Over the course of the first two season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, fans have watched Midge Maisel break the 1950s mold of being a perfect housewife and instead follow her ambition to become a stand-up comedian. But one big criticism that has leveled against the character of Midge by a number of viewers is that she is rarely shown caring for her two young children, Ethan and Esther. The show's star has heard these complaints, and in a new interview with BuzzFeed, Rachel Brosnahan responded to Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fans who have called her character a bad mother.
At the beginning of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge Maisel is introduced as the perfect 1950s housewife, but that quickly gets blown up when she finds out her husband Joel has been cheating on her. After separating from him, Midge unexpectedly discovers her talent at stand-up and begins to follow her dream to make it in comedy. Midge's journey up the ranks in the '50s stand-up world is the main focus of the show, so much so that it can actually be easy to forget that Midge has two kids at home. In Season 1, Midge plops her son Ethan in front of the TV when she needs to focus on her new career, and leaves both kids with her parents to look after them for the bulk of the series. In Season 2, Esther and Ethan barely show up at all, as the whole family goes to Paris, the Catskills, and Midge heads out on a short stand-up tour with barely any mention of them.
Rachel Brosnahan herself admitted that Midge Maisel was definitely not going to be winning any "Mother of the Year" awards any time soon, but despite that, she finds the criticism of Midge's parenting style to be a bit frustrating — especially since there seems to be much less of an uproar about Joel Maisel's even more limited relationship with his kids.
Most of the criticism in that regard has been leveled at Midge, and I suppose it’s because the expectation is that [Joel] wouldn’t be as present and wouldn’t be around as much. But it’s not a show, really, about Midge parenting; It’s a show about her following her dreams as a stand-up comedian.
Sure enough, while Midge Maisel is plugging away at her comedy career, her ex-husband Joel is single-mindedly focused on revitalizing his father's garment factory, and is shown interacting with his two kids much less often than Midge is. Rachel Brosnahan went on to point out that there are a lot of male-led shows where the lead pursues his aspiration despite being a father, and those characters are rarely taken to task over their parenthood abilities. Don Draper in Mad Men feels like the best example of this, considering that show is often seen as an analogue to Mrs. Maisel since both are set in the '50s.
I appreciate that this is a different kind of motherhood than the one I’ve seen and for some people maybe is a more accurate representation of it. This hasn’t been a conversation that I’ve seen surrounding other shows with male leads who are also sometimes self-involved in their pursuit of a new dream. And so that’s been kind of frustrating.
The third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is set to premiere on Amazon later this year.