The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “The Eisenhower Penis Tour.”
It’s a rite of passage well-known to anyone in showbiz, also known as “the business of idiots and assholes,” and that’s the road trip from hell. And if you ask Midge and Susie, the first-ever Mrs. Maisel comedy tour was planned by Satan himself.
“Someday … ” isn’t just a fish-out-of-water episode where the upscale Midge has her first exposure to seedy motels with no bellboys (gasp!), and, to put it politely, unflushed toilets (oy vey iz mir!). Oh, no, we’re talking beds so filthy one of them eats Susie’s cheek. Not to mention a slew of disastrous dates in which one of Midge’s sets is canceled midway through due to a kitchen fire, and the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania gig is called off completely due to rain. (“There’s a 50 percent chance the roof will cave in,” explains the club manager.)
Things don’t get any better for our girls when they return to New York, where the relatively light sexism they experienced back in “Mid-Way to Midtown” is ramped up from irritating to borderline criminal. Midge, as usual, delivers a fantastic set, despite whining beforehand about appearing onstage unshowered and uncombed. (Not that anyone would’ve noticed; this is television, which means Rachel Brosnahan is going to look picture-perfect even when she’s supposed to look like she slept in a car the night before.) But Ricky (Johnny Hopkins), the booker, decides he doesn’t have to pay these two broads, because they were late (by ten minutes) and “no one was drinking” (which, yes, is how these places make money, but, that’s beside the point).
So when Susie goes after the jerk to demand their money, he locks her in the closet (audaciously brushing it off later on as a “joke”). Midge then sends an SOS to the one person who can help in a situation like this — Joel. Now, for us 2018 female viewers, it is incredibly frustrating to watch a man swoop in to rescue two women from a sexual harassment encounter. (To the show’s credit, Susie speaks to that fact, insisting she “would’ve found a way to take care of it,” because she is that good of a manager.) BUT, we have to also remember that this is 1959 and calling Joel for help is absolutely the kind of thing Midge would’ve done.
Midge’s “damsel in distress” actions aren’t all bad though, because Joel (a) wrangles the money out of Ricky, (b) proves he has a decent set of balls by punching Ricky (“Whole new light, pal,” says Susie by way of a compliment), and (c) solidifies himself as Midge’s biggest fan by chastising the club owner for not recognizing that Midge could “put [his] shithole [club] on the map someday” (sorry, shy autograph girl at the Gaslight. You’ve been replaced).
Oh, Joel, Joel, Joel, you’re messing with my head so badly. One minute you’re intimidated by your wife’s talent and now you’re the president of the Mrs. Maisel Fan Club? I want to tell you to just leave Midge alone already, but I’m too impressed by how much you’ve matured. Dammit.
Even though Midge and Susie had to call in reinforcements this time, “Someday … ” proves that as long as they have each other, they will succeed. Notice how Midge asks Joel to teach her what he did with Ricky so she can handle herself without a man’s help going forward. As the episode title suggests, “someday” things will be better for women in their line of work — though as we all know, the hope Midge and Susie have for the future will come with some grave dissatisfaction.
But “Someday … ” isn’t just about the hardships comics face on the road. It also makes sure to address what Midge is leaving behind, which is exactly what Rufus Sewell’s Declan Howell warned her about in the previous episode. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder, because it feels like as soon as Midge crosses into New Jersey, she’s calling home constantly to check on the kids. Or, rather, calling home to make sure baby Esther misses her (right, because it’s about how you feel, Midge, not the other way around, ugh). Never mind that Midge hasn’t thought about Esther in six months, but at least Abe assures his daughter that the feeling is mutual: “Unless she can fit you in her mouth, you are of no consequence to her at all.” Burn!
The episode actually makes more of a to-do regarding Midge’s inability to keep her calendar straight than her sacrificing her family life, as she totally pauses on her plan to throw her friend Imogene (yay! She’s back!) a baby shower — and Rose has to step in instead. So, really, the only people who are conspicuously upset at Midge for going on tour are Imogene and Rose. For Ethan and Esther, Mommy’s never around anyway, so I doubt they noticed she was gone.
It’s Rose who doles out the appropriate punishment for her daughter’s irresponsibility, by informing Zelda not to remove a single balloon or cake plate from the Weissmans’ living room. The thing is, this is the kind of lesson a spoiled Midge should’ve learned when she was 7, not 27. When you make a mess, you have to clean it up yourself, whether it’s neglecting your children, or your BFF’s baby shower.
More Maisel Musings:
• Midge is already showing nascent signs of political humor in her act with her desire to see “Senator Kennedy” run for president. I cannot wait to see what Amy Sherman-Palladino does with that in season three (which will likely take place in the election year of 1960).
• Hey, Archie’s nameless friend, spoiling the twist of “Time Enough at Last” will get you banished from parties for life.
• It’s interesting to see that Eugene, one of the chauvinist bro comedians who heckled Midge in “Mid-Way to Midtown,” is now on friendly terms with her. Keep your enemies closer …
• Midge really needs to start listening more to the hints Susie drops about her “stolen” childhood, and I’m not talking about how she used her “imagination” to take vacations. While Midge is yammering away about slumber parties, Susie regales her with a story about how she was almost sexually assaulted by her cousin — and managed to fend him off by “jamming her finger into his eye.”
• You may be a man of science teaching a computer to sing, Abe, but you’re still using a 4-year-old’s “I Went to the Bathroom by Myself” record to accomplish your goal — and that will never not be funny.