The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – season 2, still rushes Miriam’s success but compensates with better character development.

Amazon Prime
Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino
Noted Cast
Susie Alex Borstein
Miriam Rachel Brosnahan
Sophie Jane Lynch
Harry David Paymer
Joel Michael Zegen
Rose Marin Hinkle
Noah Will Brill
Abe Tony Shalhoub
Declan Rufus Sewell
Lenny Luke Kirby
Tessie Emily Bergl
Shy Leroy McClain
Imogene Bailey De Young
Mary Erin Darke
Benjamin Zachary Levi

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It’s 1959 and despite Susie and Miriam pissing off Sophie Lennon, and Harry Drake, they are starting to make traction. They do a mini-tour, find a lower Manhattan place where Miriam gets to work twice, and Susie really works her contacts. I’m talking, Miriam even gets to be on TV! But, getting to that point was not all smooth sailing. For one, it dealt with Susie trying to handle the learning curve which comes with dealing with someone in demand or when you are working with certain venues.

On top of that, Miriam had to learn to accept she can’t keep her personal life and work life separate. Unfortunately, the thing she loves doing is but an amplification of who she is when she isn’t worried about appearances, well besides proper attire. Also, it comes with sacrifices. Being a comedian means losing time with her kids, Joel not being able to be with her out of fear he’ll become material, and then there is her family and friends. Her parents, while Rose tries to be artsy and bohemian to a certain degree, this season, are bougie. Their daughter, someone who they raised to be obsessed with being the perfect wife, a comic? God forbid.

Yet, she isn’t the only one with secrets and dealing with the truth being hard. Her brother Noah works for the CIA, which is a shock to Abe. Though, pretty much everything is a shock to Abe this season. His wife being so unhappy she moves to Paris, him not being as respected as he thought. Leading to a season where everyone is coerced to adapt, beyond what makes them comfortable, and creating a new normal for some sense of happiness and understanding.

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Abe’s Evolution & Rose Finding Her Bliss

In the first season the men of the show, Abe especially, were kind of trash. However, this season they begin to evolve, have empathy, and are less about themselves. Take Abe, for example. Rose has to flee New York and her family to rediscover herself. Her relationship with her husband isn’t as she would want, her daughter is secretive and she just doesn’t know where she fits in anymore. So, she goes to Paris.

Naturally, this leads to Abe going into a tizzy because he doesn’t know why she did, because he didn’t listen, and basically demands her return. Yet, as he spends time with her, rediscovers who she is and himself, he realizes how far from what they both wanted they have gotten. Rose wanted to study art, dance, and be joyous. That is, rather than host curmudgeon people, have dinner parties with people who don’t appreciate art as she does, and seemingly be bound strictly to the tasks of a housewife.

Abe siding with Rose.
Abe: You know, basically, I think I’m on her side.

In a way, similar to what Jada Pinkett Smith talks about in Red Table Talk, she and Abe had to reconfigure their marriage to work for both of them. Abe likes consistency in his life and people who he can rely on. Rose decides, when she returns to New York, to give that to him. In return, he uses his pull at Columbia to allow Rose to audit art classes and he plans for them dance classes. Something we never see them do but it is a good start.

One that Abe follows through with for when Rose gets into some trouble in the Art department, there is no blaming her or asking “What did you do?” We see him recognize he is in a partnership. So, he handles things accordingly. He is respectful to his colleague but always firmly on Rose’s side. This even goes into handling dealing with their children. With how distraught he gets over Noah’s secret, Rose is on his side by doing some snooping to give him answers. Giving us a far more equal marriage than what we saw in season 1.

Joel and Miriam Healing Their Relationship

Like Abe and Rose, Joel and Miriam are forced to come to a new understanding. But, what is different about them is as they come to a new understanding about each other, they are also furthering their understanding of themselves. Focusing on Joel, for now, as much as he loves Miriam, he is honest with her about her comedy. He thinks she is funny, brilliant, but as a man, especially a man in that day and age, he can’t handle being made into a joke. It would make him self-conscious and possibly a laughing stock. After all, she performs in areas where his subordinates or co-workers can be.

Speaking of subordinates, we also see Joel step up in a multitude of ways. When it comes to Miriam, it is by defending her, publicly and loud, at the Catskills and he also helps his mother and father deal with the debt they put themselves in. Really pushing the idea that Joel had to hit rock bottom so that he could eventually discover himself. So that he could understand how lucky and privileged he was in life and also love.

Hence him, after all that happened, trying to heal his friendship with Miriam. He set his ego aside and went back to basics with her, just like Abe did with Rose. Thus allowing for how the season ends which makes you wonder what is next for them?

Miriam Reconciling Her Two Lives

Declan (Rufus Sewell) giving Miriam an ominous warning.
Declan (Rufus Sewell): You can’t have everything.

Rather than dragging out Miriam trying to live two lives into the third season, they straight up clash this one. It begins as something simple, like Midge deciding to perform her act at Mary’s wedding and the girls at work starting to hear rumors of who Miriam is. However, s*** hits the fan when Abe ends up watching Miriam’s set, a blue-collar one, and he has to hold this secret. At least until Miriam just exposes herself, with Susie, in episode 7.

Now, the importance of this is not just the show avoiding dragging this out. If anything, it is beginning to show how difficult things will be for Miriam. For one of the biggest issues that this show has is how privileged Miriam often is. Which, I should note, isn’t to discount the issues she goes through as a woman. It’s just, she is a white and Jewish woman from an upper-middle-class family. So as much as there are issues with respectability politics and things of that nature, she has a certain amount of privilege which balances that out.

To put it another way, her life and Susie’s are like night and day. Miriam could easily, as shown when Benjamin comes into her life, find a nice and handsome guy with money, and never have to work again. Other people don’t have that option. So, getting back to my point, for a long time it seemed Miriam had it all and didn’t have to give up much in the process. That no longer held true this season.

The Sorrow of Declan and Lenny

Lenny Bruce doing a clean, musical, routine.
Lenny Bruce: All Alone, All Alone.

One of the big ways we see it, and it gets foreshadowed, is when Miriam and Susie go on The Eisenhower Penis Tour, in episode 8 as well as when we meet Declan in episode 7. On top of Lenny Bruce’s appearance, and song, in episode 10. Breaking it down, in episode 8 Miriam seemingly begins to realize, to make this a career, it means being away from her kids for days on end. Which, with one kid being a baby, the other a toddler, it creates some separation anxiety for her. Will they remember her, still love her, forgive her, or even be able to understand why she isn’t there? These are all legitimate fears. The kind many mothers have if they can’t afford to be with their children as they would like.

This fear only gets worse when, in the episode before, Declan, an artist, points out how you can’t have it all. His greatest work came from one of his greatest heartbreaks and how does Miriam get her material? It’s from finding the funny in family, friends, and giving meaning to how they frustrate her. Yet, because of her routine, she lost her husband. Because of her routine, her father is uncomfortable and mother may not tell her things anymore. She is sacrificing her core relationships for having grand moments on stage.

Then, when it comes to the best man in her life, Lenny Bruce, him talking about being alone, broke even, despite his success, is a HUGE warning. For in the end, despite all this success, he is not only struggling but alone. Heck, he isn’t even alone in that. Sophie Lennon, despite her wealth and success, is also alone. The only living things surrounding her are pets and staff members. Not to forget, while famous like Lenny, she hasn’t gotten to have a masterpiece for she is stuck playing a character which is foreign to her real life.

So for Miriam, with seeing the successful people in her life, either monetary wise, Sophie; name recognition, Lenny; or having masterpieces, like Declan; unable to have it all, and are some kind of miserable, what does that mean for her?

Susie Getting a Taste of the Good Life

Susie dancing in the employee performance.

One of Susie’s main contributions to this show is showing an everyday person. Someone who could be considered blue collar, working class, and often feels neglected or second fiddle in programs like this. That can’t be said for Susie for, like many characters, she goes on a journey this season. From reaching new highs with Miriam, including dealing with a handful of lows as she learns how to be a manager, there is also her personal life.

Take meeting her family and seeing that, while maybe not as bad as preached, Susie’s family is a piece of work. Granted, her sister, Tessie, who we meet in episode 7, is sweet, but her brothers? TRASH! Yet, it is with meeting her family in the latter half of the season which helps you understand why she is so touched by the people who work at the Catskills. When she sneaks off with Miriam to a show at the Concord, the following morning she returns to a search party. We see her even get into a getup you’d never expect her to be in just because she really feels part of something.

On top of that, until it kicks in for Miriam that she has sacrifices to make, Susie shows the dark side of this world. She is struggling financially. Life is not easy for her and no matter how much she tries to play the game in a masculine fashion, she is reminded she is a woman. It does eventually win her Sophie Lennon as a potential client, but going from broke and not knowing some of the basics to possibly having the two biggest women in comedy is no small feat.

Lenny & Miriam’s Relationship

Lenny teasing Miriam.
Lenny: Your parents must be kvelling.

While Miriam has a brother in Noah, it is her relationship with Lenny that has a real cute sibling vibe to it. Watching Lenny tease Miriam while she is on a date with Benjamin, or Miriam being there for Lenny when he is feeling down and out, it crafts some of the most beautiful moments of the series. Yes, it also triggers Miriam to worry about not being loved again and possibly dying alone, but let’s not let that ruin the best friendship on this show.

Low Points

Rose’s Awakening Sputtered After Awhile

One could argue that once Rose returned to New York, her storyline sputtered and officially stopped. In many ways, Rose felt like a catalyst to jumpstart Abe’s life and once he was moving, she was an afterthought. Which seemed rather strange for there were many potential storylines. Granted, none of them sound that exciting when you just name them off, like developing her relationship with the Art department girls further or making new friends at dance class. However, the writers could have still done far more than revert the character back to who she was in season 1.

On The Fence

Miriam’s Friends Are Such An Afterthought

Recognizing this is a ten episode per season show, you can’t have everything and everyone. As noted above, Rose got put on the bench for the sake of Abe’s story. As for Miriam’s friends, they almost all got benched because, well Miriam is leaving that old life behind. Yet, perhaps one of the problems here is there isn’t a huge amount of reasons to miss the friends.

Don’t get me wrong, Imogene and Mary are kind of interesting. It’s just, like Rose, they didn’t get to evolve so the idea of Miriam dealing with transitioning to having celebrity friends isn’t terrible. Especially as she comes to realize, be it with Shy or others, there is a world far beyond the places she has been too. Particularly non-white cultures which, until Shy came around, didn’t seem to really exist on this show.

This Season Will Get You Emotional, But Miriam Seems To Take Off So Fast

Miriam celebrating Shy offering her to be his opening act.
Miriam: We did it. You and me.

One of the consistent issues with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is finding balance. The show can’t have Miriam struggling forever trying to get gigs and become famous yet, doing so too soon, and it takes away from the journey. With Miriam getting on TV this season, Susie maybe getting one of the top acts around as a client, and a Sam Cooke type singer, Shy, taking a liking to Miriam, inviting her on tour even, it seems like a bit much.

Now, I won’t pretend being on this journey means you won’t get emotional and relish in Miriam’s success. The problem is here, considering from the beginning of season 1 to the end of season 2 is just a year, it leads you to question why did everything happen so quickly for Miriam? Is it simply the privilege of being beautiful, as a hook, and then being funny knocking the people down? Is her luck a bit too much for the longevity of the show? While she is getting some real obstacles now, are they enough?

Unfortunately, only time will tell.

Overall: Positive (Watch This)

Season 2 definitely is better than season 1, but the nagging issue of pacing remains. For while Miriam is a bit more lovable, as she experiences struggles, this whirlwind year still makes you feel it is way too much too soon. Then, when it comes to supporting characters like Rose, you feel like they deserve much more than to be a step towards another character’s growth. Yet, on the flip side, the growth we see, even if it has sacrifices like Rose’s characters or Miriam’s friends, is one of the things this season did so much better than the last.

For whether we’re talking about Abe, Joel, Susie, and how Lenny and Declan contribute to Miriam’s development, the sacrifices aren’t in vain. In fact, they seem almost necessary as the show begins to reach a point of being bloated. But, overall, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Season 2 continues to be a flagship for Amazon and the proof that Amazon can and will do better. It’s just they have to find the right team.

Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Yes

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