Season 3 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” finds fledgling comic Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) embarking on her first tour — for the USO — with R & B singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain); they will play 18 dates in the US and Europe.
The Amazon series raised the stakes last season by setting its core characters in new directions. Maisel’s father, Abe Weissman (Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub), quit his job at Columbia University. Maisel’s manager Susie Myerson (Emmy winner Alex Borstein) was approached by a huge star for representation, an offer she can’t really refuse. Most important, Midge dated a handsome, sarcastic New York doctor (Zachary Levi) who asked for — and was granted — Abe’s blessing to propose.
All of these storylines will be developed in the eight new episodes (down from 10 episodes in Season 2), which take Midge far from her comfort zone. Series lead Brosnahan — who, in person, is actually blonde (she wears a wig on the show) — talked to The Post about the role that changed her life and made her, at age 29, a full-fledged TV star who has scooped up one award after another (Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild) for her charismatic portrayal.
What do you hear from female viewers about the show?
One of the coolest things about being part of the show is that I hear something different from everyone. What they love about it. How they started watching. What drew them and why they stayed. A couple of things I hear a lot. One: Midge is unapologetically confident and that’s something women find inspiring. Also: that she’s reinventing herself at a point in her life where that’s not expected or encouraged. Once you’ve settled down your life, that’s supposed to be it. Midge has found a completely new dream and a completely new path she wants to walk down. That’s inspiring for some people, women especially but women and men. And also that the show is hopeful and colorful with a bit of fantasy. And there’s this character who leads with joy. She throws herself into everything head first, 150 percent. She’s an eternal optimist.
[Creator] Amy Sherman-Palladino said she was going to blow up the show. From what I’ve seen so far it seems that everyone is going to be forced to lead a different life. Midge is going to be traveling for the series’ eight episodes. You’re going to be working with completely different actors, am I correct?
Every season of the show Midge’s world and the world of the show have expanded. We went to Vegas. We literally went to Miami. That meant we got to meet a lot of new people with our background actors, especially in Miami, but also in the cast. We had Sterling K. Brown join us. We get to see a lot more of Leroy McClain, who plays Shy Baldwin. Stephanie Hsu, who plays a new character named Mei. She’s phenomenal. She and I went to school together. She’s been working on Broadway the last couple of years. She’s such an exciting addition to the cast. We have Cary Elwes. I’m not allowed to say what role he has.
Midge and Joel have a very amicable divorce. Who’s getting custody of the two kids?
They share custody. But Joel will be the at-home caretaker while Midge is on the road. It’s a pretty progressive arrangement they’ve come up with.
Some critics might say that’s unheard-of. How do you respond?
It frustrates me when people say that. Midge is a character on a television series and in this world, she’s doing it. And her husband has agreed to pick up the slack in a way that is true to the time. It’s challenging for him. He’s expressed many times how challenging it is for him to grapple with her being successful. And her being successful at something he wanted to succeed at. That’s been one of the primary sources of tension for them. That doesn’t feel unrealistic to me.
What does Midge learn about herself as she goes from town to town without her family?
She definitely forms a lot of new relationships. She’s lonely sometimes. She’s learning more of what it’s like to be a comic on the road. The ways in which it’s more exciting than anything she’s ever done and the ways in which it’s hard. It’s hard to miss out on what’s happening at home. It’s hard not to be able to be in two places at once. She’s going to grow a lot. The audiences are from different places in the country and the world. They all don’t know what a B. Altman’s is. They don’t know what she’s talking about when she’s talking about walking down Park Avenue. And she’s going to have to learn to reach different audiences of different sizes. She’s going to have to learn both how to do what she wants and also what’s best for her relationship with Shy.
Will they have a romance?
I couldn’t possibly say.
You listened to a lot of comedy records when you started on the show. When you knew Midge was going out on the road as a stand up comic, did you do any further research?
I tried to do most of the research before we ever started working on the show and then we let Midge’s own journey be Midge’s own journey. But I try to keep fresh. I recently read Steve Martin’s book about beginning to do stand-up [“Born Standing Up“]. I found it such a peek behind the curtain. Particularly the first time he went on the road. He captures so well both the insufferable loneliness and the intoxication of being on stage. And trying new things. And how bad the audiences were sometimes. But also how exhilarating that was.
What are your favorite Midge outfits?
Midge’s first day of work outfit. A gray dress with a great big red, blue and white bow. And a little red hat with a pin through it. In the second season, there’s a black and white checked short suit. With little pink shoes and a little pink blouse beneath it. There is a costume this season and I can’t say which episode it’s from. It’s in a moment where Midge is getting exposed; she’s being called out on something. It’s like an orange dress with white flowers on it. The hat is white with orange flowers on it. It’s a very loud and really colorful dress. And our costume designer Donna Zakowska said, “I want Midge to look a little bit like a clown because she’s getting called out on this thing.” So it’s just a fashion nod to clowning. It’s genius. And no one will ever know that it’s exactly that. Donna’s framing it that way taught me something different about that scene. It gave me a different framework to think about the scene.