First look review: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 3
Jo Bromilow | On 08, Dec 2019
Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1 and 2 of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Not seen it? Catch up with our spoiler-free review of the first season.
Maisel Tov! With all the cheer of Santa Claus but all the pep and poise of Mariah (and no diva demands, not yet), Mrs Maisel is back to bring a little joy, warmth and optimism to a time of year when we need it most. Usually when you switch on the TV these days you can’t move for tiring politicians trying to be personable. Treat yourself instead to the one woman who never has to try and never will be trying.
Picking up straight after the divisive final moments of Season 2 – Midge has made some mistakes in her time, but abandoning dishy doctor Benjamin for a tryst with the philandering father of her children is right up there with the most questionable – the show dives straight into the whirlwind of Midge’s (a continually luminous Rachel Brosnahan) first big tour, the fallout of Abe’s (the award-winning Tony Shalhoub) career crisis and Susie’s (the similarly award-winning Alex Borstein) career upswing. The sets and settings are bigger, the stakes are (in theory) higher and the supporting cast is broader, but things are getting more complicated for our core cast.
Joel (Michael Zegen) – in an ongoing mission to strike out from under the thumb of his quite frankly monstrous parents – makes in-roads into the nightclub scene with a questionable acquisition in Chinatown and more than a match in Mei (Stephanie Hsu) that’s mildly derailed by a bi-coastal trip. Susie is still judging her commitment to Midge and her desire to transform herself into a serious business player, with a promise from Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch) still hanging over her head. And Abe and Rose are casting around for their next moves after Abe turned his back on Columbia – Rose turns to her mysterious family and Abe decides to bond with some beatniks and exercise his right to free speech after a run-in at a comedy gig.
There are new players, too. Alongside the allure and suave influence of Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain) and his entourage, sternly overseen by self-assured manager Reggie (an ever-charismatic Sterling K. Brown), is touring musician Carol Keen (How To Get Away With Murder’s Liza Weil), smiling wryly from the sidelines and on hand to show Midge the ropes of being on tour.
In a banner year for TV in general and a top year for female-led shows, it’s only fitting that the decade be seen off with a knowing wink and an encore from Upper West Side’s finest. For many shows, the concern about a new season’s ability to perform looms large over each trailer and premiere date, but that fatigue and doubt doesn’t seem to affect the Mrs Maisel hype train. With good reason – the show has a winning formula of charismatic cast, phenomenal writing and the flawless timing of the pre-Christmas season to buoy it merrily back into viewers’ hearts. And despite picking up and transporting the bulk of the show’s action to Vegas this season (rather like the other notably excellent show-within-a-show, Glow), the appeal of the characters and the story remains safely bicoastal. A show about the art of performing and showbusiness that knowingly weaves in moments of performance anxiety and critique of the industry keeps things fresh, self-referential and largely safe, but like mince pies and Mariah, sometimes all we need is a little familiar reassurance. And Mrs Maisel’s new season has that in spades.
The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel Season 1 to 3 is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.