'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' sparkles in its second season

Between visiting the Catskills, eating kugel and deciphering Yiddish accounting books, the characters in the hit Amazon show were still delightful.

By
December 4, 2018 22:21
3 minute read.
MIDGE MAISEL (Rachel Brosnahan) dazzles in the Catskills in season 2 of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

MIDGE MAISEL (Rachel Brosnahan) dazzles in the Catskills in season 2 of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' . (photo credit: AMAZON PRIME)

 
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Mrs. Maisel is back - and she is just as marvelous as ever.

On Wednesday, the long-awaited second season of Amazon Prime's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will hit screens around the world. And audiences who fell in love with the quick-talking, spirited Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) will be thrilled at her return in the show’s second season. The 10 new episodes of the show arrive as a perfectly packaged Hanukkah gift for the discerning viewer.

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At the end of Season One, we left off with Miriam – i.e. Midge – launching her fledgling comedy career in New York City and playing “will they or won’t they” with her estranged husband Joel (Michael Zegen). And as Season Two begins, not too much has changed for Midge – she’s working at the department store, living with her two kids at her parents house, and appearing at low-class comedy clubs around Manhattan.

The banter and quick wit of Midge and her parents – Abe and Rose Weissman (the incredible Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle) – is ever-present and a hallmark of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.

Rest assured, the show is as obviously, proudly, Jewish as ever.

Early on in the season, Abe and Rose find themselves gallivanting around Paris and taking in the food, the sites and the culture. In terms of plot advancement, it might be a throwaway, but it serves as the perfect foil for the lives of Midge’s in-laws, Moishe and Shirley Maisel (Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron).

The socioeconomic differences between the two 1960s Jewish families are exhibited not just in outward displays of wealth, but also in how many steps removed they are from their Old World habits and thinking.

While Abe and Rose dabble in art and wine in France, Moishe and Shirley haggle with a banker and watch an accountant try to make sense of their books.


“I thought parts of it were in Hebrew, but turns out it’s Yiddish,” the frazzled accountant proclaims. “And parts are in Aramaic, which has been a dead language for 2,000 years.”

Moishe refuses to fire the repairman, who will only come on Fridays and only before 1 p.m. – because he has to make it to Temple. Joel laments problems with a bank loan due to “mitigating circumstances – which my father called the two most goyish words in the English language.” The Maisel family throws around words like fekakte and tuchis, and they offer homemade kugel to all their guests.

Despite being a modern woman, Midge certainly still knows her roots. While touting her society wedding, she notes, “It got a write-up in the Jewish Daily Forward – in Yiddish, so it didn’t get a wide readership, but the picture was sensational.” And she even began reciting the misheberach prayer for the sick in its original Hebrew in the punishment room of a Catholic Church – you’ll have to watch to really wrap your head around that one.

While the Weissmans may not throw Yiddish around as freely as the Maisels, they’re still comfortable in their Jewish identity. And where else would a well-off Jewish family spend the summer but in the Catskills?

Though the show can sometimes get bogged down in side plots and supporting characters, Midge and her uncanny stand-up talent are still the heart of the series. Brosnahan, who always brings an effortless sparkle to Midge, is positively radiant while commanding the room. And this modern-thinking woman more than stands her own in the male-dominated comedy field (something that hasn’t much changed today). After being taunted by a fellow male comedian, Midge takes the stage filled with righteous indignation.

“Comedy is fueled by oppression, by the lack of power, by sadness, by disappointment, by abandonment, by humiliation,” she rants on stage. “Now who the hell that does describe besides women? By that standard – only women should be allowed to be funny!”

Midge is a powerhouse, and the driving force of the show’s second season. While it isn’t perfect by any means – there are missteps, there are anachronisms and there is a complete neglect of Midge’s children or any need for childcare – it’s quite unlike anything else on screen, and we are richer for it.

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