Please Note: This article contains spoilers for Seasons 1 through 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Prime Video
If you feel a strong gust on Feb. 18th, don’t worry. It’s just the fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel finally letting out the collective breath they’ve been holding since the end of 2019. That is also the day that the first two episodes of Season 4 drop for the hit Prime Video show. We last saw Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) crying on the airport tarmac, watching singer Shy Baldwin fly off, taking her dream of joining him on his international tour with him. And who was there to comfort her through her devastation? Her manager, Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein), the one person who has never given up on her and who has believed in her career, even when she did not.
Since the beginning, Mrs. Maisel has perfectly balanced multiple facets of Midge’s world—her career, her romances, and her family life. Though it certainly isn’t the first show to explore the idea that female characters have more going on than a romantic relationship or motherhood, it is one of a growing trend of shows that take great care to emphasize the importance of strong female friendship, which has always meant a great deal to me as a viewer. Midge’s suitors may be a more obvious focal point, but the real love story of the show is the one between her and Susie. Writer Dan Palladino said as much in a recent interview with TODAY, as he and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino teased the upcoming season.
Back at the end of Season 1, after Midge and ex-husband Joel (Michael Zegen) had a one-night stand and nearly reconcile, Joel catches Midge’s set at the Gaslight and finally recognizes that her comedic talent far exceeds his. He lashes out at Susie for “breaking up [his] family,” his outsized ego preventing him from accepting the truth. Susie doesn’t flinch for a moment, defending not only Midge’s talent, but her right to tell whatever jokes she wants, even those that force Joel to take a hard look in the mirror.
Granted, this isn’t the end of Midge and Joel’s involvement, but she moves on to a relationship with Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg (Zachary Levi), and maintains an ongoing flirtation with comedian Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby). Though those two men are wholly supportive of Midge’s career, their romantic interest in could have a negative impact on her comedy. Midge is at her best when she makes jokes about her personal life. Ben insists he would have been fine with being a topic in her routine, and Lenny presumably would be as well, since he understands the job. But neither of these men have been with Midge through her highest and lowest points in her career. That falls to Susie.
Midge hasn’t always treated Susie with the respect she deserves, but the two women have always loved one another, an Odd Couple-type friendship that persists because of their shared passion for comedy. Susie earnestly believes that Midge is a star in the making, a belief only solidified watching Midge’s arch-nemesis, Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch), blow her chance to be a well-respected Broadway star. Susie’s brief turn as Sophie’s manager shows her that though Midge has made plenty of missteps, she’s always remained true to herself. Both women had to let go of each other for a little while in order to fully understand how much better they were together, not unlike a typical romantic storyline.
Even the private catchphrase that Midge and Susie share before each set—“tits up”—feels like a deliberately feminine choice, the type of intimate joke that only makes sense to close friends. I can’t see Midge gleefully using that particular good luck charm with any of the men in her life. Susie is the one person Midge can completely be herself around. Midge has plenty of other female friends, but she struggles to balance her true self with expected customs of her social class. When she tries, it typically ends in disaster, like the time she accidentally outed her friend and fellow B. Altman coworker as pregnant during a wedding toast. Maybe telling the bride “tits up” would have actually been the better choice in that instance!
Hopefully, Season 4 will offer Susie opportunities to be more vulnerable with Midge and deepen their friendship. Though Midge’s romantic life may be a more obvious component of the show, the relationship between Susie and Midge is the one I’m the most interested in seeing play out. No matter what Midge’s love life looks like at the show’s conclusion (which, sadly, Amazon says will be after Season 5), her career is inextricably linked to their friendship. If—really, when—Midge becomes a star, she will have Susie both to thank and to rely on through it all.