Friday, April 14, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Celebration on Set Distracts From a Mistake Midge Makes in 'Typos and Torsos'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 5.03 "Typos and Torsos"

Midge's mouth gets her in trouble at work and Abe obsesses over a mistake.

"Typos and Torsos" was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino & Daniel Palladino and directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer

In the 1980s, Ethan travels halfway across the world to escape his mother. She still finds a way to interrupt his life. She does so with no consideration for the environment he has found. He has a life far removed from her. He introduces her to his fiancée. He is studying to become a rabbi. Meanwhile, Midge stops by in a helicopter to ensure he wears the outfit she sent ahead of time for an event she's performing at later. She showcases the maternal impulse to be protective of her children. She wants them in her life. And yet, she's a very overbearing presence. She may have crowds of adoring fans. Those people don't have to live with her. Everyone walks on eggshells when it pertains to sensitive topics. That includes her fallout with Susie as well as the numerous marriages she's had over the years. At this point, Midge is no longer trying to convince the world that she's funny. The show doesn't have to try to make that point either. In fact, it's great when Moishe is convinced this isn't a productive career path for her. That's a solid recurring bit. It's amusing because the audience has already bought into the successes of her career. She makes those strides. She is impressed by herself. And yet, her family operates on a completely different wavelength. That may be the ultimate burden of a creative career. Midge's mind works in a specific way. It crafts brilliant comedy. She is certainly a member of this family given the pace at which they talk and the ways in which they constantly disrupt each other's lives. However, it's ultimately a lonely existence as very few people understand Midge. It's easy to be charmed by her. She shares that laughter and affection with the world. But this show is full of conflict resolution where circumstances just happen to work themselves out. Rose was terrified by the group of matchmakers invading her life. Every single noise felt like a gunshot in her ears. She sought protection from Susie. She did so not knowing the mafia ties she has at her office. Frank and Nicky just happen to be working there. They take everything to the extreme. It's more than just slight pushback. In fact, a message is delivered without Rose having to do anything. She doesn't even know what she just approved. She is allowed that blissful ignorance. Susie indulges in it as well because she too is personally slighted by the destruction of the tea shop. That was a place both Rose and Susie enjoyed. And now, it's gone. It's easy to think Benedetta committed arson. She may be completely innocent. Rose may be reading into things. Bad things happen as Abe shares with Ethan. That sends the child running back to Midge's bed at night despite her hard work to get him into his independent space. But again, that's not a consequence Abe has to concern himself with. These characters don't have to follow through with their actions. That could absolutely be infuriating. However, it's also baked into the premise at this point.

Everything comes across as familiar storytelling patterns. Nothing really comes alive with the same buzz of unique excitement as the past. That comes from Midge knowing what to expect. She still feels like an outsider in so many environments. She's not the only woman who works at The Gordon Ford Show. She is the only female writer. It takes a month before she gets a joke into the monologue. And then, she's personally destroyed when Gordon flubs it. He's a trained professional. He knows how to recover so the audience still gets a laugh. He's the one tasked with actually performing it. He's too proud to admit he made a mistake. However, he's excited over the argument with Midge. He is called out for having an oversized ego. Part of that comes from hosting the number one show on television. That's a massive achievement. The entire office celebrates by skating outside 30 Rock. It's a magical moment. In fact, that provides the most wonder because both Midge and Susie are skilled on the ice. That's shocking with Susie. She still has the capacity to surprise everyone. Moreover, people are willing to take her judgment seriously. Mike is constantly exasperated at work. He's ultimately doing two jobs. He's the booker and the executive producer. George doesn't follow through with the responsibilities he has. Instead, he just delights in delivering good news. That disrupts the notion that Midge is going to get fired. However, the show thinks it's clever when it makes the pivot to Gordon trying to kiss Midge. It's not something she reciprocates. She doesn't want to be the other woman. She never wants to break up a marriage. She knows what it's like to be on the other side of that conflict. She has a functional relationship with Joel now. She even creates colorful stories to cover up the lies he's told his parents. Of course, he still eventually has to tell them about the marriage and child with Mei no longer happening. For all the silly extremes the two deliver, it's actually quite moving to see this tragedy bring Moishe and Shirley back together. That's genuine. It's an earned moment of emotion. The show maintains that ability. And yet, it's still the expected beat when people pursue romance with Midge. It's definitely something she deserves. However, the show has already written the story of her complicated love life. As such, nothing substantial can be built from that. That can only occur after the scenes in the 1980s. Even then, it seems unlikely she has the perspective to evolve in a meaningful way. She builds a successful career. This writing job is a crucial part of that journey. She's excited over her first joke being told. She wants to deliver it with as much passion as she can muster. Her expectations don't line up with reality. That shouldn't dissuade her. It doesn't. It doesn't quite attract the people close to her to stay either. Even Esther would rather escape to the comfort of her own bed. That's true regardless of what time period the story is set in. That's sad while acknowledging the flaws the characters exhibit across the years.