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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Everything is sizzling as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel heads to Miami

Illustration for article titled Everything is sizzling as iThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel/i heads to Miami
Photo: Amazon Studios
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Everything is hot, hot, HOT in Miami, as Midge continues on the next leg of her tour at the gorgeous Fontainebleu hotel, a resort so invested in appearance that it includes a stairway to nowhere that exists for the sheer purpose of being able to show off your outfit to other guests. Of course, Midge loves it. While she looked alternately frightened and wide-eyed in Vegas, the glamour of Miami makes this New York City girl feel very much in her element (and Jews do love Florida, after all!).

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“It’s Comedy or Cabbage” is an episode about female desire and what it means to make choices in a culture where women are expected to be looked at and acted upon, rather than pursuing what they want for themselves. I know, I know. The internet is already exploding about the possibility of a Midge and Lenny relationship, but I would argue that this episode actually highlights the ways Midge sleeping with her mentor would be a huge mistake, relegating her to just another pretty thing that shouldn’t be taken seriously on her own.

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I’ll be clear: this has nothing to do with how Lenny is treating Midge. He clearly admires her deeply. But engaging in a romantic relationship with Lenny seems like a highly risky career move when so many people still want to downplay how she is a serious player in comedy. She’s already being paid less than male counterparts. The last thing she needs is someone thinking she is simply riding on Lenny’s coattails because they have a romantic relationship.

That said, Midge definitely deserves some romance. The fact that Joel has dated and bedded so many women since he and Midge have been split up and Midge has only rebounded with Joel is a spectacular double-standard that this episode does a good job looking at closely. One way we do this is having Midge deepen her relationship with Carole. Rather than just having a bunch of hollow “feminist” lines we learn more about her as a character and what it’s been like to be on the road for the past 15 years. Her advice about one-night stands is both practical, as well as kind of depressing, as she points out the very real safety concerns that Midge will want to think about. “If the room is dirty, imagine how clean the rest of him is,” she tells her.

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I think it’s likely that Midge truly took Carole’s advice to heart when running into Lenny again. After a romantic night with a handsome man that she feels a true rapport with, Midge peeks in his room and clearly has some concerns. Out of the entire episode, Midge looks the most in her element when she is on the stage and seems to revert back to the cautiousness we saw when she was in Vegas. Scenes with Lenny generally involve her looking starstruck and chasing after him, often a little coyly. When Lenny invites Midge on TV with him, he introduces her as his wife or sister, clearly a joke, but also a lost opportunity to give Mrs. Maisel some of the limelight. When they are in front of his hotel room, Midge considers her options and follows her true desires, “What did you think of my act?” she asks her mentor. Maybe in the future it will make sense for Lenny and Midge to be an item, but only after Midge fully comes into her own.

“It’s Comedy or Cabbage” is the best episode so far this season. It’s visually splendid, genuinely funny, and places characters we know and love in new settings that leads to choices that feel really organic. Rather than tagged on, scenes feel fully realized, from Midge and Susie’s time together at the pool to Susie having to handle Sophie’s bad behavior on set. And with the Weissmans back with Midge in Miami, I’m looking forward to some episodes that stick closer to our heroine’s journey, rather than wandering off in a billion other directions.

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Stray Observations:

  • Zelda watching TV and smoking outside of uniform was hilariously shocking to Rose. She and Abe really don’t think of their maid as a person. I was so happy when Zelda shushed her!
  • The dialogue at that pool scene was so terrific, especially Susie’s quip about having sand in her ass even though she hasn’t even been to the beach. Midge’s response is comedy gold, “That says more about you than it does about Florida.”
  • I’m so glad that Abe and his beatnik buddies are on the outs after a few arguments about punctuation and generational differences that didn’t feel so far removed from the “Ok Boomer” debate we are having right now.
  • Joel should probably be honest and tell Mei that he is a technically married man.
  • Oh god, there are so many great lines from Sophie to choose from, but my favorite has to be her rant about needing to practice opening and closing a door in order to get into character. If Sophie was looking for new comedy material, it’s literally right in front of her.
  • I love when Midge just throws the donuts on the floor when Lenny comes to get her!
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I write about TV, film, art, empathy, culture, and our digital lives.

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