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‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ EP on How Midge Made Her Way to Johnny Carson’s Couch

By the finale of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which finished up its five-season run this year, Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) has undergone a full transformation. No longer the aspiring comedian-slash-housewife we met when the show began, Midge, it turns out, becomes the great success it always seemed she would be.

Dhana Gilbert

Dhana Gilbert Craig Barritt/Getty Images

In its last batch of episodes, showrunners Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino gave the audience a glimpse into the future through flash-forwards, complete with detailed aging makeup, that demonstrated the Joan Rivers-esque sensation Midge is to become — along with the complicated ties she has with her children. In the 1960s timeline, Midge lands a gig working at a talk show run by a Johnny Carson-type figure, Gordon Ford (Reid Scott), a job she parlays into the moment that finally makes her a big star. It’s a triumphant ending for the prickly fast-talker that also delves deep into her most crucial relationship: the one she has with friend and manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein).

Via email, co-executive producer Dhana Gilbert was able to walk THR through some of the big decisions the Prime Video comedy made during its swan song — and explained that not every actor likes to see what they look like as an elderly person.

How did you settle on the flash-forward structure for the final season?

Amy and Dan had experimented with flash-forwards and flashbacks in a previous season but cut them because they just didn’t work. They realized that the best opportunity to do this would be the final season.

What were the practical challenges of that involving aging actors with makeup?

We did it the easy way — we hired one of the best prosthetic makeup artists in the business, Mike Marino. We all worked with him on the many drafts of makeup, which changed from era to era. Not all the actors were thrilled to see what they may look like far into the future, but they all leaned into it, too.

How did you want to trace the arc of Midge and Susie’s friendship?

From the beginning, Amy and Dan always knew that Midge and Susie’s friendship was the most important relationship in the series. And they knew that there should be speed bumps. But they always knew that they would be super close at the very end.

Why was that an important note to end on? What led to the final moment of Susie and Midge watching Jeopardy!?

It was an image the writers settled on early in breaking the season — although it was kept a secret to the very end. The cast and crew didn’t know what the final scenes of the series would be till the very last table read.

What went into creating the character of Gordon Ford as Midge’s last big obstacle?

Amy had pitched from the start that the journey would end with Midge landing on Johnny Carson’s couch. But they felt that it was too early to use Johnny Carson — he was not the kingmaker in 1961 that he became later on. So they slowly started introducing the fictional talk show character Gordon Ford in season four.

What was it like to say goodbye to these characters?

It was emotional for the entire cast and crew. Amy and Dan and I put together a wrecking crew of department heads for the pilot, and just about every person stayed with the production from pilot to final episode. All I can say is that there was a lot of crying on the last night.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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