Mrs. Maisel is back, and she’s more marvelous than ever.
Well, she’s at least as marvelous as she was in Season 1 of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” And any concerns you might have had about the direction of the show in Season 2 are quickly allayed as Season 3 gets up and running (and starts streaming) on Friday.
This is the story of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), who’s determined to achieve success as a standup comedian. It landed her (briefly) in jail. It cost her her marriage. It put her in conflict with her parents.
“I am not a prostitute, I’m a comic,” Midge says in Season 3.
“Is there a difference?” asks her mother, Rose.
“Yes. Prostitutes get paid more,” Midge replies.
“Hilarious,” her father, Abe, says sarcastically. “You should go into comedy.”
And she does. In a big way.
Season 2 — which, by the way, was otherwise pretty great — sort of sidetracked Midge Maisel’s comedy career with trips to Paris and the Catskills and a romance with a doctor. But it’s the main storyline in Season 3 … at least in the five episodes screened for critics.
Midge performs in a USO show before heading off on tour — her manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), in tow — as the opening act for singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), on an itinerary that starts in Las Vegas before moving on to Miami.
The focus is on Mrs. Maisel, but there’s a whole lot more going on:
• Midge’s ex, Joel (Michael Zegan), is working to open a club in Chinatown. He starts a new romance with a Chinese-American woman, Mei (Stephanie Hsu). And, OMG, wait till you see what happens when he flies out to visit Midge.
• Susie is taking time away from Midge to manage the career of the still-awful Sophie Lennon (Jayne Lynch).
• Midge’s mom, Rose (Marin Hinkle), heads to Oklahoma (where she grew up — who knew?) for some family drama.
• Midge’s dad, Abe (Tony Shalhoub) is turning into a particularly well-mannered revolutionary. And, as he is no longer employed at Columbia University, he and Rose have to move out of the expansive apartment where Midge grew up.
By the way, an alumna from executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino’s other hit show — “Gilmore Girls” — joins the cast in a recurring role. Liza Weil is almost unrecognizable in glasses, 1960s hair and makeup as a member of Shy Baldwin’s band. And Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) recurs as Shy’s tough-talking manager. And he sings!
Even if the situations aren’t always great, the characters are always great to watch. The only real criticism I have is that the portrayal of the Chinese characters (other than Mei) is perilously close to racist stereotypes.
Some of the series is just plain goofy — including a plotline that involves Midge’s parents and her former in-laws (Kevin Pollack and Shirley Aaron) — but it’s forgivably funny. And “Mrs. Maisel” has always been a fantasy world of gorgeous locales, incredible clothes and heightened reality. Clearly, a whole lot of money has been spent on every episode.
It’s freakin’ beautiful to look at. And to listen to — there’s a good bit of music this season.
So if you’re looking for something to binge over the holidays, you won’t find anything more fun to watch than “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”