The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel may look like a pink sprinkled cupcake of a TV show, but it packs some serious bite. Viewers and critics alike are enamored with Amy Sherman-Palladino's glamorous but naughty fantasy world of 1950s New York.
At the center of it all is protagonist Midge Maisel, an affluent housewife turned underground comedian. Her comedy career kicks off right when her husband leaves her for another woman. Even through devastating circumstances, Midge is able to find the funny. Not only does she win over audiences at comedy clubs, but audiences watching from the couch too. Midge is as sassy as she is hilarious, and would be an absolute blast to hang out with.
Yes, life would be brighter and cheerier and pinker if Midge Maisel was our best friend. But while Midge is a warm person, she can also be remarkably self-centered. She has proven to be clueless to friends' problems, even when they're bigger than her own. Is Midge really a good friend? Let's find out.
10 Wasn't: Hogs the spotlight at friends' parties
Midge bombs a gig at the Gaslight and decides to take an indefinite hiatus from comedy. She returns to her much-neglected social life, attending house parties held by her B. Altman co-workers. Over cocktails and hors d'ouevres, Midge tells a few off-the-cuff jokes that really land with the party crowd. Pretty soon, Midge is going to parties every night to work on new material.
This may not be an obvious example of a bad friend, but Midge doesn't once stop to consider that maybe guests would like to do something other than listen to her comedy routine. Forced entertainment at a party is never fun—yes, guy with the guitar, that means you. Midge should stop to think about the difference between a captivated audience and a captive one.
9 Was: Helps out her switchboard co-workers
Midge may not be a perfectly polite party guest, but she's a phenomenal ally to have when you're on the clock. Even after being banished to the switchboard after an unfortunate incident with her husband's mistress, Midge keeps her chin up. Her enthusiastic demeanor rubs off on her co-workers and suddenly, working in the cramped, windowless hell that is the switchboard room isn't so bad.
Positive attitude aside, Midge is legitimately helpful to all her colleagues. Connecting a never-ending deluge of calls looks exhausting and many of the girls rely on Midge to pick up their slack. For her part, Midge is only too happy to wheel her chair over and give her friends a much-needed break. And even though she longs for the above-ground days of the makeup counter, Midge is always there for her switchboard sisters-in-arms.
8 Wasn't: Undoes Susie's hard work by becoming a comedy pariah
Midge started her comedy career because the stage gave her a place to vent her woes, completely unfiltered. So when shee gets the chance to dine with legendary comedian Sophie Lennon and Sophie is shockingly rude to her, Midge can't help herself. She rips into Sophie during her next gig.
Some might say "good for Midge". The problem is that as Midge's manager, Susie has been working tirelessly to advance Midge's comedy career. She was even able to convince Harry Drake, Sophie's agent, to come check out Midge's set. While Midge's harsh words may have been satisfying in the moment, they weren't smart. The worst part is, Midge didn't just hurt her career; she damaged Susie's too. They were able to recover—again, thanks to Susie—but Susie was the one who dealt with real consequences, including being harassed by Sophie's goons. Midge may have a few choice words about Sophie's behavior, but she should examine her own as well.
7 Was: Negotiates with a priest on behalf of her friend's wedding
Planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart. That's why Mary enlists Midge to help her out. The two friends go to Mary's church to have a sit-down with the priest about arrangements. Midge is horrified to learn that the reception is a breakfast, planned to be held in a dank space the nuns refer to as "the punishment room".
Midge is having none of this. She turns on the charm, imploring the priest to make a few minor concessions. Thanks to the magical Mrs. Maisel, the reception will now be a dinner in a sunny, airy room with champagne. Mary is beside herself with gratitude at having a friend like Midge go to bat for her.
6 Wasn't: Outs her friend's shotgun wedding during a toast
Mary's tears of joy turn into tears of blind anger when Midge ruins her wedding reception. During her speech, Mary thanks Midge for all her help. Most people would have responded with a nod or maybe even blown a kiss, but Midge is not most people. The limelight lover takes this as an opportunity to make a speech of her own. It starts off sweet, but takes a definite blue turn. Midge seems to forget she's not at the seedy Gaslight and starts cracking sex jokes, much to the dismay of Mary, her guests, and the priest. Midge ends her "set" by joking about the speedy engagement and asks if this is a shotgun wedding. No sooner are the words spoken than Midge realizes that she just exposed Mary's secret to all her family and friends.
None of this would have happened if Midge had just kept her mouth shut. But instead, she put her desire for attention ahead of her friend, the bride. Midge is lucky that Mary didn't have an actual shotgun.
5 Was: Invites Susie to stay at her parents' place
Seeing as Midge is pretty much to blame for Sophie's goons hunting Susie down, it makes sense for Midge to (partially) make amends by granting Susie refuge while she and her parents are in Paris. Class is by far the biggest divide between Midge and Susie, as Midge is determined to keep her comedy life separate from her cushy personal one. Susie is positively giddy, soaking up all the home luxuries the Maisels take for granted and she's absolutely hysterical when she shares a beer with Midge's little boy, Ethan.
When it comes to Midge and Susie's friendship, Midge can be a little delusional about how authentic it really is. But letting a friend crash at your home is a marvelous place to start.
4 Wasn't: Takes off to the Catskills after Susie books her a summer's worth of gigs
This is another example of class disparity posing a conflict between Midge and Susie. Midge thinks she's doing her due diligence by informing Susie of her upcoming Catskills vacation. The thing is, Susie thinks a vacation is a few days. She's blown away to learn Midge will be gone the entire summer, especially because Susie went to the trouble of booking a slew of gigs.
Seriously, the least Midge could have done is mention how long her vacation was going to be. She could have also considered shortening her Catskills trip, given the fact that Susie has been breaking her back on Midge's behalf. Susie even schleps up to the Catskills herself, working around Midge's privileged schedule in order to get her some local gigs. More often than not, Midge and Susie's relationship is rather one-sided.
3 Was: Treats Susie as a friend, not just a business manager
While Susie the business manager may work harder than a rented mule, Susie the person closes herself off to people, never giving them the chance to get to know her. Midge might take Susie for granted, but she genuinely expresses a desire to have a real friendship with Susie. After Susie takes Midge to a variety of comedy clubs for research, Midge expresses her enjoyment of them hanging out. Susie tries to shut this kind of thinking down—this is strictly business—but Midge is able to break down some of Susie's walls. Over fast food, the women exchange horror stories about their personal lives—Midge's recently imploded marriage and Susie's relationship with her family. In the past, Susie may have dismissed friendship as fluff, but Midge is beginning to teach her its value.
2 Wasn't: Oblivious to her privilege
Midge is a sweet soul who never does anything to intentionally hurt anybody, but she lives in a fairy-tale bubble. She's never had to worry about how she'll make rent or where her next meal is coming from. In that respect, Midge is simply a woman of her time; 1950s upper class women weren't meant to fret over such things. However, she's way too slow to pick up on her privilege with regards to her relationship with Susie. Midge comes across as ignorant and inconsiderate when she questions why Susie isn't available to go out night after night—some of us have to work, you know.
Then there are Midge's tiny but consistent faux pas, like casually mentioning to Susie that she just happened to find two-thousand dollars in her parents' closet. Friendships spanning across class lines can absolutely exist, but Midge needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Right after her maid serves it to her.
1 Was: Makes women feel heard
Strictly speaking, comedians aren't meant to be friends with their audience. However, a good comedian has the ability to make incredibly astute social observations which the audience can relate to. This is a specialty of Midge's and her timing couldn't be better. The 1950s were not the friendliest decade for a woman to speak her mind. By Midge bucking social mores, she's not only speaking for herself, but for loads of other women, many of whom don't feel heard. Some of Midge's witty commentary is even relevant today. On the one hand, this is a sad notion but Midge always finds a way to make us laugh, which is a treasured quality in a friend. As Midge and Susie would say, "Tits up!"