Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season two
No second season slump to be found
Season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel left audiences starving for more of Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel’s observational crude humor about her life in New York City in the late 1950s. On Dec. 5, 2018 that yearning could finally be quenched with the bulk release of season two on Amazon Prime.
One of the major reasons this show stands out from the rest that are currently being created is the creative cinematography. While this art was touched on a bit during the first season, the latest season refuses to hold back by opening with two well-rehearsed long shots that are merged together by the camera moving through a mail slot and down into the basement of B. Altman, the department store where Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) has been demoted to the call room.
Although there are numerous scenes throughout the 10 episodes that capture the cinematography skill in a league of its own, there are two sequences in particular in the episode “We’re Going to the Catskills!” that are by far the best camerawork done in television in years. The first is a stationary long shot of Midge’s family moving into their summer home. The second follows Midge through a complicated dance scene in which she moves from partner to partner around the floor. It is refreshing to see such daring camera techniques and complicated scenes executed perfectly.
This new season continues the themes of finding yourself and being true to that self, not through Midge but through her parents, Abe and Rose Weissman (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle). It is quickly revealed that Rose spontaneously moved to Paris because of how unhappy she had become with her life, and throughout the season, she makes decisions to put her own happiness over others’.
While the show explores many internal struggles like Rose’s, it also challenges external toxic mentalities.
In the 1950s, women were not taken seriously in comedy unless they utilized an outrageous character, like the comedian known as “Sophie from Queens.” She is an overweight loud mouth who repeats the same mean-spirited jokes followed by the catch phrase, “Put that on your plate!” Off stage, “Sophie from Queens” is really Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch), an extremely wealthy Manhattanite who determines which room to sit in by the harshness of the light. The juxtaposition of her real life compared to what she portrays on stage is staggering and makes the viewer crave more of Midge’s truthful, observational comedy.
Further challenging 1950s gender roles, Midge and her manager, Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), are women in a male dominated industry. Male comedians in the show often heckle Midge and condescendingly ask, “Do you sing?”
There is even an instance in season two where Midge is forcibly removed from the stage for saying the word “pregnant.” This could be a nod to the writers of I Love Lucy who weren’t allowed to use the word when Lucille Ball became pregnant, and it was incorporated into the show. The fact that this was indeed a reality is why Mrs. Maisel is so important. Watching Midge prevail in such cornered situations is an amazing way to see empowerment in women.
The “too long didn’t read” for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is that it is a delightful ride from start to finish and deserves to go down in the history books as one of the greatest television shows ever created.