Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
When Marvelous Mrs Maisel dropped back in 2017, it brought with it an interesting, empowering and cleverly written commentary about women in society. Through the mix of Miriam’s wit and comedic prowess on stage, more than holding her own against husband Joel, the show managed to deliver a great blend of comedy and drama.
Seasons 1 and 2 were fantastic in that respect, managing to finely balance the idea of Midge venting and riffing on her place in the world through some scathing and hilarious stand up routines. Season 3 however, took a step back and seemed to meander along, unsure how to use Miriam. Season 4 though is a completely different animal.
Now, this is one of those shows that’s enjoyable to watch in the moment but the whole time you’re waiting for something big to happen. The trouble is, northing ever does in season 4. In fact, this season is so much of a misstep that it almost feels the writers have lost sight of what made this show so enjoyable to begin with.
I may be a little contradictory with the negative vibe in this review, especially if you’ve been following my recaps and seen the star ratings I’ve given each episode. I love Marvelous Mrs Maisel, it’s a fantastic show, and the individual episodes are enjoyable. As a collective whole, and with the benefit of hindsight, this season has some big problems that are hard to overlook.
This season, the struggles of a stand-up comic is a little odd given… there isn’t really any stand-up comedy. In fact, until the final episode Midge has about 15 minutes total worth of time on stage, with the bulk of the run-time taken up with familial drama. Only, half these storylines aren’t even resolved by the time the 8th episode ends.
The story itself picks up at the end of season 3. Miriam has been kicked off Shy Baldwin’s tour and she’s still struggling to find her place in this “man’s world”. She’s furious, playing the victim and claiming Shy has missed out on a big opportunity.
Midge eventually dusts herself down and decides to go on her own terms, making it big by headlining acts and doing things her way. And that ultimately sees her slumming it out in a strip club.
Meanwhile, Joel has familial woes with Shirley and Moishe, worried about how they’ve going to react to his new girlfriend being Mei. Oh, and that she’s Chinese too, which he believes will be a problem for them both.
Alongside this subplot are several others, including Rose getting into the matchmaking business, Abe starting to follow his dreams and Susie branching out and trying to bring more talent into her newly established business. Out of all the storylines this year though, it’s Susie’s that brings the most amount of joy.
Most of Miriam’s story reviles around her bitter resentment and jealousy for Shy Baldwin, with a particularly uncomfortable episode seeing Miriam invited along to his wedding only to do her utmost to spend as much of his money by drinking and eating the night away. While humorous on paper, it feels petty and actually damages her character a lot.
In fact, Miriam in general is a real casualty of this season, descending from the confident, bright woman who’s desperate to make it no matter what to someone who believes the world owes her a favour.
While I appreciate she’s been through hard times, there are several instances this year where her actions contradict what she ends up saying. I won’t spoil that here and thankfully Miriam does get some sense knocked into her late in the season by a familiar face.
While the story and character development takes a battering, thankfully the visuals and production design do not. This is still one of the better looking shows on Tv and despite its bum notes, manages to pretty up every single set to exquisite detail. The sets, costuming and camera work are all absolutely fantastic, and it helps give this show a gloss that’s unrivaled on the small screen outside powerhouses like The Crown.
Unfortunately strong visuals and impressive sets will only get you so far. Without a compelling story or good character growth, all that good work accounts for nil. That’s a shame because there are glimmers of brilliance in this set but instead of hearty laughs, season 4 broadcasts out to silence. Let’s just hope season 5 can reel the crowd back in and get those laughs flowing.
Verdict - 5.5/10