You know her as the original Mrs. Maisel — Shirley Maisel, that is — but it’ll be a bit before you see her return in the role for season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Thankfully, you can see Caroline Aaron back on the big screen in her upcoming film, Call Waiting, coming to Amazon Prime on September 7, 2020!
CraveYouTV had the privilege of chatting with Caroline about the 2004 film and how apt it is to watch while in quarantine, the forthcoming season of Mrs.Maisel, the Emmys going virtual, and how she’s been getting through the pandemic.
Check out the synopsis of Call Waiting: Caroline leads Call Waiting, a one-woman, tour-de-force poignant comedy; the story of two women who never meet but impact each other profoundly. Caroline stars as both ‘Judy Baxter’ and ‘Carol Lane,’ the impossible diva and the bed-ridden writer. One’s an actress and the other, the character she plays.
And check out the interview below:
You’re most famously known for your work on Mrs. Maisel, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but this upcoming weekend, your film Call Waiting is being released. Tell me a little about how this play-turned-film came to be.
Well, the play was a big hit in Los Angeles, and the filmmaker Don Roos, who made The Opposite of Sex, and his husband, Dan Bucatinsky, who is a writer, actor, and producer, they were sitting in the audience one night and they said, “I wonder if you could put this play on film.”
If you haven’t seen it, the play is the playwright’s story top to bottom. It’s completely autobiographical and her conceit was that if I overheard your side of your phone conversation throughout the day, then I would know everything about you by the end of the day. And it was set in the nineties so call waiting — I don’t even know if you know about that, but when you have a landline and somebody else would call in, you hear a beep and you’d go “wait a minute, I’m getting a call,” and you would switch back and forth one to the other, right?
During the course of the play, the character ends up getting 18 phone calls and you meet everyone in her life from people selling light bulbs to her children to her husband all during the course of this 90 minutes. And so when they approached us about doing a film, the assumption was the traditional way that plays are opened up for movies is that you’ll see all these characters at the other end of the line, but they were very enchanted by the conceit of the play and they wanted to keep it in place.
Don, who’s a brilliant filmmaker, taught me something so interesting, he said “you know when you go to the theater and see a live event, you’re looking at what’s in front of you, but you’re also looking at your program, you’re looking at the back wall, you’re looking at the head of the person sitting in front of you,” but he said “in film, we call that editing because when you’re watching a movie, they decide what you’re gonna look at. You only have the choice of the image that’s right in front of you and editing is what we just do naturally when we’re live.” But he also said you can’t just put one person on film because you have to have something to cut to. So Dan, who’s a brilliant writer wrote a second character who you would also learn about through her side of her phone conversation.
And I used to play both characters, so I’m playing the actress who is playing the character. And even though they never meet within the story of the film, they impact each other’s lives in really surprising ways. And you know it’s such a hard thing to describe because it’s so unusual and unique as a movie. But someone I was talking to yesterday said it’s very much like going from day to night, where you’re seeing the fictional story and then you’re opening the curtain up to see what happened behind the fictional story in order to get it on screen. So, it was a big challenge for me but really great. And I fell in love with the playwright and her story, and tragically she died last year, so the idea of getting this out there it’s really kind of thrilling in her memory.
You mentioned that it was a challenge, but how did you approach pulling double-duty and playing two characters who are so different yet connect with each other.
Well, one of the things that was a real advantage was since I had done the play, the fictional character of Judy Baxter, who is our main story, that was in my bones by then, you know. If I had to start from scratch with both characters, I’m not sure how well I would have done, but I had one already so much inside of me cause the play was such a hit, I think it ran almost a year. Judy Baxter had become part of my cell structure. Then Carole Lane, this new character, was the one that was the newest to me and I had to put some work into trying to understand who she was and, of course, the film was done like all experimental films on a spit and a prayer, so we had like 12 days to shoot it, but it was very exciting.. Challenging but exciting. I like things that are hard.
Of course, as an actress, I would think you want that challenge, right?
Yes, you do. Well, I do. I think some people are coasting but that’s just not my style. I’m not a coaster.
You mentioned that some people these days don’t understand the concept of call waiting. What do you hope present-day audiences take away from this film?
I think, first of all, two things. I think the timing is really good because the story is about somebody who is housebound, which we all are! I think everyone will recognize themselves in certain ways because now that we’re all sort of virtual in terms of our relationship and stuff, what you’re doing and how you’re presenting can be very different like you know, for award season, you can be dressed from the waist up and don’t have to have uncomfortable shoes. I would say that would be a perk of the pandemic. Probably the only one.
And I think the other thing that people will take away from it is the story. The main story is about a writer who has writer’s block because she was the child of Holocaust survivors. She was born a displaced person, she came to America, and her father and mother lived with her in Beverly Hills. And her father begged her, “please, please, please write my story.” He wanted there to be a record and a witness to what he had gone through during the war and Dori [Fram] just couldn’t do it because she would just have an anxiety attack every time she would have to summon the atrocities of that war. And so it’s also about procrastination and things that we’re afraid of. And I think there’s a lot of humanity in it.
The actress is the exact opposite character of the character that she’s playing [in the film] and she is impacted by the character she’s playing, so there is, in some sort of secret way, how we’re all taught by what we create, in a sense. So I think that’s a pretty interesting part of the movie too. And it’s funny, it’s really funny.
Well, we’re all patiently waiting for the fourth season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
What can you tell us about that?
Honestly, I’m not even being coy. Ordinarily, I would have to be because I would be being gagged, but this time, I’m not because I don’t know a thing. I’m dying to know anything I can possibly find out.
This is what I do know… we’re going to start soon. They’re in pre-production, you know building costumes and sets and doing all that wonderful stuff. And I was a little worried because I thought, you know, Maisel has such scope to it and it has such size, and I went “oh, now we can’t do anything anymore. We’re not allowed.” But Amy [Sherman-Palladino] is very committed to it being our show and she said the story of the show is ultimately about a sheltered young woman who is introduced to the world little by little in increments. And so, I just thought, “Is this going to be everybody in the kitchen” and Amy said, “absolutely not.” She wouldn’t go back until we can make the show what we wanna make, so they seem to have figured all of that out.
And I just think it’s the either so coincidental or they’re even bigger geniuses than I thought they were, but at the end of last season, spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen season 3, you know Midge gets fired. And she has to go home and start all over. I mean just imagine if this story had left off where she was like doing a world tour and about to go on stage in Paris. I don’t know what we would’ve done! So it really kind of fits where the story is right now, which is that we’re going to have to figure out how to start again. And that obviously will be a big part of season 4 — how do you reboot after something like that, and it will be really interesting.
So you haven’t read any part of the script yet then?
You know they do not give them to us. And each actor has their own sort of like opinion about whether they want to know in advance. Last year, before we started season 3, Amy had this beautiful kick-off party because we’ve been apart for a while so kind of just to welcome us all back together, and I was talking with her and she didn’t tell me in specifics, but she told me a few things that were going to be in season 3. She told me we were moving to Queens, and the Weissman’s and Maisel’s were going to live together, and so I went over to Tony [Shalhoub], who I’ve been friend with for 30 years and I went ‘Tony, Amy just told me,’ and before I got it out of my mouth, he went “I don’t wanna know, I don’t wanna know.”
So, some of the actors don’t wanna know until the very last minute and me, I want to know like yesterday.
But we don’t really find out. When it gets tricky in terms of talking to people is after it’s been shot and we really know to try to keep it a secret, but right now, I really don’t know so it’s not even that hard.
Well you mentioned some changes in terms of worrying about the scope of the show and filming huge scenes, but what do you think will be the biggest challenge in terms of filming amid a pandemic?
I think the biggest challenge is that the camaraderie and community that comes from doing a show like this. I already know many of our restrictions when we go back. As an example, the mornings are really early when you’re making a television show so you can sometimes be starting at 5 in the morning and Rachel [Brosnahan], of course, has the heaviest load, but we would sit in in the trailer, learn lines, run lines, have coffee, have fun. Now with the rules, all the makeup artists will have on masks and plastic shields, but obviously, we can’t because they’re working on our faces, so in order to protect them, we can’t talk at all.
We can’t talk in the trailer, we can’t eat together, there’s no more craft services. I don’t know artistically what’s going to be difficult, but that’s going to be tough because honestly, we really, really enjoy each other. We really like each other and I’m sad about that.
You know we will get through it and we’ll do it. I mean, I’m so confused about, not us personally, but about what the world is doing personally. I don’t know how we’re supposed to behave, but I do know those are the filming restrictions that are definitely in place.
I’m glad we’re going into season 4 because we all know each other now. I think it would be very hard to start something new and develop chemistry when you have these kinds of restrictions. But we’re really lucky. I just wanna be with everybody. We can’t even hug each other after all this time, you know, that’s a weird feeling.
Don’t you miss people?
I do too, so much, so much!
Have you kept in touch with the cast at all during the break?
Yeah, we do these things called “Maisel hang’s” about every 3 weeks or so.
I love that!
I know. It’s a Maisel hang. And we all get together in boxes — what are you doing, how are you, how’s everyone, what’s going on — you know, that catching up sort of thing because you know, we would have been back together by now. And we’re not.
What has been your favorite thing about bringing Shirley Maisel — the original Mrs. Maisel — to life?
Thank you so much! Now you’re my new best friend. Because I always tell people, I’m Mrs. Maisel, you know.
I’m not the titular one in the title. I’m not the marvelous one, but I am Mrs. Maisel.
The thing I love the most, and I’ve never had this experience before is, first of all, I’m playing a character who is really happy with her life. You know? She’s gotten the American dream. They are probably second generation, first generation from immigrant parents and, I mean when we moved to Queen’s like that’s the brass ring. And being able to be in America, and everythng about home and heart thrills Shirley. Like she gets up in the morning, puts on all her makeup, gets all tooted up, and she’s so excited to do the laundry, which is the opposite of the way I feel.
But she’s like the mentally delighted. And the other thing that I really enjoy about playing her is that she reminds everyone of somebody they love. You know they’ll say you’re my grandmother, you’re my aunt, you’re my teacher, you’re my neighbor, everybody seems to relate to her, so I think that she’s walking around in the world. And I really like that.
Yeah, that’s so true! Let’s talk award season! The third season of Mrs. Maisel earned an impressive 20 Emmy nominations. Does that warm reception continue to surprise you or do you get used to it?
Oh, I don’t think you ever get used to it. I think it’s always a gift. I think the people who get the most credit for kind of this ongoing juggernaut are Amy and Dan [Palladino]. When you’re making a TV show, everyone is there with their fingers crossed, but you can’t predict a reception to anything. You can never predict how people are going to enjoy something. But what happened was, it won all these Emmys the first year and we were at a gathering afterward and I said to Amy and Dani, “oh my god, aren’t you scared? You know because you get to start with a blank page and now, you’ve been anointed.” And Dan was very calm and he went, “not at all.” And I said “really,” and he said, “yes, we’re just gonna keep making show that we want to make.”
And they’ve had this in their hearts and minds for a long time, this story. And they are so seasoned. I think they just couldn’t be more thrilled that people love it, but it just doesn’t turn their head in a way that it would somebody with less experience or less talent like “oh no, we have to deliver,” or “oh no, we have to do this or we have to do that.” They have a story to tell and they’re telling it.
For us, the actors, it’s just like it is that Sally Field’s thing — ” you like me, you really like me.” You just never get over that.
The awards are going to be different this year since they’re going virtual. You already said you aren’t wearing uncomfortable heels, which I’m so happy for you!
Aren’t you? We just need one barefoot awards season! That would be so wonderful. I want somebody to make a documentary on the history of the high heel. Who invented it?
Why do we wear it?
They’re glamorous but still, I’m not so good in them! I have to say, I’m learning.
How else are you changing the way you approach the evening?
I don’t know yet! I think we’re all going to be in our houses and I have no idea what else. You know I’ve seen some remarkable things on TV of people trying to adjust to this, I had not heard a lot about how the Emmys are going to go. I don’t know if you saw it, but I think LeBron James produced a graduation ceremony across the nation called Graduating Together and they really made a sense of occasion out of that. I felt like those kids were really graduating, it was really quite wonderful.
I know that there are ways to do it but still, at the end of the day, it’s just not the same. No matter what. I don’t like Zooming only because I’ve done so many readings on Zoom since we started and trying to be as creative and busy as possible. And I was going to rehearsal for a little play that I was doing on Zoom. We had rented a house in Connecticut and my kids were there with their dogs and friends and I said “okay, everybody has to leave at such and such a time, I have rehearsal and it has to be quiet in the house.”
And as I’m walking from one room to another I said, “I hate Zoom.” It feels so inconsequential once you’re doing it when there’s nobody else there. We kind of trick ourselves into making it work, but every once in a while I kind of lose my mojo for it and I go, “I hate this. I want the real thing back.”
Well, this kind of brings me into my last question… how did you stay motivated and inspired during quarantine?
I’ve been writing a lot and taking classes. I used to say this to my kids, too. Whenever I get really depressed my anecdote for depression is to learn something, so I’ve been taking classes — writing classes, so I can learn more about what I’m attempting to do. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of new plays and old plays.
I’m embarrassed to say that I thought that at the end of this pandemic everybody I know will have learned 2 languages, put all their photos in photo albums, cleaned up their whole house, lost 10 pounds, you know what I mean like self-improvement to the max. And here’s what I’m going to have done… watched all 13 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which I have. I’m very proud of that because I love it so much.
I have to say, I haven’t been particularly productive in that way like where you say “f I had time, I would do this.” I’ve had more than time and I’m still not doing it, you know, those chore-y kind of things that nobody wants to do.
Yes, you’re always putting them off!
Yeah, it’s cause you think you don’t have time, but now I get it. It’s not cause I don’t have time, it’s cause I don’t want to do it! That’s the reason those things aren’t getting done!
But I will say, if this goes on much longer, I want to figure out if I can take a class in the fall of the Roman Empire only because I thought, you know, there was a time when Rome was the center of civilization and the greatest place in the world. That’s how I feel about our country, so what happened to us and how did it happen? And did they know that it was happening in Rome when it happened? So, I thought, I should learn a little bit more about history that may help me tolerate this time in our country’s history a little better. So that’s my next step and that’s what I’ve been up to!
You can catch Call Waiting on Amazon Prime starting Labor Day weekend.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Series Finale Review – Four Minutes (509)
Four minutes is all it took for Midge Maisel’s life to change forever—to go from a household name to the world’s biggest star.
I dread series finales… but not because the show is ending. Naturally, I’m sad that this will be the last episode of my favorite series ever—or until they decide to reboot the show years down the line—but I dread them most because series finales are damn near impossible to get right. There’s always something missing; and the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, I wish they had’s, immediately start settling in the moment the episode concludes.
And that curse lived on for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 series finale, with my biggest gripe being that there was so much left unsaid, unshown, and undone.
The final season threw a lot at audiences with the various timelines, but there was a lot of promise that we’d get a fully fleshed conclusion to the series. Instead, it was kind of left up to your own interpretation, despite the writers and creators having so much to go off of and bring closure to.
In general, I’m not a fan of “own interpretation” endings because I feel cheated, but with Maisel, it was especially jarring because I’ve gotten used to following her every move. Audiences have followed Midge’s career trajectory very closely over the years, with the finale even giving us a play-by-play of her big break on The Gordon Ford Show right down to the minute—and through every outfit change—so call me crazy for expecting just a bit more from those final future scenes. Jumping into 2005 for a brief final scene, even if it was poetic to see it end with Midge and Susie just shooting the shit, just didn’t feel like it was enough in the grand scheme of things.
Did Midge and Joel ever re-marry? There’s a shot of their wedding photo on her desk (their first one), which leads me to believe that he was always her greatest love, but what happened after he got out of jail? Did he ever get out of jail? Did he die in jail? And did they reconnect as lovers or simply remain good friends? I’m also assuming he’s dead simply because Midge is all alone in that big house. Surely, if he was alive, he’d be around, but so much time has passed that it’s also possible that they just live separately.
It’s also to be believed that both of Midge’s parents—along with Joel’s—died, but there’s no confirmation on the how’s and when’s. Did mama Rose succumb to her illness? Did Abe die of old age? Did he ever see Esther become a prodigy for the family?
And what happened to Lenny Bruce? Are we to believe that he went the path of the real Lenny Bruce and died of an overdose? It seems that his troubled past and addiction finally caught up with him, so I’m glad we didn’t get to see his tragic death, but it would’ve been nice to acknowledge it and to see Midge’s reaction. Though, I am thrilled we got one final look at Lenny Bruce—along with a sentimental and pivotal scene between them right before Midge’s big break—even if it was the demise of his career and painful to watch.
It was even promising that Midge didn’t tie herself down to a sinking ship, clearly acknowledging that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped, but it pained her to turn her back on someone who did so much for her and her career. Lenny was the one who believed in her, coached her, inspired her, and helped her nurture her craft, particularly when no one else took her seriously. He saw her potential, so he never gave up on her, so it was tough to see him give up on himself.
There were a lot of great loves in Midge Maisel’s life, including three pivotal men who helped shape her larger-than-life career, and they all got their flowers in the finale.
In addition to Lenny, there was Joel, who was the catalyst for Midge getting up on the Gaslight stage in the first place and unlocking a passion that she never knew she had. He fueled the fire, and championed her in the end, allowing her to roast him on live television. His support and love helped redefine Joel in the eyes of the audience, giving him a redemption arc of sorts. If it wasn’t for his cheating, Midge would’ve never gotten to this point in her life, so she couldn’t hold any resentment.
The moments between him and Midge when she was gearing up to take The Gordon Ford stage—and then the moment immediately after when she blew him a kiss—were so genuine and proof that he was always the one. Not to mention she left him tickets under “the one that got away.” As I said, there simply needed to be more closure for this relationship. There was so much to wrap up, and most of it was glossed over.
Another great love that helped Midge Maisel become marvelous? Gordon Ford himself. He played such an immense role this season, and though he wanted to be a love interest for her, he was so much more after essentially giving Midge the spotlight on national television to do her act. We’ve always just referred to her as the marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but we finally got insight into the origin of that name, with Ford being put under her spell on live TV.
Some might not realize why convincing Gordon to give her a shot was such a big deal, but back then, there was no social media, meaning you couldn’t just show off your talent on TikTok to get noticed. The only way was to get through to the masses via the program that everyone tuned into every single night. There was so much focus on this because it was her one and only shot.
Gordon never wanted to put Midge on the air—and there’s a lot to that because he didn’t want someone to outshine him—but he was also even more peeved Midge and Susie went around him and enlisted his wife Hedy to get it done. He tried to block Midge at every single turn, but there was no denying the immense talent sitting on that stool. And eventually, Midge took it into her own hands, essentially giving herself the big break.
There wasn’t much to lose at this point. She didn’t care for the job as a writer, so she just went all in, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Next to hopping on the Gaslight stage, it was the best decision she’s ever made. In mere moments, she had everyone in tears of laughter, Gordon included. Everyone she loved was there, sitting in that room, supporting her unconditionally, for what may have been the first time ever.
It was her moment, the moment she’s been preparing for her entire life, and she owned it. All of Susie’s sacrifices were worth it and finally paid off, including asking Hedy for a favor. It’s unclear if Hedy and Susie ever crossed paths again, but at least she was no longer a sour memory for her but a life-changing one. As Midge’s career propelled to new heights, so did Susie’s. Hopefully, Hedy is now a distant but fond-ish memory in the grand scheme of her life.
Comedy has always been Midge’s greatest love, but her greatest relationship was the one built with Susie! They were—and continue to be—the dynamic duo. There is no Midge without Susie and vice-versa… they were always the love story. And they couldn’t have done it without each other.
In the flash-forward scene in 2005, it’s evident that they aren’t just business partners, they are lifelong friends. I’m genuinely happy that they found their way back to each other after their big fight (another scene I wish we would’ve gotten to see), and from the looks of it, all they now have is each other and a lifetime of memories and adventures to look back on.
Admittedly, Midge’s 2005 look was quite jolting, but Susie rocking those long gray locks and a boho outfit in her tropical oasis was a complete vibe. It just made sense.
Seeing the two of them just watching Jeopardy! together and laughing up a storm into old age—despite being millions of miles apart—was poetic in a sense. When the lights go down and the crowds disappear, it really only matters who you have around you. Midge had a lot of people that cared for her in life, but she cultivated a unique relationship with Susie, one of the only people who ever really knew the real her, including the person she was before became famous.
But despite all of the success, there was also something so lonely about this scene, which may speak to the isolation celebrities in general feel going into their old age when they are no longer the “hot thing” around.
These two did it—there was so much to be proud of in terms of reflecting on how far they’ve come, how much they achieved, and how many obstacles they jumped over to get there—but it somehow felt empty; as if all of the good parts were over and coming to an end. It was symbolic of the end of the episode.
Midge had big dreams for her life—dreams she achieved and then some—but this very scene of her walking around her ginormous house all by herself was a reminder to enjoy the journey rather than the destination… and that’s essentially what we all did while watching this story pan out for five seasons.
And while they were so focused on those goals, the best days were pre-fame when she and Susie were hustling and grinding together.
Midge gave up so much to get so much, but loneliness seems to come with the territory. It was the price Midge paid, willingly, and while it’s again, up to one’s own interpretation, I don’t think she ever regretted a thing. She lived the grand life she envisioned for herself—and Susie was that constant reminder of it.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel series finale may have been disappointing in some ways as it wasn’t the cliché happy ending I hoped for, nor did it give us all the closure we were looking for, but in other ways—particularly in the scenes leading up to Midge’s big break—it was absolutely perfect and marvelous and exactly the show we fell in love with; from Midge’s monologue to her leaps of faith and everything in between. So, while I craved more and wasn’t a fan of the unknowns fluttering around, there was also a beauty to the simplicity, and I can appreciate it for what it was—incredible storytelling that brought us this visually compelling, hilarious, witty, and inspiring series in the first place.
It’s sad to see it all come to an end, but the least we can do is make Midge and Susie proud by going through our lives with the “tits up” attitude, enjoying the journey just as much as the destination.
Thank you (writers, creators, and everyone working in front of the cameras and behind the scenes) and goodnight.
What Happened to Lenny Bruce on ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?
Lenny Bruce has been a major player throughout several seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Not only is he an established comedian and an inspiration to Midge Maisel, but he’s also somewhat of a love interest as the two have an insane chemistry together that they eventually give into one evening.
Through their flirtatious connection, the series has amassed a dedicated group of fans shipping the relationship, though it became clear that the show didn’t anticipate coupling them up or making them anything more than platonic friends who share an affinity for one another and hooked up once or twice. That became especially true in one of the early episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 when it was revealed that Midge—after skyrocketing to comedy fame—married four times, though there was no mention of Lenny Bruce in her romantic history (likely because he wasn’t around to see much of it, let alone her domination of Carnegie Hall in 1971).
Fans feared that we’d seen the last of him in his emotional goodbye to Midge when she ran into him at the airport while dropping off her parents in the premiere episode.
The scene has a heaviness to it that possibly stems from the knowledge of Lenny’s future, but it does seem as though their friendship, partnership, and companionship have hit an end, and Lenny, despite going to spend some time with his kid in California, looks more broken than ever.
Midge promises him that she “won’t blow it,” referring to her comedy career, but the series finale reveals that Lenny sadly did.
In the final episode of the series, Susie catches one of his presumably last shows in San Francisco in 1965 where he straight-up bombs on stage. Life—and his troubled past—has seemingly caught up to him, and he let it drag him down. None of Lenny’s bit is funny, nor does it elicit laughs from the audience. It’s actually quite cringe-y and heartbreaking, especially for a man who previously captivated audiences.
He fell from glory, which is made abundantly clear when Susie approaches him backstage in hopes of signing him and getting his career back on track. It’s evident that Lenny is under the influence, and it’s taking a toll on his body. And he doesn’t plan on stopping, as he awaits what seems to be the arrival of a dealer.
Susie isn’t successful in convincing Lenny to give it another shot and get back on his feet. He even tells her to save her favors on someone that is worthy.
In one final moment, he asks Susie if Midge came to see the show, but she informs him that she did not, and he shoots her an “it’s for the best” look.
Moments later, we see Susie exiting to a very distraught Midge, who is waiting to see if Lenny would take Susie up on her offer to turn his life around. “He’s a mess,” Susie informs Midge as she promises to try again when she’s in L.A. next month.
We don’t actually find out what happens to Lenny, however. There’s one other scene during the final episode, set just mere months before Midge gets her break on the Gordon Ford Show, during which he gives her a lesson in being famous and teaches her how to sign autographs and makes it clear that he has no doubts that she’ll take over the comedy world.
It’s one of the more uplifting scenes, showcasing just how much he influenced her and believed in her, but there’s no closure or insight as to what happened after Lenny Bruce’s unhinged performance at the top of the episode.
However, considering his drug usage in previous episodes and his intoxicated state in 1965, along with comments to the crowd blaming all of his arrests on “Lenny Bruce in Substance,” it’s safe to assume that his life played out in the same way that the real Lenny’s did.
Per real-life Bruce’s bio, increased drug use and arrests deteriorated his mental health, getting him blacklisted by nearly every nightclub.
The timelines even coincide as Susie’s last meeting with Lenny was in 1965, and, in real life, in 1966, Bruce was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home of an overdose.
The official cause of death was “acute morphine poisoning caused by an overdose.”
It’s possible that 1965 San Fran was the last time Midge Maisel ever saw Lenny in person, though the last time they ever saw each other was, as fans assumed, at the airport. It wasn’t just a goodbye for now, it was a goodbye forever.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – The Princess and the Plea (508)
The penultimate episode, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 8, is setting the stage for the grand finale—and by that I mean Midge’s inevitable rise to fame (likely with the help of Gordon Ford who now has no choice but to put her on the show following Hedy’s request) and her possible reunion with Joel Maisel. It’s hard to believe that they’ll be able to wrap it all up in one remaining episode, but I’m remaining optimistic.
The series started off with the demise of Midge and Joel’s romance, but we’re slowly inching back into the territory that favors Joel as a partner for Midge. The feelings are there as he begins to realize that the biggest mistake in his life was letting her go when he promised she’d be his “forever.”
And yet, Joel’s cheating was the best thing that ever happened to Midge as it allowed her to flourish into the woman she was always meant to be—the confident, fearless, and badass version of herself that’s about to take the world by storm.
I haven’t seen the final episode of the series yet, but I have no doubt that many years down the line—when Joel is released from prison—we’ll see the two of them give it one more shot.
And maybe it will finally be the right time. Soulmates exist, but as they say, timing is everything.
One of the strongest moments in the episode surprisingly came from Midge’s father, Abe. He was also the reason for one of the most hilarious moments when Midge and Joel were called into the principal’s office thinking it had to do with their child only to realize the school could no longer deal with Abe’s “dramatics” and “rude and disrespectful” behavior.
After realizing that the family’s protege might be Esther rather than Ethan, Abe suffered a bit of an existential crisis, echoing some modern-day thinking as he questioned whether he’s done the wrong thing for both of his children while also wondering if he’s (and society) understood the roles of men and women wrong this whole time.
While everyone has largely brushed off Midge’s ambitions in the comedy sphere up until now, Abe is realizing that instead of collapsing when her husband cheated on her, Midge emerged stronger than ever like a phoenix out of the ashes. No one ever gave her the credit she deserved, but she’s pretty remarkable in every sense of the word.
It was so beautiful to see Abe come to this acknowledgment all on his own because—finally. They are finally starting to see Midge the way we see her.
And they haven’t seen anything yet.
Midge has big, big, big dreams, but most importantly, she has the talent to back them up. Unfortunately, there are many others who think just like Abe in this world, and she needs to get through them all to finally break through.
Or, as Midge and Susie put it, they need to “hop over the dicks.” This truly was such a great moment between the two of them. Hopping over dicks with tits up is the new life motto.
Midge met up with some of her university friends and realized that her values and goals differed wildly from theirs—while they prioritized husbands and families, Midge didn’t see this part of her life as just a “fun chapter” to reflect on… this was her entire life.
And thus, when she found out that Susie knew Hedy, Gordon Ford’s wife, from college, she requested that Susie go out on a limb and help her get on the show as a comic. Hedy was their way in even if Susie didn’t like it.
Obviously, Midge didn’t understand the depth of Susie and Hedy’s tense and fractured relationship, but she also didn’t care because her career was at stake. And there would be no “future” if she didn’t land Gordon Ford and show her talents to the entire world.
She’s a great writer, but all of her jokes are being told on that stage by other people, including Princess Margaret. She gets the laughs, but not the flowers, and it’s simply not enough anymore. One day, I’d like the point out that these are the moments she’d be looking on fondly—the grind, the hustle, the struggle—and I hope future Midge doesn’t forget all of them.
Susie didn’t like the idea of calling in a favor from Hedy, but she acknowledged that there was no other way to propel Midge, so she bit the bullet. It wasn’t easy, but Hedy was receptive, likely because she still holds a torch for her ex-roomie.
And while we may never fully understand the power dynamics at play between Hedy and Gordon, we know that she yields a lot of it and calls many of the shots. When she suggested that he book Midge on his show, she explained that he “owed” her. And though Gordon may not have liked it, he didn’t fight it either.
Gordon Ford may just be Midge Maisel’s big break.
He watched her slink away after getting what seemed to be a distressing call, so I’m wondering what that’s all about. Is someone hurt? Did she get booked on Parr and will now have to make a huge decision? Does it have to do with Lenny (I truly hope we’ll see him one more time before the curtain falls)?
Other Moments to Note
- Midge’s college note to herself simply read “don’t.” Midge couldn’t remember what it was about, nor did we get any further clarification during the episode, but Hedy used “don’t” while instructing Midge not to sell herself short in life. And maybe that’s what Midge meant. Or don’t settle? Don’t give up? Either way, it’s good advice.
- Midge is a huge reason for Susie’s success, especially when she finally breaks down the wall, but Dinah is also key in Susie’s business. What would she do without her?
- Abe watching Esther to “ascertain the breadth of her abilities” was hilarious, but it was 10 times better when Rose simply suggested that the toddler would pick up the book if he put a lollipop in it.
- I do feel like now that Midge is working for Ford, she no longer relies on Susie as much, and, in turn, Susie can focus on other clients, but I miss how much time the two spent together. It was nice to see them share this scene, even if things did get a little tense.
What did you think of the episode? How do you think it will all pan out in the highly-anticipated finale? Will Midge end up being someone that we like in the future? Will she be the same lovable woman we met in the finale or will fame and fortune change her? And what does the future look like for her when it’s all said and done?
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