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Guide: Amazon Season 2 THE MARVELOUS MRS MAISEL Q&A Rachel Brosnahan & Cast/Creators, Episodes

Maj Canton - December 4, 2018

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On Wednesday, December 5, 2018 Amazon Prime Video premieres Season 2 of the Emmy winning series, the absolutely marvelous, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL. After Midge's triumph at the Gaslight, she still has to deal with the fallout from her takedown of Sophie Lennon, making her move up the comedy ladder more challenging and fraught than ever. Midtown may seem like a few blocks north, but it's a world away for Midge and Susie. From Paris to the basement of B. Altman, from the Catskills to a nightclub in DC, Midge's choice to pursue stand-up makes her more aware of the bubble she's lived in and of the sexism she faces every day. Midge's decisions have a ripple effect on all the people in her orbit: Abe and Rose question the life they lead; Joel grows up and becomes the man he always knew he could be; and Susie starts thinking about her future as a manager of talent. As fall comes around, Midge's career starts to heat up, the pressure to come clean to her family weighs on her, the actual grind of being a comic begins to take its toll, and a new relationship gets serious. A road trip leads to a televised gig, which leads to Midge finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as all her hard work is paying off. Additionally, there is fallout from her “takedown” of beloved character comic Sophie Lennon. It all builds to Midge being given the opportunity of a lifetime... But at what cost? If you loved the first season you're going to love the second season even more!

 

Starring Rachel Brosnahan (Miriam “Midge” Maisel), Tony Shalhoub (Abe Weissman), Alex Borstein (Susie Myerson), Michael Zegen (Joel Maisel), Kevin Pollak (Moishe Maisel), Marin Hinkle (Rose Weissman), and Luke Kirby (Lenny Bruce). Joining the cast for Season 2 is Zachary Levi, who plays a Manhattan doctor, and Jane Lynch returns as comedienne Sophie Lennon.

 


 


This past July TV Tango attended the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, where Amazon presented a panel that included cast - Rachel Brosnahan, Tony Shalhoub, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Kevin Pollak, Marin Hinkle plus Creators/Executive Producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.

 

The creators and cast at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour in July 2018.

From left to right: Creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino and

actors Rachel Brosnahan, Tony Shalhoub, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Marin Hinkle, and Kevin Pollak.

 


Rachel Brosnahan as Midge.

Question: Do you think most housewives would be good at stand-up comedy like Mrs. Maisel?


Alex Borstein: They'd have a lot of material.


Amy Sherman-Palladino: Stand-up comedy is its own very strange world of desperation and pain and anger so it fits in the wheelhouse, right? It's a very tough gig. There's only one Midge, just saying.


Rachel Brosnahan: I can't imagine anything braver and I am not that brave. Amy had said that she would write something for me and shove me out on the stage and I think I ran the other way, as fast as I possibly could. I spent hours and hours and hours watching stand-up. I really enjoyed watching beginning comics trying out new material. That was something I felt that I learned from the most. Thankfully, the writing is so brilliant, so sharp, so smart and I've had a lot of help from these guys in finding the timing.



Amy Sherman-Palladino at TCA.

Question: Have you had the opportunity to do deeper dives into the lives and careers of real-life female stand-ups to mine for ideas and stories for the show?


Amy Sherman-Palladino: Well, we came armed. I know a lot about Joan Rivers, and I know a lot about Sally Marr, who was Lenny Bruce's mother. So, I think every now and then, we do something where we'll look up something. So there's a lot of swear words that we want to make sure that we are saying the right word. “Did they say ‘asswipe' back then?” “No, that's a modern thing, but they said this thing.” So it's a lot of that. We don't really consider this a show about stand-up comedy -- I know that sounds kind of crazy because she's a stand-up - but we really think of this more as a show about this particular woman and her going from one life to another life, and the fact that when her life explodes, it explodes everyone else's life around it. We're so focused on that, that we're not really trying to like tell the entire world of stand-up comedy. It's actually a very elusive world. It's a tough world to sort of dramatize. When you see the comics when they show up and when they've had a good set or a bad set, and the behind-the-scenes drama, like it's really its own thing. So we are really dramatizing a woman's struggle in a time when she wasn't supposed to have that voice, or do those things, or make these changes, and she suddenly decides to have that voice and make those changes and what the sort of the tidal wave is.


  Kevin Pollak at TCA.

Question: Kevin, having experience as a stand-up, do you feel inclined to chime in with advice?


Kevin Pollak: For the first time in a very long time, I get to shut up. Because the material really is so ridiculous each and every time. Just in terms of the stand-up, I think I had a conversation with Luke, who does such an amazing job as Lenny Bruce. But in terms of Rachel, I will tell you from the stand-up community, it is the one thing that I've enjoyed the most hearing from comedians about how great she is, and they can't believe she never did stand-up. It's one of the great compliments.


Rachel Brosnahan as Midge.

Question: Rachel, can you talk about where your character left off emotionally in Season 1 and how that propels her into Season 2?


Rachel Brosnahan: At the end of Season 1, we left Midge in a pretty triumphant moment. She's finally arrived as Mrs. Maisel, the stand-up comedienne. I can't say a whole lot about where she'll head in Season 2 but good things can't last long.


Rachel Brosnahan as Midge (left) and Marin Hinkle as Rose (right).

Question: Do you feel pressure trying to follow up such a successful first season?


Amy Sherman-Palladino: There's a lot of pressure anyhow, because we have such an amazing group of actors. And when you have a group of actors of this caliber, that means that the stories and the scripts and dialogue have to be of a certain caliber, otherwise we're not doing them their service. So, that's a self-imposed, sort of nausea kind of thing that's always there. So Season 2 is big. It's big and we feel like we've got, for the first time in our career, we have the support from the brass. We have the actors. We have all of the pieces to go big or go home. We don't go home. We never go home. We have not been home in two years. I don't know what home is. It looks like my office. But it's really a matter of the minute we got into bed with the people that we got into bed with, the pressure is always going to be higher and higher and higher. And eventually, you know, we'll die. Then it will be over.


Alex Borstein at TCA.

Question: Can you tell us about the adventures of Susie in the coming season?


Alex Borstein: It's kind of like her Salieri finding her Mozart. It's also exploding her world. So she's changing. Like, every single molecule is shifting, but she's so excited. I think she's finally found the great love of her life, which is Midge. I mean that in a larger sense -- I think it's her passion. And it's an interesting time period. You know, 1958-1959, for me to think about, is when my mother immigrated here from Hungary. As a Jew, we really had different experience than the Maisels and the Weissmans. So there are a lot of different Jews out there.


Rachel Brosnahan as Midge (left) and Zachary Levi as Benjamin (right).

Question: How much of what's going on in the world at large [Korean War, McCarthyism] will impact what's happening to Midge?


Amy Sherman-Palladino: I don't think that we necessarily are a show that tries to mimic or capitalize or reflect. Pretty much, we just stay true to the story that we fell in love with and the characters that we fell in love with. The thing is because it's about a woman who is going through a major change and realizing suddenly the box that she has been put in -- Midge was the Queen of the Upper West Side. She thought her life was amazing -- it wasn't until she decided to strike out that she realized, “Oh wait, oh there's a box, there are walls, I'm not supposed to -- what?” You know, these were new things for her and weirdly, we're in a time where women are trying to break out of a box still. So it has a bit of a reflection of the politics that are going on or the struggles that are going on and it picks up on that. But I don't think that we ever set out to try and mine that or that we sit there and we go, “This thing happened today, so let's reflect it in what we're doing.”


  Marin Hinkle at TCA.

Question: How is the dynamic between Marin and Tony [Rose and Abe] in Season 2?


Marin Hinkle: I think that we knew -- and we talked to Amy and Dan about this -- that whatever struggle the two are going to have in Season 1, the love is so deep and the respect for each other so deep. And even though there's going to be this ripple effect for what happens with my daughter's life -- I'm losing some control over her. And I think that my self-confidence is so shaken by not having Midge be who I think she is. I don't know yet what she really is. But you're going to see in the next season her ripples of losing her daughter. I'm a mother myself, and my child's a teenager and I feel it going home every day the same kind of feeling.


Michael Zegen as Joel (left) and Kevin Pollak as Abe (right).

Question: What's going on with Joel in Season 2?


Michael Zegen: He's kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. Because on the one hand, he loves Midge, and he saw that she was really talented. And on the other hand, it's a huge blow to his ego that she is this talented. So I think that's what we're kind of exploring in Season 2. I can't really say too much. But there's a lot of love there.


Rachel Brosnahan: You'll definitely see a lot of their attempts to co-parent. Because the truth about their relationship is they will never be able to be without one another in some capacity. And it creates a wonderful, dramatic tension. And you really do get to explore a lot of the depths of their love, and all of its different capacities this season. It's complicated, and it always will be. And it's one of my favorite parts about working on Season 2.

Tony Shalhoub: Just from the outside and being another character and actor in the group, watching the dynamic as it unfolds in Season 2 between the two of them -- it almost feels like they're actually getting to know each other more. And they're revealing sides of themselves that their marriage did not -- the slots or the roles they fell into as a conventional married couple did not allow. And so in some weird way, even though they're not together, their relationship is somehow deepening.


Daniel Palladino: We knew -- Amy and I when we started working on the stories for the first season -- we always knew that the very last moment of the eighth episode was going to be Joel saying, “She's good.” He was going to be the second person to really see what the talent was. And so it weirdly does kind of start a weird connection between Susie and Joel. We didn't want Joel to see it and go, “I hate this,” and it's all negative. His real heartbreak was not that she was talking about him, but that she was really, really good at the thing that he wanted to be good at. And it sets him off on a whole new journey for him.


Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino at TCA.

Question: What is the production and costume design process like for this show?


Amy Sherman-Palladino: We were very lucky because HBO had unexpectedly canceled “Vinyl” and so there were a lot of extraordinarily talented people wandering the streets of New York. We were very lucky to find Bill Groom and Donna Zakowska, who do our production design and our costumes. And when you find sort of mad, crazy, genius pirates like that, who work from script -- they really read the material and there's a lot of talks about Rachel and her character and where her character is going. And the pink at the beginning is not the pink at the end, because Rachel at the beginning is not the same person at the end, so she can't wear the same kind of pink. So this kind of pink is at the beginning and then later on, it'll be a different pink, and for a while we won't see pink, because when she's very upset, there's no pink, and she's coming out of it. It's all about what the content of the story is and then they go and I don't know what they do. There's brews and cauldrons and they worship and things and puffs of smoke and then it's just magic.

Daniel Palladino: It's kind of much easier to point the camera almost anywhere and everywhere and everybody looks really good. I think the costumes really help all of these guys get into character so well and to be on those sets where everything looks so real. And then everything we don't get right, our special effects people fix in post.


  Rachel Brosnahan at TCA.

Question: How has success changed you?


Rachel Brosnahan: You know, I get asked that a lot, and I never really have a good answer, because the truth is, it doesn't feel like a whole lot's changed. We're so lucky to be working on this project that we love, and that other people have loved as much as we do. The show came out, and people liked it, and I have a trophy on my toilet, and then we started shooting Season 2. So I don't really have a great answer to that, other than that hopefully more people tune in.


EPISODE GUIDE: SEASON 2


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by Amazon Prime, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.


"Simone" (Episode 1)
In the Season 2 premiere, Midge takes the stage for a foreign audience, while Abe and Rose find themselves in a new world. Susie experiences the repercussions of having a bad reputation in the business, as Joel regroups after quitting his job.

"Mid-Way to Midtown" (Episode 2)
Midge and Susie continue building Midge's standup career despite Midge's reluctance to tell her family and friends. Abe and Rose enjoy a new lifestyle. Joel offers some business advice to his parents and makes an effort to do right by Midge.

"The Punishment Room" (Episode 3)
Midge puts her impeccable planning to the test as she helps Mary with her special day. Joel attempts to keep finances steady at Maisel & Roth and ends up on a treasure hunt. Midge's act flourishes, but Susie's finances take a hit. Back at Columbia, Rose finds herself out of her comfort zone when auditing classes.

"We're Going to the Catskills!" (Episode 4)
The Weissmans arrive in the Catskills for their annual summer trip and attempt to settle into familiar patterns. Whispers of Midge and Joel's separation cause Rose to poke around her daughter's love life. Susie must adjust her summer plans in an effort to keep her and Midge's career momentum going.

"Midnight at the Concord" (Episode 5)
Summer season at Steiner Mountain Resort continues as Moishe and Shirley join the group, disturbing Abe's peace. Susie tries to ward off a new friend while keeping a low profile at the resort. Midge jumps at the opportunity to redeem herself at B. Altman.

"Let's Face the Music and Dance" (Episode 6)
With Midge's secret now exposed to Abe, tensions between them are higher than ever. Summer is nearing an end with Susie fully immersed in her Steiner persona and Joel contemplating life as a bachelor. Rose takes advantage of Astrid's fragile state to learn some surprising intel about Noah.

"Look, She Made a Hat" (Episode 7)
Benjamin opens Midge's eyes to the New York art scene, and she ends up knowing more about art than she realizes. The Maisel and Weissman families come together for a tension-filled Yom Kippur dinner on the anniversary of Joel and Midge's separation. Meanwhile, a reluctant Susie turns to her family for help in advancing her career.

"Someday..." (Episode 8)
Midge and Susie gear up for their first road trip, and quickly learn that the dynamics of going on tour are more challenging than they thought. Back in New York, it's business as usual while Midge is away, forcing her to wonder if her new life is worth sacrificing her home life.

"Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy" (Episode 9)
Susie lands Midge her first gig on television, but their victory is short-lived when they realize Midge is being punished for her past. Abe is increasingly unhappy in his dream job at Bell Labs while Joel continues to drown in work during late nights at Maisel & Roth.

"All Alone" (Episode 10)
Midge and Rose begin planning for Midge's future as Benjamin attempts to impress Abe. Joel stresses over his next move, while Abe is presented with some big decisions of his own. Meanwhile, Susie tries to smooth things over for Midge.