Friday, February 25, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge Awkwardly Looks Into Susie's Personal Life in 'Interesting People on Christopher Street'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 4.04 "Interesting People on Christopher Street"

Midge establishes new rules. Susie gets a leg up from old friends. Abe has more in common with Asher than he thought.

"Interesting People on Christopher Street" was written by Daniel Palladino & Amy Sherman-Palladino and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino

Midge takes over a strip club. That appears to be the major storyline this season. That's how she gets to do the act she wants to do. She isn't the headliner. She isn't the reason why people fill up the venue. It's even seen as a job that's beneath her. Susie and Joel don't understand why she's there. The audience can be confused as well. The show hasn't presented a good enough reason to invest in the time spent in this location. Sure, this episode is transformational. Because of Midge's influence, the club works out the kinks that have prevented it from going smoothly every night. The episode starts with it as a disaster. It ends with everyone working seamlessly. Of course, the show still opts for the final gag of Midge falling into the orchestra pit. This shouldn't be seen as a perfect routine. It shouldn't be a space Midge is comfortable within. That's true even after all she invests in it to make it better. A guy is made to handle the curtain at all times. Management is kicked out of the dressing room and told to treat the performers with more respect. The band plays quietly when Midge starts talking. These simple fixes improve the overall atmosphere. Midge's comedy has the potential to outshine what is the predominate business. That worries Boise as he looks out from the crowd. He sees the waitresses caught up in the show instead of doing their jobs. That serves as more confirmation of Midge's talent. That was never in doubt. She is funny. She belongs onstage. This is where she chooses to operate. She workshops her jokes at Joel's club because she wants things to be perfect at the strip club. That's the logic of her operation. It's baffling to Joel. He didn't even know she was working at a strip club. He gives her a place to perform. He is dealing with his own stress of knowing he has to introduce Mei to his parents even when they all know it's going to go terribly. The show is being perfectly blunt about the ugliness of its main characters. It also treats it as something that cannot be changed. That's their learned behavior. It's better not to try at all. Joel may go even bigger with his efforts to prove how much he wants this to work. That has been a successful move for him in the past. The show wants him to have big aspirations despite the time period he lives in. It's a similar arc to Midge's. He is simply a success while she slums it once more. She deserves more. The audience can feel that. The fact that it's not is mostly proof of inconsistency and stagnation about the imagination of the show itself.

Of course, Midge genuinely wants to help the people around her. She is incredibly awkward in doing so. Her intentions are always good. She is also unaware of how she comes across sometimes. The show has never really wanted to dig too deep into the privilege Midge has. It's just suppose to be charming and amusing. It's not worth examining any further. And so, it's a nice gesture that she tracks down a lesbian bar for Susie to show how accepting she can be. It comes from a nice impulse of wanting Susie to be happy. Midge's manager provides her with help whenever her dates aren't going well. She wants to be more engaged in the lives of those she cares about. Susie doesn't need help. She refuses to accept it too. Sure, her mobster friends have an apartment and a vision for her business. She is conveniently distracted by the view. That's enough for her. She is focused on her career. She doesn't need anything else. Of course, it's strange how the show wants to remain vague about her sexuality. It creates a conversation about it. It doesn't have to be an important detail. She has a full and enriching life without that being a priority. That increases the overall awkwardness. It creates tension between Midge and Susie too. That makes it tempting when Sophie walks back into the picture wanting her manager to work on her career again. She has a new pursuit. A game show is looking for a host. She believes she would be perfect. She just has to get through the door. Susie only has to make a meeting happen. That's all she has to do for Sophie after the Broadway disaster. Susie doesn't want to do anything with Sophie. But she too has genuine compassion for the people in her world. She agrees because she feels sorry for her. Those feelings of empathy radiate from Midge and Susie. The same isn't true for the older generation. That's most acutely felt with Abe as he lashes out against Rose and Asher upon learning they once dated. They claim he always knew. It was a part of their shared history that all worked out in the end. He is completely distraught. After that revelation, the world starts spinning and he can't see straight. He puts on a good face for awhile. And then, the FBI come around to get the truth about the past. He is more than willing to toss his best friend to the wolves for a crime they both want to write off as not that serious. It absolutely is. A federal building was destroyed. Plenty of people have gone to jail for less. Abe is just motivated out of personal animus. That allows it to continue being seen as charming and insane instead of dealing with the true emotions that should be present.