"Progress Isn't Linear": Inside 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Season 2

Stars Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Zachary Levi and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino also teased trips to Paris and the Catskills and what to expect for the characters in the new batch of episodes, arriving on Amazon on Dec. 5.
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From left: Marin Hinkle, Rachel Brosnahan, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Caroline Aaron and Alex Borstein

The first episode of season two of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel takes the characters to Paris, so for the premiere, it was fitting that the cast, creative team and their guests flocked to the pink carpet at New York's Paris Theatre on Thursday night.

Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who was the first person to win an Emmy for comedy directing and writing for the first season’s pilot, said she hopes season two, which has 10 episodes and premieres on Amazon on Dec. 5, takes audiences on “a great ride.”

“We went a little bit big. We’ve tested each other’s limits. How much can we take of each other before we want to kill each other?” Sherman-Palladino told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a lot. We can take a lot of each other.”

Set in 1950s New York, Mrs. Maisel follows separated housewife Midge Maisel as she stumbles upon a career in stand-up comedy, and the period piece remains very relevant amid the ongoing #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Sherman-Palladino says she hopes the show inspires women today to come together.

“I think hopefully they understand that the women’s struggle has been going on for a very long time and maybe they won’t feel quite as isolated. It’s a group thing and we’re all in this together,” she said. “And hopefully watching Susie and Midge take this journey together will inspire more women to be supportive of women. Because it’s something that men do naturally, and it’s something that for some reason does not come naturally to women. We isolate ourselves more, and we’re stronger together.”

Alex Borstein, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of Midge’s manager Susie, said she admires her character’s brutal honesty. “She’s honest and vulnerable, and when you’re playing someone like that it’s just fun because she’s going to get herself into a lot of trouble being honest,” Borstein said.

Mid-interview, Sherman-Palladino came up behind Borstein and rested her head on Borstein’s shoulder, to which Borstein said, “Amy Sherman-Palladino, that’s why we’re all here.”

The second season delves into more relationships with the parents, and Tony Shalhoub, who plays Midge’s father Abe, said the characters are in “uncharted waters.”

“Everything that happened to Midge in season one, the dissolution of her marriage, the other characters are now feeling the ramifications of that,” Shalhoub said. “Abe is a rigid guy, set in his ways and is now to forced to adapt to change. As an actor that presents a great challenge.”

Behind the scenes on the many travels, the cast and crew had a lot of fun. While in Paris, the cast went to Disney Paris, which star Rachel Brosnahan described as “Disneyland, but a little sad.”

Marin Hinkle, who plays Midge’s mother Rose, remembers working with a French dance teacher for a scene involving dancing along the Seine. Sherman-Palladino also described the magic of wrapping in the City of Lights at 4 a.m., as the sun rose over Notre Dame.

The cast and crew also spent a few weeks in the Catskills in Binghamton, New York, which producer and writer Daniel Palladino described as a “really tough, long hours vacation.” Kevin Pollak, who plays Moishe Maisel, referred to it as “summer camp.”

Star Rachel Brosnahan brought her dogs, a pit bull and a shiba inu, to set, as did Caroline Aaron, who plays Shirley Maisel.

Michael Zegen, who plays Midge’s ex-husband Joel, said spending time in the Catskills brought him closer to his mom. “My mother spent every summer in the Catskills, so it was special for me to relive her experiences,” he said. Zegen added that he’s curious to see where Midge and Joel’s relationship goes beyond season two.

“There’s always going to be some resentment and jealousy, but there’s also love and respect and they have two kids together so they’re always going to be in each other’s lives,” he said. “I want to see where it goes. I have no idea.”

Zachary Levi, who joins the cast this season as a doctor named Benjamin, recalled rowing boats on the lake in between takes. “I don’t know that I’d ever rowed a proper old school boat by myself!” he says.

“I was a huge fan of the first season. It’s excellent on every level. Getting to do a period piece show was always on my bucket list. I still want to do more of that,” Levi added. “That talent like Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino saw fit to offer me the job was so flattering. How can you say no to that?”

After the screening, guests migrated to The Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Center, where every corner of the panoramic space was decked with roses and every hue of pink, from the lights to the carpet to the festive Christmas trees framing the windows. Partygoers were treated to free lipsticks (in four shades of pink, of course), as well as lipstick readings. The signature cocktails continued the French theme, with sparkling wine concoctions dubbed The Maisel and the French Kiss. There was also a carving table, as well as pasta stations featuring carbonara and butternut squash ravioli. Waiters circulated with crab cakes and mushroom arancini, and for dessert, chocolate mousse, profiteroles and apple tarts circled the room.

Tucked in the back of the room behind the band, the woman of the hour, Rachel Brosnahan, sat with a group of friends, while guests made good use of the dance floor. Sitting on a windowsill behind a Christmas tree, a hoarse Brosnahan, who won the Golden Globe and an Emmy for her performance, said her life “has changed and hasn’t changed in the most wonderful ways.”

“It’s been a blast to hear from strangers on the street how much they love the show and have responded to Midge and all the characters,” she said, adding that she hopes Midge’s journey is both an inspiration and a lesson for audiences.

“I hope they recognize that she’s not perfect. She’s flawed but she’s interested in learning, asking questions about the world around her,” Brosnahan said. “Progress isn’t linear. Midge’s story will definitely show that in season two. And it’s never too late to find your voice in a new way and to use it.”