Back in 2017, in typical Amy Sherman-Palladino fashion, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was introduced with a fast-paced and quick-witted bang and now the fifth and final season closes the book on Midge Maisel’s comedic rise with an uncharacteristic slowing down and embracing the conclusions of its different storylines in the process. Sherman-Palladino’s series focused on the story of Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a 1950’s housewife left by her husband who realizes her skill in stand-up comedy could become an unlikely passion. Spanning the five seasons, there are highs and lows in her career and personal life as she comes to terms with the world she was told to imagine living in no longer coinciding with her path.
Throughout the series, characters have come in and out of Midge’s life and the show’s narrative. But at its heart, this show has been a love story focused on the dynamic between Mrs. Maisel herself (Rachel Brosnahan) and her tenacious and passionate manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein). Their friendship, the growth, and the camaraderie it allows them both in a world where they aren’t taken seriously remain a steadfast anchor of this final season.
Brosnahan comes in as many different versions of her iconic character, thanks to the use of time jumps. We see Midge at various stages of her career and are still able to root for her as the audience pieces together the parts of her story we won’t get a chance to see on screen. Borstein is a standout this and every season, as she comes into her own as a manager, Susie’s drive and persistence (often seen as a flaw by others) pay off as she endeavors to take her and Midge’s careers to new levels. She also finds herself surrounded by a motley crew of talents disregarded by the entertainment industry who create a chosen family of sorts drawn to Susie’s unwavering support and interest in those that show unique promise.
The supporting cast continues to bring beautiful moments to their ongoing stories, Michael Zegen as Joel Maisel shows his loyalty to his ex-wife in heart-wrenching ways throughout the season and makes you want to cheer him on despite his ill-fated introduction in the first season. Marin Hinkle’s Rose Weissman and Luke Kirby’s Lenny Bruce have less of their own stories this season but make the most of their scenes bringing subtly brilliant moments to a show filled with hijinks.
Tony Shalhoub’s Abe Weissman continues to be a force with a few scenes of reflection that pull at the emotional heartstrings of the show. Fresh off of Everything Everywhere All At Once, Stephanie Hsu’s Mei is only in the season briefly but she is given a sendoff that reverberates throughout the finale as Joel comes to terms with the end of the future he was creating and seeks out new endeavors as he rebuilds himself. The standout of this season is new addition Reid Scott playing a fictional late-night host, and Midge’s new boss Gordon Ford, Scott feels familiar with his charismatic new role but brings an additional combative energy that feels needed for Midge to push her career forward.
The tone of the show hits differently this season as storylines are finished and time jumps are thrown in as a tool to answer the questions the creators feel the audience may pose. More focused time would have been helpful in the conclusion of some of the character arcs, unfortunately, some moments feel rushed, and others go on too long with little payoff. The new format and tone of this season take time to settle into but it proves useful in its conclusion. In the end, the beloved wit of the show is still there and the final episode, though flawed in parts, gives a moment that will feel earned and momentous. It’s a difficult task to end a show perfectly, encapsulating the core values of a series but I feel the heart that has run through five seasons remains and is given the homage it deserves.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from renowned creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Daniel Palladino, is written and directed by Sherman-Palladino and Palladino, and stars Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan, four-time Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, three-time Emmy winner Alex Borstein, Emmy nominee Marin Hinkle, Michael Zegen, Kevin Pollak, Caroline Aaron, SAG Award winner Reid Scott, Alfie Fuller, and Jason Ralph.