Wisdom//

The Valuable Life Lessons We All Need from Season Two of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

We need to talk about that important scene between Midge and Joel.

Nicole Rivelli/Amazon
Nicole Rivelli/Amazon

The entire second season of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is out now, and the first episode features — along with gorgeous costumes and iconic scenes of 1950s New York — valuable lessons on what it means to live a purposeful and authentic life.

You don’t need great wealth to have a meaningful life.

As the new season opens, Midge’s mother, Rose (Marin Hinkle), leaves New York for Paris because, as she matter-of-factly tells her husband Abe (Tony Shalhoub), “Everything and everyone that I always counted on has let me down. I don’t know what my place is here.” Abe continues to drink his coffee as Rose makes this declaration, his eyes glued to the newspaper, ignoring her completely. Later, when Abe and Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) fly to France to retrieve Rose, we see where she is living: a modest one-bedroom, the same one she lived in as a student decades earlier, furnished with a single armchair and a cockroach in the hallway. The lack of amenities and plain white walls stand in sharp contrast to the Weismanns’ glamorous home on the Upper West Side — so much so that you wonder if a woman with Rose’s background could truly be satisfied in her new place. Yet she smiles in Paris, and has a laissez-faire attitude about seemingly everything — a surprising shift for her character. While the show makes clear that wealth often doesn’t lead to happiness, we now also see that letting go of things, and aiming for a simpler life, often does. It’s an important lesson for Rose, and valuable for the rest of us, too.

There are opportunities to hone your craft wherever you go.

In the first episode, after leaving dinner with her mother in Paris, Midge stumbles into a cocktail bar, walks on stage, and takes the mic. With the help of a New Yorker in the front row who can translate, Midge starts improvising jokes. It’s an admirable goal: to be that committed to your craft that you’ll toss modesty to the wayside in the pursuit of exercising it. Of course, taking time to recharge is essential, but Midge’s unbridled passion is a reminder that opportunities to hone our craft are everywhere, not just in the traditional four walls of wherever we associate with “work.”

Choose a partner who supports your work.

In the final scene of the episode, Midge makes a collect call to Joel (Michael Zegen), her estranged husband. When she pleads with him to give their relationship another chance, he explains that he can’t — not because he doesn’t love her, but because he can’t be “a joke.” He has seen her charisma under the lights, and how the story of their marriage takes center stage in her work as a comedian, and he can’t bear it. “Perhaps another man could handle it, but not me,” he tells her. Midge cries, but she does not apologize for her work. Her job as a comedian is central to her, and it gives her joy — animating her work life and her home life. A romantic partnership with someone who doesn’t support or understand the profession that gives her meaning and purpose is not a compromise that makes sense for her.

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