Midge Maisel: Not So Marvelous in Season 2
****NOTE: IF YOU PLAN ON WATCHING SEASON 2 OF THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL AND HAVE NOT YET — DO NOT READ THIS POST. THERE ARE SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREIN.****
I almost wrote about this a week or so ago due to a long string of posts over at Facebook by my friends and acquaintances last week, but I kept my fingers away from the keyboard until tonight. I faced another round of people espousing how brilliant The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is for Season 2 over at Amazon Prime on Instagram this evening, and it’s time to drop a post about why I don’t respectfully agree with them. While I’m not a huge television or second screen watcher (in the cases these days of Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) I’m about to lay down a show that I did watch, the aforementioned, and why I absolutely went from loving it to detesting it in the last scene.
While I loved season 1, I also loved season 2, until the very end. Season 2 was awesome the entire way through — the music, costumes, acting, character development — you name it, and it was there and crushing it for me. That is, until the very last scene of the season, where Midge got the news that she waited for and FINALLY had her career going for her. But in all that excitement and good news, what do the writers do? They could have her do just about anything BUT the actual written ending to keep it all good, such as:
A. Put the phone down after the job offer and have her jump for joy — THE END.
B. Have her tell her boyfriend about it — He’s excited for her, he says he’ll wait for her — THE END.
C. Tell everyone on the show en masse that she’s headed out for 6 months to live her comedic dream and not show the reactions — THE END.
D. Midge is on the road, killing it, alone, and happy — THE END.
Any one of these would have been a triumph and a way to go out with a win. Instead, the writers chose the poorest ending possible, really making Midge look like a co-dependent, weak, borderline scared woman about possibly being ALONE in her life. (God forbid!)
I’m not going to articulate the last scene in season 2, because I was already accused of not disclaiming a spoiler alert…go watch it for yourself. What I am here to proclaim is — the ending of season 2 is AWFUL for what it does (or doesn’t do) for women. So much so, that I might not watch season 3 when it comes along. And, I blame the writers for portraying Midge as less-than-what-she-was: a woman who dared to have a controversial career in the 1950s when women couldn’t really have careers beyond ‘teacher’ and ‘nurse.’
The terrible ending is part of a bigger problem I watch and witness every day in the media, which is this: there aren’t enough smart women positively portrayed in movies, TV, and the news. I conducted a(n albeit unscientific study) in 2018 for a month on looking at digital covers of newspapers. I looked at the photos on the landing pages — and time after time, there were few, if ANY women on the front covers, and if they were on the front page, it was generally for something negative, not positive. Furthermore, this show FINALLY gives us the opportunity to see a smart, witty female lead character in action, and instead of seeing her winning, we’re watching her return to poor choices on men who don’t support her career and her passion.
I’m not alone here, either. Just look at Geena Davis Institute on Gender In The Media. They have a ton of research on how women and girls are portrayed in the media. The stats aren’t pretty. Men outnumber women leads in movies, for example, 2:1.
The show also through the Lenny Bruce monologue portrayed being single and alone as a terrible thing. Really? This poor ending with Mrs. M. makes me wonder: Did the writers here on this show despise women, single people, or both?
One person at Instagram had an interesting comment to mine on this travesty of an ending — they felt that Midge was saying goodbye to Joel AND having her cake and eating it too by using him for a one night stand. But I don’t dig that argument either, because it portrays Midge as ‘using’ her soon-to-be-ex, which isn’t the best version of what a smart, strong woman would do either (nor very kind). The one thing I wanted Midge to do throughout the entire second season while she was crushing it: MOVE ON, and when she had the opportunity, she totally choked! (I won’t even comment on the weird Joel thing going on in the Catskills at the beginning, or demanding her parents to couple back up when her mom ran off to Paris.)
The bottom line: This second season was AWESOME in many ways until the end, where the last scene completely ruined the entire season for me. I wish I had not witnessed that part. Really. My recommendation is to shut off the series when Midge puts down the phone in the last episode if you watch season 2. Women can be what they can see, and I wish I didn’t have to witness this character’s really poor choice. If the writers intended this to be art, and to feel something, I guess they won, because it provoked me to write a post about it. But if life imitates art, we all just lost again, ladies. I doubt I’ll watch season 3 of this ‘art‘ either.
This is also precisely why I need to stop watching TV. Thanks to the writers of Mrs. Maisel for helping me come up with a solid New Year’s resolution for 2019!
Erin L. Albert is a writer, pharmacist, and lawyer. Opinions here are hers and hers alone.