Midge’s efforts to balance work and family are brought to the fore in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s just-dropped third season (read our review), but the storyline was not designed to blunt criticism the show has received regarding its depiction of her as a parent.
Exec producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino would “never write [something] in response to what anybody thinks about what they’re doing,” maintains leading lady Rachel Brosnahan, adding that the decision to play up Midge’s challenges as a working mother “was a natural evolution of Midge’s story. She is balancing multiple worlds at once, and the deeper she goes into one, the more challenging it becomes to balance that with the others.”
To put a finer point on it, Daniel Palladino explains that Season 3 finds Midge “going on tour for the first time, so it made sense that there would be a lot of conflict over what’s going on with the kids.”
As it is, Sherman-Palladino finds the Midge-is-a-bad-mom “feedback ridiculous,” adding, “It’s very sexist, because no one ever asks that question about men on television. For all of [Mad Men protagonist] Don Draper’s faults, no one ever said, ‘He never took care of his kids!'”
Brosnahan echoes that sentiment: “We don’t have the same conversations about ambitious men who are at the center of their own stories who make sacrifices to get what they want. It’s just accepted as a part of who they are, whereas on our show people say that it’s a plot hole that the children aren’t onscreen more.”
While Brosnahan acknowledges that her alter ego is “not going to win Mother of the Year,” she says the criticism that Midge is “a terrible mother speaks volumes about how we view women and mothers today, especially because that criticism was mostly coming from women, who I think… feel that impossible expectations are being placed on them at all times. And feel like that balance of being a parent and pursuing their dreams is often impossible — and that they have to give something up.”
Sherman-Palladino, meanwhile, stresses that Mrs. Maisel “isn’t a story about a mother,” adding, “This is a story about a woman who suddenly discovers this primal ambition that, good bad or indifferent, she has to follow. And part of the reason that she is a mother is because we want to show that there are choices to make; that’s the story.” —With reporting by Kim Roots