The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is back for the start of the fourth season but the show has yet to solve its Jewish caricature problem.
Listen, we need to talk. This series is a prime example of why we need Jewish actors being cast in these roles. No amount of acting is going to change the fact that a non-Jewish actor is going to come off as a caricature. People might say “acting is acting” but there’s just no substitute for authentic representation. Sarah Silverman’s recent comments are still fresh in my mind as I watch the season premiere. This discussion is more than just an article in and of itself but a roundtable discussion is something that needs to happen. The series is still funny and of course, I’ll be sticking around to watch the fifth and final season. Collectively speaking, we cannot ignore how the push for authentic representation does not seem to apply to Jewish characters.
The season starts with Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) having been left at the tarmac after being fired from the tour. She also hides this fact from her family. In fact, her parents advise her to pretend to be Christian while traveling in Europe. It’s 1960 and the world is only 15 years removed from the Holocaust. Twelve years removed from founding the State of Israel. Is hiding one’s Jewishness really the best advice? No, it isn’t. I’m proud to be Jewish. Hearing the comments certainly makes you want to cringe and roll your eyes. I mean, really?!? It may a comedy but the series could at least acknowledge the previous trauma to the Jewish people when it comes to making such comments. Is this too much to ask for?
Ex-father-in-law Moishe (Kevin Pollak) loans Midge the money to buy the family apartment back. For better or worse, this show is getting back to basics. The loan comes as a surprise to Joel (Michael Zegen), who later makes a deal with Midge’s manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), because she foolishly gambled away her money.
I’d like to know what the writers were thinking by making Abe Weissman (Tony Shaloub) a theater critic for the Village Voice. He is a former Bell Labs researcher and mathematics professor. A theater critic, really?
It’s still fun to watch Rachel Brosnahan perform as the titular Mrs. Maisel. However, you get this feeling until late in the second episode (more in a few) that Midge is regressing. It’s been over two years since the third season so if you need a refresher–Midge was fired for committing a professional wrong. But in watching these two episodes, I feel like it’s a repeat of the first three seasons, just sans Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby). Kirby is listed as a regular in the artwork press release but doesn’t show up in the first two episodes. Will he show up later? Who knows.
Aside from this, I found the whole Coney Island bit to be completely unrealistic. There are families arguing and then THERE ARE FAMILIES ARGUING ON A FERRIS WHEEL. At what point do you just forgo realism for the sake of getting a laugh? It’s also not uncommon for parents to deal with a temper tantrum at an amusement park. However, it is almost always the children being the cause, not grown adults!
Press were only sent the first two episodes so it’s hard to tell what direction the season will go. What we know is that Midge Maisel complete creative freedom in her comedy. But at what cost? This is one of the questions that the season will need to answer. When it comes to episode one, the focus is also all over the place. The focus seems to be better in the second episode. Midge befriends Gloria (Kayli Carter) late in the episode and we start to have a vague idea of where things are going. This is one of the downsides of having to review off of two episodes. The season is eight episodes long and there’s no telling what happens in the final six episodes. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel largely gets back to basics in the fourth season–for better or worse–rather than try to change things up.
CREATOR: Amy Sherman-Palladino
DIRECTORS/SCREENWRITERS/EXCECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino
CAST: Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Marin Hinkle, Kevin Pollak Caroline Aaron, Luke Kirby, and Tony Shalhoub
Prime Video will launch the first two episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 4 on February 18, 2022. Two episodes will premiere weekly.
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