Farewell to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

She saved the best for last. In the series finale of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which aired Friday on Amazon Prime, Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel, born and raised on the Upper West Side with the jokes to back it up, delivered a stand-up set so electrifyingly funny (and honest) in the face of adversity that, for the first time during the program’s five-season, 43-episode history, we finally hear someone refer to her by the show’s title.

While the lights shined their brightest, Gordon Ford of the Gordon Ford Show proclaimed, “Making her first but definitely not her last appearance on the Gordon Ford Show, may I present the magnificent, the magical, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Ford then placed his hand over the microphone, leaned into Midge and chirped, “You’re fired.” A finale for the ages.

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The four-minute stand-up set by our fearless heroine, who grew up on Barney Greengrass, almost never happened. She broke a Gordon Ford Show rule where nobody who works on the show is allowed to be on the show, except for Ford (a fictional version of Johnny Carson) of course. Like most of the breaks Miriam earned, she took them with fiery angst; throwing caution to the wind, all while shedding her goody-two-shoes Jewish girl from the Upper West Side persona.

Make no mistake, Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan) can cook a brisket and she can dress to the nines, but it’s that same combination of being perceived as a ‘proper lady’ that worked against her on the show. Set in 1958 to start, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as a show displayed a searing representation of social life and gender issues of the era. A time when Midge’s job description at a luxury department store to make ends meet was, “Be on time. Be polite. Be pretty.”

At nightclubs, it was commonplace to get arrested for using vulgar language. Midge would get arrested for that infraction multiple times, along with indecent exposure. Even when her material was at its most raw, Maisel knew how to captivate an audience and get laughs. Much like Lenny Bruce (fictionally portrayed by Luke Kirby), who befriends Maisel in the show.

Maisel’s comedy career starts in episode one after she discovers her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) has been cheating on her. In nothing but a nightgown and an open overcoat, with a bottle of wine in tow, Maisel leaves her home at 404 Riverside Drive (used for exterior shots) to march through the rain so she can hop a subway to the Gaslight, a comedy club in Greenwich Village.

Taking the wreckage of her life, Maisel gets down and dirty talking about her failed marriage. This set at the Gaslight is strikingly similar to the last one we see in the series finale on the Gordon Ford Show.

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With an unguarded microphone on the stage, Maisel seizes the opportunity.

The last words we hear Midge say to Gordon Ford before she takes the mic are, “I’ve just never been great at following rules.” At this moment in time, Miriam is a successful stand-up comedian who’s done international tours, worked alongside some of the biggest names in the industry, and she’s so wealthy she bought back the apartment at 404 Riverside Drive she was forced to move out of in the first season. She even invites her parents, Abe and Rose Weissman, to live with her as they’re on hard times ever since Abe lost his job as a math professor at Columbia University. But none of this is enough.

In the finale, the ones closest to Maisel are finally seeing her for the star she is. In the previous episode, Midge’s father Abe, played by Tony Shalhoub, gets blindsided by the light his daughter has while pontificating about life’s trials and tribulations during dinner with friends. He exclaims, “Where did this come from? This strength. This fearlessness that I never had. That my poor son never had. What could she have been if I had helped her and not ignored her, ignored who she really is. My daughter is a remarkable person, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that to her.” Miriam’s parents went so far as to ride a bus for the first time when there was a traffic jam all the way down Central Park West so they could make her TV appearance.

Maisel was expecting to be the comedic talent for the night, but in a sneaky last-second switcheroo by Gordon Ford himself, he bumps Midge to doing a puff piece Q & A segment about her role as a writer on his show, sitting on stools away from Ford’s couch and desk where all the regular guests sit. This was a slight to Maisel, who clearly felt she’d come too far to go out like that.

Once again, an unguarded microphone rests on the stage. Maisel has a last word with her dear friend and manager Susie Myerson (played by Alex Borstein), who walked through a men’s bath house sauna full of shlong to get a part for one of her clients. Myerson discovered Maisel at her very first show at the Gaslight, the club she managed. She tells Midge, “Look, you started your career by getting up on a stage that no one told you to get up on. Saying a bunch of shit that no one wanted you to say. So, tits up.”

Maisel delivers an unrelentingly genuine set, chock full of jokes that hit like they’ve been polished as much as The Hope Diamond. She makes cracks about herself for being a poor parent, her family, and her failed marriage, to which Joel and her parents laugh along, finding truth in comedy. At this high peak, it brings a smile, not a snark. At one point, Midge brings up the Upper West Side and a parking space conspiracy her father Abe has, and the joke feels as timeless as ever, just like Maisel.

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She goes on to say, “I want a big life. I want to experience everything. I want to break every single rule there is. They say ambition is an unattractive trait in a woman. Maybe, but you know what’s really unattractive? Waiting around for something to happen. Staring out a window thinking the life you should be living is out there somewhere but not being willing to open the door and go get it. Even if someone tells you, you can’t. Being a coward is only cute in The Wizard of Oz.” Then she jokingly remembers her kid’s names, which she struggles to name throughout the whole show, for the cherry on top. Comedic timing at the genius level.

The crowd goes wild! The crowd goes wild! Even Gordon Ford and the rest of the writers, who are all male, are blown away by what Maisel just did on stage. Ford even invites Midge over to his couch to interview her like a proper guest.

You see, Ford fires Maisel because he saw the writing on the wall. Like a phoenix rising, this is the moment Maisel shows the world all she can be. He already knew it; he just couldn’t contain it anymore. And Maisel does it with a bow on her beautiful dress, thanking Bergdorf Goodman at the very end. Midge ‘Always be closing’ Maisel, ladies and gentlemen. We will miss you.

Miriam Midge Maisel was a lovely lady who wasn’t afraid of stirring up some shit. A true inspiration who broke down barriers while losing parts of her life that weren’t ready for her. Midge’s scene with Lenny Bruce (S: 2 E: 10) where they discuss the struggles of being an edgy comedian at The Dublin House on West 79th Street is just another of the many Upper West Side nods this show honored in spades.

In her final set, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel says, “I discovered what it felt like to have people listen to me. Well, not men, but other people. Well, not my mother, but everybody else. Okay, not my children, my dates, employers, coworkers, the new butcher, but strangers… strangers love me!”

::Cheering and applause::


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  1. Haliemah dimine July 3, 2023

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