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The Ending Of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 1 Explained

Set in 1958 in New York City, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" stars Rachel Brosnahan as Mirium "Midge" Maisel, a Jewish housewife living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan who decides to pursue a career in stand-up comedy after her husband unceremoniously leaves her for his secretary. Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino employs the same fast-paced, witty dialogue that made her show "Gilmore Girls" so iconic, crafting a charming period drama complete with fantastic costumes, elaborate sets, and thoughtful production design. The series features an all-star ensemble cast that includes Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Marin Hinkle, and Tony Shalhoub. 

Even though Brosnahan says "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is the scariest thing she's ever done, she shines as the titular character. The first season expertly introduces the audience to the characters and lays a solid foundation for Season 2. The narrative sees Midge navigate her new normal being a single mom with a burgeoning stand-up career. Midge's relationships with her meddlesome parents, Abe (Tony Shalhoub) and Rose (Marin Hinkle), and her new manager Susie (Alex Borstein) provide ample time for the series to showcase its signature wry humor. The first season finale, titled "Thank You and Goodnight," manages to drive home the narrative's major themes and illuminate Midge's mindset moving forward. 

Midge gets blacklisted

Midge makes a formidable enemy in the form of fellow stand-up comic Sophie Lennon, played by "Glee" actor Jane Lynch. Although Sophie appears to be a blue-collar Queens native to her adoring fans, she's actually an eccentric Yale drama graduate who adopts a persona on stage to cater to her audience. Lynch is truly fabulous in the role, alternating between each version of the character with a practiced ease. Sophie's performing style forces Midge to confront her own comedic identity, a concept she's been grappling with all season. Midge disagrees with Sophie's observation that women need to project a facade to be funny, leading Midge to openly criticize Sophie during a stand-up performance. It's a risky move for Midge, who's talented but a relative newcomer on the comedy scene. In the season finale, Midge and Susie (Alex Borstein) deal with the fallout from Midge's performance, as getting on Sophie's bad side has gotten her blacklisted from most venues. 

In order to give Midge's career a boost, Susie invites Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby), one of the most legendary comedians in history, to perform at the Gaslight with Midge as an opening act. Susie's loyalty to Midge showcases how far their friendship has come since the first episode, reminding viewers that at its core, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is about women lifting each other up. The performance is a hit, and Midge realizes that she doesn't need Sophie Lennon's approval to be successful.

Will Joel and Midge get back together?

The main conflict in Season 1 is Midge's separation from her husband Joel, who left her in the first episode for his secretary. Joel, who had his own ambitions of becoming a comedian, has to come to terms with his actions and the realization that he might not be as funny as he thinks he is. Although he tries to move on, he struggles to let go of his relationship with Midge and the life they built together. When Midge hosts their son's birthday party, the pair reconnect and wind up in bed together. 

Since Midge was initially so dismayed that Joel broke their marriage vows, it would seem like reconciling would solve all their problems. After all, flashbacks seem to demonstrate that the pair were happy before Joel's sudden departure. Midge reflects fondly on these memories, but it's clear that after so many years presenting a perfect facade to Joel, she's set her sights on new horizons. After catering to everyone else in her life, she's ready to chase her own happiness. Midge has grown to enjoy her newfound independence doing stand-up and working in the B. Altman cosmetics department, experiences that allow her to expand her worldview. Midge thrives in these roles and makes plenty of friends along the way, not to mention getting some great stories for her act. Despite any lingering feelings, Joel soon overhears something that makes him reconsider giving his marriage another chance. 

Midge officially becomes Mrs. Maisel

In Episode 6, it's revealed that some of Midge's stand-up has been taped. In the season finale, any hope of reconciliation is dashed when Joel overhears the recording and recognizes Midge. He can't stand to see her finding success in comedy at his expense and he heads to the Gaslight where he has a bitter argument with Susie about Midge's career. In the end, he begrudgingly accepts Midge's natural comedic talent. Joel doesn't start out as a likable character — especially after leaving his wife high and dry in the first episode — but his realization that Midge is good at what she does is his first step towards atonement.

Meanwhile, Midge struggles to pick a stage name as she books more gigs, stemming from her indecision about pursuing a stand-up career seriously. She initially experiments with a few titles, but ultimately decides that she needs to represent herself honestly. She does an incredible set, fully embracing the chaos in her life and using it as fodder for her act. At the conclusion of her final stand-up performance of the season, Midge declares herself in front of the audience as Mrs. Maisel, in a triumphant callback to her first set at the Gaslight. 

While her first impromptu performance ended with Midge in handcuffs, the final scene sees Midge finally taking her place in the spotlight. The moment indicates that the titular Mrs. Maisel is ready to begin anew, regardless of anyone's opinions.