As her husband discovered rather painfully, Midge Maisel is impossible to ignore. Two Golden Globes and eight Emmys for season one marked the show out as one of the big guns, a David capable of going toe-to-toe with the Goliaths of Game Of Thrones and The Handmaid’s Tale. Rachel Brosnahan’s smiling face shone back at you everytime you went to Amazon to try and buy bulk packs of roll-on deodorant and anyone with an internet connection was quick to tell you that you “simply must see it”. It’s rare for a comedy series to get such gushing, universal praise. It’s enough to make you hate it on principle.
Or at least it would be, were it not for Brosnahan’s stunning magnetism and compelling presence, addictive enough to count as a class A narcotic. Even at Midge’s most irritating (and she can be supremely irritating), she still rings true and your eyes can’t be averted. Midge is a star because Brosnahan is a star and vice versa. She’d stand out even in a field full of slim, elegant upper-class New York brunettes. If she was Where’s Wally, it would be the easiest one ever.
Everyone else has to be at their best to keep up with Brosnahan’s remarkable energy and they are. Amy Sherman Palladino’s writing crackles, the dialogue spinning heads as words ricochet off the walls like a verbal squash game. It’s exhausting and infectious. From the always underrated Kevin Pollak (I can’t look at him without seeing the glass-eyed clerk in Wayne’s World 2) to the magnificently cantankerous Tony Shalhoub – via more subtle but equally brilliant performances from Alex Borstein and Michael Zegen – this is a cast that works off a uniquely symbiotic vibe.
So far, so gushy. But season two arrives with one big question: is it sustainable? For the most part, the season premiere suggests that it’s not (the world’s most entertaining kidnapping aside). The snap is still there, the pace is relentless, but it feels off. The beat feels rushed while the narrative drags, a strange dichotomy that was totally absent from the excellent first season. Even the start of episode two and the extended sojourn in Paris feels a little directionless. If you reach this point and feel crestfallen, fear not. It transpires that The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is just a little fallible. It’s almost reassuringly so. One dazzling stand-up show, a touching gesture from Abe and our old Maisel is back. From there on in, it’s business as usual. We were only given the benefit of half of season two for review but if that’s anything to go by, expect Midge and co. to add to their slew of awards when the red carpets are next rolled out.