(This article contains mild spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Two years since season three of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” aired, I was so excited for season four to bring viewers back into the life of the whole Maisel clan. The first two seasons were amazing television, bringing quick-witted dialogue of an Amy Sherman-Palladino show to the amazing 1950s sets. Season three left me wanting more, so when I heard the new season was starting back up at the end of February, I was ecstatic. While it was great to spend time with the characters I know and love, season four just left me unsatisfied.
While the first three seasons each have a ten episode run, season four caps out at eight episodes, which did not become apparent until I sat down a week later to watch episode nine and had to find out from a quick Google search that the season ended the week before. The fact that I had watched the season finale and didn’t even notice brings us to the root of the problem with this season: there was no story arc.
This show historically has very well defined seasons. In season one, Midge is getting her footing as a comic. In season two, the Maisel family ventures to the Catskills. In season three, Midge and Susie are traveling with Shy Baldwin. Each of these seasons can be so clearly defined because there was purpose and an objective to each of the episodes. All the plotlines were contributing to the overarching narrative. With the new season, I just didn’t get that at all. For one, the season started by throwing the audience right back into the story, taking place hours after the season three finale. Coming after a pandemic-long time gap, this was jarring and confusing as a viewer to follow. Not giving the characters space to breathe and regroup meant a lot of this season was reactionary. It wasn’t until episode three that there actually started to be content that added to the story. It also felt like the writers just didn’t know what to do with a lot of the ensemble cast. Susie and Midge riff off each other wonderfully when they are together. Yet, for most of the season, Susie was dealing with her own unrelated storyline, which I was uninvested in. Rose’s matchmaking business felt like it had no payoff, and Joel spent the entire season debating how he is going to introduce Mei to his parents, and ends the season still not being honest with them.
These all relate to the biggest problem, the storyline was chopped so the producers could make a fifth and final season out of a show already quickly reaching its end. Had there been two or four more episodes in season four, all these unresolved plotlines could have been taken care of, and there would have been more time to give the season room to feel complete. Yet, with the way things were left, it’s clear what will happen next season, but a quick resolution will be dragged out for eight more episodes instead of the few it needs.
This isn’t to say there weren’t some great parts of this season. The scene on the Wonder Wheel in the first episode had me laughing out loud. It captured the amazing energy this ensemble cast has together. I also loved seeing Marin Hinkle give Rose’s take on Midge’s set. It was so clear that the actress was having so much fun performing that scene. Tony Shalhoub had amazing comedic timing as always, and we even got to see his more serious side during the final episode. Lenny Bruce and Mrs. Maisel have had amazing chemistry in past seasons and this time it was no different, so seeing their relationship play out this season left me giddy. I only wish we could have seen more of the two of them together. Plus, as a massive Gilmore Girls fan, I loved seeing cameos from Kelly Bishop, Milo Ventimiglia, and Chris Eigman. Having them around brought in some of the familiar Palladino energy in a much needed way.
Final Verdict: If you have never watched the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I highly recommend watching it. It is pretty quick and easy to binge, and I can guarantee you will laugh out loud, especially in the first two seasons. If you watched season three when it came out in 2020 and are unsure whether you are going to watch season four, I don’t think you are missing much by letting this season go by the wayside.