Midge opens for Shy. The singer’s manager (Sterling K Brown) is perhaps the only one with some perspective on the issue because all we get from Midge and Sue is the perfunctory ‘we are the whitest people in the room’.
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is a sum of its parts. It can be a gorgeous and highly entertaining escape but with everything it has going for it, the show can be so much more. I already have a sugar rush after watching the five episodes, now can I have something that feeds my soul? In Midge’s words: ‘It should been something’.
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