It’s pretty rare for a TV show to have its funniest season in Year 3.
Usually the best and most amusing shows are great right out of the gate, like “Cheers” or “All in the Family” or “The Simpsons.” (“Seinfeld” is a giant exception here, as it didn’t really hit its stride until Season 3 or 4.)
But my wife and I just finished binge-watching Season 3 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and this is going to sound weird, but it might not have been the best season of the show, it was definitely the funniest.
That’s because the two leads of the show, comedian Midge Maisel and her acid-tongued manager, Susie, are absolutely fantastic and have amazing chemistry. Rachel Brosnahan (Midge) and Alex Borstein (Susie) are absolutely perfect together, in a way that very few sitcom duos are.
Their rhythms, their physical comedy, their mannerisms, it all just works perfectly in concert with each other, and in Season 3, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” puts them together in many, many situations.
I will try to be as spoiler-free as I can because i know some people haven’t watched yet, but it has been out for more than a month now so I feel like I have some leeway.
Anyway, Season 3 is terrific mostly, and uneven in spots, and altogether confusing in others, just like the first two years. “Mrs. Maisel” isn’t a perfect show, but it’s gorgeously filmed, written with the kind of crackling dialogue we’ve come to expect, and acted wonderfully, not just by the two leads but by everyone involved.
This season mostly takes place on the road, as Midge is opening up for a Harry Belafonte-like singer named Shy Baldwin. We see so many Susie-Midge hijinks, like Midge teaching Susie how to swim, and learning how to do a “weird ask” for a touring contract, and too many great comedic moments to mention.
Midge is adjusting to her new life as a quasi-star, as Susie clashes with Shy’s manager (the always-awesome Sterling K. Brown, from “This is Us”) and has troubles with her other client, Jane Lynch’s Sophie Lennon.
There are heartbreaking moments this season, and hilarious ones (Midge’s father Abe’s interactions with his new beatnik friends is a delight) and a slightly surprising ending.
There were some downsides, although honestly this was the least offensive Joel season. The tour takes way too long to get going, as we go two full episodes before finally having Midge and Shy start the tour.
And there are so many new characters that it’s hard to keep track of them all, although we so enjoyed Liza Weil (Paris Geller from “Gilmore Girls!”).
Still, it is still a show I enjoy very much, and if the whole show was just Susie and Midge getting into adventures, I’d sign on in a minute.
Couple other “Maisel” thoughts…
— I noticed this at the time but couldn’t put my finger on it until a few days after we were done watching, but if you’re a “Gilmore Girls” fan you’ll know what I’m talking about. Lorelai Gilmore and Max Medina’s relationship/breakup is exactly the same as Midge and Benjamin. Exactly. The. Same. It’s like Amy Sherman-Palladino thought it worked so well the first time, let’s do it again. Here’s the thing: Lorelai’s breakup with Max made no sense and was explained badly, and the same thing happened with Midge and Benjamin. Much like with Joel on “Maisel,” she just has a blind spot for certain aspects of a show.
— There’s a 15-minute montage late in the season that is just spectacular. I don’t know how many takes it took, but it was fantastic.
— Finally, the biggest problem with the Aaron Sorkin show “Studio 60” was that the sketch comedy stuff inside the show wasn’t funny. Here, the jokes Maisel tells on stage ARE funny, so it’s much easier to believe she could be a star.
**Next up today, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” came back Sunday night for the first episode of a new season, and my expectations were low. Last season was so bad, really the worst in the show’s history by far, so I was convinced Larry David had run out of funny ideas.
But damn if Sunday’s episode wasn’t terrific, and now I’m hoping for more. Anyway, one of the brilliant running themes of the show is Larry says things in social situations no one else does, because they’re too afraid or too polite. So Seth Meyers thought it would be funny to put David into different social situations on his show and see him do what no one else would.
This was pretty funny, especially the last one.
**And finally today, I defend the New York Times a lot because it’s the best newspaper in America, but I really have to take it task today for the idiotic double-endorsement for the Democratic nomination for President it announced Sunday night.
The Times did this huge buildup and fanfare through its TV show “The Weekly,” showing us all the candidate interviews they did, and taking us inside the editorial board’s process of how to decide who to endorse (let me pause for a minute here and say I think it’s wildly premature for the newspaper of record to endorse a candidate this early in the process, but hey, it’s their right).
So they go through this whole rigamarole, and they decide… to endorse TWO candidates. Yep, they were split between Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, couldn’t choose between them, and because these are “unconventional” times, they chose two people.
“Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration,” the Times wrote, with Warren of course the radical. “If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.”
You know what I say to that? Bullcrap. There’s one person that’s going to get the nomination, not two. The idea that you’re proposing that two people are equally the right choice is wishy-washy journalism at best, an equivocation on one of the most important decisions of our lives, politically.
Now, does the NYT endorsement matter that much anymore? Probably not. But choosing two people seems to be a giant cop-out to me.