There’s nothing exactly unexpected in the fourth season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: It has the show’s signature Amazon-size production budget, a satisfying pitter-patter of dialogue, and a devotion to the idea that its heroine is charming despite her many flaws that are starting to wear a little thin. But as I dutifully made my way through the season, three things have haunted me:
(1) The fact that Midge is performing in a burlesque club means that Amy Sherman-Palladino, who was working on an adaptation of Gypsy in 2019, constantly references the musical both textually and subtextually throughout the season. (Midge’s mother’s name is Rose; we should have seen this coming.)
(2) At one point, Midge’s manager Susie says that she has booked her a gig in Croatia, which in 1960 would more likely have been referred to as part of Yugoslavia.
(3) The show promised guest appearances from some big (at least to people who have watched Gilmore Girls) guest stars, and those people barely appeared onscreen.
That last point is what we have to address here because, after much teasing about the fact that Jess — a.k.a. Milo Ventimiglia; a.k.a. the too-buff dad from This Is Us — was going to appear at some point this season, his appearance in episode seven is so brief you could almost blink and miss it. (You would have to blink for a couple of minutes, but maybe some people do.) This is not to disparage Maisel’s overall quest to compete with The Gilded Age in employing the greatest number of New York theater actors and with Christopher Nolan in employing the greatest number of male brunettes. But there are three significant actors who have this sort of imperceptible, five-minute-or-less cameo over the course of the season, so we felt it was only right to break down exactly how minute those cameos are.
The character: Lazarus, a gay man who guides Midge to a lesbian bar for Susie.
Total screen time: 90 seconds.
Purpose in the season: Introducing Midge to the concept of gay bars.
You may know him from: Being gay.
Did he get a stand-alone casting announcement? Yes, absolutely.
Memorable dialogue: [Gesturing at his suit] “This is Dior, too.”
Will he return? Seems unlikely, but maybe if the show wants to venture down to Christopher Street again and/or John Waters wants a little paycheck.
The character: Handsome man Midge meets in Central Park.
Total screen time: 129 seconds over the course of a four-minute cold open.
Purpose in the season: Flirting with Midge in the park, inviting her back to his place for coffee, acting shocked when his wife comes home early and interrupts them after sex.
You may know him from: Gilmore Girls, This Is Us, endless debates about which boy was right for Rory Gilmore.
Did he get a stand-alone casting announcement? He got so much coverage.
Memorable dialogue: Most of what Milo’s character says is spoken as voice-over by Rachel Brosnahan, but he does get a total of three lines of dialogue (the rest are obscured by the sound of a dog barking): “What the hell are you doing here?”; “She’s not from the steno pool!”; and “Draw up a list of every guy you’ve slept with, otherwise we’re going to be here all goddamn day!”
Will he return? Hopefully not, otherwise it would ruin what is actually a pretty funny meta casting bit.
The character: Benedetta no last name, head of a consortium of New York matchmakers who convene in Brighton Beach.
Total screen time: Four minutes and five seconds at the end of episode six with an additional 17 seconds in episode eight.
Purpose in the season: Threatening Rose to stop encroaching into their territory with her matchmaking business.
You may know her from: Gilmore Girls, A Chorus Line, Bunheads if you’re cool.
Did she get a stand-alone casting announcement? She got a whole video.
Memorable dialogue: “Manhattan is divided up into territories. It’s the only way to keep the peace after the wars.”
Will she return? She uses those 17 seconds at the end of episode eight to say she will get revenge on Rose. Hopefully revenge is a dish served with more screen time.