TV-series review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – season 5 (Amazon Prime, 2023)
tl;dr: Bittersweet final chapter of a fabulous show.
We’ve reached the end of the line, the final season of the adventures of Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) and her manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein). It’s an emotional journey. And it starts with a flash-forward.
The fifth and final season uses time jumps quite a bit. We see Midge’s two kids as adults (Ben Rosenfield and Alexandra Socha) and what they do. Ethan’s other half doesn’t like her mother-in-law, and Esther is in therapy. We see Midge and Susie and how their respective lives play out, and their successes and setbacks and what happened. I think it works.
Back in 1961 Midge is trying to get on the Gordon Ford Show. Her attempts – or rather Susie’s bullying of talent booker Mike Carr (Jason Ralph) – lead her to become a staff writer, one lady writer in a group of men (Austin Basis, Josh Grisetti, Lucas Kavner, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Michael Cyril Creighton). Midge obviously wants to be a guest, but, as Gordon Ford (Reid Scott) tells her, again and again: you work on the show, you don’t become a guest on the show.
The Weissmans (Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub) are being their usual neurotic selves, the Maisels (Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron) are having marital problems, and Zelda (Matilda Szydagis) has taken a shine to handyman Janusz (Alexander Gemignani).
The future of Joel (Michael Zegen) is not really working out as he planned, but when has it ever?
For Susie, she and assistant Dinah (Alfie Fuller) are trying to do all they can for their handful of clients. Things are going well, because the two ladies are a formidable force, but in order to get that office space, Susie did have to make a deal with the mob (Erik Palladino and John Scurti), and when they want to call in a favour, you don’t say no. You also don’t make the mistake of thinking one favour is enough to call it even, but I digress …
Season five is definitely a mixed bag. There were times where Midge was her usual self-sabotaging numpty, but it wasn’t as frustrating as in the previous season. Perhaps because we get the flash-forwards so we know how things work out.
We find out more about Susie’s past here, and I’m in two minds about it. Problem is I can’t go into details without spoiling things too much, but … okay, it’s nice that we find out something about her. At the same time it’s kind of “really? All that time?” but … yeah.
They don’t try to change history by changing the trajectory of Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby), tragic though it is. He’s been supportive of Midge from the very start, so it’s nice that he gets to be there at important stages in the final season.
The actual ending wraps up everything without wrapping up anything, sort of, yet it’s still emotional and fitting. There’s no “X did this, this and this and died in 1993” or whatever, but you get hints of what happens to people through the season. It’s unfulfilling and satisfying at the same time, which I can’t explain or make sense of. Like, let’s say Zelda for example that’s pretty inconsequential and not really spoilery. We know what happened to her – or Frank and Nicky, for that matter! – in 1961, but we don’t get to see any of them in the future, so we don’t know what happened. Did they live happily ever after? The mob guys, perhaps not. At the same time, does it actually matter? They weren’t the star of the show, and the two that were? We know enough and leave them on a high note. It’s not an ending to bum you out, which is nice.
I’ll miss this show, and Susie in particular because she was always my favourite character, and if I ever need to dress up as a TV character, she will be my go-to. Guess we can always hope for a Susie Myerson spin-off, but I doubt that’s going to happen. At least we can go back and watch the show all over again. How Midge was dumped and drunkenly rocked onto the stage at the Gaslight for her first performance. How they all went to the Catskills and met that handsome doctor played by one of those actors I like. How Midge and Susie went to Vegas. How Susie’s sister flirted with an insurance investigator played by another one of those actors I like. And how Midge and Susie finally got the break they deserved.
4.7 out of 5 ice rinks.