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 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.
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?
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Review – A House Full of Extremely Lame Horses (507)
Just when things were looking up, Midge Maisel faced another setback constantly being stuck as the funny woman in a male-dominated world.
Throughout the series, but particularly this season, and especially on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5 Episode 7, we saw the lengths that Susie was willing to go to make Midge a star. No one believed in her more—not even Midge herself.
Susie, through her budding friendship with Mike Carr who was now the Executive Producer of The Gordon Ford Show following George’s departure, got Midge booked on a rival late-night showcase for Jack Parr. While it wasn’t ideal, she was the only female comedian—and she killed it. Her set had the crowd belly-laughing the whole way through, a clear change from the other comedians on the stage that completely flopped. But when it came down to it, Jack informed Susie that he just “didn’t get” her act.
Susie’s anger was valid, as was Midge’s disappointment, but the latter handled it like a champ, suggesting that Susie let it go and not ruin an opportunity for her other client, Jame, a rising movie star who we previously saw booking a huge movie role.
Midge isn’t new to this world and she absolutely understands how the game works; talent doesn’t always matter in a male-focused industry.
When she told Parr that she hopes she’ll be able to tell him “I told you so” one day, Parr’s “me too” was condescending and dismissive. But knowing what we know, I hope to god she got her moment to rub it in his face—and turn down his show—and I hope we get to see the moment on the screen for our enjoyment.
It wasn’t all terrible for Midge, however, as she got a raise after nearly being poached by a huge star named Danny Stevens (guest-starring Hank Azaria). Danny didn’t even hesitate to offer Midge a writing gig on one of his TV comedies right in front of Gordon, which led to a very public scuffle. Gordon was likely a little mad that Danny was trying to steal his writer, but there was definitely a jealous aspect at play as well.
Still, no matter how much respect he has for Midge, he won’t put her on the show—not even biting when she told him she was going on Parr and gave him the opportunity to “steal the talent.”
These men, unfortunately, wouldn’t know talent if it hit them in the face.
Speaking of talent… Abe went to Ethan’s open house in place of Midge and was horrified to learn that his grandson, a descendant of the Weissman line, was not a genius who was placed in any of the academic groups but rather, a kid who was considered “happy.”
Abe made it very clear that no person who has ever accomplished anything of greatness was ever happy, but the rest of the family assured him that there was nothing wrong with Ethan.
Of course, the fact that he wasn’t displaying any talents or abilities was still concerning to Abe, and since we know how things unfold in the future, it was genuinely interesting to watch him spiral knowing that the family protege was going to be Esther instead. Seriously, the women in this family as so underestimated!
Eventually, Abe heard the brilliant piano playing he was teaching Ethan and well, his face upon seeing Esther in the seat, was worth every penny.
It’s no wonder that in the future, Esther said that her grandfather was the only one that ever understood her.
The flash-forward to 1973 also revealed that Rose Weissman is sick, news that came hand-in-hand with a scene of her filming a commercial for her matchmaking business “One + One= Love Romance Emporium.”
While the idea that Rose was filming a commercial lent itself to the assumption that her business was thriving, we eventually find out that Miriam is funding the whole thing simply to make Mama happy in her last days. In fact, the business is a huge financial drain on her bank account. Regardless, Midge just promises to keep filming as many commercials as Rose wants in the “brief time” she has. It’s unclear what is ailing Rose, but if I had to guess, I’d say cancer. I hope we don’t have to face any funeral scenes because I won’t be able to get through them.
The idea that this dysfunctional and chaotic family unit that was always together is no more in the future pains me. How does a Midge Maisel exist without her kids, Abe and Rose Weissman, and the Maisels around? Family is what makes the show, and without them, it’s so quiet and sad and lonely. As I contemplate what it is that I hate about the future presented on screen, it’s the loss of so many family members that we’ve come to know and love. As the season progresses, we’re obviously going to feel a lot of emotions so it’s time to get ready!
- Susie wanted James to pass up on Carr because it’s “not his turn” but he refused, informing Susie that if she didn’t get it for him, he’d find an agent that would. I have a feeling she’ll have a better idea, but it is a tough situation for her to navigate given her loyalty to Midge. Still, that shouldn’t hinder her other talents’ careers.
- It’s always a pleasure seeing Sutton Foster!
- Shirley and Moishe Maisel not understanding that Midge works on the Ford show and can get them tickets is peak parents.
- Zelda and Janusz… well, there’s a lot happening there. As someone who speaks fluent Polish, it was good, but Janusz needs a little work. However, Polish is a tough language to learn and speak so I’ll give them all the slack in the world. I didn’t like how annoyed Janusz was with Zelda’s willingness to help the Maisels as it was such a stark contrast to the man we met initially when they were dating and he was eager to lend a hand and watch the kids. That being said, I also understand why he wants Zelda to set some boundaries and stop running to their side at every waking moment. This has been her life for so long, she feels a sense of loyalty to these people and wants to help them during this transition, but they could be making a larger effort and consider that she’s finally prioritizing her own happiness.
Two more episodes to go. How do you think they’ll wrap it all up? There’s still so much to address! And how are you enjoying this season thus far? Where do you hope it will go from here?
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