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S01.E06: Mrs. X At The Gaslight

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Midge finds a different kind of audience to perform for, much to Susie's chagrin. Abe gets offered the experience of a lifetime. The Weissmans come together for a family dinner. Susie finally shows off her management skills.

 

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The security clearance thing was a left-field way to dredge up Midge's arrest record.  At this point I was expecting that, if that got brought up to the parents' attention at all, it would be after her parents learned what she was doing, since there was no obvious way for them to learn about it otherwise.

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The security clearance thing was a red herring, I guess. I thought- oh boy, Midge's stand-up is going to cost Abe the Bell Lab job - that's why the built it up so much. But nope, it was just one more thing Abe kind of found out about Midge and stuck in his mental bank, I guess, but never brought up to her directly. It was fun, though, that Abe was so excited about Bell Labs, although, as ever, I think that no matter what the show insists, this is Midge's story and we don't need full blown digressions into everybody else's lives, even if stars are playing the roles. IOW, sure, Bell Labs, but not as an "A" storyline.  But better this than a big digression into Joel's life.

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I'm side-eyeing the somewhat integrated spaces on this show. I get it. "Downtown" and with younger people things are looser. But I just feel like the show doesn't really want to address race while trying to also make it seem like our characters aren't racist for the presumed liberal audience. 

Shallow note... Rachel really is gorgeous. Say what you will about Mary Sues but her legs are fantastic.

Instantly spotted Nate Corddry in the crowd. I have a problem. I was worried for a second that he was going to try to offend. I'm surprised Midge took it so well and just rolled with it. 

Byron Jennings! I don't know if this show is getting theater people because it films in NY or because ASP has connections/likes theater people like other shows that seem to specifically raid Broadway to fill out their casts.

LOL. Midge's parents were so cute when her dad was telling her mom about the job offer. 

"You want her out of the picture? I have cousins. They have skills." Love Mary Testa.

I haven't seen Justine Lupe since Cristela.

Of all the fancy restaurants they went to a Chinese place?

I don't care about their hands touching. If this show wanted me to want Midge and Joel to get back together they went about it completely the wrong way.

I wasn't sold on the brother but they were cute out on the balcony. 

I understand where Susie would be coming from... from a place of fear and hurt. But I also think she's wrong and that Midge needed to get her confidence back instead of plunging right into stand up. She was refining her material (even if Susie has a point about people at parties being an easy audience. You can still tell when the laughs are louder). I feel like this is a weird line where I'm not sure how much is the show and how much is the character. Because the part about not needing a man sounds like it could be coming from the show. But there are female comedians who have worked with partners and they're no lesser for it.

That was a brilliant acting moment for Rachel though. I feel like we finally broke through to a real person. 

I didn't make the connection between the standup or the arrests being a problem for this big job for her father. I don't know how I feel about this. I mean the guy from Bell Labs said the arrests likely wouldn't be a problem. I don't know why her stand up would be because she doesn't really court controversy (we haven't heard from those Communists in a while). I feel like it's setting up a thing but I kind of hope not. It feels weird to suddenly introduce a thing her father really cares about only to yank it away from him to create drama. 

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On 12/2/2017 at 7:40 PM, aradia22 said:

I feel like it's setting up a thing but I kind of hope not. It feels weird to suddenly introduce a thing her father really cares about only to yank it away from him to create drama. 

I think it was literally just to get the information to Abe that Midge had been arrested.

I was waiting for their to be a recording of Midge, too, ever since they showed us that record store.  

I thought the hand touching was less romantic on her part and more a way for Joel to realize she's taken off her ring and to realize he's not as over her as she is with him.  After last week when Joel's family dismissed her, and Imogene refused to see the music man with her, Joel is seeing that his easy way back to normal isn't as easy or as normal as he'd hoped so now he has regrets.  

Whatever, though, Joel is a schmuck.  

Loved how excited Abe was for Bell labs.

Enjoeyd Midge and Noah on the balcony.  

Thought the party scenes were fun, but they are a direction that it would be too easy for Midge to go in and while there have been great male/female acts Suzie thinks Midge can be something special on her own.   Why water that down with anybody else?

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I think it was literally just to get the information to Abe that Midge had been arrested.

I feel like I've watched too many shows like The Americans (which I stopped watching in season 1 or 2 but might pick up again since it's on Amazon Prime) where there might be a slow burn but eventually Chekhov's gun comes back to ruin everyone's happiness. If it was just a way for him to find out about the arrests that feels weirdly anticlimactic. Almost like bad writing to pull your punch like that. But I guess I'm OK with it if we get scenes of him being adorable and happy at Bell Labs.

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This episode felt like the show was taking a more serious turn, but I think I like it.  I loved the scene between Susie and Midge (ending with the "hug") as it showed the vulnerabilities of both characters.  I also liked seeing Midge's brother and, seeing the two of them together, it made sense where Midge developed her humor.  If you look at their parents--their mother is very straight-laced and their father is very cerebral--I can see how a sort of "language" of sarcasm would develop between the two siblings.

So, I don't know why didn't catch on before that Penny was now living with Joel (for some reason, I just thought she was there when Midge dropped Ethan off), but that seems very anachronistic for 1958.  Joel is an executive and, with that, comes a reputation he has to uphold, and Penny, while she's kind of a void, doesn't seem like the kind of girl who would be happy being the not-so-private mistress.  I'm sure that people did live together outside of marriage in 1958, but not those who were part of respectable society, so to speak.

It was an interesting juxtaposition to see how different (not Zelda...that's the maid.  Whoever Midge's sister-in-law is...) was treated by Midge's parents from how Joel's parents treated Penny, though.

On sort of a tangent, when did Columbia go co-ed?  I had assumed it was before 1958 but, unless no women took advanced math classes (which, sadly, was a possibility), it doesn't look like it.

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On December 2, 2017 at 8:40 PM, aradia22 said:

I wasn't sold on the brother but they were cute out on the balcony. 

I've been a HUGE fan of the music supervision throughout the series but this scene TOTALLY for me should just give the Emmy to whoever the music supervisor was (Robin Urdang?) right now. Playing in the background: "Hey There." And it was subtle. And just timed perfectly at the end were the lyrics "won't you take this advice I hand to to you like a brother ..." at the end of their shared smoke. Mr. Snappy (a jazz musician) and me (a musical theater geek) both commented simultaneously "That. Was. Awesome."

2 hours ago, OtterMommy said:

On sort of a tangent, when did Columbia go co-ed?  I had assumed it was before 1958 but, unless no women took advanced math classes (which, sadly, was a possibility), it doesn't look like it.

I don't have all the details straight but Barnard was/is? the "sister school" to Columbia. I think Columbia went coed officially in the 1980s but the two had been intermingling classes for a long time before that even if they'd been technically single-sex in terms of admissions. 

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I also liked seeing Midge's brother and, seeing the two of them together, it made sense where Midge developed her humor.  If you look at their parents--their mother is very straight-laced and their father is very cerebral--I can see how a sort of "language" of sarcasm would develop between the two siblings.

I think a small problem with the show is a lack of differentiation of the voices. It's not just Midge and her brother. Almost every character is constantly quipping and joking. Midge, Joel, both sets of parents, Susie, etc. I kind of get it if they're making an argument of it just being a part of Jewish culture but I think most of the characters do it so sometimes it makes it seem like we're hearing the writers more than the characters. There's a lack of specificity. Everyone can't be a comedian. 

I don't have all the details straight either. I can't remember if Barnard was a sister school like Radcliffe to Harvard. But yes, there's been an intermingling that continues to this day. I remember that was part of the pitch when I was applying to NY schools. And in a weird echo of the past, I think there's still an idea that girls at Barnard might meet their husbands at Columbia.

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7 hours ago, aradia22 said:

I think a small problem with the show is a lack of differentiation of the voices. It's not just Midge and her brother. Almost every character is constantly quipping and joking. Midge, Joel, both sets of parents, Susie, etc. I kind of get it if they're making an argument of it just being a part of Jewish culture but I think most of the characters do it so sometimes it makes it seem like we're hearing the writers more than the characters. There's a lack of specificity. Everyone can't be a comedian. 

Well stated. I agree. 

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I loved the scene between Susie and Midge (ending with the "hug") as it showed the vulnerabilities of both characters. 

I honestly remain baffled by Susie.  For someone with only one-semi client, she really seems intent on alienating Midge.  It's like Susie has such a specific idea of what stand up comedy should be that she immediately rejects anything Midge does which does not fit within Susie's narrow view.  I mean, I got why Midge was doing routines at those parties.   She was coming off two huge bombs and needed to refine her act in front of an audience that was somewhat friendly to see what did and did not work.  It also helped to reassure her that she does have talent, so her other successful engagements weren't just flukes.  Instead of recognizing that, Susie leaves in a huff, and throws a giant fit.  Granted, she eventually seemed to recognize her approach with Midge was not working, but it's hard for me to understand Susie's point of view on this.           

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4 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

I honestly remain baffled by Susie.  For someone with only one-semi client, she really seems intent on alienating Midge.  It's like Susie has such a specific idea of what stand up comedy should be that she immediately rejects anything Midge does which does not fit within Susie's narrow view.  I mean, I got why Midge was doing routines at those parties.   She was coming off two huge bombs and needed to refine her act in front of an audience that was somewhat friendly to see what did and did not work.  It also helped to reassure her that she does have talent, so her other successful engagements weren't just flukes.  Instead of recognizing that, Susie leaves in a huff, and throws a giant fit.  Granted, she eventually seemed to recognize her approach with Midge was not working, but it's hard for me to understand Susie's point of view on this.           

My guess--or at least the backstory I've created for Susie in my mind--is that she herself is a failed stand up comic.  When she didn't get the success she was looking for, she resorted to whatever job it is she has at the Gaslight.  When Midge comes along, Susie saw a way to live vicariously through her and get some of the success she always wanted.  This might be why she's so possessive and black and white about Midge (although as a "manager," it isn't unreasonable for her to not want Midge to talk to other managers, publicists, etc in the business without her).  I don't think she sees Midge and Midge, but as alternate world Susie or Susie 2.0, which is very obviously not the case.

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My guess--or at least the backstory I've created for Susie in my mind--is that she herself is a failed stand up comic.  When she didn't get the success she was looking for, resorted to whatever job it is she has at the Gaslight.  When Midge comes along, Susie saw a way to live vicariously through her and get some of the success she always wanted.  This might be why she's so possessive and black and white about Midge (although as a "manager," it isn't unreasonable for her to not want Susie to talk to other managers, publicists, etc in the business without her).  I don't think she sees Midge and Midge, but as alternate world Susie or Susie 2.0, which is very obviously not the case.

I like that idea, and I agree that she had the right to ask to be included in any meetings Midge might take with other people.  I did hope she took away from that meeting she had with the William Morris guy that her hold on Midge is pretty tenuous without a contract.  

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On 12/4/2017 at 6:35 AM, bybrandy said:

Thought the party scenes were fun, but they are a direction that it would be too easy for Midge to go in and while there have been great male/female acts Suzie thinks Midge can be something special on her own.   Why water that down with anybody else?

Not to mention, why split the tips (and eventual payments when she gets paying gigs). The hubs was in various bands, and the larger the band, the less....pocket change....he brought home.

On 12/5/2017 at 2:22 PM, OtterMommy said:

I'm sure that people did live together outside of marriage in 1958, but not those who were part of respectable society, so to speak.

Hey! Those are my parents you're talking about. Just kidding - Mom and Dad were definitely not respectable when they lived together in the early 50's. 

On 12/6/2017 at 11:08 AM, txhorns79 said:

I honestly remain baffled by Susie.  For someone with only one-semi client, she really seems intent on alienating Midge.  It's like Susie has such a specific idea of what stand up comedy should be that she immediately rejects anything Midge does which does not fit within Susie's narrow view.  I mean, I got why Midge was doing routines at those parties.   She was coming off two huge bombs and needed to refine her act in front of an audience that was somewhat friendly to see what did and did not work.  It also helped to reassure her that she does have talent, so her other successful engagements weren't just flukes.  Instead of recognizing that, Susie leaves in a huff, and throws a giant fit.  Granted, she eventually seemed to recognize her approach with Midge was not working, but it's hard for me to understand Susie's point of view on this.           

I don't know that I think of it as a point of view, more her nature. Susie doesn't have great people skills and has been more or less disengaged for a long time it seems. Now she's engaged, sees a way out and has a singular vision on how to get Midge (and herself) success, based on what she's seen. She's not particularly flexible in her thinking, unlike Midge who thinks on her toes all the time. She is, arguably, the comedy expert, who has not yet realized there's room for other approaches. Plus, I think she desperately wants to be friends, and has no clue what to do with her feelings about that except deny them.

Edited by Clanstarling
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On December 5, 2017 at 7:34 PM, aradia22 said:

think a small problem with the show is a lack of differentiation of the voices. It's not just Midge and her brother. Almost every character is constantly quipping and joking. Midge, Joel, both sets of parents, Susie, etc. I kind of get it if they're making an argument of it just being a part of Jewish culture but I think most of the characters do it so sometimes it makes it seem like we're hearing the writers more than the characters. There's a lack of specificity. Everyone can't be a comedian. 

Yes. I kept thinking that this is what the Gilmore Girls would sound like set in late 1950s New York City if they were Jewish. Not everyone is a comedian—Penny Pan and Astrid aren't—but the many who are have the same style. If Joel's father had been restricted to only telling story jokes and maybe riddles and bad puns, it would have explained the formulaic model that inspired Joel.
Amy Sherman-Palladino is a gifted writer, but many of the lines that are too good to delete should be cut from the script and saved for another day.

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I love audiobooks and Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas" series. Was excited to see the voice of Odd as the Bell Labs recruiter (David Aaron Baker).

Aw, I hope Astrid and Noah hang in there and make it work.

Where was B Altman's located? Just wondering how far of a commute Midge would have.

So the apartment is just sitting there collecting dust? I don't get why she can stay there with the kids. Even if Joel's dad (going blank on his name) is 50% owner, you'd think he'd still want his grandkids housed. How big is the Weissman's apartment? After the boxes (and TV) got sorted out, they didn't seem to have an issue of a party of three addition.

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33 minutes ago, Atlanta said:

Where was B Altman's located? Just wondering how far of a commute Midge would have.

 

If it's the branch I'm thinking of, it's on 34th St. at 5th Ave. (It's now the CUNY Graduate Center and a branch of the NY Public Library). From the Upper West Side, she would've taken the IRT (now the 1/2/3) down to 34th St. and 7th and walked over (passing Macy's...)

And if she wanted to head straight down to the Village after work, she'd just grab the train down to Christopher St.

Edited by kwnyc · Reason: More info.
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2 hours ago, Atlanta said:

So the apartment is just sitting there collecting dust? I don't get why she can stay there with the kids. Even if Joel's dad (going blank on his name) is 50% owner, you'd think he'd still want his grandkids housed. How big is the Weissman's apartment? After the boxes (and TV) got sorted out, they didn't seem to have an issue of a party of three addition.

I belive he was 100% owner (my assumption is the deal with Midge's dad didn't go through), and my take is that he sold it. 

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I assume the kids are sharing Noah’s room. 

Spoiler

I don’t really remember which episode it was, maybe it was an upcoming one, but Joel and Midge were putting the kids to bed in the same room in either theirs or Abe and Rose’s place. I think it could be the latter, after the birthday party.

I binged, so the episodes bled together for me.

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This was the best episode of the season for me.

I know I shouldn't but I kind of feel bad for Penny.

I really liked Astrid. I loved her interactions with Rose. I love that Rose has this ability to turn a person into an utter mess with nary a word. See also Susie. And I liked Midge's relationship with her brother. I think it's interesting that Midge basically really did have a perfect life up until recently. Not just superficially. But she had two parents who have their little idiosyncrasies but love her and love each other. And she had a brother she loves and who she is proud of and who thinks she's genuinely great. And sure her dad may prefer him but her mom prefers her so all is even. Then she went onto a seemingly perfect marriage which included a healthy sex life. The more we see of her life the more it makes sense that she just spiraled the way she did when things fell apart. She's not the stereotypical 50s housewife used to stoically covering up all the dark things. She never really had to repress serious things before! She doesn't know how to now.

Also, while I agree with a lot of the substance of what Susie said her screaming at Midge was BS. Midge didn't have to tell Susie she was meeting with an agent because Susie was NOT her manager at that point in time. They had broken up. Also, the agent was genuinely sprung on Midge even if she was smart enough to know what her second rate Nichols wanted from her. I do think the substance was spot on even if the premise was faulty. Midge is way too smart and crafty to play dumb the way she does.

I really liked that they introduced the possibility of her being in a second rate Nichols and May act because, as far as the style of her humor and the way she carries herself, she is more Elaine May than any other female comic of the time. I get that her overall arc and some of the jokes she deliberately hones for her act is all Joan Rivers. But her off the cuff wit is really more May. But I also think Susie was right in that she wasn't ready for William Morris and she shouldn't just be a prop for a guy. Which is so absolutely not what Elaine May (who was funnier and quicker than Mike Nichols) was but she had an almost literal lifetime of experience in comedic performance thanks to growing up in Yiddish theater and was trained at the precursor to Second City. Midge is a newcomer who could be easily manipulated or so she seems. They wanted Midge to be a prop.

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I'm side-eyeing the somewhat integrated spaces on this show. I get it. "Downtown" and with younger people things are looser. But I just feel like the show doesn't really want to address race while trying to also make it seem like our characters aren't racist for the presumed liberal audience. 

So much about the characters is not even close to era specific. Sometimes I prefer to just think of this show as an Alternate Universe 1950s not the actual one.

Maybe Lenny Bruce doesn't OD! Maybe while on tour Midge will stop JFK from being assassinated. Maybe years from now bell bottoms never come into style! Anything can happen!

Honestly, it doesn't bother me though. The Palladinos have their talents but I am not remotely interested on their take on the civil rights movement. I'm not sure that handling that with the respect it deserves is really in their wheelhouse.

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I can see how a sort of "language" of sarcasm would develop between the two siblings.

I agree with you. Although Abe also has a finely tuned sarcasm. He's really quite funny and especially with his students. The funny thing about Midge is she always wanted to become her mother but really she is so much like her father. Minus the math skills. The place Abe is most comfortable and secure is standing up in front of his students.

Edited by CherithCutestory
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2 hours ago, CherithCutestory said:

So much about the characters is not even close to era specific. Sometimes I prefer to just think of this show as an Alternate Universe 1950s not the actual one.

Maybe Lenny Bruce doesn't OD! Maybe while on tour Midge will stop JFK from being assassinated. Maybe years from now bell bottoms never come into style! Anything can happen!

I appreciate your whole post, @CherithCutestory, but I especially share your desire to see these AU depictions—well, maybe bell bottoms can stay—two pair sewn together made a great skirt (or so I thought at the time).
And now I'm imagining by the third season that Rachel Brosnahan is made up to look like a post-menopausal Joan Rivers as we fast forward into the 80s. Or maybe she just does a 60s B&W version of The Nanny after Joel comes out of the closet.

ETA: Even if they do stick with real Lenny Bruce, it seems perfectly possible to me that he might have had an affair with someone like Midge. He might have even been too high to remember it.

Edited by shapeshifter
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On 12/5/2017 at 5:22 PM, OtterMommy said:

that seems very anachronistic for 1958

Now that I'm allowed to say this, it isn't 1958. It is 1960. Episode 4 with the New Year's Eve party (when they were newlyweds) was 1956, and Ethan is about 4 years old now. They've also discussed the Nixon Kennedy election in 1960.

All the excitement about Bell Labs was fun for me. My dad started working there in 1956 with an Electrical Engineering degree from "Carnegie Tech" (now CMU). I guess I never appreciated that it was probably the Google of its day in terms of cutting edge coolness.

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24 minutes ago, dleighg said:

Now that I'm allowed to say this, it isn't 1958. It is 1960. Episode 4 with the New Year's Eve party (when they were newlyweds) was 1956, and Ethan is about 4 years old now. They've also discussed the Nixon Kennedy election in 1960.

All the excitement about Bell Labs was fun for me. My dad started working there in 1956 with an Electrical Engineering degree from "Carnegie Tech" (now CMU). I guess I never appreciated that it was probably the Google of its day in terms of cutting edge coolness.

Yes, but what I said was anachronistic was the acceptance of Joel living with Penny (to whom he was not married, and that he was still married to someone else).  While it is accepted now that two people who are not married but are in a romantic relationship could live together, that wasn't the case in 1958 or 1960.

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On 2/12/2018 at 11:30 AM, dleighg said:

Now that I'm allowed to say this, it isn't 1958. It is 1960. Episode 4 with the New Year's Eve party (when they were newlyweds) was 1956, and Ethan is about 4 years old now. They've also discussed the Nixon Kennedy election in 1960.

The episode description for the very first episode says the show takes place in 1958 (in S1.E5, Midge says that Ethan is almost four, so he's not quite four yet):

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PILOT:
In 1958 New York, Midge Maisel's life is on track- husband, kids, and elegant Yom Kippur dinners in their Upper West Side apartment. But when her life takes a surprise turn, she has to quickly decide what else she's good at - and going from housewife to stand-up comic is a wild choice to everyone but her.

I know that Moishe said the apartment was a wedding gift, but that doesn't mean they moved in right after the wedding - sometimes people renovate/remodel/redecorate before moving in. The NYE party in 1956 could have been a year or two after they got married.

When Midge and Abe discussed Kennedy and Nixon, they were talking about who might run for President, not who was definitely on the ballot. People start talking about how might run years before the actual election. Hell, we've been talking about who's going to run in 2020 since 2016. Nixon was the Vice-President so it was natural to consider that he might run. According to the internet, Kennedy began his run up right after he was re-elected in 1958 (but he didn't formally announce his candidacy until January 2, 1960).

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In 1958, Kennedy was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, defeating his Republican opponent, Boston lawyer Vincent J. Celeste, by a wide margin of 874,608 votes; this represented the largest ever margin in Massachusetts politics.[62] It was during his re-election campaign that Kennedy's press secretary at the time, Robert E. Thompson, put together a film entitled The U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy Story, which exhibited a day in the life of the Senator and showcased his family life as well as the inner workings of his office. It was the most comprehensive film produced about Kennedy up to that time. In the aftermath of his re-election, Kennedy began preparing to run for president in 1960.

In addition, the Jane Jacobs/Robert Moses situation that we saw in S1.E4 happened in 1958. When Jane Jacobs said that the Board of Estimates voted to close Washington Square Park to traffic, that took place on June 25, 1958.
 

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On 2/15/2018 at 7:42 AM, dleighg said:

^Thanks for the correction! I'm glad the show is in fact internally consistent (at least with events).

Same here. It annoys me when shows that are set in the past pick and choose events (or clothes trends) that occurred within the same decade but years apart and then just slap them all together into the same episode/season!

The show verifies that this season takes place in 1958 in S1.E8 (the actual dialogue isn't a plot spoiler but I'm putting it under the spoiler tag since it happens after the episode we're discussing):

Spoiler

Ethan's birthday party:

Joel: So what's going on here? 
Midge: Where?
Joel: The great mac and cheese massacre of 1958. 
Midge: I'm hungry.

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On 12/2/2017 at 8:40 PM, aradia22 said:

Byron Jennings! I don't know if this show is getting theater people because it films in NY or because ASP has connections/likes theater people like other shows that seem to specifically raid Broadway to fill out their casts.

And in the same episode (I think, been binging them,) Midge has a customer that she calls Mrs. Maraczek - the last name of Jennings' character in the musical She Loves Me!

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Byron Jennings! I don't know if this show is getting theater people because it films in NY or because ASP has connections/likes theater people like other shows that seem to specifically raid Broadway to fill out their casts.

Probably a little of each. Law & Order frequently used Broadway talent.

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And in the same episode (I think, been binging them,) Midge has a customer that she calls Mrs. Maraczek - the last name of Jennings' character in the musical She Loves Me!

S2E7 is titled She Made a Hat, which is probably a nod Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George. Other Broadway performers have been Mary Testa, and Katrina Lenk of The Band's Visit has a recurring role as a psychic.

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On 12/22/2017 at 6:03 PM, HouseofBeck said:

This reminded me most of Allegra Maud Goldman, for whom going out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant was a real treat.

Not just a Chinese place. Ruby Foo's. I used to love that place. It's vastly changed now, but back in the day, it was the hot tip.

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Certainly agree Susie is being overly critical of Midge and how she is finding her act.  So what if she is not doing real stand up at the parties?  At least she is working on finding material and what she likes to talk about.  Even if the jokes are old, even for 1958.  Hanukkah gifts are not as good as Christmas gifts!!!  Ha Ha!!

Joel is just a poser, that is all.  He likes to think of himself as some sort of outsider, wants to live in the Village and live the exciting New York life of a 20 something, but can't give up the money and the easy life his parents will give him.  When it comes down to it, he doesn't have the balls to stick with anything he really wants. 

So he told his dad he did not want a job at his company.  What happens?  Goes to work for his uncle instead.  Way to take a stand Joel!!

Also he knows he doesn't have the money for the apartment Midge wants.  Instead of telling her, he lets his dad buy it

Wants to be a stand up, but doesn't really want to do the work for it

Wants to leave Midge,  then he doesn't when it turns out life was pretty good with her, as he found out, and he certainly won't do any better than her

Wants to be with Penny, but his parents don't like her, so that makes him depressed, not an adult enough to like her and stick with her even though they don't approve. 

What a poser and a loser. 

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