The sophomore outing for Amazon’s award-winning original series sees Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) finding newfound fame with her stand-up comedy act under the management of the financially struggling Susie (Alex Borstein) and as the unlikely duo strive to make Midge’s career a successful one, she faces the prospect of having to finally having to tell her parents, Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose (Marin Hinkle), while also dealing with the fallout of her marriage to Joel (Michael Zegen) and a new love interest in handsome doctor Benjamin (Zachary Levi).
I guess that I was too lazy to give my final thoughts on the first series but in a nutshell, I found the first series of Mrs. Maisel to be a unique and entertaining experience that was very colourful and benefited greatly from the Golden Globe winning central performance of Rachel Brosnahan, who I took particular notice of when she featured in House of Cards. I particularly enjoyed the central character’s stand-up comedy scenes because they were genuinely hilarious but on the whole, these routines were used sparingly and the rest of the series crammed a few too many subplots in, many of which sadly weren’t that interesting. But it was still a great series.
Series One mini review over!
But I believe that the second series of Mrs. Maisel is better than the first because it’s less cluttered, the main storyline is far more exciting, we have a couple of episodes set in a Catskills resort that brings new life to the series, the subplots that revolve around Midge’s parents work well, and, even more so than before, Rachel Brosnahan shines so so brightly and makes Miriam Maisel an absolutely incredible character – a icon and a true superhero.
Rightfully winning a second Golden Globe for her performance as the titular character, Brosnahan is ideally suited for the role of Midge Maisel because she is full of life and energy and she completely nails every single comedic line, proving to be a powerhouse performer when she undertakes her various stand-up routines, delivering so many laughs that the series greatly benefits from. Alongside the comedy, she also handles the more emotionally affecting scenes really well and overall, Brosnahan makes the role of Mrs. Maisel her own, giving us a hilarious, multi-skilled character who can do it all and we can’t help but love, admire and support her throughout.
The series also has its strong supporting cast and in particular, Alex Borstein gets much more to do this time around as manager Susie Myerson, a great comic foil as she counterbalances Midge’s upbeat attitude and grace with a surly, often aggressive, attitude and a very colourful vocabulary; her toughness and brash nature are often fun to watch but it’s also clear that she cares about what happens to Midge and that she’s one of those people who hide a caring nature under their seemingly uncaring surface. Brosnahan and Borstein are an entertaining “odd couple” and the series does well in developing their friendship and odd partnership.
Tony Shalhoub is also excellent and note perfect as Midge’s curmudgeonly father Abe; it’s always fun watching him get grumpy and annoyed at the actions of his daughter, wife and Moishe (Midge’s ex father-in-law) and his uptight, no-nonsense nature conflicts well with the flighty behaviour of the rest of his family. But his character also shows great compassion and care and he gets some particularly strong sub-plots, the stories involving his mending of his relationship with his wife and his work at Bell Labs providing strong “padding” to the series.
Lastly, Luke Kirby returns a few times as the irascible fellow comic and friend Lenny Bruce, Rufus Sewell shines in one episode as a drunken artist, Jane Lynch returns as the antagonistic Sophie Lennon (setting up a new problem for the third series), and Zachary Levi is cool, charismatic and entertaining as Benjamin – he works very well with Rachel Brosnahan and he is an affable and intriguing love interest for our heroine.
As mentioned before, this second series is less cluttered than the first and just seems to flow more naturally, not getting bogged down too much by numerous subplots that draw attention away from Midge and her comedy act. Even though there are a few B-stories involving Joel and his family that don’t really go anywhere, the narrative is a good one and the middle few episodes set at a Catskills resort take the series in a refreshing new direction and breaks the series up well, providing a whole new location and some new story directions. Written primarily by Amy Sherman-Palladino (as well as her husband Daniel), the overall writing is top tier as it’s incredibly witty, fun, engaging and allows themes of feminism and toxic masculinity to shine through without being preachy or obvious – scenes where Midge is instantly assumed to simply be a singer or when she’s pushed out of the way to make room for the male comics or when she’s told that she’s not allowed to talk about pregnancy hit hard and ensure that this entertaining series has a deeper meaning.
And as it was the first time around, the second series of Mrs. Maisel is visually stunning and scenes positively glow with bright colours and light, making it a treat for the senses; so many scenes appear as though they’re right of a big Hollywood musical and you’d really expect the characters to break out into song and dance at any moment! Music is also very well used, having a strong original score as well as using well chosen era-specific tunes and also playing some more modern songs over the closing credits, with artists such as 10CC and the B-52s.