Midge Maisel (née Miriam Weissman) is the titular character on Amazon Prime show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Miriam "Midge" Maisel was born Miriam Weissman to father, Abe Weissman, and mother, Rose Weissman. She is the wife of Joel Maisel and the mother of their two children, Ethan, and Esther Maisel. Before she married Joel, she went to college and earned a degree in Russian literature, although her primary goal in going to school was to find a husband.
In the Pilot episode, an early hint of her latent comedic talent is shown when she drunkenly improvised a set on the spot, displaying the unfiltered wit she would later forge her career from.
By the beginning of the show's main series of events, Midge had been living a happy and seemingly-idealized life for the past four years, taking notes to help her husband, who had been moonlighting as a standup comic in the evenings, hone his comedy routine.
Her seemingly-perfect life was shattered, however, when her husband Joel revealed that he has been having an affair with his secretary, Penny Pann, and leaves Midge for her when he "bombs" (fails) his set.
This leads Midge to a breakdown, drinking a full bottle of wine and drunkenly wandering onto the stage of the Gaslight, the club where her husband had been performing.
She tells the story of what had just happened to the crowd at the club in the style of a comedy set, getting more laughs than Joel had ever gotten. The club's manager, Susie Meyerson, took note of Midge's comedic potential and decided to push her towards a career in stand-up.
Midge is generally a highly organized and commanding individual, and a socialite, who effortlessly takes control of a situation and authoritatively managing those around her. She helps others who are overwhelmed at her workplace.
She is usually very friendly and outgoing, and quick to offer help to her friends. She is also known for her fine taste and is able to quickly tell at a glance what makeup would best suit a customer at her workplace of B. Altman, as makeup seems to be a passion of hers, an example is that she even leaves a family vacation in the summer just for the chance to work at the makeup counter.
While she is performing, however, or when she loses control of her emotions, she is known for her quick wit, sharp tongue (and often profanity-laden speech), and for speaking her mind with little filter, which lends itself well to her stand-up routines, but sometimes has disastrous consequences.
She also displays feminist viewpoints, decrying the manner in which women were treated in America in the late 1950s.
Midge is a woman in her late 20s with a dark brown bob. In college and during her early 20s, her hair was blonde. She is often seen in dresses that were popular during the era of the show's setting.
She also is always well-groomed with a large collection of hats and knowledge and passion for make-up.
HistoryMiriam "Midge" Maisel was born Miriam Weissman to father, Abe Weissman, and mother, Rose Weissman. She is the wife of Joel Maisel and the mother of their two children, Ethan, and Esther Maisel. Midge is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, with a degree in Russian literature.
The Pilot episode opens with a flashback of Midge and her husband Joel's wedding day where Midge is giving a toast to their wedding day.
The series then flash-forwards to four years later where Midge seems to be living an almost idealistic and happy married life.
Miriam helped her husband, Joel, a budding stand up comedian by night and businessman by day hone his act by taking notes in a little pink notebook during each performance at a local club known as The Gaslight. She also helps him get his nightly time slot by bringing a home-made brisket to bribe a man, Bazz working at the club so that Joel can perform.
Midge makes a discovery that Joel has been stealing his routines from a famous comedian, Bob Newhart. Joel brushes of Miriam's concerns about this as, "something all the greats do when they first start out."
Joel and Miriam invite their best friends Archie and Imogene to watch Joel's act. This ends up being a particularly rough performance, getting no laughs. When they get home, Joel, still raging about the set, admits to Midge he has been having an extramarital affair with his young secretary Penny and is tired of depending on her. Heartbroken, Midge forces Joel to out of the apartment, and he packs up her suitcase and leaves.
Midge then goes to her parents' apartment and tells them Joel has left her and that he is having an affair with his secretary. Abe responds rather angrily, reminding her that he had (surreptitiously) told her to not choose a weak man. On the contrary, Rose breaks down sobbing. To Midge's shock, Abe demands her to get Joel back, telling her that she cannot survive on her own.
When Midge gets home, she downs a bottle of wine, traipsing in the rain and her nightgown to the Gaslight. She wanders onto the stage, muttering to herself, and soon is venting her anger in an improvised set. The audience wildly encourages her, and she eventually takes it too far, showing her breasts to show what Joel was missing. The police arrest her for indecent exposure and lack of a cabaret license.
In the squad car, Midge is sat next to who she would later find out to be comic Lenny Bruce. Midge, who had seen Lenny perform several years before, returns to the jail the next morning to post his bail and asks him if he loves comedy. He tells her if he had a choice between comedy or any other job, he would choose comedy. Bruce warns Midge that the comedy business is terrible, but Midge takes his warning as encouragement, teaming with Gaslight manager Susie Myerson.
Susie, the owner of The Gaslight, pays for Midge's bail. Susie takes her to a different bar, The Kettle of Fish Bar, to sit and talk. Miriam makes a remark about how her life is a mess and she lost her shoes and is wearing someone else's.
Susie tells Midge she has great potential to do her own stand-up comedy act. Miriam tells her it was a one-time deal that will not happen again. Susie tells her that unlike her husband she didn't steal and provided her own material, albeit a little rough meaning she does have some talent at wowing an audience. Susie tells her she has a rare gift that in fifteen years of running The Gaslight she has only seen twice. The first being Mort Sahl and the second being Miriam. Midge once again reiterates she wants no part in stand-up comedy.
Miriam suddenly remembers it is Yom Kippur and realizes she is eating nuts and drinking when she should be fasting. Susie tells Midge that she exposed her breasts, which Midge does not remember and eating the nuts would probably be considered trivial by comparison. Miriam thanks Susie for her coat back saying she bought it at Saks and runs out the door of the bar with Susie calling after her to come back.
Miriam looks at her notebook and finds positive notes on her performance including one standing ovation. Miriam swings by The Gaslight where she gets directions to Susie's place. Midge finds her way to Susie's apartment and bangs on the door. She then tells Susie that she hopes she doesn't have a long lease as the apartment is very tiny and cramped. Midge then informs Susie she will be home by ten in the morning and then leaves with Susie once again yelling after her.
Miriam then takes the subway back home and reads her notebook on the way there. The episode ends where Midge is asking Lenny how much he loves comedy. Lenny tells her he loves it and Midge smiles and says, "Yeah, I thought so" thus ending the first episode.
The episode Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme continues where Midge pays the bail of the other comedian, Lenny Bruce, who tells her she will need a lawyer to represent her in court due to her arrest a confused, naive, and sheltered Midge does not understand she needs to appear in court.
She believes since she was bailed by Susie and did not spend the night in jail she does not need a court date. Midge tells Lenny she is confused about what she should do. He advises her to "be her own lawyer."
Midge then passes by a particular restaurant, The City Spoon, where she and Joel had breakfast after their wedding day. Midge imagines herself and Joel sitting at the table leading into a flashback. The flashback They discuss how Midge tried to tackle a lady who caught her bouquet because she felt the "wrong person" caught it. Joel makes a joke about Midge being brutal.
They then talk about how perfect breakfast is and the wedding was. They then have a conversation about whether they should live in an apartment around the corner downtown or the same luxury apartment as Midge's parents. Joel was telling Midge they could be close to that restaurant and the various clubs around that same neighborhood.
Midge tells Joel it would be convenient for when they have kids as Midge's parents could babysit. She makes the point that in the night they could still venture the clubs if they wanted to. Joel tells her he won't say no to her suggestion because he loves her. Midge then tells Joel to meet her in the Ladies' room where they have sex. He jokingly says he thought he married a nice girl to which Midge replied, "No, you did not."
There is then a return to the present day where a depressed Midge enters the restaurant and sits alone at that same table from her wedding day. A waitress asks Midge if she is alone to which Midge confirms she is. The waitress then pours Midge a glass of water from a pitcher. Midge sighs and turns to look at the out of order Ladies' room sign.
The next scene shows Midge and her best friend Imogene at their aerobics lesson. Imogene tells Midge she knows about Joel leaving and then reveals at that very moment Joel is at her home having a conversation with her husband Archie. The only thing Imogene managed to make out of that conversation was "bowling" and "pandas." Imogene then inquires if Joel and Midge fought about bowling.
Midge then reveals to Imogene that Joel left for his secretary, Penny Pann. The aerobics class begins as the instructor Claire leads the class in their workout. Imogene remarks on how unoriginal it is of Joel leaving for his secretary is. Midge responds that unoriginality seems to be "Joel's thing" lately- a possible reference to him stealing Bob Newhart's act.They then talk about "shorthand girls" like Penny who attends secretarial school only to seduce a husband. Imogene says she could have been a "shorthand girl" but instead she chose the "longhand" approach and got married, in her words, the "right way."
Midge then remarks on how the worst part was had she never even suspected anything wrong in her relationship and that she and Joel were always a "great couple." Imogene tells Midge that Archie also said they were a good couple.Imogene then tells Midge to stop working so hard so she is not like the divorcees, referring to a group of women in the back of the room. Imogene reminds Midge they work out so they can eat cheesecake, the divorcees work out so they can get in shape to find new husbands or be slim for when they die alone.
Midge recognizes a lady, Martha Kilgallin, working out in the divorcees' corner and wonders when she joined 'the corner'-referring to the section of the room where the divorcees' workout. Imogene tells her she joined after her divorce hence why she is with the other divorced ladies. Midge remarks how she too is now one of them as well. Midge worries about what will happen when people find out.
Imogene reassures her she and Archie won't tell anyone. Midge points out it will have to come out eventually. Midge and Imogene discuss the pros and cons of telling people the truth about Midge's situation.
Midge later returns home to find Susie waiting for her. Susie yells at her for making her come home at 9:30 in the night and about how Midge banged on her apartment door which she somehow found out where Susie lived. Midge repeatedly apologizes saying she forgot. Susie points out it was Midge who banged on her door of her own free will.
Susie makes continuous jabs at Midge's home and her lavish lifestyle asking where they are. Midge replies it is her apartment. Susie says she first believed Midge was just some poor, drunk housewife that night she came to the club. She had no idea about the state of wealth Midge actually lived in reality.
Midge goes to pick up her children from her parents' next-door place and her son Ethan grabs on to Susie's hand. Susie remarks Ethan's hand is sticky. They then take the elevator down back to Midge's apartment. Ethan lets go of Susie's hand and runs off to play. Midge tells Susie his hand is sticky from eating jam and that children sometimes get sticky hands from eating jam.
Susie still upset about Midge standing her up refuses her offer for iced tea. Midge remarks on how she has to go to court due to her arrest. Susie tells her being bailed does not excuse her from having a court date. Susie then asks her for a paper and pen so they can write down some ideas for Midge's next comedy act.
Midge tells her that the drunk comedy act is something that will not happen again as it was a one-time deal as it is not a reflection of who she is in reality-a well-to-do housewife. Midge admits while it felt good to do and say things she would not normally say or do, it is something that will never happen again as she is not sure if she can get to that same place she was that night, and she isn't going to try.
She then asks Susie if she understands. Susie then replies, "Yeah, I understand." Midge then repays Susie for her bail in cash. Susie accepts the cash and takes one last angry look at Midge before storming out of the apartment.
Later, Midge's mother Rose is on the phone with Shirley, the mother-in-law of Midge. Shirley has just learned about the break-up of Joel and Midge and says her heart is broken as a result. Shirley expresses a desire to see her grandchildren again, spend time with the family, and celebrate New Years together. She then says she will call Midge about it. Before Rose can talk Shirley out of calling Midge she hangs up.
Rose runs over to Midge's apartment where she is already engaged in a phone conversation with Shirley. Midge is reassuring Shirley that her grandchildren do indeed miss her. Shirley insists they all get together for a Thursday night dinner. Rose inquires if Joel will be there and Midge says he is expected to be there as well. Rose tells Midge to wear her red evening dress so Joel can see what he has been missing. Midge states that is not the purpose of the dinner. Her mother replies since Midge is now single that is what every dinner is for.
Midge stands sadly in the nursery and then walks to her bed where she pulls out her little pink notebook from the drawer and flips through it. She then goes to the restroom and starts to put on lipstick-she then stops herself and then realizes gussying up before bed is no longer a necessity as her husband no longer lives with her. She applies her nightly face mask to her face and goes to sleep.
At the Thursday night dinner, Midge feeds Ethan his dinner and then walks down the hall where she sees the front door open then slam shut. She opens it to find Joel standing there. He remarks he was not sure if he was allowed to come in. Midge makes a remark sarcastically telling him which way the living room is. To which Joel replies of course he remembers, he has only been gone a couple of days. The tension continues to build up between the two of them. Joel remarks sarcastically about how well the evening is going.
In the living room, Joel's father Moishe Maisel is retelling a story about how he helped thirteen Jews escape Nazi Germany. Ethan then comes in the living room to say goodnight to his parents and grandparents. Midge exits the living room and enters the dining room looking upset. Her father-in-law enters and tells her if she ever needs anything she can come to him and his wife at any time. Midge excuses herself from the room.
Midge then calls out to her father saying dinner is ready. Joel offers to help carry the serving plate of meat which Midge refuses saying that she can handle it. Joel and Midge then start to discuss the logistics of there separation and Midge reassures Joel he will see the children, as he is their father.
The whole family then sits down to dinner. Moishe starts giving a rambling speech about family and future generations. He once again reiterates how he helped thirteen Jews out of Germany much to everyone else's chagrin. He then talks about how he paid for some seats in Temple and Ed cuts in saying he is the one who paid for the seats. The two then argue about money and Midge's future to which Midge blurts out she wants to go back to school.
Ed then tells Midge and Rose to meet him in a bedroom. He demands to know why Midge didn't ask Joel to come back to which Midge replies she didn't want him there. Ed replies Midge should want him there no matter what happens. He then asks what Midge is going to do. Midge replies she doesn't know. He then hands her some cash.
The three of them return to the dining room where it is revealed that Joel is not the one who owns Midge's apartment but that it was a wedding gift from his father. Moishe says since Joel and Midge are separating he can take the gift back. He then reveals Joel does not have a dime to his name and in actual fact, everything they owned came from him. Shocked, Midge asks Joel to tell her it's not true. The company he works for belongs to another family member. His father says Joel earned nothing and saved nothing. Moishe then yells at Joel saying he should have shared this information with his wife. He then refers to them as being toddlers referring to their lack of communication about their financial situation.
Miriam runs out the door and winds up once more at The Gaslight. Susie pushes away a woman who is in the middle of doing a performance routine to make room on the stage for Midge who starts talking about how her home is no longer her home. Midge is once again arrested for using profanity. Her last words before the police take her away are, "Come back next week, when my grandmother steals my pearls and fucks my boyfriend”. The episode ends when a photographer takes pictures of Midge as she is taken into custody but Susie snatches his camera away and rips out the film saying she is Miriam's manager and they charge for pictures now.
The episode Because You Left starts out with a flashback to Miriam and Joel's college days. When Midge was in college, at one point she had blonde hair. Midge and Joel flirt while dancing at a college party. A football player named Palmer brings Midge an Anmaretto sour to drink. Joel asks Miriam if she likes the song that is playing to which she replies that she does. Joel tells her it is now their song. Miriam mentions every time she turns around she sees Joel standing there. He tells her to get used to it. As he leaves the party Joel tells Midge that they are destined for better things than college. He gives her one last warm smile as he leaves.The flashback then cuts to Miriam once again in jail. Miriam overhears a conversation between two other inmates sharing the same cell as her. Midge advises the woman with bloodstains on her shirt she should put salt on the stain and run boiling water over it till the water runs clear as a method of stain removal.
Midge is bailed out by the comedian Lenny Bruce. She is surprised by this as she thought Susie was the one to bail her. He tells he heard "some cute uptown chick got arrested" after performing at a bar. He put two-and-two together and paid for Miriam's bail.He takes Midge to a restaurant where Susie is waiting for them. Susie says she could not bail Midge as she was taking on the phone to Midge's mother Rose and trying to tell her to take care of the children as Midge was coming home late.
Rose was interrogating Susie over the phone causing Susie to forget her own name hence she was not able to bail Midge.
Susie then sees Bruce in the restaurant and is awe-struck at being in the same room as the comedian. Midge tells her Bruce was the one to bail her because she helped bail him earlier. Susie is shocked by this as they have only known each other for a couple of nights.
Later, Miriam wakes up to find her son Ethan staring at her. When she is in the park with Imogene they discuss it. Imogene says it is likely Ethan knows because children have an uncanny way of knowing the truth. Imogene then tells Midge she should read Dr. Spock which gives advice on how to raise children. Imogene says something about her husband Archie and then realizes she probably should not talk about husbands around Miriam as her marital life is currently rocky.
She then asks if Midge is upset about her bringing up Archie. Midge says she is not upset and Imogene says Miriam is ganging up on her. Midge points out there is no way she could be ganging up on Imogene as there is only one of her. Imogene then says she hates Joel and Miriam states she is no longer the president of his fan club. The two women continue their walk through the park with their strollers.Later Midge gets dressed up to go see the lawyer who will represent her in court. She drops the kids off at her parents' place and makes an excuse of going to the dentist as she does not want her parents to know the real reason for that outing. She then heads towards the lawyer's office where Susie is waiting for her. She comments on the dilapidated state of the office and the strange smells coming from it. Susie says the smell might be coming from her.
The lawyer, Mr. Mike Kessler then asks if Susie and Midge are his 11:00 to which they confirm they are. Susie then introduces Midge to the lawyer. He then remarks on Midge's dress and asks if she is going to a country club. She replies she simply chose to dress up for the meeting as she is accustomed to dressing up for important meetings. Susie and the lawyer both seem somewhat amused by this.
They discuss the various charges against Midge and the lawyer reassures Midge he will fight them all. Midge says she would like to be found innocent. Mr. Kessler states that since he hates it when cops try to suppress free speech by harassing entertainers outside clubs "from doing their thing" is a form of fascism he will represent Midge in court for free. He advises her to wear her fancy dress to court.
Finally, Midge's day in court arrives. Midge and Susie make a game of guessing what different crimes the other people in the room who are also awaiting trial have committed. Finally, it's time for Midge's hearing. Mr. Kessler tries to argue that since Midge has such a high status in society and is an upstanding mother and housewife also, there would be many people willing to vouch for her including her Rabbi and her conduct should be treated as a blimp on her record.
The judge then points out that this is Miriam's second arrest and proceeds to ask why her husband is not present in the courtroom with her. Midge simply says that Joel believed that she could handle it on her own. The judge says it is a very serious matter. He then goes on to discuss Midge's use of profanity.
Miriam scoffs at this saying she does not see the crime in what she said up on stage and it is rather trivial compared to issues such as Jim Crow Laws and other real-world issues. She is then put in jail for Contempt of Court. She refuses to apologize to the judge at first and calls Joel for two-hundred dollars in bail money but does not tell him what she needs it for.
Mr. Kessler goes to Joel's office and picks up the money. Miriam then returns to the court where she apologizes for her earlier behavior calling it irrational. She then pleads guilty and her time is considered served. This seems to be much better than the alternative much harder sentence so she takes it and the judge compliments her on her dress. She mutters under her breath that she will burn it once she is home.
Mr. Kessler hands her his business card saying she might need it again in the future. Midge then gives it to Susie. After they exit the courtroom Midge asks Susie to tell her the whole comedy career will work out. Midge stresses it will affect her whole family. Susie reassures Midge she has been studying stand-up comedy for a long time and she has a long-term and effective plan to help her be successful. Midge then gives her an awkward yet grateful hug and runs down the stairs of the courtroom, leaving Susie looking dazed after her.
In the evening Midge goes to a different comedy club. There is sees Bruce performing and she meets with members of a band who happen to be playing that night. She then goes outside to talk to the band members and Bruce. They talk about being arrested. Midge says something about not having any pictures of her children. They then go back inside where Midge goes on stage and starts doing a comedy speech but almost forgets to introduce the band and walks off stage. She is reminded by Bruce to introduce them. She then goes back on stage to introduce them and the band performs.
In the episode Doink Midge seeks the help of a comedy writer.
In the episode Mrs. X at the Gaslight
In the episode Put That On Your Plate!
In the episode Thank You and Good Night