Saying Goodbye to ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’

Rachel Brosnahan and the cast open up about the series finale of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

The last laugh

When Rachel Brosnahan took the stage for one final standup set on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, her challenge to deliver went far beyond doing justice to Amy Sherman-Palladino’s signature rapid-fire dialogue and tongue-twisting jokes. “We were bawling,” says co-star Alex Borstein, who plays Midge’s steadfast manager Susie. “It was like a mother’s pride. I mean, it was heart-swelling and throat-clenching and brutal.” Adds Brosnahan: “When we rehearsed our last scene together, we literally couldn’t look at each other. I was looking at your forehead and you were looking at my mouth or something.” 

Borstein and Brosnahan are not the only ones verklempt over bidding farewell to the wildly acclaimed series that in its first year won eight Emmys. “Literally, there couldn’t just be a day like, ‘That was nice. Alright, cocktails at six.’ It was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the last time we’re going to use the vacuum cleaner.’ We were all a wreck,” says Sherman-Palladino. For the creator of Gilmore Girls and Bunheads, the experience of ending a show on her own terms was a first. “It’s a curse because every day you’re looking at faces that you want to see for the rest of your life, and you know there’s a clock on it and a time where they’re going to go off, doing someone else’s show. But also, we started the journey together, we got to end it together. We turned closer to each other as things got harder and it was nice to be able to experience the very last moment together. It was great in a nightmarishly horrible sort of way.” 

In terms of crafting their grand finale, Sherman-Palladino and her creative partner, husband Dan Palladino, knew they had their work cut out for them. “We have characters that people have been living with for a few years and we can’t short-change them. We have to tell people what the end of their journey is,” Sherman-Palladino says. Most pivotally, viewers need to find out if Midge and Susie achieve their goal. “Or do they get hit by a Barnum & Bailey truck as they’re crossing the street?” quips the showrunner.  

The series’ final nine episodes, currently unrolling weekly on Prime Video, do reveal where the comic and her manager end up, but the point of Mrs. Maisel’s trajectory was never the destination. “In some ways, we always knew that she would end up somewhere different from where she began,” says Brosnahan. “I remember the initial logline for the show said something about a 1960s mother and housewife going from the Upper West side to Johnny Carson’s couch. But, as corny as this might sound, it’s about the journey rather than exactly where you end up. The way that we leave Midge at the end of this series is unexpected, but what’s more unexpected is how we get there.” 

Sticking the landing also meant tying up the most critical love story of the series—even if that is not how the relationship between Midge and Susie started. “I think it was important to show a relationship based solely on ambition, dreams, goals of friendship forged not of anything other than mutual need—and to know that that was a powerful thing for the two of them,” Sherman-Palladino explains. “Without each other, nothing could have happened. It was the kismet of the two of them falling into each other, that made this possible. And it’s good they were paying attention at that moment because it could have passed them very easily.” For Brosnahan and Borstein, it felt like the season brought their arc full-circle. “I really loved that after everything they’ve been through together, Midge realizes anew and with new strength that she and Susie are ‘it’ forever, and that Susie is the only person outside of herself who believes in her this way. Trusting Susie, and giving over to Susie and her expertise is going to be the way that they both achieve the dream,” says Brosnahan.  

Whereas many an actor might be looking ahead to new job prospects, Sherman-Palladino praises Brosnahan for her unwavering commitment to Midge Maisel until the very last frame. “Rachel walked into the last season with a machete and a machine gun, and every time she was out there, she just killed. She was absolutely on fire,” says the creator. To find the answers to questions Midge has been posing since she first took the stage at The Gaslight Cafe, the Emmy-winning actor was understandably all-in. “Who does she want to be in all of this? That’s been a big question for Midge throughout the series. What do I have to give up? She says in one of the earlier seasons that she’s going to be alone forever. And I suppose that could be true, but it’s also not. It just may not look the way she thought it would,” muses Brosnahan. “I think Midge’s journey’s been one about figuring out that it is possible to have it all. It’s just not possible to have it all at once.” 

New episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stream Fridays on Prime Video