Mid-Way To Mid-Town
The Punishment Room
We’re Going To The Catskills!
Midnight At The Concord
Let’s Face The Music and Dance
Look, She Made a Hat
Vote For Kennedy, Vote For Kennedy
With 2 Golden Globes, 8 Emmys and lavish praise from both critics and audiences under its belt, Amazon’s dramedy Marvelous Mrs Maisel could have easily rested on its laurels and churned out a mediocre season to follow up on its success. Thankfully, the second is not just on par with the first, it’s far more ambitious and encompassing this time around, bringing a lot more of the supporting characters into the fold as Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) continues to juggle her dual life.
This finely tuned balance between comedy and drama works perfectly too, with the first half of the series used to set the tone and mood of the 50s. There’s a lot of sexism here; a lot of cocktail parties and extravagant dance numbers while Midge struggles to fit in and stand out as a woman. After establishing the supporting characters as more focal parts of the narrative, the second half of the series leans more heavily on Midge’s stand-up career after a defining moment midway through the season’s run time involving her father, Abe (Tony Shalhoub), who is easily one of the stand outs from this season.
We begin the story some time after the finale to last year. Midge’s triumphant stand-up routine has come at a cost, given how she berated Sophie during long stretches of her skit. Susie (Alex Borstein) is struggling to get gigs for Midge because of it, with Midge herself relegated to working as a call operator in the basement of the department store. Rose (Marin Hinkle) has taken an extended break away from Abe in Paris whilst Joel (Michael Zegen) begrudgingly decides to get a job with his Father after quitting.
This forms the foundation of the series, with the wheels spinning into motion when Midge and Abe decide to pack up and head to Paris, intent on bringing Rose home. After a glitzy couple of episodes used to boast the on-location beauty of France’s capital, the story sees the characters prepare for Summer break, and the annual family vacation in the Catskills.
It’s here where the story takes on a much more comfortable pace, switching effortlessly between comedy and drama while furthering the stories for each of the characters. While Midge still performs some stand up here and there, the first half of the series is very different tonally to that seen in the first season. There’s far more emphasis on long shots, showing off the superior camera work while boasting some impressive acting and a sharp script to boot.
The first half is much more geared toward familial drama, establishing the supporting characters as more focal parts of the narrative while everyone deals with Midge and Joel’s separation. While this alone is fine, the second half of the season feels much more familiar, focusing on Midge’s stand up career as she prepares to launch into the big time. Promising opportunities present themselves and Midge is torn between her duties at home and furthering her career as a stand up comedian.
Of course, with this changed focus some may lament the lack of attention given to Midge’s stand up career for vast periods of the run-time. While this works to bring more characters into the fold and some of the new faces, especially Benjamin (Zachary Levi), slot nicely into the show, it also makes Midge less of a focal point than she perhaps should be early on.
Still, if you loved the first season, you’re sure to adore the second. Marvelous Mrs Maisel is the TV equivalent of drinking an ice cold drink on a sticky, hot summer’s day. It’s refreshing and leaves you with a satisfied feeling in the pit of your stomach. From the witty bites of dialogue to the stand up routines that weave tragedy with humour, every part of Marvelous Mrs Maisel just seems to work perfectly.
With a more ambitious second season and a continuation of everything that made the first so great, Mrs Maisel could just be a late contender for one of the best shows of 2018.