Sunday, December 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Sophie's Play Opens as Midge and Susie Return to New York City in 'Marvelous Radio'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 3.07 "Marvelous Radio"

Midge and Susie head back to New York City and hustle for work. Abe is elated when someone publishes a piece he wrote. The Maisels gather for the bris of Astrid's baby.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

"Marvelous Radio" was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Daniel Palladino

The previous episode ended in such a viscerally raw and emotionally stunning place. It played on such a deeper level than the series typically strives for. Most of the charm comes from the surface comedy. This is a very extravagant and engaging world. But it was clear the show felt the impulse to tell something much more grounded and vulnerable as  Midge's story on tour evolved. Sure, it's also clear that the creative team wants to get back to the broad and absurd comedy as quickly as possible. Fortunately, it is able to do just that. That's the mode it is so completely comfortable in. It can create a montage of Midge and Susie going back-and-forth in recording studios to record radio spots so effortlessly. That is immediately amusing and places these characters right back in the heart of New York City. That's where their connection was first formed. There has always been a New York identity to this world thanks to the supporting ensemble. However, Midge has been on the road for the majority of the season. That has created some terrific character growth for her. But now, it's understandable why she and Susie are flailing around for business. The tour has been on break for two months. There is a cover story that everyone can believe. Midge knows what truly happened but knows it's not right to share that with anyone even her manager. That is Shy's personal life. She helped him in his time of need. She helped him succeed when the rest of the world was willing to keep him down. She lifted him up. That was so powerful. Midge did that because of her generous spirit. That makes it a little awkward when the point of this episode is her learning the power of her own voice. She has always thought Lenny's material was thought provoking and important to the culture of the world. She knew he was pushing boundaries for a reason. And now, Abe gets to celebrate getting a piece published in the New York Times. That's a huge accomplishment for him even though he does it without the support of his friend, Asher. The show can mostly just give Abe this achievement without really specifying it even further. It's an easy victory for him after a season in which he too seemed to be stumbling around not sure what to do. It may be inevitable that the Weissman family ends up in Midge and Joel's old apartment. It will be returning to the market soon. It may be affordable. And yet, the finances of this family have always been vaguely defined. It allows them to be interacting with Moishe and Shirley on an ongoing basis despite how distant Midge and Joel want to be from each other. He is more concerned with his club. She is eager to find work and get paid. They are all exploring their own ambitions. But again, Midge understands the importance of her voice. She knows that she can't be paid for pornographic work. That doesn't suit her. She isn't comfortable doing that for a radio ad. It can't be suggestive in that way. She can speak up on that issue immediately. However, she has to be told by her father just how horrible Phyllis Schlafly is. When Susie and the sound producer step into the booth at the last minute to provide the spot that was paid for, they see how terrible this woman is based on the script. They have that immediate reaction. Meanwhile, Midge has to be told what to think. That may be a biting criticism of performers in genuine. They may have the guts to get up onstage and perform. However, they may be malleable to the world around them. Their managers mold them into the talents they may one day become. Susie is proud of the partnership she has with Midge. They support each other. Elsewhere, Susie gave Sophie exactly what she wanted. She produced Miss Julie on Broadway. During opening night, Sophie throws all of that hard work away to relay on what she is comfortable doing onstage in front of a crowd. She is terrified. She is right to be scared of Susie and the rage she will unleash on her. This was all a sacrifice to her. It implodes because of her. That is so disastrous and destructive. That vitriol is palpable. Susie wonders why she even took on another client. But it was the reasonable thing to do if she wanted to expand her business. It too means this episode gets to conclude on a more grounded emotional note. It's still more broad and absurd than anything that happened with Shy. But there is still a sense of fear and uncertainty in Sophie's existence and experience as well. She is afraid to do something new and her manager isn't present enough to see it. That is tragic in its own way and may further prove that they are mismanaged as artist and manager.