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Why Did Miriam and Joel Break Up in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?

A Quick Reminder of Why Miriam and Joel Broke Up in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 1

THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, l-r: Michael Zegen, Rachel Brosnahan in 'The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets' (Season 1, Episode 4, aired November 29, 2017). ph: Nicole Rivelli/ Amazon/courtesy Everett Collection

Warning: spoilers for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel seasons one and two ahead!

One of the most compelling aspects of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's first season is seeing a woman who miraculously has it "all" — a husband, two adorable kids, a comfortable lifestyle, a stunning apartment — fall to pieces so completely and then put herself back together again with a vengeance. The woman at the heart of the story is of course Miriam "Midge" Maisel, played with vigor by Rachel Brosnahan, who discovers that her college sweetheart and current husband, Joel, is leaving her for his secretary. Talk about a cliché, right?

Whether or not you've seen the first season, you likely know that Amy Sherman-Palladino's Amazon dramedy is anything but cliché. Unlike the fast-talking heroines of her WB hit, Gilmore Girls, Sherman-Palladino is free to let Midge's mouth run at a million miles a minute unencumbered by network censorship. Because of this, we get to see her raw, cathartic, electrifying stand-up sets in Greenwich Village and beyond, which help the former housewife find her purpose once again.

Seeing that fire burning inside of Midge is perhaps what makes her romantic reunion with Joel toward the end of the first season such a surprise. He, naturally, realises his giant mistake and wants his wife back, and she can't deny that a part of her still wants him, too. The happy glow following their roll in the hay is short-lived, however, when Joel later stumbles into a comedy club where Midge is performing and watches her brutal, electrifying set. He leaves the club stunned, and clearly hurt, but still defends her performance from some idiotic hecklers.

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So, where does that leave them in season two? Well, they're not an item, though romantic feelings seem to still be lingering on both sides. In a flashback, we see that Susie tells Midge that Joel saw her set, which sends the "mad divorcée" running after him. Unfortunately, it's all too much for Joel's fragile ego and he ends their marriage for good on the stoop of their apartment.

Since he was trying, and failing, to be a stand-up comic himself in season one, it seems like his rationale for ending their relationship is a mix of jealousy and a snap decision made in the heat of the moment. As for Midge, she has other suitors waiting in the wings — *cough* Zachary Levi's awkward but hot doctor, Benjamin *cough* — so only time will tell if Joel will stop acting like an ass these two will find their way back to each other.

Image Source: Everett Collection
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