The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel had me hooked from the pilot. It is one of only three shows I’ve ever binge-watched. So many parts of this story attracted me: a divorceé dealing with the aftermath of the destruction of her dream life, every character’s wit and duality played out over the course of the season, and the character of Midge, who is at once old-fashioned and modern while trying to carve out a new place for herself in a career where her gender raises eyebrows. I genuinely think that Amy Sherman-Palladino’s show doesn’t have a dull moment or bad episode. Every episode instead seems to be building momentum up to the point where we see Midge make the decision whether she wants her old life back or she wants to go into the unknown and pursue this new life she’s created for herself.
“Thank You and Good Night”, the final episode of season one—written and directed by Sherman-Palladino, is my favorite. The whole episode is building up to the final scene of catharsis and realization for the central characters. Joel, Midge’s estranged husband, enters her life again and attempts to rebuild their former marriage. The comedy club is a constant fixture of the show, but we haven’t seen the couple in this location since the beginning. The conclusion of the pilot had Midge up on the stage of the club having a breakdown, and in the final scene she is now onstage thriving, fully in her element as a comic. She’s found a way to look at her own tragedy and turn it into comedy, exceeding Joel’s talent and capturing his dream. It’s as triumphant as it is bittersweet to watch since in revealing her metamorphosis she unknowingly loses Joel and the possibility of claiming her old life back.
Midge is hugely a product of her time, continually represented as the perfect 1950s’ housewife—perfect and beautiful—until we get the opportunity, with Joel, to see her surpass her stereotype and become so much more. Her last set is emblematic of where modern women were going during her time period—gaining agency, independence, and confidently breaking down barriers.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – S1E8 – “Thank You and Goodnight” is available to stream on Amazon Prime.