The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Round Table: Is The Show Handling Political Correctness In Good Fashion?Leora W at .
RIP Brian Tarantina. Two years ago, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel frequent guest-star died. He finally got a proper tribute in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 Episode 3.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 Episode 4 finally addressed Susie's sexuality, sort of, which is something many fans have been waiting seasons for. There were plots featuring all our favorites, from the Weissman's to Lenny Bruce to the increasingly tiresome Sophie Lenon.
Meanwhile, Midge continues to be a trailblazer as the MC at a burlesque club.
These developments and more are addressed as TV Fanatics Becca Newton, Mary Littlejohn, Mike Stack, and myself discuss the latest episodes.
Do you think there is a connection between Midge's attempt to be an ally to Susie and what she did to Shy? Did she cross a line once again, or is she improving?
Mary Littlejohn: I think on a subconscious level, for sure. Maybe by making this grand gesture for Susie, Midge feels she's in some way absolving herself of the damage she did to Shy.
It backfired, of course; once again, Midge has no real sense of how to navigate these matters.
Mike Stack: I agree with Mary -- it's definitely in her subconscious. I think she crossed a line once again, but this time I think she crossed it in an attempt of love and support (even though that wasn't the outcome).
Becca Newton: Yes. Midge crossed a line. She can't apply her mindset for teaching Susie how to swim to Susie's sexuality.
Leora W: I agree that she crossed a line, and Mary's probably right about the subconscious of it all.
The show finally addresses Susie's love life/sexuality … sort of. How do you feel about the show addressing Susie's sexuality through Midge, and are you hoping for some more conclusive answers in the future?
Mary Littlejohn: If they can do it honestly, then sure. I'd rather see it from Susie's point of view, though, without Midge invading her privacy.
As she said, she doesn't have time, but it seems like she's still grappling with her identity when it comes to sexuality and romance, so she should be allowed to work through it without Midge prying.
Mike Stack: I don't think it's entirely necessary, but if they go deeper into it, I want it from Susie's point of view.
She's a brilliant character without bringing her sex life into things, and I don't want to see her reduced to any tropes or stereotypes. So if it's authentic and works well with the plot, then I'm entirely on board.
Becca Newton: Echoing what Mary and Mike said, a story about Susie's sexuality should be from Susie's point of view.
However, if this isn't a story about Susie's sexuality but part of a different story, say the fracturing of Midge and Susie's relationship, then the storytelling choices make more sense.
As for the other question, Alex Borstein said she doesn't feel like Susie knows her orientation in a recent interview. I agree with her interpretation and think the show has provided enough information for that to be a reasonable conclusion.
Leora W: It's a consensus. It should be on Susie's terms, not Midge's. I think fans are curious, but Becca made a good point about the interview. Some people don't know, and that's valid.
How do you feel about the tribute to Jackie and the actor Brian Tarantina?
Mary Littlejohn: I thought it was well done, respectful to both the actor and the character, with enough humor to keep it from getting overwrought.
Mike Stack: It was beautifully done! I enjoyed seeing it and am glad they were able to include a tribute in a very respectful (but still humorous) way.
Becca Newton: I thought it was great – easily the best storyline out of both installments.
Leora W: It made me care about a character and person, who I hadn't given much thought to in the past. I guess that made it effective. It was also an outstanding performance by Alex Borstein.
Do you trust Susie's lease agreement with the assassins, or are you expecting strings, i.e., in what way can this bite her in the ass?
Mary Littlejohn: Oh, it is definitely not going to go well. Maybe they try to hide a body while she's having a meeting with Sophie? Or they try to extort her or get a favor of some kind, Bullets Over Broadway style. Something ridiculous like that.
Mike Stack: Oh gosh, I do NOT think it will go well. I agree with Mary, it's going to be something ridiculous, but it will also be super stressful! This is definitely going to bite her in the ass.
Becca Newton: Agreed – stressful and terrible as it will be for Susie – it should make for some funny TV for us.
Leora W: The fact that she didn't seem to hear them when they said there would be some quid-pro-quo got my antennae up right away. But I agree that it should be entertaining.
Speaking of asses, Midge is trying to get a burlesque club to be politically correct. Given when the show takes place, do you find this believable?
Mary Littlejohn: It had to start somewhere. Why not? I'm here for it.
Mike Stack: I like it! It makes sense, but it will also be met with a lot (even more) of resistance.
Becca Newton: The political correctness aspect didn't cross my mind because the more significant takeaway for me is we're again seeing Midge lose sight of her goals in favor of the minutiae. I see it as a defense mechanism against her fear that she'll fail even if she's single-minded in pursuit of stardom.
Midge working to effect positive change in the workplace is a good thing and might pay off career-wise down the line, but Susie and Joel's concerns about backsliding aren't unfounded.
Leora W: Becca makes an interesting point about her getting caught up in the minutia. Midge is a perfectionist, and even after all the setbacks, she hasn't lost that part of her. Time will tell if that's a good thing or not.
My concern is more about how much change she seems capable of affecting despite the time period this is supposed to take place. Sadly, women couldn't affect change so easily back then, and while it's empowering, it also stretches my suspension of disbelief a bit too far.
I do find her interactions with Boise fun, though.
Mei is concerned that Joel's parents will be racist. Are her concerns founded, and does Joel have a point about the need to come into the light for their relationship to be real?
Mary Littlejohn: I think both their points are valid. She's right to be worried, but he's serious enough about her that he needs to be honest with his parents. Maybe I'm too invested in them as a couple, but I think he wants to marry her.
It's make or break time, now. If Shirley finds out, I don't necessarily think she'd stop trying to set him up with nice Jewish girls unless she understands how serious he is about her.
Mike Stack: I think Mei's concerns are wholly founded and valid. She hardly knows his parents. Even though Joel tried to quell her distrust by saying it's about her not being Jewish, she has the right to still be concerned.
If she wants to get as serious as he does, she will need to do it. I think they make for a fascinating couple, and I am excited to see how they delve into their story more.
Becca Newton: Yes. Joel has a point, but Mei is the more vulnerable party. Her concerns shouldn't be brushed off.
Mei: Mei's feelings are valid. Mary, I agree that he's serious about her, and that seriousness will need to be made incredibly clear to his parents.
Mike, I'm afraid I disagree that the Jewish bit was entirely to quell her fears. If anything, the fact that she's not Jewish makes it worse.
I'm not sure converting would help the situation, though, not that she should feel obligated to do so in any case. It certainly didn't help Astrid, poor thing.
Speaking of, I hope we see her again soon. She's a fun character.
Did Abe make the right choice in regards to his review?
Mary Littlejohn: Oof, this is a tough one. It can be so hard to review things you don't like. You know how much time and effort goes into something, that even when it's objectively terrible, it's difficult to criticize someone you care about.
But that's the business! I think he did well, at Gabe's suggestion, about using his review to cover the more significant issue of commercial theatre. Sometimes, that's the easiest way to be diplomatic.
I didn't read his review, though; who knows how cruel he actually was? There are ways to be critical without being mean -- it's a delicate balance.
Mike Stack: I think he made the right choice. Yes, it may have hurt someone he cared about, but he also needed to do his job.
I'm glad he took Gabe's advice, but I can easily see how that would come off as dismissive. I don't know what was written -- but I'd like to think Abe is not a complete asshole and approached it with professionalism and poise.
Becca Newton: Yes. I like how Abe's story parallels the Shy fallout and explores the other side of the question of whether the pursuit of a passion is worth it when it comes at someone else's expense.
Leora W: Good point, Becca! I didn't even think about the parallel. It's funny because, in the Shy Baldwin situation, I sided with Shy, but I sided with Abe in the case of the review.
That being said, it was a tricky situation. Hopefully, the community will forgive him eventually.
Is Abe's lack of awareness coming off as believable or an offensive caricature? Does he have a right to be upset with Rose, or is he entirely in the wrong?
Mary Littlejohn: I think Tony Shalhoub is such a great actor; he can sell anything. Abe is larger-than-life and also something of a man-child. At least he admitted that he doesn't listen to Rose -- without admitting he was in the wrong for it.
He has absolutely no right to be upset with Rose, though. And what he did to Asher because of it was immature and potentially dangerous. He crossed a line because of his petulance.
Mike Stack: I think it's pretty believable, at least up to a certain point. The show is definitely reaching that point of unbelievability, however.
He's always been slightly naive, and that adds up. I think they've reached a turning point, and hopefully, he's starting to realize his past naivety.
Becca: What Mary said.
Leora W: Maybe I'm just dense, but I feel like Abe has been a little less realistic recently, as in, I don't believe a person would actually act like this. But maybe he's always been that way, and I just didn't notice. I agree with everything Mary said.
Midge is surrounded by men between Lenny Bruce, Boise, and the pediatrician. Do you think she'll get another love interest this season, and do you want her to?
Mary Littlejohn: I like the idea of her being independent for a while. She needs to work on herself. That being said, I'm a sucker for romance.
Rachel Brosnahan and Luke Kirby have great chemistry, but I think Midge and Lenny are better as friends.
Is there someone else on the horizon at this point in the season? Is it going to be Boise? I love Santino Fontana, but the character seems a little too unevolved for Midge to take seriously as a romantic interest.
I could be wrong, though -- stranger things have happened.
Mike Stack: I don't think she needs another love interest this season. I like the terrible dates, and I like seeing her on her own.
Of course, I'm not going to be opposed to seeing her get a new love interest, but it needs to be seamlessly introduced (NOT one of the dates she's going on, something surprising or unexpected).
Becca Newton: If Midge gets a new love interest, I'm guessing it will be Elroy, the reporter who has been trashing her. Elroy is also my pick for who Milo Ventimiglia will be playing. The setup for an enemies-to-lovers arc is there.
It's hard to get too excited about new Midge romances since she remains emotionally entangled with Joel. Until she disentangles herself, it seems inevitable any non-Joel romance will stall out.
Lenny is the exception to the rule but presents a whole other set of complications thanks to reality.
Leora W: A part of me will always hold out hope for Midge and Joel reconnecting in their golden years after they've both lived their lives. I do love Joel with Mei, though.
Call me crazy, but I would love for Midge to get a genuine love interest (other than Joel). Even Benjamin in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2 felt more like a rebound.
I know it isn't what the show is about, but what can I say, I'm a shipper at heart, and I need someone to ship her with.
I can't see her with Lenny Bruce, mostly because he was a real person, and she wasn't, and he had real relationships, and she wasn't one of them. I agree that they're better as friends.
As for Boise, like Mary, I'm a fan of Santino Fontana, so maybe I'm seeing something that isn't there because I want to.
Becca makes a good point about the reporter who may or may not be played by Milo Ventimiglia. That would be a good use of tropes, and I love him as an actor.
I'm slightly doubtful because we're already halfway through the season, and we haven't met Elroy or Ventimiglia yet, but if they can pull it off in a short time and make it believable, I'm all for it.
Who was the MVP of each episode?
Mary Littlejohn: 100% Abe's cape. But seriously, it would have to be Susie (Alex Borstein). She brought so much heart to Jackie's tribute -- what she did was really moving, funny, and still true to her character.
(But seriously, the costume designer Donna Zakowska might actually deserve MVP status this week -- those burlesque costumes were amazing!!)
Mike Stack: Susie! I've always loved her, but these two episodes let her shine in a different light than we're used to. Seeing her deal with a highly emotional loss and still keeping the humor?
It was beautiful and will most certainly land Borstein another Emmy nomination.
Becca Newton: Susie, hands down.
Leora W: Agreed. Susie 100%.
What scene, quote, or moment stood out to you? Is there anything else you want to comment on?
Mary Littlejohn: When Abe wrote his first review, I howled ("Your mother might like it"). Tell me, my critic friends, that you did not feel that on a deep level.
I love anytime Midge is at the mic; honestly, that's when this show feels like it's the most "in the zone."
Though I didn't particularly appreciate when Lenny and the other guys were abusing her while she was on stage, AT ALL, the material she came up with was golden.
Her set in Episode 4 was probably my favorite scene, with the "secret lives of wives" bit. #truth
Mike Stack: Mary... absolutely. I loved that so much.
Becca Newton: I too must pay tribute to Abe's cape. It was glorious.
And yes, I agree with the "Your mother might like it" bit.
Leora W: The "secret lives of wives," as Mary dubbed it, was excellent. I also liked Susie's speech at the funeral and Midge's speech to Boise about knocking and asses.
Over to you, Maisel Fans. Do you agree with us?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Streams Fridays on Prime Video.
Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..