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Pallas

S02.E01: Simone

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In the Season Two premiere, Midge takes the stage for a foreign audience, while Abe and Rose find themselves in a new world. Susie experiences the repercussions of having a bad reputation in the business, as Joel regroups after quitting his job.

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A good blend of comedy and tragedy with all the key players reestablishing their importance to the story—
But.
Is it just me or did Abe seem less like the Abe we met in season one, and more like Monk?
And some of the scene changes were a little awkward.

A question:
Are we supposed to see that Midge is funnier than Lenny Bruce? 
If so, then well done. 
And Midge is supposed to be funnier than last season too, right?

Edited by shapeshifter · Reason: Corrected predictive text
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And Midge is supposed to be funnier than last season too, right?

I would say it's not about Midge being funnier, so much as she's more polished and experienced.  It's like how a tv show that showed real promise in its first season can break out in its second season. 

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I think someone watched a lot of Tarantino before writing this episode - not that I mind. 

And I absolutely loved Rose's plot - I wish she could stay in Paris and be fabulous but I guess that's not going to happen. Also: not sure Silvia Plath's therapist is such a good recommendation.

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The transition from the Empire State building to the Eiffel Tower was pretty slick. 

Loved setting up where everyone is, and it was a nice blend of comedy and drama, especially in the scene where Midge started doing her act in Paris. Lots of great dialogue, and the clothes and sets are totally on point, as always.

Loved all of the plots, especially Suzy making friends with the mafia goons. And Rose out living her best life in Paris. 

That translator from New York has got serious skills! "I dont think men do this in America." "Oh no, they do." Although, I might hold back on doing to Sylvia Plath's therapist. 

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I loved the last shot of Midge walking down that long, stone passageway that looked vaguely like a castle or church, hugging her coat to herself and then slowly opening her arms and letting her coat fly open like wings.

By the way, why were those goons after Susie? I think I lost the narrative from last season.

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12 hours ago, MissLucas said:

I think someone watched a lot of Tarantino before writing this episode - not that I mind. 

And I absolutely loved Rose's plot - I wish she could stay in Paris and be fabulous but I guess that's not going to happen. Also: not sure Silvia Plath's therapist is such a good recommendation.

I laughed at the recommendation, then I had to explain why to my husband. 

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1 hour ago, Nidratime said:

I loved the last shot of Midge walking down that long, stone passageway that looked vaguely like a castle or church, hugging her coat to herself and then slowly opening her arms and letting her coat fly open like wings.

By the way, why were those goons after Susie? I think I lost the narrative from last season.

Susie was friends with Harry Drake (the comedy mogul dude with heavy connections) and Midge dumped on Sofie Lennon (one of Harry's biggest clients) in one of her acts which caused a rift between Susie and Harry as he assured her he was going to make things very unpleasant for her in the future - hence being gaslighted and struggling to find any gigs for miles.

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9 hours ago, Eri said:

Susie was friends with Harry Drake (the comedy mogul dude with heavy connections) and Midge dumped on Sofie Lennon (one of Harry's biggest clients) in one of her acts which caused a rift between Susie and Harry as he assured her he was going to make things very unpleasant for her in the future - hence being gaslighted and struggling to find any gigs for miles.

I thought it might have to do with that - especially since they mentioned roughing up Martha Raye - another comedian. But it took a bit for the brain cells to remember that.

The other part of that, I think, is that Susie wasn't supposed to let Midge on stage, and she did an end-around by having Lenny Bruce introduce her - and the end around didn't work in their eyes.

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I want Midge to organize my life! She was really handling shit in that switchboard room! Don't tell me multitasking ain't real!

Abe is incredibly unobservant and self-absorbed.

I absolutely love Rose savoring her simple life in Paris with Simone! She looked so youthful, carefree and relaxed. Kudos to her for realizing that she missed who she used to be, and taking steps to remedy the situation. She is lucky that she has the resources to be able to do it. 

Not a Joel fan, but I appreciate his honesty to Midge, and his encouraging her to continue to do comedy.

Susie's situation. Just, wow. I'm glad she came through ok. 

Zelda is MVP! She handles Abe and Ethan the same. 

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20 hours ago, rollacoaster said:

Abe is incredibly unobservant and self-absorbed.

Which makes it all the more strange that he retained enough to tell Midge the details. My husband (notably unobservant at times) was the one who brought that up as an issue with the storytelling. I kept my mouth shut, as he clearly wasn't intending it as a comment on his personal experience. LOL

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3 hours ago, Clanstarling said:

Which makes it all the more strange that he retained enough to tell Midge the details. My husband (notably unobservant at times) was the one who brought that up as an issue with the storytelling. I kept my mouth shut, as he clearly wasn't intending it as a comment on his personal experience. LOL

It's like Abe listens, but he doesn't really listen. It didn't pertain directly to his needs, so he just overlooked it. 

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19 hours ago, pivot said:

I just have to say that Joel is the worst. They keep trying to redeem him and it is t working.

I'm only on this first ep of the season and Joel is still a nope.

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This is a question/observation from a friend of mine who isn't on this board. She asked me, if Midge went to Bryn Mawr for college, which is not far from Philadelphia, why did she say to Susie that she had never been to Philadelphia, when Susie was telling Midge of a potential booking there? Surely, in four years, Midge would've ventured to the biggest city closest to the college. (And, actually, at that time Philly was probably the 4th largest city in the U.S. -- so certainly something a Bryn Mawr student would've visited while attending college.)

Edited by Nidratime
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1 hour ago, Nidratime said:

This is a question/observation from a friend of mine who isn't on this board. She asked me, if Midge went to Bryn Mawr for college, which is not far from Philadelphia, why did she say to Susie that she had never been to Philadelphia, when Susie was telling Midge of a potential booking there? Surely, in four years, Midge would've ventured to the biggest city closest to the college. (And, actually, at that time Philly was probably the 4th largest city in the U.S. -- so certainly something a Bryn Mawr student would've visited while attending college.)

Oops? Retcon?
Didn't she also say she's never lived away from home? Or was that just that she'd never lived alone?

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17 minutes ago, shapeshifter said:

Oops? Retcon?
Didn't she also say she's never lived away from home? Or was that just that she'd never lived alone?

Pretty sure it's "never lived alone"- it went parents, college, with Joel, back to parents. 

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12 hours ago, Nidratime said:

This is a question/observation from a friend of mine who isn't on this board. She asked me, if Midge went to Bryn Mawr for college, which is not far from Philadelphia, why did she say to Susie that she had never been to Philadelphia, when Susie was telling Midge of a potential booking there? Surely, in four years, Midge would've ventured to the biggest city closest to the college. (And, actually, at that time Philly was probably the 4th largest city in the U.S. -- so certainly something a Bryn Mawr student would've visited while attending college.)

Thank you! I had this exact same question. Huge gap... I mean I guess her parents could have driven her there via all backroads, but, really? I don’t see that happening. 

And I see Joel as a guy in a city university, not Haverford is Swarthmore. The only other mainline option is Villanova and what Jewish family is ending their son to Villanova?

No, I think he’s meant to be at Penn... 

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16 hours ago, Nidratime said:

This is a question/observation from a friend of mine who isn't on this board. She asked me, if Midge went to Bryn Mawr for college, which is not far from Philadelphia, why did she say to Susie that she had never been to Philadelphia, when Susie was telling Midge of a potential booking there? Surely, in four years, Midge would've ventured to the biggest city closest to the college. (And, actually, at that time Philly was probably the 4th largest city in the U.S. -- so certainly something a Bryn Mawr student would've visited while attending college.)

My question/observation has to do with Midge not knowing a word of French with Rose being a Francophone and all. There's no way Rose wouldn't have been drilling French into her kids, especially her daughter, from an early age. I was with Abe on that one.

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15 hours ago, Nidratime said:

This is a question/observation from a friend of mine who isn't on this board. She asked me, if Midge went to Bryn Mawr for college, which is not far from Philadelphia, why did she say to Susie that she had never been to Philadelphia, when Susie was telling Midge of a potential booking there? Surely, in four years, Midge would've ventured to the biggest city closest to the college. (And, actually, at that time Philly was probably the 4th largest city in the U.S. -- so certainly something a Bryn Mawr student would've visited while attending college.)

So I'm a Bryn Mawr alum and that rang pretty false. Bryn Mawr and the surrounding suburbs are pretty robust so going into Philly isn't a necessity, but I still went at least once or twice a semester (more often once I got into higher level classes and had to do research or assignments in the city). I graduated in the 2000s though, so I don't know if Philly or going into Philly was a more risque thing for students in the 50s. I know that Philly and NYC have had an off and on rivalry over the years so I think that ASP was just going for an easy Philly joke and didn't think it all the way through.  

3 hours ago, Browndog319 said:

Thank you! I had this exact same question. Huge gap... I mean I guess her parents could have driven her there via all backroads, but, really? I don’t see that happening. 

And I see Joel as a guy in a city university, not Haverford is Swarthmore. The only other mainline option is Villanova and what Jewish family is ending their son to Villanova?

No, I think he’s meant to be at Penn... 

Yeah, all I could think was if nothing else how did she get home to NYC without going through Philly? One thought that I just had is that Princeton was Bryn Mawr's brother school in the Ivies so it's possible that Midge went cruising for guys there, but yeah it still doesn't make much sense. 

...And I've officially put too much thought into this...

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This is totally an aside, but we watched this first episode and resisted moving right into the second one (because once this season is done, we have to wait ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR).

We instead went back to The Blacklist, something we just started a few months ago. Well, wouldn't you know that this particular Blacklist episode's villain was none other than...Tony Shalhoub! Mr. Wendy and I turned to each other and said "MONK!" It's a small world of streaming TV.

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1 hour ago, WendyM said:

This is totally an aside, but we watched this first episode and resisted moving right into the second one (because once this season is done, we have to wait ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR).

We instead went back to The Blacklist, something we just started a few months ago. Well, wouldn't you know that this particular Blacklist episode's villain was none other than...Tony Shalhoub! Mr. Wendy and I turned to each other and said "MONK!" It's a small world of streaming TV.

Tony Shaloub's appearing on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert next week (Friday I think). I'm looking forward to it. I've loved him since Wings.

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One of my favorite things about this episode is from when Susie and the kidnappers are sitting on the train, chatting away, and you can sort of tell Susie is nervous by looking at her face, but she and the big goon are both twiddling their thumbs, and the guy's hands are sort of loosey-goosey, and she's totally gripping her left hand with her right hand.  It was subtle but it showed she must have been terrified even though she was being cool.

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I'm not a fan of the Rose and Abe storyline, especially as Tony Shaloub tends to chew up the scenery.   Maybe this Paris plotline has some larger significance in the overall arc of the season but right now it feels forced and overbearing at times.  I'm impatient waiting to get back to the New York underground comedy scene. 

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On 12/7/2018 at 2:54 PM, rollacoaster said:

It's like Abe listens, but he doesn't really listen. It didn't pertain directly to his needs, so he just overlooked it. 

But if someone said something to you that you completely overlooked because you didn't think it mattered, would you be able to recite it word-for-word days later?

I think it would have been a lot more realistic for him to say, "She said something about going to Paris because of how she felt, or something like that."

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40 minutes ago, TV Diva Queen said:

Can either you or your husband explain it to me?  :)

The American woman gave the card of a psychiatrist to Midge, saying she recommended him to her friend Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Plath is a poet, and is perhaps most known for being depressed and then committing suicide. Therefore, the joke is that the shrink wouldn’t be a very good one.

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On 06/12/2018 at 2:43 AM, MissLucas said:

I think someone watched a lot of Tarantino before writing this episode - not that I mind. 

And I absolutely loved Rose's plot - I wish she could stay in Paris and be fabulous but I guess that's not going to happen. Also: not sure Silvia Plath's therapist is such a good recommendation.

loved that line!

just like G.G's they come thick and fast.

you have to run to keep up.

the dog called Simone...(de Beauvoir) living apart from her partner. just a fabulous touch.

Edited by winter · Reason: Misspelt
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When that lady gave Midge the number for Sylvia Plath's shrink, I did a double take before I remembered this show takes place in a time before she stuck her head in the oven.

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On 12/8/2018 at 11:53 AM, WendyM said:

My question/observation has to do with Midge not knowing a word of French with Rose being a Francophone and all. There's no way Rose wouldn't have been drilling French into her kids, especially her daughter, from an early age. I was with Abe on that one.

Both of my parents speak/spoke French fluently.  It was part of the reason I opted for Spanish, personally, but my brother isn't fluent either.   My mother, in particular, is prone to saying things in French for no discernible reason. In her defense, she's in France fairly often, as she's Scottish and still lives in Scotland part of the year, so she goes to France often.  

But I did think it a little odd that Midge didn't speak a word of French solely because she had to have studied some other language and I'm thinking freaking German would be out for a variety of reasons, including the time period of the show.  

That was such a fun episode and such a visual treat.  ASP is clearly over the damned moon to have such a substantial budget and seems to be having the time of her life with it.  It made perfect sense that the story went to Paris, ASP loves the idea of Paris and may actually love Paris itself, for all I know.  I just know she has a fondness for making creative use of Paris as a destination for characters, whether or not we go with them.  

Sadly, she also has a fondness for women being in love with the worst types of guys, forever and ever.  It looks as if we're going to be in for yet another irritatingly tortured romance.  I wish I liked Joel even a tiny bit, but I absolutely do not.  I also don't like that living with another woman is something that Midge thought they'd just move past as a blip.   ASP, she loves Paris and the thought of overly privileged, primarily weak-willed men with oddly fragile egos.   

Having just trashed Joel (I've nothing against the actor, he's doing a good job with what he's given) I was pleased that she apparently has a story in mind for him that won't simply be embodying the thing that holds Midge back from ever moving forward to other relationships.  Besides, ASP added self-awareness to the characterization of Joel and made him far more likable just through that.  

I adore Tony Shaloub but I hope they give him something to do other than flap around the perimeter of scenes, explosively declaring things with just a shade too much emphasis.  I think he's right to play the character broadly, in some ways, he's playing a bit of an archetype, but he's a good actor and capable of more shading and subtlety.  Like the scene when he finds out Midge was arrested, nice, subtle work last season.  I hope they give him some room to grow but both Joel and Shaloub's character had a good, nicely earned backseat position to the very dynamic women in their lives and when he was telling Rose that the chair is broken, I just loved how absolutely horrified he was.  He put a fair amount of emotional elasticity into that frustrated, aghast, concerned, loving, confused line read.   

I'm rationing these episodes rather than binging them.  Good lord, it's nice to see something fully diverting, that also gives us a kinder view into the past than something like Mad Men, that gave such a cynical rendering of the time periods it touched, I was amazed that the generations before us hadn't perished from despair death in greater numbers (references to Plath notwithstanding).   I understand that the truth was probably uglier than Mrs. Maizel but less unrelentingly grim than Mad Men.  I'm up for the primarily diverting at present, so this fills that category nicely.  

Edited by stillshimpy
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17 hours ago, stillshimpy said:

Both of my parents speak/spoke French fluently.  It was part of the reason I opted for Spanish, personally, but my brother isn't fluent either.   My mother, in particular, is prone to saying things in French for no discernible reason. In her defense, she's in France fairly often, as she's Scottish and still lives in Scotland part of the year, so she goes to France often.  

But I did think it a little odd that Midge didn't speak a word of French solely because she had to have studied some other language and I'm thinking freaking German would be out for a variety of reasons, including the time period of the show.  

That was such a fun episode and such a visual treat.  ASP is clearly over the damned moon to have such a substantial budget and seems to be having the time of her life with it.  It made perfect sense that the story went to Paris, ASP loves the idea of Paris and may actually love Paris itself, for all I know.  I just know she has a fondness for making creative use of Paris as a destination for characters, whether or not we go with them.  

Sadly, she also has a fondness for women being in love with the worst types of guys, forever and ever.  It looks as if we're going to be in for yet another irritatingly tortured romance.  I wish I liked Joel even a tiny bit, but I absolutely do not.  I also don't like that living with another woman is something that Midge thought they'd just move past as a blip.   ASP, she loves Paris and the thought of overly privileged, primarily weak-willed men with oddly fragile egos.   

Having just trashed Joel (I've nothing against the actor, he's doing a good job with what he's given) I was pleased that she apparently has a story in mind for him that won't simply be embodying the thing that holds Midge back from ever moving forward to other relationships.  Besides, ASP added self-awareness to the characterization of Joel and made him far more likable just through that.  

I adore Tony Shaloub but I hope they give him something to do other than flap around the perimeter of scenes, explosively declaring things with just a shade too much emphasis.  I think he's right to play the character broadly, in some ways, he's playing a bit of an archetype, but he's a good actor and capable of more shading and subtlety.  Like the scene when he finds out Midge was arrested, nice, subtle work last season.  I hope they give him some room to grow but both Joel and Shaloub's character had a good, nicely earned backseat position to the very dynamic women in their lives and when he was telling Rose that the chair is broken, I just loved how absolutely horrified he was.  He put a fair amount of emotional elasticity into that frustrated, aghast, concerned, loving, confused line read.   

I'm rationing these episodes rather than binging them.  Good lord, it's nice to see something fully diverting, that also gives us a kinder view into the past than something like Mad Men, that gave such a cynical rendering of the time periods it touched, I was amazed that the generations before us hadn't perished from despair death in greater numbers (references to Plath notwithstanding).   I understand that the truth was probably uglier than Mrs. Maizel but less unrelentingly grim than Mad Men.  I'm up for the primarily diverting at present, so this fills that category nicely.  

Very good summary of ASP’s great talent for giving us fascinating if somewhat self absorbed women who are in love with unimpressive men. Yes, abandoning your wife and children to shack up with some other woman is not a cute quirk to just easily sweep under the rug.

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3 hours ago, qtpye said:

Very good summary of ASP’s great talent

so I've gotten it from context, but what exactly *is* ASP? What other projects have they been involved with?

Rose's "goodbye speech" to Abe (and his "attention") was hilarious. I am also married to a guy who has tendencies in that direction :)

On 12/6/2018 at 2:27 PM, rollacoaster said:

Zelda is MVP! She handles Abe and Ethan the same. 

including the schnapps :)

Edited by dleighg

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1 hour ago, dleighg said:

so I've gotten it from context, but what exactly *is* ASP? What other projects have they been involved with?

ASP = Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator/writer/showrunner of MMM, previously most famous for Gilmore Girls, although she's written other shows I have not seen. 

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On 12/12/2018 at 2:47 PM, stillshimpy said:

But I did think it a little odd that Midge didn't speak a word of French solely because she had to have studied some other language and I'm thinking freaking German would be out for a variety of reasons, including the time period of the show.  

Absolutely. Wherever Midge went to school, public or private, from elementary through secondary, she'd have studied a foreign language. And at that time, at that level, French was all things: the most available, sophisticated, and even cool choice. She'd never have been admitted to Russian language studies in college if she hadn't already mastered at least one foreign language. 

I suppose that might have been Hebrew. (I'd like to see that scene, actually -- at Bryn Mawr, in 1952 -- as Midge cites Hebrew as her language prerequisite.) But I don't think Midge knows Hebrew any more than she knows the Epistles. And since it's clear that Rose gladly and deftly coached her daughter where she cared to, and since we know that Midge likes to show off and to win -- a lot; Midge likes to show off and to win, a lot -- I think that throughout her youth, French class would have been irrésistible.

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3 hours ago, Pallas said:

Absolutely. Wherever Midge went to school, public or private, from elementary through secondary, she'd have studied a foreign language. And at that time, at that level, French was all things: the most available, sophisticated, and even cool choice. She'd never have been admitted to Russian language studies in college if she hadn't already mastered at least one foreign language. 

Plus, studying Russian anything at Bryn Mawr in the early fifties seems a little "let's all choose to hum and ignore that implausibility while we're at it too!"  The latest she could have graduated for the timeline of the show is '55-56 and it's more likely '54.  Midge is supposed to be audacious but prior to taking the stage, she was also dutiful about fulfilling parental expectations to a very closely measured inch.   I couldn't see Rose agreeing to quite that much "let's draw the attention of the FBI, shall we?" level of following her safely-rebellious bliss, but maybe I'm selling her short?   What would the Rabbi say?  

Rose, upon being woken in the middle of the night, "What, what is it?  What are you wearing?  It's not slimming!"  all within the same breath doesn't really seem like the type to invite "Is she a socialist?? questions.  

But that's actually a writing foible of ASP's -- apologies, I assumed the acronym would have caught on here, it's handy, but yes, the showrunner Amy Sherman-Paladino, she of many hats -- has always been a bit of hyperbole even within the narrative that the world of the story pretends is unremarkable but is as actually so extraordinary as to be outlandish.  ASP makes outlandish work in a really charming way.  It's a foible that this show is making work well for her.  It would be so fitting for Midge that it's best to just breeze past the likelihood.   
 

Edited by stillshimpy
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I thought I heard Abe say that Rose had been gone for four days. In that time, she apparently fully moved into an apartment in Paris, got a dog, and made besties of the neighborhood shopkeepers. huh? 

If she was gone for a significantly longer time, how did Midge not notice? Oh wait, I guess she pays as much attention to her mother as to her children. I also thought it was odd that Midge, who has never even been to Philadelphia, had a passport at the ready to fly overseas.

I lost interest before Midge took the stage at the (gratuitously imo) drag club and didn't bother to pause the show when I got a phone call. 

I guess I should watch this episode again when I'm not tired, but frankly, I didn't care for it. ASP's famous rapid-fire dialogue started to sound like a chihuahua yapping. I didn't like the "Midge, heroine of the switchboard" opening. I hate the Midge and Joel relationship. I don't see the point of the Paris episode unless, as may have been suggested upthread, it was a way for the showrunner to spend the budget. I thought it derailed the momentum from Season One.

It took me three or so episodes to get into the first season and then I enjoyed it immensely, so I'll probably watch this one again and try the next couple. More Susie!

Edited by Ashforth
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1 hour ago, Ashforth said:

I thought I heard Abe say that Rose had been gone for four days. In that time, she apparently fully moved into an apartment in Paris, got a dog, and made besties of the neighborhood shopkeepers. huh? 

If she was gone for a significantly longer time, how did Midge not notice? Oh wait, I guess she pays as much attention to her mother as to her children. I also thought it was odd that Midge, who has never even been to Philadelphia, had a passport at the ready to fly overseas.

I thought it was odd that if Rose goes to Europe just to shop (she had to have done it before for Abe to assume that that's why she's in Paris now), she's never brought Midge with her.

Regarding the shopkeepers, if she has the same landlady she had when she was in college 30 years ago, it seems possible that the local shopkeepers would be the same.

It did seem like she should have been there for weeks, though.

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On 12/13/2018 at 10:32 PM, stillshimpy said:

Plus, studying Russian anything at Bryn Mawr in the early fifties seems a little "let's all choose to hum and ignore that implausibility while we're at it too!"  The latest she could have graduated for the timeline of the show is '55-56 and it's more likely '54. 

Someone was studying Russian at Bryn Mawr in those days -- the department was established in 1943

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I'm sure.  However, it seems an unlikely choice for someone so obsessed with conforming to acceptable standards that she measured every inch of her body, constantly, to make sure she was within rather punishing standards.  It's not that people wouldn't have studied Russian literature, history, etc.  it's that it was a choice that came with a type of scrutiny it's hard to believe Midge would invite or rather, that her parents would allow her. 

That said, it's fine, it works.  Most of the Paris material is all rather ...cliched isn't the right word...it's almost like it's an homage to the stereotypes of roaming around Paris.  The detail was included to explain how Midge wouldn't speak a word of French but it also doesn't quite fit with the girl who did absolutely everything right except for including shrimp in the egg rolls.  It's not a big deal, it's just an example of the type of writing ASP likes.  

She likes a fair amount of hyperbolic flourish to go along with her extraordinary characters, many of whom seem to just be embodying different incarnations of Amy Sherman-Palladino's own personality. 

I remember listening to a podcast in which her casting directors were talking about working for her -- it was all positive, by the way, it wasn't unkind -- and describing the shirt Amy was wearing when she met her.  It said, "I fucked your boyfriend last night".   ASP incorporates fairly outlandish things into her characters that I think strike her as being completely natural because she is that person.  Knowing that made it easier to kind of shrug and decide to go with it for Midge.   

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5 hours ago, stillshimpy said:

The detail was included to explain how Midge wouldn't speak a word of French but it also doesn't quite fit with the girl who did absolutely everything right except for including shrimp in the egg rolls. 

I don't think there was shrimp in the egg rolls, she said it for shock value. The wedding speech Midge gave was a precursor to her future stand-up routines.

Edited by Ashforth
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6 hours ago, stillshimpy said:

I'm sure.  However, it seems an unlikely choice for someone so obsessed with conforming to acceptable standards that she measured every inch of her body, constantly, to make sure she was within rather punishing standards.  It's not that people wouldn't have studied Russian literature, history, etc.  it's that it was a choice that came with a type of scrutiny it's hard to believe Midge would invite or rather, that her parents would allow her. 

That said, it's fine, it works.  Most of the Paris material is all rather ...cliched isn't the right word...it's almost like it's an homage to the stereotypes of roaming around Paris.  The detail was included to explain how Midge wouldn't speak a word of French but it also doesn't quite fit with the girl who did absolutely everything right except for including shrimp in the egg rolls.  It's not a big deal, it's just an example of the type of writing ASP likes.  

She likes a fair amount of hyperbolic flourish to go along with her extraordinary characters, many of whom seem to just be embodying different incarnations of Amy Sherman-Palladino's own personality. 

I remember listening to a podcast in which her casting directors were talking about working for her -- it was all positive, by the way, it wasn't unkind -- and describing the shirt Amy was wearing when she met her.  It said, "I fucked your boyfriend last night".   ASP incorporates fairly outlandish things into her characters that I think strike her as being completely natural because she is that person.  Knowing that made it easier to kind of shrug and decide to go with it for Midge.   

I don't think I interpreted her constant measuring as a commitment to conformity but to excellence. She didn't seem to be trying to make sure that she was within a standard but that she was staying physically perfect. (Of course the combination of the measuring and the secret nighttime cosmetics regimen gave me the impression that she was devoting an incredible amount of time to wrong priorities and as she blossomed as a comedian she would become less obsessed with the perfection of her appearance, but I don't think I was thinking clearly about what I should have learned about ASP's attitude to beauty from the Gilmore Girls.)

My assumption regarding studying Russian would be that studying 19th-century literature at a prestigious college in the 1950s would not seem like a radical and subversive act -- but doing it without learning any French seems perverse and unlikely, since the Russian upper classes spoke French fluently and the novels are peppered with French.

I have only seen season 1 (and that binged on a trans-Atlantic flight) so I may be misremembering details or missing evidence one way or another, but I had the impression that Midge does what she likes and if other people try to stop her she will either try to bend them to her will or she will try to sidestep any authority they are supposed to have. If Abe objected to her studying Russian, would he have had the fortitude to withhold her tuition if necessary in order to stop her? Would Midge have respected his wishes for anything less?

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Even a week after having finished this season, I still love that Rose named her dog Simone after the French feminist Simone de Beauvoir and that "Simone" is also the title of the first episode of the season—which didn't seem worth mentioning at the time of my first posting in this thread.

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Midge hasn't been able to pluck up the courage to tell her parents what she does.  When we met her she was going to bed in full makeup, waiting for Joel to fall asleep, rising, washing it off...etc.  She was pretty interested in projecting the perfect image.  When Joel left her she referenced having done everything right.   

We know she went from her parents' house to college, back home to her parents' house, to two floors above them.   She's witty, but prior to this, we've been led to believe and shown that she was conforming to a lot of societal standards, trying to be perfect.  Trying to project the perfect image. 

She seemed to pretty rigidly conform to a lot of things, but that's not the same thing as being spiritless, it makes sense that she'd study something interesting.   Russian anything doesn't, to me, because it really wouldn't fit with the history.   Plus, honestly, it would be more likely to get a mention when Midge's arrest came up during Abe's background check.   It may have and I just missed it as a detail.   

Anyway, it caught my ear solely because I thought it was odd with the other details about Rose and Abe, Rose, in particular, seemed to care what other people think or did.  The characterization seems to be branching out, so maybe that was deliberate.  

Edited by stillshimpy
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I had assumed Midge studied Russian literature because of having ancestors from Russia; I didn't consider the political implications of the 50s. Now I'm wondering if ASP threw in the reference to Russian Lit to suggest tragic heroines like Anna Karenina—as well as heroes and anti-heroes like in War and Peace. Can we label Joel an "anti-hero"? There are also some Russian folk tales with themes not unlike some comedy bits. For example—although I'm not entirely sure of the provenance of its nationality—there's the children's book, It Could Always Be Worse.

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