via Prime Video
Even though it’s racked up plenty of awards season recognition over the course of its first four seasons, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel often goes somewhere been unnoticed and overlooked when it comes to discussing the finest TV shows of the last decade, but there are few dramatic comedies to have emerged in the Golden Age we’ve been living in that can hold a candle to the ongoing adventures of Rachel Brosnahan’s title hero.
After all, we’re talking about a series that’s notched three Golden Globes – two for the leading lady in the Best Actress – Musical or Comedy race and one for Best Television Series in the corresponding category – while it’s pocketed an additional 20 Emmy victories from a quite frankly astonishing 65 nominations in total.
Brosnahan may have won a pair of Golden Globes and a pair of Primetime Emmys for her performance, but The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has always been an ensemble effort. Sure, Midge has always been front and center, but a massive part of the show’s enduring popularity has always been the strength of the ensemble cast across the board, and that remains true in the fifth and final season despite the need to bring everything to a close by the time the credits roll on the finale.
Last time out, our intrepid protagonist took an unexpected left turn when she ended up taking over and then renovating an illegal strip club, until it was raided by the authorities. As fate would have it, Luke Kirby’s Lenny Bruce showed up just in the nick of time to offer her the opening slot at Carnegie Hall. Shockingly, he was turned down flat, and the last we saw of Midge she was storming out of the iconic building and into a blizzard, but not before she gazes up at a billboard for The Gordon Ford Show – where she’d previously been turned down as an opening act.
However, the fact that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s creative team knew this would be the end gives them the chance to gaze into the future, with a cold opening bringing us into 1981. Plenty of beloved shows have been killed off before their time, and while flash-forwards can often be an unnecessary distraction, here it’s used to tie things up in satisfying fashion while simultaneously offering insight into how the effects of Midge’s actions throughout reverberated into the future.
It offers hints of what’s to come in the remainder of season 5 without going full red herring, which adds an extra dimension to not just the swansong run itself, but the five-season journey as a whole. Midge has been defined by ambition for better or worse, and she’s experienced all the highs and lows that come with it along the way, even if Alex Borstein’s Susie continues going to extremes during the present-day timeline in order to try and leverage a position for herself.
That dynamic has always been the beating heart of the series, and the two performers have developed such an effortless chemistry that it’s easy to buy them as a the firmest of friends who aren’t above the odd heated disagreement or two. It isn’t just the Midge and Suzie show, though, with Michael Zegen’s ex-husband Joel getting some much-needed fleshing out alongside the always-welcome presence of Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle as the Weissman parents.
There’s style, substance, wit, vim, vigor, heartache and hilarity in equal measure, all peppered with the show’s signature sense of propulsive energy and exuberance, in particular a musical number that stands a decent chance of being stuck in your head for days. It’s taken a long time to get there, but Midge’s arc was always defined by hope and optimism above all else, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that have been placed in her path.
At the end of the day, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has always been about dreaming big, and the showstopping conclusion to what’s sure to be remembered as one of its chosen genre’s all-time greats hammers home the notion that no matter how audaciously high you set your goals, there’s always the chance you’re going to make them a reality by the time the dust settles.
All good things must come to an end eventually, but thanks to another wildly entertaining and highly accomplished final season, ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ secures its place as quite possible Prime Video’s greatest-ever original series.