Wow. I mean, wow. I know I said Midge learned nothing from the Shy Baldwin tour experience, but when you see how clueless she still is after literally losing her job for nearly outing a gay Black man, it’s cringe-inducing.
Look, I get that this is 60 years ago and that in general privileged, white, straight, cisgender women like Midge were clueless about the (underground) LGBTQ+ scene. But Midge works in show business. She shouldn’t be that thick about what it means to be gay — as in, homosexuality was still a crime in all 50 states in 1960. A scene in which Midge makes a spectacle of herself in a Christopher Street park by loudly and repeatedly announcing she’s not a cop while trying to find a lesbian bar should never have happened. Not in 1960 and certainly not on TV in 2022.
Also what kind of “friend” makes assumptions about another person’s sexual preferences? And what kind of “friend” who has forged her career on the idea of not needing a husband suddenly decides her manager will be happy if she’s in a relationship? You’re a hypocrite, Midge.
Don’t worry, my anger isn’t only reserved for Midge this episode. Joel’s getting plenty of it, too. Joel wants to introduce Mei to his parents but only because he wants to get his nagging mother and ex-mother-in-law off his back. Mei, understandably, is resistant because she can already predict all the “colorfully descriptive” terms that will undoubtedly come flying out of Moishe’s and Shirley’s filterless mouths. Does Joel take her in his arms, declare his love and promise to have her back as they confront his racist parents together? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course not because why should he care about Mei’s feelings — he’s gotta get Shirley to stop sending girls to his workplace! Besides, Mei doesn’t trust Joel is completely over Midge, which, um, he isn’t.
“Interesting People on Christopher Street” marks the midway point of the fourth season, and I’m still trying to figure out where exactly this series is going. I get that Midge had to restart her career — and doing so at a place like the Wolford makes sense. But is she going to hold true to her word and “change the business”? She’s expending more energy trying to whip the Wolford into shape instead of advancing her career. On the other hand, Susie takes a major step forward this episode, suggesting she, not Midge, will be the one who affects change because it looks like Susie is going to continue doing the impossible with Sophie Lennon.
Oh, right, the big buildup in the last episode about Abe and his friend Asher going to jail ended up being a whole lot of nothing. It was just a narrative ploy to get Asher to divulge that he and Rose dated briefly in the 1920s. This revelation makes Abe insanely jealous. He tries to implicate Asher during the FBI interview, and while they’re arguing, I’m assuming the case got thrown out. Asher then decides to write a play about their love triangle, cackling all the way back to Florida. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The shows at the Wolford strip club continue to be technical disasters, but the only one who seems to care is Midge. She struts out of the theater announcing to the air, “All of this has to get better!” Hey, Midge, this isn’t your show. Stop ordering everyone around. Midge grabs a late-night dinner with a pediatrician, but this scene (“So you’re a comedian. Where do you get the ideas for your jokes?” Tres conjeturas, doctor) is more of an excuse for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to remind us why Midge and Susie are still a fantastic TV duo — and why you always need a friend to bail you out of an awful blind date. Over Chinese food and beer, Midge tries to get Susie to talk about her love life but is quickly shut down. Next thing we know, Midge and her kicky Dior jacket are annoying the hell out of half the West Village.
While Midge is getting the 411 on secret gay bars from an also-Dior-clad gentleman named Lazarus (John Waters!), Susie is doing something that, well, sounds productive. Her hitmen buddies, Nicky and Frank, offer her a sweet deal on an office-apartment combo they once used as a safe house — with a view right onto Times Square. Trouble is, Susie’s got such stars in her eyes at the prospect of expanding into Susie Myerson and Associates that she doesn’t listen when Nicky and Frank talk turkey: They want a cut of her business in lieu of rent. Oh, Susie, no …
On that note: Oh, Midge, no. That night, Susie is blathering on about her jackpot of an office space as Midge leads her to the spot Lazarus recommended. It takes Susie all of two seconds to figure out what’s up, and Midge’s “Fun, huh?” does not help. I believe Midge when she insists up and down that she doesn’t care about Susie’s sexual orientation. What I don’t like is her continued hypocrisy: If Midge can focus on her career instead of love, why can’t Susie? All Susie cares about right now is building her business, and again, I get that this is 1960, and it wasn’t common for women to have those attitudes, but isn’t that exactly what Midge is fighting to change? That and: How could Midge think Susie would be clueless about gay bars when she lives in the West Village?
The one thing Midge does get right in this episode is she manages to improve both the conditions and the production values at the Wolford. She gains a ton of respect from the female strippers and servers when she orders the male stage manager to knock before entering the ladies’ dressing room and to stop telling the women to “get their assess onstage.” Now that Midge has won her colleagues over, they’re gathering to listen to her (spotlightless) stand-up routine. Her set about housewives’ secret sex lives destroys. The curtain almost does, too, but hey, baby steps. By the end of the episode, the strip club’s final act is tight and together, and Midge even calls it “Perfect!” Except when she trips and falls into the orchestra pit. Remember, baby steps.
Above Times Square, Susie is nursing her newest client back to health — Alfie, the weird magician from episode one (okay, why?) — when she gets two deliveries. One is an “I’m sorry” floral arrangement from Midge. The other is Sophie Lennon in the flesh. Apparently, Susie is Sophie’s only hope. She’s been blackballed and is desperate for work. Even Susie has to admit things have gotten pretty damn bad for Sophie if Dawes has left after following his employer to a mental institution. Against her better judgment, Susie agrees to continue managing Sophie, helping her land a gig hosting a game show on NBC. Meta much?
May their first step toward a renewed partnership be a class in Elevator Procedures 101.
More Maisel Musings
• I do have to give the episode credit here: If you hang out in the West Village long enough, you will run into John Waters.
• Thinking back to the second episode, I appreciate how the series threw in that brief mention of Shy Baldwin’s engagement. Unlike Midge, Shy would never be able to bounce back if he was outed. I’m guessing the whispers about his sexuality got a lot louder after the Apollo show, forcing him to get engaged as a way of tempering the rumors. Again something that would never have crossed Midge’s mind.
• Asher is right: Thusly is a stupid word.