Friday, March 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge's Comedy Affects Her Loved Ones in Harsh Ways in 'Ethan... Esther... Chaim'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 4.07 "Ethan... Esther... Chaim"

Abe forgets his tobacco. Joel raises a glass with Moishe. Midge learns firsthand about America's bicameral system of legislature.

"Ethan... Esther... Chaim" was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Daniel Palladino

Midge doesn't believe her comedy career affects her family. Of course, her family disagrees. They are embarrassed by what she says about them. Midge understands this to a certain degree as well. When Rose is hypnotized and starts performing Midge's set, she immediately starts apologizing to her family. She is completely free and unencumbered telling these jokes when she believes her family isn't actually in the audience. Rose saw her perform at the strip club. She needed to know how far her daughter had degraded herself and embarrassed the family. Midge didn't do a great job hiding what she was doing either. It was easily accessible to anyone who would go into her room. She has been propped up as a great success story for the strip club. Management is happy with her because she has increased their bottom line. The show itself has gotten more confident with the acts it's willing to showcase in that space as well. A girl is up on wires spinning around as if she's stuck in the tornado from The Wizard of Oz. It's impressive and creative. It's become an expected aspect of this space. Midge is more concerned with other endeavors. She knows which gigs she should accept and which to decline. In fact, that may showcase how she is relying less and less on Susie. Her manager wasn't the one who got her this gig at the strip club. Susie doesn't get Midge into a luncheon hosted by Jackie Kennedy for her husband's presidential campaign. Midge makes connections and counts on them to continue rising in this business. Susie is doing well for herself too. However, she and Midge are no longer on the same page. Susie delights at the horror the Weissman family endures during Alfie's showcase. Everything had to go so perfectly in order for Alfie to pull all that off. He may have planned it all according to Midge bringing her entire family with her. Astrid was eager to be the volunteer pulled up onstage. Instead, it was Rose. In that moment, she became the person she hates. Of course, she will always smile through it. She creates elaborate stories to make her family seem more united and secure than they actually are. And yet, her daughter tells filthy jokes to audiences regularly. Rose can recite the jokes and even make them better. It's a nice role reversal. One that should reflect in Midge a realization about the power of her words. She doesn't really walk away with that lesson though. It's strange.

The pattern of this episode is Midge's comedy being championed and condemned. Her family is shamed by what she says about them to strangers. Meanwhile, Midge's deconstruction of how perfect Jackie Kennedy seems goes awry when she takes about her own adventure sleeping with a married man. That's a role reversal for her too. She is suddenly the other woman. An affair is what broke Midge and Joel apart. And now, he's off starting a new family with a woman Midge knows very little about. That worries her. Mei has a powerful family. They intimidate Frank and Nick. That's saying something given all they are willing to do. They support Midge and Susie. They too are scared of pursuing things that could create more trouble. Midge is fearless in that regard. She is provoked into staying longer. The audience loves her so much. Sure, it's slightly awkward for Jackie as she knows she's not perfect. It's the mere perception of her in the media. That's the perspective Midge operates from. It's something that must be commented on. The gender dynamics are necessary because the world is changing. Everyone knows her husband isn't a faithful man even though he's going to become President. Midge walks right into that trap. No one wants to hear her story about finding a handsome man and enjoying sex with him. It's shocking for the time period. It was freeing for Midge in the moment. It made her believe she should be more spontaneous. She already embraces so much of that quality though. How much further could she realistically push it? That may only be true of her onstage persona. Her comedy is very much informed by her personal life. And so, she can never acutely divide the two concerns. She has to be accountable for her actions. She is right to be concerned sometimes. Every time something seems to be going in her favor, she finds a way to ruin it. It happens much more quickly now. She used to be able to relax into a situation for a couple of episodes before it completely imploded. That may still be the case with her showcase at the strip club. That may not provide her with any meaningful opportunities. Her peers have achieved much flashier gigs. Meanwhile, Midge is stuck in a place where no one can see her and discover how funny she is. Susie did that once. Now, she's more excited about the other clients she can find and shape into terrific acts. She's done right by Alfie. Now, she's led to another comic by Dinah. Susie sees potential. She listens to her clients and does whatever they demand. She accommodates Midge. And yet, that partnership may no longer be fruitful given the opportunities Midge has pursued. That too may turn out to be costly because Midge has a very specific vision of what she can do in this business and how she wants to achieve it. That's aspirational in a way that should be championed. She can't blame others for not seeing it and helping make it a reality. It's different when it comes at the expense of personal relationships. That's what Midge has to reckon with heading into the season finale.