Amazon Prime’s second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now available for streaming and is just as terrific as the first season. Rachel Brosnahan plays Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a Jewish housewife who (in season one) tries to support her husband’s dream to be a stand-up comic only to realize that he’s a fraud, stealing his routines from stars like Bob Newhart. After finding out her husband is having an affair with his secretary, Midge gets drunk, goes back to the comedy club and wows the crowd with her own “act.” One of the club’s employees, Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), knows talent when she sees it and quickly signs on to become Midge’s manager. Because female comics were so rare in the late 50s, Midge will have to work extra hard for recognition and success. To earn money, she takes a job at B. Altman’s.
When the second season begins, Midge is still struggling for acceptance in an all-male profession, appearing in clubs off the beaten path. When she’s booked into a club in midtown, she keeps getting bumped for men later into the evening. When she finally gets on stage, she takes jabs at the male comics who, truth be told, were awful. But management takes offense and bars her from future gigs.
While Midge faces opposition on the career front, things are also tough at home. Her parents (Tony Shalhoub as Abe and Marin Hinkle as Rose, both pitch perfect), are having marital problems. Rose feels under appreciated by Abe and leaves him to live in Paris. Rose’s point is made when Abe takes days to see the note saying she has left him. When he and Midge show up in Paris, they discover it won’t be so easy to convince Rose to return.
Midge is still in love with her husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), but he’s consumed trying to save his family’s clothing company. Not only do Joel’s parents owe money to some unsavory characters, but his mother’s accounting system calls for hiding money in the factory floor and walls. Susie, whose financial situation is so precarious that she’s forced to sleep in the club, grows frustrated with Midge’s inability to stay focused on her career. Midge sticks to her family’s routine to spend the summer in the Catskills. When Susie finds out, she heads for the Catskills herself, carrying around a plunger pretending to be a plumber employed by the resort. A good first step would be for Midge to tell her parents she’s trying to make it as a stand-up. Yet Abe and Rose are still having trouble accepting Midge’s failed marriage and her working in a department store. No way will they understand her career choice to be a comedian. But that decisions is taken out of Midge’s hands when Susie manages to get her a booking in a Catskill club and Abe turns up in the audience.
Brosnahan is flat out fabulous. The actress says she has no desire to be a standup comic, but she sure knows how to deliver a punch line. She’s won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her performance as Midge. The show also won both awards. Brosnahan and Borstein have been nominated for Golden Globes this time around, as well as the show. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been renewed for a third season on Amazon Prime and season two’s ending hints that are more exciting times in store for both Midge and Susie. While Midge will no doubt keep struggling for acceptance as a comic, the routines she performs have already won us over.
Top photo: Rachel Brosnahan
Credit: Nicole Rivelli, Amazon Prime