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S02.E09: Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy

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Susie lands Midge her first gig on television, but their victory is short-lived when they realize Midge is being punished for her past. Abe is increasingly unhappy in his dream job at Bell Labs while Joel continues to drown in work during late nights at Maisel and Roth.

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I adored the telethon cum variety show and that Midge actually triumphed even though Sophie continued to sandbag her. 

I adored the scene between Midge and the singer (Shay?) in the ladies room. They were so sincere and sweet together and I loved his bemused worldliness. I wanted him for a bestie. 

Midge and Susie going in and out of the control room to “make friends” was hilarious rather than annoying. 

I find myself humming the tune to the song the dancers danced to...dee dum dee pink shoelaces. Lol. And I liked the slightly modern interpretation the choreographer did for that number. 

The visual details for this show are just wonderful. A lot of unsung talent in the production. 

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13 hours ago, AuntieMame said:

Midge and Susie going in and out of the control room to “make friends” was hilarious rather than annoying. 

[...]

The visual details for this show are just wonderful. A lot of unsung talent in the production. 

I liked that she was oblivious to how much they hated her... and then by the end they're all good friends.  Between this, the hired goons, and the staff at Camp Steiner, Susie's low-key super power is to befriend basically everyone, no matter how initially hostile.

The show is a visual feast, in the same way as "Mad Men" but without that heavy fog of sexist ass-pinching in the meeting rooms.  Someone mentioned it in an earlier episode thread, but with Season 1 having won a surprising 8 (!!!) Emmy's, it's clear Amazon backed up the bank truck to make sure the second season didn't look cheap and rushed.

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Agree with the comments on the production value and the talent... 

the part that undid me was when Abe was watching at home and you could hear the echo of all the other TVs watching the same thing in the other buildings. And then Abe looks out to see his daughter across the street on TV. And Rose comes in to say, “this is really happening.” 

The look on Abe’s face was one that was part amazement and almost respect. 

I started to cry. 

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This might have been my favorite episode. I felt like it was the one where their world finally got how much of a star Midge was going to be. 

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I rarely laugh out loud at TV, but this episode finally got me with:

   [Rose] I just said you were in the park with Ethan.
   [Midge] If I was in the bathroom would you have him come over and walk in on me while I was sitting on the . . .
   [Rose] Miriam! Of course not
   [Midge] It's the same thing
   [Rose] Bathrooms and parks are not the same!
   [Midge] Tell that to a dog.

 

Nearly everything with this season was perfect. Much more perfect than season 1. So does this mean 16 Emmys? Is that even possible?

Anyway, this was a perfect penultimate episode.

Edited by shapeshifter · Reason: Typo
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Shy Baldwin was based on Fats Domino. 

Interesting.  I thought he was supposed to be a Johnnie Mathis-type. 

I'm kind of on Sophie's side in the Midge/Sophie feud.  I mean, my recollection is that Sophie was kind to Midge, even if she gave Midge bad advice about being a female in comedy, and Midge responded by publicly trashing Sophie in her act.  Sophie then responded by trying to have Midge blackballed and harmed Midge's career.  Susie then responds by going ballistic on Sophie and coming off as a potentially violent, crazy person.  It was an unnecessary escalation.      

Edited by txhorns79
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10 hours ago, txhorns79 said:
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Shy Baldwin was based on Fats Domino. 

Interesting.  I thought he was supposed to be a Johnnie Mathis-type. 

Now that you mention it, he seems to be a hybrid of the two.

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Hmm, I guess I'm also on Sophie's side - well not about the petty feuding but about expecting an apology. She was kind to Midge and even if her act is tired and she's not a very nice person she did not deserve that thrashing which was also a major breach of trust (bit of a thing for Midge). I kinda thought Midge deserved at least some of the troubles she got into afterwards. Suzie escalating the feud further was stupid too. I was hoping they would settle it in this episode and move on. Oh well, everything else about the telethon was stunning. And I also loved the scene at the dinner with Suzie frantically switching tables to get Midge the gig (great editing).

Not liking where Abe's plot is going - McCarthyism tends to ruin the nostalgia. But maybe I got that scene wrong - 1958 (or are we in 1959) is a bit late for that.

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On 12/10/2018 at 8:45 AM, Pallas said:

I think more Johnny Mathis, especially given his sound, his appearance, his material, and his Rose-Weissman-muster-passing savoir faire.

I see your point, but the character's name  is Shy and Fats Domino was known for his shyness. It's mentioned in the first paragraph of his Wiki profile. Also, there was some banter between Midge and Susie along the lines of I thought he was supposed to be fat. 

On second thought, though, Fats Domino would have been playing piano, and Shy Baldwin was straight up crooning like Johnny Mathis. 

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18 hours ago, MissLucas said:

Not liking where Abe's plot is going - McCarthyism tends to ruin the nostalgia. But maybe I got that scene wrong - 1958 (or are we in 1959) is a bit late for that.

It's almost 1960, when Dalton Trumbo once again was given screen credit for his work. But the divisiveness in American life -- no invention of the 21st century -- will take new turns. 

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On 12/7/2018 at 11:50 PM, hincandenza said:

I liked that she was oblivious to how much they hated her... and then by the end they're all good friends.  Between this, the hired goons, and the staff at Camp Steiner, Susie's low-key super power is to befriend basically everyone, no matter how initially hostile.

This part of the show does not ring true. I find Susie very unlikeable. She does not like people and it shows in every social interaction. She’s also not a great manager. A good manager would have squashed the beef with Sophie and Harry a long time ago with a note of apology or some other concilliatory gesture. Comedians apologize all the time - at least the ones who understand that it is sometimes necessary to keep getting the good gigs. 

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7 hours ago, laprin said:

This part of the show does not ring true. I find Susie very unlikeable. She does not like people and it shows in every social interaction. She’s also not a great manager. A good manager would have squashed the beef with Sophie and Harry a long time ago with a note of apology or some other concilliatory gesture. Comedians apologize all the time - at least the ones who understand that it is sometimes necessary to keep getting the good gigs. 

Yes, all^ true. But Susie still fulfills Midge's managerial needs by means of sociopathic bullying at a time when a female comic with Midge's style would likely not have been able to otherwise find any manager—at least not one who didn't insist on the Harvey Weinstein treatment.</end fanwank>

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7 hours ago, laprin said:

This part of the show does not ring true. I find Susie very unlikeable. She does not like people and it shows in every social interaction. She’s also not a great manager. A good manager would have squashed the beef with Sophie and Harry a long time ago with a note of apology or some other concilliatory gesture. Comedians apologize all the time - at least the ones who understand that it is sometimes necessary to keep getting the good gigs. 

Same for me.  She is much too abrasive and blunt to have little kids and the teen camp staff be her buddies.  I think of her personality as a defense to keep people away and it is therefore incongruous to the point of unbelievable that she ends up beloved.  I think she works as a bulldozer-type manager but not as someone who melts hearts.  She does get some of the funniest lines and can really deliver them, though. 

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32 minutes ago, ShadowFacts said:

Same for me.  She is much too abrasive and blunt to have little kids and the teen camp staff be her buddies.  I think of her personality as a defense to keep people away and it is therefore incongruous to the point of unbelievable that she ends up beloved.  I think she works as a bulldozer-type manager but not as someone who melts hearts.  She does get some of the funniest lines and can really deliver them, though. 

Maybe Susie's persona was so scary that the campers figured it was easier to kill her with kindness than worry about expelling her, only to have her sneak back in as an axe (plunger?) murderer.

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5 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Yes, all^ true. But Susie still fulfills Midge's managerial needs by means of sociopathic bullying at a time when a female comic with Midge's style would likely not have been able to otherwise find any manager—at least not one who didn't insist on the Harvey Weinstein treatment.</end fanwank>

Susie could get away with that tactic if she had some power or influence (i.e. other clients that are in-demand). Given that she does not, charm goes a long way. 

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21 hours ago, laprin said:

This part of the show does not ring true. I find Susie very unlikeable. She does not like people and it shows in every social interaction. She’s also not a great manager. A good manager would have squashed the beef with Sophie and Harry a long time ago with a note of apology or some other concilliatory gesture. Comedians apologize all the time - at least the ones who understand that it is sometimes necessary to keep getting the good gigs. 

Susie's defense of Midge in the face of Sophie felt more like something a boyfriend would do, not a manager.  (Compare with Joel's damsel-ing of Midge in the previous episode).

Again I feel let down by an episode.   I guess I had some erroneous expectations of what this show would be when actually it's about the business of comedy only as much as, say, the Dick Van Dyke Show was.    In other words, it's not really about the comedy scene, but the life of an upper class New York Jewish family in the late 1950s.  

I generally dislike Jane Lynch, but she kills that Sophie part.   

Edited by millennium
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I was seriously nervous when Midge got on screen, especially when Sophie showed up, but she totally killed it! She did so good, she actually got the telethon to go on for longer, and even got the host to crack up and compliment her on screen, genuinely! That whole seen made me so happy, seeing a bunch of the people that Midge knows watching (the girls at the call center, the diners at the greasy spoon, the guy who runs the comedy club she started at and its patrons) all cheering her on. But the best reaction was definitely Abe and Rose. "This is really happening." She has had such a hard time of it, it was great seeing her have an unqualified victory, even with all of her obstacles. 

I find it kind of hilarious that Susie always manages to make friends with any random people she meets, despite her super abrasive personality. Its such a weird running gag. Although, I do actually think it would be fine if Midge apologized. She probably would have, if she thought that it would have helped. I mean, Sophie's act is lame, and I can see why Midge disliked her doing a whole bit about being a working class woman while actually being super wealthy and fancy, but Sophie did try to be nice to Midge, and she dissed her and pulled back the curtain on her act, which is probably considered bad form by most comedians. Granted, Sophie is being super petty towards her, but I can at least get why she is so upset. And why Midge doesent want to antagonize her. 

That bit with Sophie and the woman with arthritis really was super awkward. I was almost running to the bathroom with Midge. 

Speaking of, loved the little bit between Midge and the singer in the ladies room. He just had this world weary but still warm hearted charm to him. I hope he can come back at some point, even if its just to be charming and banter with Midge a bit. 

Yeah, maybe Midge shouldn't have mentioned her dads project in her act, especially in DC. Its almost 1960s, so the worst days of the Red Scare were on their way out, but its not like the government stopped being suspicious of people who were involved in what could be perceived as anti government causes. So I think we wont go full on McCarthy, but this could lead to some unfortunate times for Abe. 

Loved of the details at the telecast, and all of the period bits here and there. The song and dance was weirdly catchy, kind of like 50s music as told through a 2018 lens, and you can tell how much time and talent went into the product of sets, costumes, etc. to nail this time and place. 

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On 12/17/2018 at 9:06 PM, millennium said:

Susie's defense of Midge in the face of Sophie felt more like something a boyfriend would do, not a manager.  (Compare with Joel's damsel-ing of Midge in the previous episode).

Again I feel let down by an episode.   I guess I had some erroneous expectations of what this show would be when actually it's about the business of comedy only as much as, say, the Dick Van Dyke Show was.    In other words, it's not really about the comedy scene, but the life of an upper class New York Jewish family in the late 1950s.  

I generally dislike Jane Lynch, but she kills that Sophie part.   

 

On 12/17/2018 at 7:41 AM, ShadowFacts said:

Same for me.  She is much too abrasive and blunt to have little kids and the teen camp staff be her buddies.  I think of her personality as a defense to keep people away and it is therefore incongruous to the point of unbelievable that she ends up beloved.  I think she works as a bulldozer-type manager but not as someone who melts hearts.  She does get some of the funniest lines and can really deliver them, though. 

The second season felt like a delicious confectionery, very pleasant but no edge or grit. Wealth and poverty are romanticized in this world. Susie now is the heart of gold character that everyone can't help loving. It would be too gritty to have people actually be hostile, when in truth a woman like Susie would have had a lot of issues in the ultra-conservative 1950s. Even the goons who came to beat her up became her friends.

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3 hours ago, qtpye said:

 

 Susie now is the heart of gold character that everyone can't help loving. It would be too gritty to have people actually be hostile, when in truth a woman like Susie would have had a lot of issues in the ultra-conservative 1950s. Even the goons who came to beat her up became her friends.

I still see her as the "one-woman-show" actress from Friends

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I find myself humming the tune to the song the dancers danced to...dee dum dee pink shoelaces. Lol. And I liked the slightly modern interpretation the choreographer did for that number. 

Quote

Fortnite needs to steal the dance the opening act performed.

The opening dance number (at around 23:30) is clearly an homage to Bobby Banas dancing to Shirley Ellis' Nitty Gritty in 1963

That choreography is 55 years old ;).

Edited by basil
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I'm gonna speculate here that Shy Baldwin is based on Johnny Mathis ... Hoping that he is part of the recurring cast for S3 (perhaps with Midge opening for him) ... and would not be at all surprised, if that indeed is part of the storyline, to see issues of both race and sexuality addressed (however subtly). 

Thank you, Basil, for that Nitty Gritty clip. Definitely an homage (that's being kind ... direct rip is also accurate ... I really enjoyed watching both)

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Thank you, Basil, for that Nitty Gritty clip. Definitely an homage (that's being kind ... direct rip is also accurate ... I really enjoyed watching both)

You're welcome. Yeah a direct rip is also pretty accurate, right down to the costumes. It's a pretty obscure clip, from the Judy Garland show. The especially enthusiastic chorus boy in Nitty Gritty was Bobby Banas, who TMMM also imitated. He was in West Side Story. A truly great dancer, and still with us at the age of 85.

Edited by basil
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On 12/9/2018 at 8:44 PM, txhorns79 said:

Interesting.  I thought he was supposed to be a Johnnie Mathis-type. 

I'm kind of on Sophie's side in the Midge/Sophie feud.  I mean, my recollection is that Sophie was kind to Midge, even if she gave Midge bad advice about being a female in comedy, and Midge responded by publicly trashing Sophie in her act.  Sophie then responded by trying to have Midge blackballed and harmed Midge's career.  Susie then responds by going ballistic on Sophie and coming off as a potentially violent, crazy person.  It was an unnecessary escalation.      

Same here. Totally Johnnie Mathis vibe to me. 

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5 hours ago, TV Diva Queen said:

Same here. Totally Johnnie Mathis vibe to me. 

There were times I thought he really mimicked some of Mathis' facial expressions (while singing). So I always thought he was supposed to be Mathis.

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One quibble about the episode. Kennedy didn't announce his candidacy for president until January 1960 (things were different in those days). It's a small thing, and given the way people announce almost 2 years ahead of the elections these days, it's an easy one to miss. I only know it because I do a "This Day in History" thing at work, and I have January 2nd all prepared for when I return to the office.

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TXHorns

You make a really good point about the Sophie and Midge feud. Sophie was willing to give Midge the opportunity of a visible opening slot and gave Midge the best advice she knew. The fact that Sophie is pompous and ridiculous because of her own issues should be judged separately from her actions towards Midge. Thank you for putting your finger on that nagging botheration i had with the books interaction. Sophie is a bit ridiculous, but that didn't erase her professional courtesy to Midge.

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Fortnite needs to steal the dance the opening act performed.

I am obsessed with that dance number. 

This was the first time I was ever actively mad at Susie. Although, to be fair, there was nothing preventing Midge from reaching out to Sophie herself. It's not as if she was unaware of why she was being blackballed. I guess she decided to err on the side of leaving it alone, so I'm completely on her side for going off on Susie and deliberately antagonizing Sophie that way. I fully expected her to be bumped from the telethon altogether.

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I think Sophie Lennon is modeled after comedian Minnie Pearl. Minnie Pearl bellowed "Howwwwdee!" over and over during her act. She wore a hillbilly dress and a hat with the price tag on it. Her act was about being poor, but she was actually a wealthy heiress socialite who did comedy for fun. None of her fans knew until after she passed away that she was filthy stinkin' rich.

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22 hours ago, Suzywriter said:

I think Sophie Lennon is modeled after comedian Minnie Pearl. Minnie Pearl bellowed "Howwwwdee!" over and over during her act. She wore a hillbilly dress and a hat with the price tag on it. Her act was about being poor, but she was actually a wealthy heiress socialite who did comedy for fun. None of her fans knew until after she passed away that she was filthy stinkin' rich.

People in the Nashville area sure knew who she really was, even before they named a cancer center for her.

https://sarahcannon.com/about/sarah-cannon-the-name

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I love that dance number too. Another poster linked the dancers that this number was based on and they were amazing too. 

I thought it Minnie Pearl as inspiration for the Sophie character too, but I had no idea she was an heiress. Thanks for that. 

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So what was with Sophie Lennon's bizarre reaction to that arthritis sufferer's story? Was the idea just that she had no idea how to act when she wasn't doing her cheesy, scripted material?

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2 hours ago, Blakeston said:

Was the idea just that she had no idea how to act

She knew how to act, just not well: that's what she was doing. Showing her dramatic range. 

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See. That's how you do it. I loved seeing Susie be a competent manager and not just curse and bluster.

I don't remember Joel's mom being this obsessed with money and I don't remember Abe being the kind of character who would blow up at his class like that.

I like that Ben isn't phased by Susie's territorial pugnaciousness. 

John Cariani! They're getting the whole cast of The Band's Visit on this show. Also, Lucy DeVito. 

Oh, we're finally getting to how her being a mom/divorcee might affect her and Ben.

LOL that dance number. It wasn't just the insane dance. It's that these are clearly professionals from 2018. Their body type is all wrong and there's a precision in the way they dance. 

I can't tell with this show. I thought they were giving us signs that Joel is an alcoholic. But... no? He stumbled out of a bar in broad daylight. He got completely wasted after they bought the building. But he's doing better than ever at work (though his dad just kicked him out). If this was supposed to be casual 60's heavy drinking, they did it wrong. I thought we were building up to something.

Miriam really has no right to talk about her dad's work like that with all of those details. Her stand up is supposed to be about HER life. Also, I feel like we're losing the point. I have no idea what her set is. They pretend she works on jokes and yet her set always seems to be changing when we hear it. 

I looked up Shy Baldwin because there's always a chance I don't know a crooner. But nope. Not a real person. He has Darius de Haas' singing voice. Which is a weird choice because why not just cast Darius? But maybe they wanted someone younger or Darius had another job and was only able to provide the vocals.

I didn't think they'd actually bring Jane Lynch back for this. I figured they could cover Sophie icing them out without showing her on screen. But instead we got to be treated to more of her painful comedy. Hooray.

Really? Not only were the bathrooms not segregated but women and men could use the same restroom? I guess it's New York but still... He wouldn't even feel uncomfortable about being in a bathroom alone with her? Can I get a fact check?

Also weird that he felt so comfortable with Midge that he didn't censor his comments. He had no way of knowing she'd be receptive to racially charged sentiments other than she's a special sparkly unicorn and everyone can sense it, I guess.

Sophie has a goddamned point. Why didn't Susie tell Midge to apologize? Why didn't Midge want to apologize herself? Oh right, because they're both assholes. 

It was sweet that Abe stayed up late to watch her set. I feel like they've written his character so inconsistently. This is the guy I remember. Sweet, absent-minded, a little stern and distant but not this harsh disciplinarian yelling at people all the time. 

The ending is a reminder that while they're both competent in their own ways, Susie and Midge are incredibly immature. No one has the moral high ground. Which, again, is fine, if the show would ever realize it.

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I think more Johnny Mathis, especially given his sound, his appearance, his material, and his Rose-Weissman-muster-passing savoir faire.

I thought Johnny Mathis, too. Actually because my own mom loves him.

I could also see a Nat King Cole thing. But mainly because I've never found Mathis attractive and I think NKC was gorgeous and Shy, in spite of his name, seems like he's supposed to be a charmer.

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Couple things struck me after watching this episode. Midge’s frustration with Susie for her boneheaded rant at Sophie coupled with her constant refrain of “It’s your job as my manager” over the last couple episodes (along with the crappy accommodations on the tour, etc.) make me wonder if Midge is going to eventually outgrow Susie.

I liked the juxtaposition of Noah telling Abe that “tits up” is a euphemism for death while it’s a rally cry of courage for Midge and Susie....

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THhat nitty gritty number was amazing. They looked like there were actual dance steps a person could learn and it looked fun.

im confused about Abe’s class. Last semester he was a ROCK STAR, with students literally following him around. They were hanging in every word.

his biggest fan Truman left but how does that account for everyone else?

i didn’t find Midges set all that funny but was glad show went there instead of having her bomb and rhenckntrol room take revenge. 

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LOL that dance number. It wasn't just the insane dance. It's that these are clearly professionals from 2018. Their body type is all wrong and there's a precision in the way they dance. 

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That nitty gritty number was amazing. They looked like there were actual dance steps a person could learn and it looked fun.

The original Nitty Gritty was from the Judy Garland Show, and they were announced as the Peter Gennaro Dancers. I forget what they were called in the Sophie telethon show, but even the introduction was the same. For those who didn't know Gennaro, he was a very famous choreographer, and those dancers were very well-trained , especially Bobby Banas, the chorus boy who really stands out in Nitty Gritty clip. Both he and Gennaro worked on the original West Side Story. I'll have to look up the article again, but I've since learned that ASP claimed, when asked directly, that the dance on Sophie's telethon was absolutely original. I was really disappointed that she made that claim. If you compare and contrast the two dances from my post upthread (the season 2 episode 9 at 23:30, "Vote for Kennedy" and the clip I linked to here), it is VERY obvious that ASP's number draws heavily from Nitty Gritty. Why not just call it an homage? Nothing wrong with that. Please give credit where credit is due. 

I'll post the ASP article if I can find it.

...and here it is. From the article:

Vulture: "You have a lot of musical numbers on this series, particularly in season two, and a lot of scenes where people are dancing. They’re dancing in the Catskills. The variety show even has a dance number. I wonder, is that a real dance that existed, or did you make it up for the show?"

Amy Sherman-Palladino: "It’s made-up. We have a brilliant choreographer named Marguerite Derricks. She worked with us on Bunheads, and she’s like our third musketeer."

Daniel Palladino: "I’d seen an old YouTube clip of some dances from the late 1950s, early 1960s, and weirdly, a couple of them were not smiling at all, so I told her, “Come up with a dance that’s crazy, wild, but none of the dancers should ever smile while they dance,” which is completely the opposite of the dancer’s training." 

[Bob Fosse might have a thing or two to say about that ;) ]

OK. Off the soapbox, but this kind of thing really bothers me. Bobby Banas is still alive. They even imitate his over the top style, and I think they even refer to it  (something about notn losing him in the frame?). Good for them for acknowledging great work, but credit them for it, please.

Edited by basil
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