I promise, this is my last post about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. And let me say from the start that this is one of my favorite shows. I love it so much that these things the show got wrong really bother me. So let me just get it out of my system and then I can move on to what’s wrong with the rest of the world.
Let me know if you spotted anything else. It’ll give me more reasons to re-watch the show.
1. Strangers in the night…
Who the hell are those strange people at the Weissman family table in the first episode? Now, I get it, I suppose. The first episode is called “Pilot.” So, are we to assume this was a true pilot, like back in the old days when they put it out there and if people liked it, the network picked it up and went with it? If so, then I guess they didn’t think too far into the future and cast all of the parts.
But, I’m not completely ready to buy that.
In the scene, Miriam Maisel, played by the wonderful Rachel Brosnahan, is giving a speech at her wedding four years prior to the main storyline. At the table behind her are the Weissmans, played by Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle, and Joel, Miriam’s husband, played by Michael Zegen. Then there’s some random dude and two other older people, along with the Rabbi.
Those other people must be Miriam’s brother Noah, and Joel’s parents, the Maisels. But the actors are not the actors who portray those parts in the series. And where is Astrid? Astrid, played by Justine Lupe, says, in an early episode, that she and Noah have been trying to have a child for seven years. So, why wasn’t she at the wedding that took place four years prior to the main timeline of the show?
2. “We got the bastard!”
The angry lady at the deli in Episode 1 is the same actress who plays Edie (Barbara Miluski) later in the show at the Catskills. Oops. Suddenly we are synagogue and Catskills pals with the “You like your free pork chops?” lady in the deli!
3. We want latkes, people!
Baz, played by Erik Lochtefeld, asks for latkes from Miriam for the next week, when she comes into the Gaslight Café. But she brings another brisket instead and he doesn’t say anything. This bothers me.
4. “But, do you love it?”
The end of Episode 1 leaves you believing that Miriam is actually considering a career in stand-up when she bails Lenny Bruce, played by the amazing Luke Kirby, out of jail and asks him if he loves the work. But by the time Susie Myerson (played by the one-and-only Alex Borstein) shows up at her door later that day, she’s suddenly against it again. This is a bait and switch to keep that particular conflict going. Bad form.
5. Ragdoll down and shake it out, ladies!
Okay, this one is a little silly, but it definitely bothers me.
In Episode 1, Midge (aka Miriam) walks around all night after getting drunk and taking the stage at the Gaslight–the night before Yom Kippur. Later that morning, she’s changed her clothes and bails Lenny out of jail. In Episode 2, she’s at exercise class–the morning or afternoon of Yom Kippur. She’s supposed to be fasting (though she did nibble on some stuff during the night, so maybe she just gave up on all of that), she got so drunk the night before she doesn’t remember flashing her boobs to an audience at the Gaslight, and she hasn’t slept–when could she possibly have slept? But she’s at exercise class?
6. “She dressed for the meeting”
In Episode 3, at the lawyer’s office, Midge says that she and Joel met a co-op board, presumably for their apartment. But apartment buildings in Riverside didn’t go co-op until many years later.
I admit, the only reason I know this is because I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. What’s a co-op board? So I looked it up and found out that juicy tidbit of a-historical story writing. You’re welcome.
7. “We’re going to the Catskills!”
In Season 2, Episode 4, Pauly, played by Saul Rubinek, tells Midge that in the Mrs. Steiner swimsuit pageant, the winner is always escorted by her husband, and so, as Midge and Joel are separated, it would be awkward if she won. And as she’s won every year she entered, it would be best if she were sash girl instead of a contestant.
And yet, there stands Midge in the competition with the sash ready to drape the new Mrs. Steiner Swimsuit and what do you know? There’s no husband to be seen. And nobody says anything about it. What the hell?
8. “Are we still on for tonight?”
In Episode 7, Joel is at the dress factory and confirms a date that night with one of the girls who works there. But that night is the party celebrating his purchase of the building. And later that night, he’s bombed and there are a few girls hanging around needing cab fare from Archie, Joel’s best friend played by Joel Johnstone. None of the girls look like the one he had the 10 o’clock date with. What happened to her? Maybe she went home pissed that he didn’t take her anywhere, but it’s not like she didn’t know there was a party happening. It’s just muddled writing.
9. Jabberwocky, m’ dude…
In that same episode, Declan Howell, played fabulously by one of my fave actors Rufus Sewell, tells Midge to tell Benjamin (her love interest at the time, played by the great Zachary Levi) to pick out a piece of art and leave a check. But don’t tell him where he lives or Declan will go there and take it back. Declan was an odd artist who didn’t really like to sell his work.
So…did checks not have addresses on them in the late Fifties?
10. “It’s not really about where you shop, is it?”
In Episodes 9 & 10, Benjamin shows up at the park and meets Ethan, Miriam’s son. She tells him that he shouldn’t have come because she hasn’t cleared it with Joel. And Joel is really pissed off about it when he finds out. But, hold on!
Earlier in the show, I don’t remember when, Joel gets a place to live and asks to have Ethan over to spend a night. He says he’ll pick Ethan up, but Midge is running late and doesn’t have Ethan home in time, so she calls Joel’s office to get his new address only to find he’s living with Penny Pann, the woman he cheated on her with. Penny is played by the lovely Holly Curran.
So, you’re telling me that Joel was going to have Ethan for a sleepover at Penny’s house without Miriam knowing about it, but is pissed off that Benjamin shows up at the park and meets Ethan? And Miriam doesn’t say anything about that when he’s bitching at her about it?
What the bloody hell?
11. “Nobody’s gonna tie you up”
In Season 3, Episode 1, Joel rents out a space for his nightclub and says the price in the contract is locked in for five years. But later, Mae, played by the amazing Stephanie Hsu, says her parents are going to raise the rent the next year. Huh?
12. “I had a close friend, and I never knew it”
In Episode 2, Susie is in her tiny one-room apartment. Jackie, who works with her at the Gaslight, played by the beloved and late Brian Tarantina, is there because she’s subletting the apartment to him while she’s going on tour with Midge. Jackie’s in the bed. The thing is, Susie’s apartment is so small that when the Murphy bed is pulled down from the wall, you can’t open the door. When Susie wants to leave, she tells him he has to get out of bed. But he says he’s naked under the covers.
So many questions. He couldn’t have been in bed when she arrived, because he’d have had to get out and get dressed to push the bed back up and let her in. How could he have gotten into bed naked while she was there, without her knowing about it? But we know that he must have already been in the bed when she arrived because he tells her that Midge called an hour ago and woke him up. If Susie had been there when Midge called, she would have answered the phone herself and not had to get the message from Jackie.
So, the scene is logistically impossible.
Sure, it’s funny. But the illogic of it just spoils the whole thing. Poor writing there.
13. “Cherry, orange, cherry. That shoulda been somethin'”
This one’s long.
In Episode 3, in Las Vegas for the Shy Baldwin tour, Reggie, Shy’s manager, played by Sterling K. Brown (Shy Baldwin is played by Leroy McClain) says the tour is going to LA, San Francisco, Chicago, and then Miami. Angie Calibresi, played by Lenny Venito, is a mob boss who owns the Las Vegas hotel they’re staying and performing at.
The bass player, Carole, played by Liza Weil, tells Miriam they will get together soon and she’ll “explain the rules of the road” to her.
Then, in Episode 4, they’re still in Las Vegas. They’ve been there for about two weeks, because Midge gets her first paycheck from Angie and Susie says it’s two weeks’ pay. Joel goes to Vegas to visit and Angie is still there so we assume it’s the same hotel and casino that Midge was in at the beginning of their Las Vegas stint.
In the next episode, they’re suddenly in Miami and Midge and Susie mention a bunch of places they’ve been on this tour. LA is mentioned. But it’s not until this episode that Carole invites Midge to her room for drinks and the “rules” talk. It’s played like this is the first time they’ve gotten together and the first time they’ve discussed this subject. So, months later, they finally get together? I guess…
14. “Same heart attack, different afterlife”
I admit, this one’s just nitpicking.
In the last episode of Season 4, Midge plays the Apollo. And on that night, Susie and her sister Tessie, played by Emily Bergl, burn down their deceased mother’s house for the insurance money.
The next night, so 24 hours later, Miriam and Susie show up at the airport and find that they are booted from the tour just before they’re supposed to leave for Europe. Susie and Midge spend that night at the Gaslight. The next morning, Miriam tells Susie she needs all of the money that she’s made so far because she made a deal with her former father-in-law to buy back her old apartment and when he finds out she’s been fired, he’s going to want more money up front right away.
Susie calls Tess, and Tess says the insurance guy said the check would be ready that day.
What? The insurance money is coming through less than 48 hours after the house burns down? Okay, sure, we do find out that the check isn’t really ready and that might have been a lure to get Susie and Tess down to the agency so they could be questioned about the fire.
But Susie and Tess really thought the check would come through that quickly? Something’s weird about that.
15. “It’s tough being a woman in journalism”
In Episode 6, Miriam unwittingly and stupidly gives L. Roy Dunham, played by Hari Nef, her maiden name. Not only does it not make sense for her to do that, it sets up a situation in which the public will find out that Miriam is Rose Weissman’s daughter, causing problems with Rose’s biggest matchmaking client.
But this storyline is dropped, almost certainly because the creators decided to do only one more season and rushed everything to a somewhat unsatisfying end. See The Problem with the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Finale.
Update to add another one!
In Season 3, Episode 1, Miriam and Susie arrive at some army place for a show. Susie complains that Miriam is always late. They were supposed to be there at noon and it was 12:30. But Midge says that as long as she’s there when they call her name, she’s on time, as far as she’s concerned. And when they are getting out of the jeep, she says, “See, still tapping!” referring to the girls on stage dancing.
As they are escorted to the stage, an army dude is giving Midge instructions on what to do. She’s to walk across the stage, wave at the troops, and then exit on the other side. And she says,
“This isn’t my set?” No. This is just the intro to all the performers in the show.
So, Midge arrived in her cute little army-esque outfit thinking she was going right on stage to perform, right? And yet, after the intro to all the performers, she and Susie are sent to the dressing rooms where she puts on her show outfit.
Now, you could argue that Miriam was simply willing to perform in her traveling outfit, but I’m not buying it. If she thought she was supposed to go on as soon as she arrived, she’d have either arrived in her performance dress, got there in time to change, or she’d have been complaining about not having time to change and insisting she get to do it.
The last thing I want to say is that I’ve read a few opinion pieces about the show. Some people gripe about Midge being a terrible mom, and I’m like, would you say that about a man trying to make a career out of standup? And the show is about the costs of success for a woman in the late Fifties. I think the show did a good job in the last season of giving us a glimpse of how Midge’s relationships with her children turned out. And let’s face facts, people. Great parenting isn’t all that funny.
But one guy, I don’t remember who, complained about the final episode in which Miriam walks through her enormous penthouse apartment all alone. If I recall correctly, he was uncomfortable with that vision, of Midge having all that success only to end up alone. I think I commented on his article, saying he should re-watch the show. Midge’s sacrifices for her career were foreshadowed throughout.
But, more than that, her enormous banquet table is set for guests–a lot of them. Midge is wealthy and yes, lives alone, but the finale doesn’t make it out like she’s lonely, or that she’s regretful, or hasn’t had a wonderful life. She spends time with family, judging by her hopes of being in New York for Christmas, and she obviously has a lot of friends. Best of all, she spends plenty of phone time with her very best friend, Susie.
So, overall, despite these quirks and errors, and the complaints of a few, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is fabulous. And I’ll definitely watch it again and again.