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Why “Amazing Mrs. Meisel” got worse in seasons 3 and 4

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Cover and photo in the material: footage from the series “Amazing Mrs. Meisel”

The first season of the dramatic comedy “The Amazing Mrs. Maisel” (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) in 2017 caused a real sensation. Fresh idea, funny jokes and amazing Rachel Brosnahan in the role of stand-up comedian Mrs. Meisel deserved the admiration of critics and several “Emmys” with “Golden Globes”. Amazon Prime is in its fourth season in mid-February, with low ratings from critics-journalists (65 out of 100 on Metacritic) and ordinary viewers (57% on Rotten Tomatoes). The author of “Kanobu” Marie Grigoryan understands what went wrong with one of the most prestigious and acclaimed American shows.

About the series

The main character is Miriam “Midge” Meisel, a beautiful and successful housewife from New York in the late 50’s. She grew up in a decent Jewish family with her father, Professor Abe (Tony Shelub), received an excellent education, married the man of her dreams – Joel Meisel (Michael Zegen) and gave birth to two children. Joel works for his father’s company, but dreams of becoming a famous comedian and even arranges to perform at the Gazlight Club. In this, Mrs. Meisel fully supports her husband.

The crisis of the ideal heroine: why critics and viewers scold the new season of

But Midge’s ideal family life is falling apart: it turns out that Joel cheated on her with his secretary. Stunned by this news and her husband’s departure, Meisel gets drunk and goes back to Gazlight. There she climbs on stage and performs well thanks to her natural charm, sharp mind and ability to turn a personal tragedy into a joke. Impressed by her talent, club employee Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) decides to turn Midge into a stand-up star.

In the third season, Mrs. Meisel got a real breakthrough in her career: she was invited to perform in the warm-up with African-American singer Shay Baldwin. However, in the finale of the season, Meisel built a whole performance on jokes about Baldwin’s orientation. As a result, the comedian was not taken on the European tour, and at the beginning of the fourth season she had to start from scratch.

The author of the idea of ​​the series is screenwriter Amy Sherman-Palladino from the USA. In zero she wrote Gilmore Girls, one of the most famous American dramas about a single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her not-so-smart daughter Rory. Sherman-Palladino was born and raised in a half-Jewish family, so she invested much of her childhood in the new series.

In creating the image, Meisel Sherman-Palladino was inspired by real comics of the 60’s, Joan Rivers and Totti Fields. “Gaslight” is a legendary cafe in Manhattan, where musician Bob Dylan played, comedian Bill Cosby performed with his stand-up program and rocker Jimi Hendrix rested. Standper Lenny Bruce is also a very real person – in the series he often encourages Meisel and even helps her.

How “Amazing Mrs. Meisel” was received

The crisis of the ideal heroine: why critics and viewers scold the new season of

In 2017, the pilot episode of the series “The Amazing Mrs. Maisel” (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) received good reviews, so Amazon ordered two seasons at once. The first season of the show came out in the same year, the second – in 2018. Critics’ reviews were incredibly high: on Rotten Tomatoes seasons received 94% and 92% freshness, on Metacritic – 80 and 85 out of a hundred, respectively.

The series was loved by the jury of various film awards: in a few years, “The Amazing Mrs. Meisel” won five Emmys, three Golden Globes and five Actors Guild Awards. Meisel herself – Rachel Brosnahan and supporting actors – Tony Sheluba and Alex Borstein, and the whole ensemble were awarded for a great performance.

The best story is Midge Meisel described The Guardian: every word in the dialogues was incredibly funny and witty, and the scenes were “staged like Broadway musicals.” That’s why the series was praised – a beautiful production, witty lines and, of course, a bright image of Meisel.

But the third season of the series received unexpectedly weak reviews – its ratings on aggregator sites fell sharply to 70-75 points. With the release of the fourth season in February 2022, nothing has changed dramatically: it did not like either viewers (57% on Rotten Tomatoes) or critics (65/100 on Metacritic).

What is the new season of “Amazing Mrs. Meisel” scolding for?

Miriam Meisel’s development as a character

The crisis of the ideal heroine: why critics and viewers scold the new season of

The main problem of “Amazing Mrs. Meisel” – oddly enough, the central character, who is so loved by film critics and fans of the series. In the first two seasons, Midge Meisel was perfect: moderately feminine and beautiful, but sharing the values ​​of feminism, able to laugh at herself and others, brave enough to follow her dream.

Meisel chose a difficult profession, where before there was almost no place for women. Her only rival, comedian Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch), was forced to perform in a fat woman’s costume and grimaced a lot to be accepted by the audience. But Midge has always been herself: in the seventh episode of the first season, she directly told Sophie that she would not invent a new personality.

In addition, Meisel did not allow her status as a wife and mother to hinder her ambitions – even if family and friends did not understand how she could be separated from her children for a long time… And not look for a new husband.

But Meisel’s charming self-confidence quickly turned to vanity and an inability to admit her mistakes. Decider portal dedicated a whole article on how most of the heroine’s virtues turned into serious flaws. The author recalls that Midge made a rather serious mistake: she told the whole audience about the orientation of her employer, Shay Baldwin.

By all accounts, this is a wrong, unethical act, even in a comedy show. But how does Meisel perceive fair criticism from others, including her manager Susie? She “responds with open riots and outbursts of rage.”

From the first season, Mrs. Meisel was presented as a smart and resourceful person – but she can not and does not want to adapt. Also, how fair notes Hollywood Reporter, all her progress seems to have been dropped. At the beginning of the fourth season, she reunites with her parents, again indirectly dependent on her husband, again looking for ways to get on stage… There is literally nothing new in the new series.

A monotonous humor that has exhausted itself

The humor of “Amazing Mrs. Meisel” was based on how Midge transformed any situation from her life into stand-up material. Her first brilliant performance was solely due to her husband’s betrayal: Meisel simply expressed all the resentment and bitterness that she had accumulated. Her jokes were funny because of the real emotions wrapped in witty setups and punchlines.

Viewers’ reviews for the fourth season reproduce the worst thing that can happen to a comedy: the series just stopped being funny. In the reviews, Rotten Tomatoes users even suggested that the producers of the series “hired second-rate screenwriters” who are trying to enter [происходящее] in the realities of the XXI century “.

The crisis of the ideal heroine: why critics and viewers scold the new season of

Screenshot of viewer feedback from Rotten Tomatoes

And the stand-ups themselves have become less and less: in the first two episodes, they generally appear only in the form of small inclusions in other, much less interesting plot events. Simply put, the series has less humor and more uninteresting suffering.

Frequent reruns don’t help the series – like another arrest of Midge in the fourth season. In the first episode of the first season, she was arrested for exposing herself in a public place. In the second – allegedly for harassment, although in reality the police were wrong. If for the first time a decent Jewish girl, who mistakenly ended up in prison, looked ridiculous, then repeating this gag is more stressful. In the Rolling Stones it is called “Uroboros phase” – a mythical snake devouring its own tail. The series is at the stage when it imitates its most successful findings from previous seasons.

Uninteresting side stories

The crisis of the ideal heroine: why critics and viewers scold the new season of

In 2020, Indonesian film critic James Guild wrote article “Why the third season of” Amazing Mrs. Meisel “was such a disappointment.” In his article, he highlighted a problem that is not obvious at first glance. Mainly because of the brightness, novelty of minor characters and the charisma of the actors who played them. Guild believes that the side storylines from Sherman Palladino simply do not work.

Although Mrs. Meisel’s central line has many disadvantages and shortcomings, she still remains the most interesting in the series. But screen time often goes to the development of completely different characters – the ex-husband of Midge Joel, his new business and even a new lover ;, the emancipation of the heroine’s mother; on her father’s joining the socialist cell, and so on.

Guild asks a reasonable question: why all these lines were added to the series, and how do they complement the main plot? Meisel’s development suffers, and her plot does not intersect in the series with the side. Therefore, everything that happens seems like a normal filler.

The screenwriter’s excessive love for her characters

The crisis of the ideal heroine: why critics and viewers scold the new season of

Sherman Palladino obviously loves his heroes and is ready to fiercely defend them. Recently, viewers criticized Midge for her frequent absence and called her a bad mother; showrunnerka hard reflected all these attacks, reminding of the presence of grandparents. He added that no one called the bad parent of Don Draper, the central character of the series “Madmen”, who also talked about an extraordinary person in the American 60’s.

But Meisel has a really strange attitude towards children, and with each series she seems to be more and more indifferent to them. Over the course of several seasons, this heroine became more selfish, capricious and persistent in those moments when she should listen to others. And screenwriters don’t punish her for mistakes.

The worst thing that can happen to Meisel is not the complete collapse of her dream, not serious losses among family and friends, not a difficult choice between family and creativity. She faces only minor financial difficulties, easily resolved conflicts and a comical, as if not a real prison sentence.

Attachment to his plots and images led Sherman-Palladino to all the above mistakes. The screenwriter loves beautiful outfits, luxury life in New York in the 50s and the life of Jewish families, so she returns to it again and again. Sherman-Palladino probably likes Joel – other than to explain that he gets a whole story line and new love. Finally, the showrunner considers Mrs. Meisel an inviolable character who doesn’t care. And that’s why Miriam Meisel, the charismatic and inspiring heroine, will soon become the main villain of the series – if she hasn’t already.

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