Midge Maisel might be the death of her father, Abe Weissman. Then again, nothing seems to be going Abe’s way in the third season of Amazon’s juggernaut, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
After quitting his job at the end of the sophomore season, Abe finds that he has a lot of time on his hands, and he is going to dedicate that time to telling the truth and getting back in touch with his younger self. Luckily for us, the more Abe loses his control, the funnier Tony Shalhoub is. When Abe and Rose no longer have a place to live, they move in with their former in-laws, Moishe and Shirley, and Abe is no longer the master of his own domain. Shalhoub is a master of the dry delivery, and the way he calmly and succinctly comes back to Midge, Rose, and the Maisels is the reason why Shalhoub will always be a threat to win that Supporting Actor Emmy.
With Abe searching for his new purpose, will he connect more with his only daughter? She is struggling to make her own way in the world without the help of anyone, so maybe Abe’s new paths will bring in a new era of understanding in the Weissman household?
Awards Daily: Abe loses a lot of control this season. When he joins up with Ezra, Madeline, and Alan to make “It’s the Sixties, Man!”, what do you think he is really looking for there?
Tony Shalhoub: I think he’s looking to get back in touch with his younger self when he had ideals and passion and he was more politically motivated and connected. He wanted to make a large difference. When he was in his twenties, it was the 1920’s—you have to remember that. After everything that happens with Midge and his job, he’s still kind of lost, and he’s struggling to recapture what was at his core.
AD: Being untethered is what makes it so funny. Abe likes structure and routine and it must be hard for him to flail like it.
TS: It’s intensified by the fact that he’s kind of age-appropriate for a mid-life crisis, too. Just aside from all these other family pressures and all this other personal upheaval, he’s right on track. I think a lot of guys in that decade had that same kind of experience. They did the thing that was expected—with the family and the job—and they hit a point in their lives where they were no longer the father figure necessarily, if you know what I mean?
TS: That role played itself out and disenchanted with their lives and they hit a wall. He was prime for that, I believe.
AD: In the beginning of the season, Abe and Rose have to leave their amazing apartment. Midge is nostalgic because she grew up there, and Rose obviously wants to stay. I love the part where you’re playing the piano.
TS: When it’s completely empty.
AD: Yes, and you can see how cavernous it really is. I was wondering what Abe would miss most from that apartment?
TS: That’s such an interesting question, because Marin [Hinkle] and I fell in love with that set. This enormous apartment set. We thought, “Are we going to be back on this set again?” because it really felt like a second home to us.
TS: We spent so many hours there. For me, I think Abe would miss his study, especially. It had his piano and his books, and it’s where he also secludes himself and isolates himself from the chaos of the grandchildren and the Midge/Rose stuff. That room was his getaway.
AD: You and Marin have this exchange where you tell her, “I don’t want you to be without your clothes” and she says, “I don’t want you to be without your books.” It’s a simple moment, but I think it’s really lovely and really telling of the marriage between you.
TS: Yes, I loved that, too.
AD: On the flip side, Abe and Rose move in with Moishe and Shirley. It reminds me of a new version of The Odd Couple that I want to see…
AD: You even get chastised by Shirley in a few scenes—it’s almost like you’re a teenager again.
TS: Oh, yeah, when the beatniks come over.
AD: Do you think there’s anything that Abe and Rose can learn about their marriage from living with Moishe and Shirley?
TS: You mean how not to conduct a marriage? (Laughs)
AD: Obviously, when you get to Florida, you are happy to be away from them.
TS: Although after Florida, they do have to go back. I think it reaffirms that they want to live a much quieter, calmer, less volatile…and more clothed way. Moishe and Shirley don’t have that kind of connection. Abe and Rose see that life as the epitome of immodesty and indiscretion. It reestablishes and ascertains their view of themselves.
AD: That last scene you have at their house is an example of what the show does so well. Nothing is accidental.
TS: The way the Amy and Dan [Sherman-Palladino] construct this chaos which is very much controlled and orchestrated. Choreographed even to make it feel like explosions are happening, but we don’t want to miss anything. Nothing is throwaway. It takes a lot of precision and care to make it look effortless.
AD: That scene when you’re leaving Queens and the door is wide open and everyone is shouting…it reminds me of that great shot from when the family gets to the Catskills. The camera sits there and the windows are opening and the doors are closing and people are yelling.
TS: You sound like you’ve really studied this show. (Laughs)
AD: I mean…I am a bit obsessed with it—yeah. (Laughs)
TS: That’s great!
AD: Abe has seen Midge perform on stage a few times now. Do you think Abe would ever consider Midge to be talented or maybe even consider that she has a career as a comedian?
TS: Well, I’m not in the writers’ brains, but I do like to think that because Abe is at a stage of flux and change in his life that he’s evolving. Even by the end of Season 3, he’s not the same Abe that we met in the pilot. He’s going through so many changes. I think we will see that play out. I do think that he will resist because he’s not a show business guy. (Laughs) He doesn’t have that sensibility maybe outside of The Honeymooners maybe. He’s not a modern man in that way. I have to believe that since he’s going through so much that it’s possible. Somewhere down the line he sees her work and sees the world that way.
AD: And at the end, Abe gets asked to be a critic for The Village Voice. Maybe that will go hand in hand down the line?
TS: I think you’re right. There’s that scene where she’s doing all the radio spots, and she’s about to do one for that super conservative woman. It’s like Lenny Bruce or something. Her material becomes more political. If it’s in line with what he believes, I bet he would have an appreciation. That’s not something I can predict.
AD: Abe explains to Midge why Phyllis Schlafly’s rhetoric is dangerous in the final episode. Do you think that him informing his daughter of the dangers in the world is its own kind of revolution?
TS: You mean on a localized level?
AD: Yes. Abe spends a lot of time longing to make a difference and he makes her see that in a personal way.
TS: That’s absolutely a possibility. I could see that unfolding. I do like the idea of this major career shift. Theater hasn’t been high on his list. He’s a math profession—a very pragmatic guy—even though very well-read. I love that he’s launching into this new universe.
AD: Abe taking a pragmatic, sensible approach sounds hilarious.
TS: (Laughs) That’s good! There’s a tension for them to play with, that sounds like it will be fun.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming now on Amazon.