The third season of Amazon’s awards juggernaut broadens its scope and soars on the open road.
I recently said that The Crown was the most exquisite show on television, but I should correct myself here and now. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is utter perfection, and—I’m sorry, Lizzie—but when you lay your eyes on the third season of the Amazon show, your eyes will bulge out of your head when you take in the craft and the stunning production value. Amy Sherman-Palladino continues to push her characters in directions that a lesser show wouldn’t dare to, given the restrictions of the time period. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is colorful, beautifully written, and directed with immense pleasure.
Heading into this new slate of eight episodes, one might wonder how far Midge Maisel will go in her pursuit of comedy. Sherman-Palladino expands on the scope and horizon of her show and takes Midge and Susie on the road—a promise that, at the end of Season 2, seemed too good to be true. Midge didn’t enjoy her brief stint of touring in the sophomore season, but now she has hit the big time when she opens for Shy Baldwin (played with charisma to spare by Leroy McClain) and the opportunity takes us to sinful Las Vegas and humid Miami (sidebar: I lived in Miami for a minute, and I knew that Susie wasn’t going to get along with it).
Midge isn’t tethered to her family life when she goes on the road, and Rachel Brosnahan visibly hums with excitement throughout this season. She flutters around with all the new creative people in her life, but you can tell she is concerned about doing well opening for such a large musical act. In the first episode, she kills it in front of a huge crowd of soldiers in preparation for the tour. “This is my third soldier today—this is how rumors get started!” she tells one uniformed gent as they guide her around base. Her improv is sharp without being cloying because she has such enthusiasm. Midge is at the top of her game.
Two-time Emmy winner Alex Borstein gets to shine in ways we haven’t seen before. At times, she feels like the focus of entire scenes and sequences, and seeing Borstein feverishly and hilariously live up to Susie’s true potential as a talent manager is the biggest delight of this season. Midge and Susie have always sparred in a buddy sort of way, but there is a rift that comes early in the season that will concern loyal viewers of the outcome. Last year, Midge and Susie felt more separated as Midge snagged a new beau and Susie traipsed with a plunger through the Catskills. Here, the duo’s chemistry is so enhanced that we will never want them apart again (the pool scene in Miami will have you howling).
As Midge explores her true potential on the road, people back home are having less fun. Joel (the dreamiest Michael Zegen has ever been) settles on opening a new nightclub, but there are unforeseen complications with the downstairs neighbors. With Abe (Tony Shalhoub) abandoning his job at Columbia, he and Rose (Marin Hinkle) must live without the luxuries of their cushy apartment. The more frenzied Rose gets, the funnier Hinkle makes her. She has a frenzied monologue on the streets of Queens that basically ensures a second consecutive nomination for Hinkle. Plus, she wears hats like no one I’ve ever seen. So….many…hats.
How do Brosnahan, Borstein, and company pull all of this off? Amy and Dan Sherman-Palladino. This is a world that lives on top of our own or perhaps we are wishing for this past because it’s so idyllic and funny. The writing is so quick and the direction so effortlessly timed that one might have to watch the episodes over and over to appreciate the lines and direction for what they are. It’s easy to feel one step behind them because they make it look so easy, and I will welcome a second helping of views for this season. It’s broader and riskier. The bigger the risk, the bigger reward, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s third season is the biggest payoff yet.
The third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel debuts on December 6th.