After three seasons, a boatload of Emmy awards and numerous Golden Globes, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returns on Prime Video this week for a fourth season.
Having finished in a less than auspicious place, as some self-sabotage from Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) put pay to her chances opposite LeRoy McClain’s Shay Baldwin, things were far from ideal. Elsewhere, Susie was suffering from the consequences of some light arson, making questions awkward to answer.
This in turn led to the small matter of cashflow, which may or may not, have given rise to someone being careless with some matches. With those particular threads looming large in the lives of Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel and Susie Myerson, season four kicks into gear.
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In the shade of that scuppered overseas earner, our dynamic duo are definitely on their uppers. Thankfully, what transpires in these opening episodes feels like a return to form for this lauded series, as both actors maintain their easy chemistry and caustic connection.
Watch a trailer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel S4
Leading from the front, Midge Maisel remains a force of nature rallying against those who would prefer she stay silent. In a male dominated society, where women were consistently railroaded into acceptable gender roles, she seeks to buck the system through personal opinion. Like a latter-day Lenny Bruce, who has appeared across this series, courtesy of Luke Kirby, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel continually raises questions of equality in comedy for the fairer sex.
However, as much as these contentious issues might have been skirted around in previous seasons, alongside discussions of sexuality and race, Mrs. Maisel has always veered away from hot topics once that blue touch paper gets lit. Large sweeping set pieces intricately orchestrated, have always made this series visually audacious yet character driven. Whereas, narrative consistency has always come a poor second to slick dialogue, killer one-liners and some stand out performances.
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In season four the production values remain high, even if there are no obvious high bar moments in those opening episodes. Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle remain on winning form as the irascible Weissmans, while Jane Lynch scorches the screen in passing as Sophie Lennon. However, as much as astute interactions and farcical follow ups allow this award-winning ensemble to let loose, season four also makes room for genuine pathos. In between the scattershot delivery of Susie and Midge in full flow, or the supremely polished pot shots of Abe and Rose Weissman, people do pause to emote.
— The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (@MaiselTV) February 7, 2022
Scenes between Shalhoub and Brosnahan are tinged with moments of rare honesty, as they both allow their defences to drop for a second. Not only in this particular season, but in the series as a whole, Shaltoub remains exceptional at conveying raw emotions through silence. That is one of the reasons why 2019 saw him garner an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a comedy role, having been nominated previously. It is why audiences consistently return to this show, because despite the tub-thumping nature of some topical themes the show touches on, it remains these characters and their journey that prove the biggest draw. A fact which is highlighted further by Alex Borstein in this new season, who finally confirms Susie Myerson’s presence as a leading lady, opposite her eminently excellent on-screen partner.
Having unleashed more than her fair share of tirades against everyone who crosses Midge, whether that means Michael Zegen’s on off husband Joel, or Jane Lynch’s Sophie Lennon, now more than ever Borstein deserves a front row seat. Through a combination of scathing sarcasm and unrelenting loyalty, she has formed a bond across three seasons with Rachel Brosnahan that is priceless. Together they continue to be the heart and soul of this comedy drama, that works in perfect opposition to the more family friendly elements elsewhere.
Not only does this benefit global audiences going into season four, but it allows these writers freedom in their storytelling choices. Whether that means pulling off some clumsy casting in an effort to be more inclusive, or opening up discussions around sexuality elsewhere, this pairing plays a part in letting that happen.
On a broader scale, it also allows the writers Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel, to craft something that continues to trade in universal truths. Not only focusing on family relationships, but using this series to pass comment on perceived inequalities within the industry as whole.
With season four fast approaching and a slick pair of opening episodes awaiting an eager audience, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is guaranteed to offer up more of the same, whether to diehard fans or fair-weather Amazon acolytes with time to watch.
Season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel starts streaming on Prime Video from Friday, 18 February, with two new episodes every Friday.