Way back in season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle) and Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) bicker over the size of a child’s head. It’s the first on-screen interaction we see between the mother-daughter duo, and they’re fretting over the aesthetic of poor baby Esther’s forehead. Apparently, it’s the wrong size, and it’s much easier to be happy when you’re pretty.
“It’s getting bigger,” Rose laments, despite Midge’s assurances that her nose will grow, and if not, bangs can cover it up. “The whole face will be out of proportion!”
That’s the ethos that Amy Sherman-Palladino’s hit series sharply turns on its own head. The Midge we see defending her toddler’s potential fivehead has, so far, recreated her mother’s own picturesque life to a T — apartment on the Upper West Side, early morning beauty routine, daily brisket. She’s tried the “pretty makes you happy” life, but after her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) abruptly leaves her, she realizes her mother’s cookie-cutter lifestyle isn’t going to work for her. What does work? Comedy. Or, at least, one day God-willing it will, and much of the remaining episodes put the two Maisel women in opposition. By season 3, however, the woman who once called Midge’s nightgown “not thinning” is seemingly ready to follow in her daughter’s footsteps — until you realize she’s been going through her own journey of independence this whole time.
Season 3 picks up in the aftermath of Midge’s phone call with Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), who invites her to open for him during his six-month tour. It has been a year since Rose’s first real taste of independence when she fled to Paris in season 2. The spur of the moment trip ends with her coming back to the states and immediately resuming her UWS housewife life to the degree that you wonder if she learned anything from the experience. In season 3, Rose gets another chance to prove to herself and her family that this rebellion has been inside both Mrs. Maisels all along.
“They've always been cut from the same cloth,” Brosnahan told Refinery29 a recent snowy afternoon in New York. “And then, as the series goes on, very quickly a rift is born between them when Midge won't go back to Joel, and that breaks this idea of how they are expected to move through the world.”
“[Rose] relies so much on doing things in a way that she thinks pleases those around,” Hinkle added, which makes her character’s declaration in the beginning of season 3 — that she wants to be cut off from the family trust because, as a woman, she’s not allowed a seat on the board — so shocking. It’s a move straight out of Midge Maisel’s book. It’s also, Hinkle later realized, a page out of Rose’s.
“There isn't any kind of hint that I saw in the first two seasons that that's where they were going to head,” she continued. “[Where] they decided that she was going to be from seems so far removed from where we actually meet Rose. It gives you kind of this weird backwards journey as an actor where you go, Oh, I guess if I got that far, I must have had to travel that much of a distance. The kind of person Rose has become took a lot of effort.”
Rose’s character becomes stronger in the things the series never shows — when she left her (admittedly wealthy) country upbringing behind to start a family in New York, how she quietly used her wealth behind the scenes to fund her family’s happy life, and how, now, she’s ready to leave that all behind in the name of not just independence, but also out of respect for women.
And Midge, Hinkle agreed, is to thank.
“I get really moved because I get taken by the strength of character that she has,” she says. “And I think Rose without knowing that she's doing so is learning from her child.”
Certainly, season 3 is still Midge’s story. She goes on tour. She makes mistakes (one big one in Vegas). She finds her new normal. But this time around, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is giving equal weight to the rest of the characters’ stories which means, finally, it’s time for the marvelous Mrs. Weissman to get her due.
Correction: An earlier version of this article identified the character as Rose Maisel. The character's name is Rose Weissman. We regret the error.