Roush Review: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Blossoms in Its Third Season
She took Manhattan. Now it’s time for Las Vegas, Miami and who-knows-where-next to bow to the whimsy and wonder of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), the tart 1960s stand-up comedy sensation who’s thrilled to be — apologies to Mary Tyler Moore — making it after all in Season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. “It’s the big time, baby!” exults her cantankerous fireplug of a sidekick/manager, Susie (the hilarious Alex Borstein), as they watch Mrs. Maisel’s name go up in lights on a Vegas marquee.
Her rise to almost the top — she’s opening on the road for Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), a Johnny Mathis-style crooner — is not without speed bumps. Although when she bombs, she bounces back. Midge isn’t one to give up or, if you’ve witnessed her rat-a-tat banter, to let up. “Failure is how we grow,” she tells an audience. “Actually, it’s how men grow. It’s how women shrink.”
Obviously, Mrs. Maisel is no shrinking violet, and the best parts of the third season (five of eight episodes were available for review) show her adapting and blossoming in her new life as a showbiz nomad. She misses her kids, and things are still quite complicated where her ex, Joel (Michael Zegen), is concerned.
But as she learns from a jaded female band member, wonderfully played by Liza Weil, a veteran of Maisel creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls: “You see the world. You answer to no one…. And you’re not having to go to your grave not having done anything interesting.”
Unfortunately, things aren’t quite so marvelous when Mrs. Maisel returns to the family Midge left behind, especially her parents, unemployed Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and underappreciated Rose (Marin Hinkle), who lose their bearings when evicted from Abe’s spacious university-owned apartment. Their misery does not make for good company, or comedy. And Abe’s new vocation, starting an underground newspaper with an annoying group of spoiled young beatniks, feels like strained period satire.
Thankfully, Midge never disappoints, and whether she’s clashing with Shy’s arrogant manager (This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown in a bold change of pace) or joining Lenny Bruce (guest-actor Emmy winner Luke Kirby) on a hip Miami After Dark TV show, it’s clear to everyone that this fresh face is going places. How happy are we to have the privilege of going along for the ride.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 3 Premiere, Friday, December 6, Prime Video