Mrs. Maisel as Villainous character

There is a running joke throughout the first three seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that the titular Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is always late. She is late for her comedy shows. Late to her job at the department store. Late even to family gatherings. But with her unabashed wit and never-ending supply of color-coordinated outfits, this has always been played up as one of her charming quirks—rather than the selfish behavior it actually is—and we as an audience were all too willing to look past it in return for another quick one-liner.

That is, until the Season 3 finale, which saw Midge all but out Shy Baldwin, the singer who gave the comedian her big break as his opening act, as gay during one of her sets. It was an ultimate betrayal, not just because she revealed the deepest secret of a Black man in the 1960s, potentially risking his life and career, but because Shy was the one who had confided in her in the first place as a friend. It was one of the most difficult moments of the series to watch, as it was the first time creator Amy Sherman-Palladino really cast Midge as the villain of her own story, gifting an invigorating new tension to a series that was becoming just a bit too fluffy and repetitive.

To Midge’s credit, she has been wronged and put down by men before. Her husband cheated on her, her father barely respects her and the men who run the comedy clubs refuse to give her a chance even though she is leagues ahead of the hacks they put on stage. But the sins of the father and ex-husband do not excuse the sins of the daughter and ex-wife, and the show plays this monologue as a triumph, with Midge’s manager Suzy looking on with admiration, listening in as the audience laughs and cheers.

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Perhaps Midge’s selfishness would be more excusable if it was just aimed at the men who perpetuate harm. But Midge is willing to take advantage of anyone and everyone to get what she wants. In Season 4, Episode 2, “Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps,” she uses her charm and looks to increase her credit with the baker and dry cleaners, knowing full well that she does not have the money to pay them. But when the milk company refuses to do the same—due to a technical and sexist policy in which Midge is deemed creditless because her ex-husband was the one who paid the milk bill while they were married—she tries to steal her neighbor’s milk and tells the company that its dairy product smells like “cow piss.”

Yet perhaps Midge’s cruelest behavior comes in the form of what she does not say. Not once in the two-episode premiere does Midge inquire about how Suzy, who, as Midge’s manager, also just lost her big break, is doing. Instead, she orders her to organize her money so she can pay for her absurdly beautiful Riverside apartment and calls her to complain about, you guessed it, the milk.

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