Miriam "Midge" Maisel (born Miriam Weissman)
A charismatic Jewish housewife who, having been left by her husband, pursues a career as a stand-up comedian in 1950s New York City.
- Amicable Exes: She develops this relationship with Joel over the second season, to the point where he supports her career when she comes out to the family.
- Brainy Brunette: She speaks Russian, studied Russian lit, she is quick-witted and verbal, observant, and very thoughtful. She even manages to persuade a hiring manager at a department store to hire her as make-up girl after being rejected for a previous position. But she grew up in an environment where she was to concentrate on her MRS Degree rather than putting her intelligence to work.
- Broken Pedestal: She idolizes Sophie Lennon as a talented comic until she realizes that Lennon was only putting on an act for the audiences because nobody would take a female comic seriously.
- Deadpan Snarker: She has witty observances for almost everything she sees, from huge mezuzahs to her family's' habits to things occurring in her life.
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?:
- She tells Joel that he never disappointed her with any failure, whether financial or with his bombing at comedy, he disappointed her when he left her and the kids over bombing.
- She tells Susie that she is going to have to be more understanding about the stresses that Midge goes through.
- The Fashionista: She has a range of clothing in different colors, all stylish for the late 1950s. She uses her fashion expertise to get a day job at B. Altman.
- Hidden Depths: Pretty much the entire premise of the series: Midge Maisel, Sweet, Pretty, Charming, Upper Class Jewish American Housewife can be foul mouthed, crude, ostentatious, witty, insightful, charismatic and most importantly very, very funny.
- Jewish American Princess: A benevolent version. She is a pampered and fashionable Jewish young woman, but she is very friendly and was very supportive of her husband's ambitions. She's also willing to work for a living if she need be. She makes a reference to this in her stand-up.Heckler: Go clean the kitchen!
Midge: Oh sir, I'm Jewish, I pay people to do that.
- In Vino Veritas: She wonders the first and second times she bombs if she's only funny if she's drunk or stoned. Fortunately after this, when she performs sober, she's a hit.
- Interclass Friendship: The affluent former housewife Midge (now living with her affluent parents and working a makeup counter) and the working class talent manager Susie are this.
- Lady Swears-a-Lot: She can be clean but she isn't averse to dropping a few verbal bombs appropriate to the situation or even in her comedy act.
- Married to the Job: She begins to realize over the course of season 2 that she has to invest full time in her stand-up career, and by the end of the season, calls off a relationship with Benjamin so she can go on tour with Shy Baldwin.
- Motor Mouth: Midge talks a lot. Susie even calls her out on it once, when Midge is trying to tell her that she spent the night with Joel, but wouldn't get to the point.Susie: What is this? The lost Hamlet monologue? Just say it, for Christ's sake.
- Nice Girl: Friendly and outgoing, helpful to even strangers and tolerant of the idiosyncrasies of her friends.
- No Social Skills: She insults the rabbi so badly at her wedding that she spends years trying to win him back. And during season 2, she ends up burning her bridges with Mary when she makes several tasteless jokes at Mary's wedding (which she helped plan) that include accidentally dropping that it's a Shotgun Wedding.
- Odd Friendship:
- Susie is short, brash, butch, socially awkward, and street smart compared to Midge's feminine, savvy, witty, outgoing, and educated self.
- Midge is a lot more savvy than her Genki Girl friend Imogene.
- Parents as People: From the point of view of the "bad parent", she is a delightful and sympathetic protagonist but she barely pays attention to their children to the point of neglect; this gets played up in Season 2.
- Pink Is Feminine: A color she frequently wears and she is very girly. Rose and her phony psychic even talked about how much Midge wanted to learn how to drive because she saw a pair of pink driving gloves.
- Plucky Girl: Even in her comedy breakdown, she doesn't easily fall in a puddle of tears. Throughout the whole season she is very motivated and perky, only bursting to tears under all sorts of stressful moments.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Midge pays $25 ($217.27 in 2018) for a painting of a lesser known artist rather than haggle like Benjamin informs her is savvier, she argues the hat is worth it.
- Spoiled Sweet: Midge is a Jewish American Princess, with her parents being rich and her having married rich, and she's very good at getting her own way, but she's rarely mean-spirited (although somehow still sheltered). One scene from the show highlights this when she is jailed (a second time for her blue act) where she advises a woman (who stabbed her boyfriend to death and is griping about the stain on her blouse) how to remove blood stains with salt and water.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Played with. She enjoys being a housewife, but after Joel leaves and she moves back with her parents, she realizes she needs a day job and gets one as a makeup salesgirl at B. Altman. She loves it and the people she works with, but her parents (most especially her mother) are horrified. The only ones who aren't horrified about her standup are Susie and Joel, who both observe that Midge needs to fully invest in her standup and can't have time for relationships in doing so.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Susie's Tomboy. She wears dresses and makeup and is very feminine.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: She is very rich and stylish and obsesses about her appearance; this helps her get a job as a makeup saleswoman where she uses that savvy.
Midge's husband, an executive at Triborough Plastics in season 1 and a freelancing gatekeeper for his father's business in season 2
- Amicable Exes: He develops this relationship with Midge, they are clearly friends and lament things like his incompetent and corrupt parents.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Joel can be incredibly jealous where Midge is concerned. He lashes out furiously when he finds out Benjamin met their children as a result of Rose's machinations (even though Midge herself was angry at Rose because she wanted to discuss it with Joel first).
- Honest Corporate Executive: Something of this in Season 2, where he tries to save his parents' business and teach them to do things legally and on the table, like getting a loan from the bank (and not a shark).
- It's All About Me: Joel is so entitled and self-absorbed that he is flabbergasted when his very old-fashioned, smothering parents don't give their blessing to him and Penny; he is also stunned that none of his married friends want to go on double dates with him and Penny.
- Madness Mantra: Subdued: Joel spends several drunk scenes in season 2 rambling about how badly he messed up with Midge.
- The Missus and the Ex: A male version with Benjamin, Midge hasn't really dated the guy and he and Joel share a conversation about forgiveness.
- Never My Fault:
- He accuses Susie, to her face, of tearing his family apart. Susie points out to him that she didn't have an affair with his secretary and walk out on a wonderful wife who supported his career.
- Earlier he accused Midge of being unsupportive after he bombs, despite her doing all she can to help his comedic ambitions and he really isn't so talented. In both cases, he turns himself around in season 2.
- Parents as People: He's a good guy, but he is very childish and barely pays attention to his children.
- Secret Keeper: At the beginning of Season 2, he and Susie serve this role for Midge on her comedic career.
- Spoiled Brat: Susie calls him this in her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him in the first season finale. He does blame Midge for everything that goes wrong, not recognizing how helpful and supportive she has been.
- Took a Level in Badass: In season 2, Joel takes charge of turning his parents' business around, stands up to his father, starts to support Midge's comedy career, and punches a booker who stiffed Midge and nearly assaulted Susie.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Joel's nobler qualities are much more on display in season 2 once he starts to put his head on straight.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Midge has supported his comedic ambitions, raised his kids with no complaint, put up with his parents, and kept a tight beauty regimen. He soon accuses her of not supporting him enough.
- What Does She See in Him?:
- Flashbacks show that Midge was attracted to him when he was still ambitious; she also thought he was funny, even though in the present he has to resort to stealing jokes from more-established comedians.
- This is shown from his part because he left Midge, a funny, cheerful, intelligent housewife devoted to her role and his comedy career, for the very mediocre Penny Pan.
- What You Are in the Dark: In the first season finale, he fights a heckler who insulted Midge earlier, all without anyone they know (especially Midge) witnessing it; he also admits out loud that she is good at stand up.
- Would Hit a Girl/Violently Protective Husband: Played for comedy when he threatens Susie with bodily harm if Midge doesn't return from her tour safe and sound, he doesn't care about her gender or height. Played for drama in the same episode when Midge calls on him to help her and Susie with a club manager who tries to stiff her out of paying.
- Your Cheating Heart: He cheats on Midge with Penny Pan. Later he cheats on Penny with Midge, and continues to see a number of other women during the separation even though he's still technically married.
An employee at the Gaslight Bar who supervises the stand up and poetry routines. She becomes Midge's manager and friend.
- Ambiguously Gay: She dresses and acts in a masculine manner, lives by herself, is estranged from her family, was very impressed by Midge's breasts and once told a man that he was "barking up the wrong tree".
- Dark and Troubled Past: Susie not only has a dysfunctional family but also once had to fend herself from being molested by a cousin.
- Deadpan Snarker: Remarks on the absurdity around her on a frequent basis. She uses this trait to help Midge sell a shade of eyeshadow called "Mermaid Ice" to a woman.
- The Determinator: Susie in Season 2 has been targeted by hit men, only to befriend them and manages to get Midge into more and more gigs no matter what Sophie Lennon and sexism can do.
- Dysfunctional Family: In contrast to Midge, whose argumentative and smothering family is still loving, Susie's father is a deadbeat, her siblings suck, and her mom is depressed over her choices.
- We meet them in the Season 2 Yom Kippur episode. Her brother is an unintelligent, boorish alcoholic, her brother-in-law has a wooden leg that doesn't fit and he orders his wife (Susie's sister) around, and Susie's sister is a frazzled Stepford Smiler and Extreme Doormat who doesn't keep beer in the house because their mother is capable of pouring it over her cereal.
- Foil: To Imogene. Susie is standoffish and reluctant to truly befriend Midge and she is a lot more crass and masculine than the younger blonde woman. However, she is enough of a noncomformist to encourage and be confided to by Midge and she is the Secret Keeper for Midge's comedy career.
- Hidden Depths: Season 2 shows that she can play the piano. And tune it as well.
- Interclass Friendship: The affluent former housewife Midge (now living with her affluent parents and working a makeup counter) and the working class talent manager Susie are this.
- Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: She pulls off pretending to be a plumber for two months at Steiner so she can book gigs for Midge at the Borscht Belt resorts, using nothing more than a toilet plunger to get in. The staff see her as one of their own (even organizing a search and rescue team when she disappears for a night to handle a gig Midge is doing at the Concord), while Midge has a hard time explaining to her parents and to Benjamin that Susie is in fact her manager because the toilet plunger has left them with quite an impression.
- Lady Swears-a-Lot: She has quite the foul mouth, especially by 1950s standards (even by Midge's standards).
- Loner-Turned-Friend: Susie grows close with Midge despite claiming she wants to keep things professional. It is suggested that Susie doesn't even interact with her family, much less have a lot of friends.
- Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Midge isn't loony, but she is less savvy about show business and very fastidious and cheerful compared to Susie. Susie has to learn to tolerate Midge's idiosyncrasies and becomes a very competent manager and loyal friend.
- Loser Friend Puzzles Outsiders:
- Rose never meets her until Yom Kippur in season 2. As Rose's interactions with Susie up to this point are of a strange woman calling the phone and barely speaking, she is less than impressed.Make a new friend. I'm tired of this one.
- Imogene's first impressions of her are of a strange woman taking a bath in the Weissman apartment and using all of Rose's pink soap, and takes offense at Midge never bringing her up before.
- Rose never meets her until Yom Kippur in season 2. As Rose's interactions with Susie up to this point are of a strange woman calling the phone and barely speaking, she is less than impressed.
- Odd Friendship: Susie is short, brash, butch, socially awkward, and street smart compared to Midge, who is feminine, savvy, witty, outgoing, and educated.
- Secret Keeper: She and Joel serve this role for Midge on her comedic career.
- Skewed Priorities: In Season 2, she is upset when everyone leaves a building during Midge's DC gig because of the announcement of a kitchen fire. Midge has to tell her this is a bad idea, especially as she has a lot of flammable hair products in her hair.
- Stay in the Kitchen: She deals with this in the final episode of the first season. She is told to stop managing the talent at the Gaslight and just collect tickets.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Midge's Girly Girl. She is very coarse in her language, awkward in her social interactions, doesn't care about fashion at all and gets mistaken for a man at multiple times.
- Vague Age: It's not explicit but it's implied that she is older than Midge (who is 26 in 1958).
- Susie: (while talking about Sophie Lennon) She kept us all laughing during the Depression.Midge: How old are you?Susie: I'm not telling you.
- Wrench Wench: Averted in one episode of Season 2 where Susie needed instructions from Joel on car maintenance.
The Maisel-Weissman Family
Midge's father, a mathematics professor at Columbia University and a scientist at Bell Labs.
- Alter Kocker: Jewish? Check. Older? Check. Cranky? Check. Thick Yiddish American accent? Check check check.
- Deadpan Snarker: In everything he speaks of, he is ever the brunt of snark.
- (about seeing Midge work the makeup counter) Had to see for myself.
- Brainless Beauty: He says the great men and women, the great thinkers are unpleasant to look at and is skeptical of Kennedy and his daughter's brains.
- Break the Haughty: Abe makes a big deal bringing Noah to Bell Labs, talking of how he's a pretty big influence and his son needs help landing a job there. Abe is brought into a secure room, where he discovers A) Noah is a genius far greater than his father, B) he's working on a top-secret government project and C) not only is Noah's security clearance higher but Abe realizes the janitors in the lab have a higher security clearance than he does. Abe can only stagger out, rocked to realize that his supposedly "forgettable" son is considered far more important than he is.
- Control Freak: Season 2 has him show shades of this with his children, who are over 18 and have their own lives.
- Crazy-Prepared: In "We're Going to the Catskills!" he has made and arranged detailed miniatures of the luggage, car, and moving trailer to make sure they aren't over-packing...before they pack the van.
- Didn't Think This Through: In the season 2 finale, angered at the treatment he's gotten, Abe decides to quit the university. He's happy boasting about it to Rose who points out a key issue.Rose: Abe, the university owns our apartment.Abe: Yes...Yes...they do....
- Fan Boy: Abe is a big fan of The Twilight Zone.
- Happily Married: To Rose. They argue a lot and stress over things but they are still in love and even have sex together regularly.
- Jewish and Nerdy: He is a nebbish professor who takes his discipline very seriously.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: By the end of season 2, his Bell Labs and Columbia University career are threatened after some past activism and his unpleasant attitude towards students (that led to some of them transferring out of his class), with Simon telling him "We are all sick of you". After seeing Midge perform in the telethon, he has an epiphany and considers going back into activism.
- Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: He believes that great thinkers, especially women, weren't much to look at; he openly scoffs at Midge's interest in politics.
- Papa Wolf: After he and Midge are labeled "security risks" and have litigation of some sort threatened, he threatens to give a punch in the nose to his boss at Bell Labs despite being wimpy.
- Parental Hypocrisy: In season 2 episode 9, Abe praises charity telethons where performers raise money and give their time, only to dismiss it as a sham when Midge announces she will perform for one.
- Parents as People: The show takes time to show him as overbearing and clueless about his family and that he can be a Control Freak, but still takes time show him in a sympathetic light.
- Poor Communication Kills: Abe claimed that he tried to warn Midge about Joel early in her courtship, but all he asked was "Are you sure?"
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Abe doles one out to Midge during the Season 1 finale after she tells him that she's thinking of getting back together with Joel (and his wife had moved him and his study out to the living room as a punishment for keeping her out of the loop regarding Midge's separation).
- You have laid waste to everyone and everything around you. Its been like a typhoon. The Red Cross should start handing out blankets. You have ruined everybodys life and now that theres no more havoc to wreak, you wanna get back together and be happy? Noooo. You dont get to be happy until I can get to my piano!
- Sadist Teacher: He is scary enough to end up driving most of his class to transfer to other classes or schools, some from emotional breakdowns or from just being tired of him putting them down.
- Secret Keeper: For Midge, but she has to resist his control over what she wants to do and has to agree to his demands that Midge keep this from her mother.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He does tend to fall into this, acting like he's a huge big-shot at Columbia. He gets a major check (see Break the Haughty above) when his boss at Bell Labs point blank tells him he's on "the low rung of the totem pole" to the point that some janitors have higher security than him. That they just naturally assumed Abe knew that makes it even worse.
Midge's mother, a picture-perfect housewife who wants Midge to get back together with Joel.
- Big Eater: Compared to now, where she tries to stay Hollywood Thin, but Abe noted once she split an entire chocolate cake with him.
- Brainless Beauty: She isn't brainless but she focuses more on appearances than intellectual pursuits. she scolds Midge for civilly engaging her father in political talk, and didn't want her to go to Paris when she was younger out of fear that she would enjoy all that French bread and gain weight.
- Control Freak: She is very fixated on being perfect to the world. She lies to people about why Midge moved back in (Joel is on a long business trip in Poland and the apartment is undergoing a huge renovation) and she loses her temper in Synagogue when Midge tells her to hold of from questioning her about her fur coat (received from Sophie Lennon) until after service is over.
- Crazy-Prepared: She once trained Midge out of snoring and other "unseemly noises" to be more attractive to her future husband, when the girl was young.
- Deadpan Snarker: She has her moments. While she is happy for her husband, she remarks how often he talks about wanting to work for Bell Labs for 30 years.
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: In the first and second episodes of Season 2, Rose tells Abe that she's tired of being taken for granted and being regarded as too fragile to handle the truth. So she goes away to Paris to rediscover the independent and Bohemian artist she once was.
- Ditzy Genius: She is very cultured, educated, and intelligent; she speaks fluent French and even listens to music in the French language, but she is easily duped by a phony psychic (for over 20 years) and doesn't recognize when the psychic offers up her cousin's services to put a hit on Joel.
- Doting Parent: Rose is a soft touch compared to her strict husband (who is harder on everyone from his grandson, his kids, and especially his students). When Midge moves in she makes her famous French hot cocoa for her.
- Drama Queen: Rose reacts quite dramatically to Midge's separation (and later divorce) from Joel, as well as Midge's activities outside the home. Her reaction would make both Scarlett O'Hara and Kitty Forman say "Bitch, please".
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Midge and Abe take her for granted to the point they haven't noticed she was planning to run off to Paris for some time, only to notice her absence after several weeks after Abe found he will be dateless to an event at work. She actually tells Abe and Midge that she felt taken for granted.
- The Fashionista: A middle-aged sort. She wears sheaths and Chanel suits on her lean figure and she was described in stage directions as "entering a room as if in an MGM musical". She passed this trait on to Midge.
- The Flapper: According to Abe, she was this when they first met. She just got out of Paris, she wore berets, she smoked cigarettes, she was fun-loving, and she shared a whole chocolate cake with him.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: She is a grandmother (50s to 60s at the most) and is about attractive and trim as her daughter. Justified in that she is obsessed with maintaining her appearance.
- She's like the Jewish Dorian Gray!
- Gratuitous French: Rose spent a part of her youth in Paris. It still shows here and there.
- Happily Married: To Abe. They argue a lot and stress over things, but they are still in love and even have sex together regularly. In the first finale, Abe tells Midge that both of them changed from the carefree couple they once were to middle-aged and uptight....but he still loves her.
- In Season 2, this is played with in that she and Abe hit a rough patch in their relationship when she runs off to Paris after being taken for granted.
- Hidden Depths: She is fluent in French and has a great interest in moving to France; Abe confirms she used to live in Paris and was a very extroverted and adventurous young woman.
- The apartments she takes in Paris is actually more "rustic" (cockroach-infested) than her apartment in NYC, and she does her own shopping and shares a bathroom with rough-looking men (whom she apparently considers charming). Compare and contrast that with her daughter on tour with Susie in motels with no doormen and with nasty mattresses.
- It's All My Fault: In one of her sessions with Drina, she blames herself for Joel and Midge's marriage failing on not sending Midge to Paris after High School. She reasons that that's why things worked out so well between her and Abe, because her own mother sent her to Paris.
- Jewish American Princess: She is very concerned about her image and material things. But she does have a sexual nature and is a loving wife, having enjoyed regular sex with her husband (by pushing the beds together) and she was once as iconoclastic as her daughter in her youth.
- Season 2 plays with this as she is totally capable of living in lower economic conditions, and quite cheerfully at that.
- Jewish Mother: She is concerned for Midge but is rather smothering and tries to force onto Midge her own ways. The finale shows that while she won't lay off Midge, she is more willing to accept she cannot stop her from doing what she is doing and just offers her some advice about what accessories to wear with her black dress.
- Lethal Chef: A jokey and good-humoured line by Abe reveals that Rose is a terrible cook.
- Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: She is very concerned with her appearance, her daughter's appearance, and her baby granddaughter's appearance. She is also horrified when she learns that Midge got a job.
- Even with her independent and Bohemian lifestyle in Paris, she tells Midge that she wants the kids to be sent to her so that Ethan can fish and Esther can one day get a nose job. her grandson gets productive recreation while her granddaughter gets plastic surgery.
- She took it a bit further when Midge was a teenager; Midge used to be a cheerleader until Rose got it into her head that cheerleading would have a bad effect on Midge's breasts.
- My Beloved Smother: She thinks she can still use the Dionne Quintuplets to scold and guilt-trip Midge.
- Not So Different: Abe confirms Rose used to be the spirited woman Midge is now. She is a very intelligent woman but chose a very narrow and traditional path that she believes Midge should stick to.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Proper and obsessive about appearances Rose starts cursing (loudly!) in synagogue when Midge doesn't answer her questions about the fur Midge got from Sophie Lennon (which Midge later explains in the Catskills as being from a fictitious trapper).
- Parental Hypocrisy: When Midge tries to bring up the arthritis telethon, Rose and Abe praise charity telethons where performers raise money and give their time, only to dismiss it as a sham when Midge announces she will be performing on the telethon.
- Parents as People: Season 2 takes more time to show her as a sympathetic woman who is trying to find her own individuality, while still being beholden to old-fashioned ideas for women, to the detriment of her daughter making her mark in the world.
- The Perfectionist: She strives for perfection in her appearance, the welfare of her family, and with how it looks to people. She invests a lot of energy, to the point that she flat out lies to a neighbor about why Midge and the kids are living at the apartment (telling the neighbor that Joel is on a business trip in Poland while the apartment got botched up during a renovation).
- Proper Lady: She is very proper and works hard to maintain that image. She does have emotional outbursts.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She is graceful and cultured and very doting with her children and grandchildren. She is rather controlling and intimidating to Susie on the phone.
- Stay in the Kitchen: She is appalled that Midge is pursuing a career in comedy, worried that it will affect her relationship with Benjamin (whom she hopes Midge will marry).
- Stepford Smiler: She works hard to maintain a very perfect image of her family and of herself. She even lies about why Midge has moved back in to their apartment to a neighbor. It's implied that she has suppressed the free-spirited young woman she used to be.
- Took a Level in Badass: Moves to Paris in season two. Comes back much more of a Deadpan Snarker with a more outgoing personality, takes on some traits of Only Sane Man, and loosens up around her family and friends.
- Midge: I missed you, Mama.Rose: I missed me too.
- True Blue Femininity: She wears a lot of colors in the blue spectrum, which ties her to her role as a conventional wife and grandmother.
- Well Done, Daughter Gal: She doesn't understand why Midge isn't trying to get back together with Joel or find another man and is dismayed when Midge gets a paying job. Even when Midge buys her a new lipstick color (before its public release!) she is unenthusiastic.
Noah and Astrid Weissman
- Big Brother Instinct: Joked with in conversation with Midge; he asks her to please date a guy with weak upper body strength. Still, in season 2, Noah is the most openly hostile member of the Weissmans to Joel.
- Broken Pedestal: Noah used to like Joel, but that was before Joel left his sister for another woman.
- Converting for Love: Astrid converted from Catholicism to Judaism to marry Noah and be approved by his family. She turns out to be more devoted to the religion than her in-laws and husband.
- Friend to All Children: Astrid is excited at the prospect at visiting her niece and nephew; Noah is less enthusiastic about having children.
- Geek Physiques: He is very thin and wimpy. He recounted a playful punch between him and Joel that resulted in his fingers getting hurt.
- Jewish and Nerdy: Midge remarks to Astrid she was pleasantly surprised Noah was even dating, with all the time he spent in the laboratory.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Astrid is struggling with not being able to get pregnant and worries Noah would leave her as a result of having been married for several years and not being able to conceive. She desperately asks Midge for help, despite the fact Midge was only married for 5 years and had two young kids in those years with no difficulty. Season 2 has her announce that she is finally pregnant on Yom Kippur.
- Lethal Chef: Astrid's attempts at Jewish cuisine are often not greeted with enthusiasm (to say the least). Zelda knows to toss out any food Astrid cooks without being told.
- Nice Girl: Astrid is a very sweet girl who tries to please her husband's family and loves to bond with her niece and nephew.
- Nice Guy: Noah is very affable, loyal and supportive to his younger sister.
- Raised Catholic: Astrid was raised Catholic and sometimes mixes up rituals from her old religion to her new one.
- Secret Keeper: Astrid for Noah's job at the highest levels of government. She fails thanks to Rose's interrogation.
- Shiksa Goddess: Astrid is this, only that she converted to Judaism to fit in with her husband's family. The Season 2 Yom Kippur episode shows her to be loudly praying (albeit mixing up Catholic rituals with Yom Kippur atonement rituals) along with the congregation while her husband, sister in law, ex brother in law, parents in laws, and her SIL's former in-laws argue.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Astrid conspiciously uses Yiddish terms like "bracha" or "shayna punim".
Joel's father and Midge's father in law who is a Shameless Self-Promoter and a thorn in her father's side
- All Jews Are Cheapskates: He crows incessantly about money.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: A small-business variant in the Garment District, he conducted some under-the-table deals and apparently carries a bag of money used for bribing people.
- Drama King: Like his wife, even giving to talking about how he cannot afford to stop work just like Abe can, after the latter chides him for yelling loudly into two phones at the same time while in a public room at Steiner.
- Egocentrically Religious: Moishe makes a big deal of how seriously he takes the High Holidays and makes accusations about Abe not being as religious as he.
- Evil Counterpart: He seems to exist as one to Abe. Abe is cranky and a college-educated intellectual, but he is very moral and the Steiner Mountain Resort employees deeply respect him and seek his recommendations for career and college. Moishe is outwardly cheerful, but a corrupt businessman and Bad Boss with a crass sense of humor and manner about him, the employees at Steiner cannot stand him and he boasts about being more religious than Abe.
- Financial Abuse: Season 2 has him tell Joel that he robbed him of Bar Mitzvah money and inheritances meant for him during his childhood and he fires Joel and gives him a check worth $600,000.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: A subdued sort to Midge. He really preferred Midge for Joel but doesn't change the fact he took back the apartment she and Joel lived in, forcing her to move back in with her parents and condescendingly suggesting she take up meaningless hobbies. Season 2 emphasizes the overall obnoxiousness of his personality and how it affects everyone from his son, ex daughter-in-law, his ex DIL's father, and even the employees at Steiner.
- Shameless Self-Promoter:
- He talks incessantly about the 13 Jews he helped save from Germany "at great personal cost". Abe mentions that they all work for him in the sweatshop and despise him so much that one of them would rather have taken his chances in Europe.
- A flashback to Joel's Bar Mitzvah reveals that he takes it to the point about lying about their family, having hired a milkman to pose as a "war hero" pilot cousin.
- Stay in the Kitchen: He suggests to Midge at the start of the show that now that her marriage is over, she can absorb herself into little hobbies. Never mind that Midge might want to do something substantial for herself.
Joel's mother and Midge's mother in law who is very anxious and a source of entertainment for Midge's parents.
- Big Eater: The Season 2 Yom Kippur episode shows her to be preoccupied with the food offerings at the Weissman family home rather than the confession Midge will make.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: She has run the books of Moishe's business for a long time. Said books are written in a code only she can understand, that involves a numbering system with no 6s, doodles, and ancient Aramaic. She's also stashed money all around New York and drawn literal treasure maps for her stash locations.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: An accomplice to her husband, she often carries the bag of money for bribing people.
- Drama Queen: She dramatically calls Joel about not being able to serve cheese at a party, claiming it to be an emergency, even telling Joel (after he understandably begs off the phone) that she could die any day. She is also as loud and argumentative as her husband.
- Evil Counterpart: Seems to be one to Rose. Rose is very competent, intelligent, educated, cultured, composed, fashionable, and well-mannered while Shirley is loud, crass, corrupt, and wrote the business books in several befuddling methods. Also while Rose and Abe are respected at Steiner, Shirley and Moishe are sources of annoyance to the employees there.
- I Want Grandkids: Of a sort. She has the grandchildren, but doesn't have the opportunity to see them enough and panics if she cannot see them during the High Holidays.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She is obnoxious and corrupt and incompetent, but she genuinely loves her grandchildren, cares about her ex DIL and her family, and is encouraging of her son moving on and to stop punishing himself.
- Jewish Mother: She is very anxious and talks about grandchildren, even embarrasses Joel about how he got seasick on the Staten Island Ferry when he was a kid to his girlfriend. Played with Season 2 when she makes Ethan lose at cards (almost gambling) with her, claiming she is teaching him about life.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: More like Misplaced Mommy of Grade Schoolers. After Joel moves back in with his parents, she wakes him up by calling herself "Mommy Rooster" and starts talking to him like he is still riding his bike out and still young enough to be told what to do. She even starts singing a childish swing song to him.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Very loud, argumentative, shrill, and ridiculous. Both her ex DIL, son, ex DIL's father, and the Steiner employees can't stand her and her husband.
- Parental Hypocrisy: Hilariously in a flashback where both she and Moishe declare Joel's Bar Mitzvah to be a "hell of a day!" and when Joel affirms word for word, she scolds him "Watch your mouth."
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: A Nouveau Riche variant where she does very shady and idiotic things with the accounts and she even wears a fur coat during summer vacation in the Catskills just to look affluent.
Ethan and Esther Maisel
- Butt-Monkey: Esther tends to get it worse. She is neglected by her parents and it's Played for Laughs, and her grandparents barely pay attention to her. the most her grandmother pays attention to her it's regarding whether she's pretty enough.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Between strict, old-fashioned grandparents what expect four year olds to fast on Yom Kippur, neglectful parents, and only their grandparents' maid taking care of them and Aunt Astrid giving them regard...it's Played for Laughs.
- Little Mister Snarker: Ethan gets this in the Season 2 Yom Kippur episode, remarking to his mother on the older adults talking about how deprived they were as children during Yom Kippur.
- Yom Kippur is scary.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: After Joel left, he wakes up early in the morning and stares at Midge creeping her out; he does the same to his grandmother Rose.
- He shrieks when his Grandfather shuts the tv off during Howdy Doody.
Friends and Other Characters
Midge's best friend and fellow housewife.
- Almighty Mom: To the point she brought a copy of Dr. Spock's famous baby book to a date with her husband before they married and that she could detect her young daughter's cries from another little girl and figure out what her daughter was shrieking about.
- Alpha Bitch: Parodied in the second episode of season 2, she complains that after Midge has bailed out of exercise class, she had no one to feel superior to the other people with. Alone she's just a snob.
- Babies Ever After: She believes in this, telling Midge that her problems would be solved by having a 3rd child.
- Best Friend: She is very close to Midge and is very loyal, to the point where she refuses to associate with Joel after he left Midge, going so far as to also forbid her husband from doing so.
- Best Friends-in-Law: She wants to become Midge's eldest son's mother-in-law in the future, Midge tells her she needs to get a hobby.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: She reveals shades of this in her rant about "shorthand girls" and Archie recounts a time where she took his jam stained shirt to his secretary's apartment to compare all her lipsticks to the stain. Justified in that she is very affected by her best friend's separation. She also gets like this after finding out that Midge has been spending a lot of time with Susie and accuses Midge of replacing her with a new "best friend".
- Cloudcuckoolander: She is very daffy, taking the requirements for the ideal wife and mother Up to Eleven (even for The 50s) and setting her's and Midge's toddlers up for matchmaking, and is very obsessive about Archie's fidelity after the impact of Midge's separation.
- Country Mouse: The second episode of season 2 reveals that she likely came from Iowa and that her parents are dairy farmers.
- Ditzy Genius: She's almost close to the stereotypical bubbly but ditzy blonde housewife who isn't savvy about the ways of the world, but one episode had her talking about "shorthand girls" who went to school to become secretaries and try to lure executives away from their wives while executive wives usually went to college and married right away, revealing a sort of social savvy.
- Even Beggars Won't Choose It: Archie says Imogene would cancel surgery to watch a Broadway musical, even with Penny Pan....the woman who stole away the husband of her very best friend that she is loyal too. Imogene's reaction to Archie is stern to say the least.
- Fangirl: She acts more like this than than Lucy and Ethel when Midge treats her to lunch at the Stage Deli, looking for famous faces.
- Foil: To Susie. Imogene is perky, a very close and loyal friend to Midge, and traditionally feminine. But she is too conventional to really encourage Midge to move on from Joel and she isn't in on Midge's comedic activities and she isn't as savvy as Susie.
- Season 2 exposes her as The Ingenue who came from a dairy farm family but she doesn't shame Midge about her comedic career. She gets shocked when Midge makes a dirty joke in public about Imogene's pregnancy enlarged breasts with a fellow comic.
- Odd Friendship: Imogene is perky, naive, from a Midwestern farm family, and has more time on her hands than Midge (to the point of wanting to set their toddler kids up), who even as a housewife, kept herself busy.
- Manchild: Her interactions with Midge reveal traces of this trope. The second episode of season 2 has her freaking out because Midge didn't keep her up to date on the latest thing or on Joel quitting his job, in the manner of a gossipy teenage girl.
- MRS Degree: Implied she did go to school and got married very quickly after finding Archie.
- My Beloved Smother: Has shades of this, shown in the final first season episode where she tries to set her daughter up with Midge's son (both are four) and she can differentiate another child's cries from her daughter's and actually once read Dr. Spock's book cover to cover and even brought it to her first date with Archie; not played straight in that she is a sympathetic friend to the protagonist.
- Nice Girl: Kind, supportive, loyal, cheerful to mostly everyone.
- Pink Is Feminine: It's a very recurring color with her and she is a very girly-girl.
- Plucky Girl: She is very cheerful, persistent, and savvy. As a subversion, she puts it to use for her friend's social life to be free from Joel-related conflict.
- Shipper on Deck: She suggests to Midge that they try to get Midge's son and her daughter married to one another one day...they are both four years old. At the rented Merry-Go-Round, she even gets them to sit on horses next to one another and gets them to hold hands.
- Midge: Oh Imogene, we need to get you into a bowling team.
- Silk Hiding Steel: More like fluffy angora hiding steel, in the second episode of Season 2, she mistakes Susie for a burglar who thought it'd be fun to bubble bath in the Weissman household and rather than run away screaming to the police, she interrogates Susie.
- Stepford Smiler: She is relentlessly perky and enthusiastic; but her marriage with Archie reveals that she does having anxiety regarding his fidelity.
- We Used to Be Friends: With Joel, both couples hung out together and she admired the Maisel marriage....up until Joel left Midge for his secretary and she even declared she hated him.
Imogene's husband and Joel's best friend.
- George Jetson Job Security: According to Joel, Archie is good at his job. Unfortunately one of his bosses happens to be an uncle of Joel's and after Joel quit the ad agency, he has to convince Moishe to talk the uncle into keeping Archie.
- Henpecked Husband: Imogene rarely allows him to hang with Joel much after he left Midge.
- It Will Never Catch On: His opinion of Rock 'n' Roll is that all the young people into it will get over it and it will just be a passing fad that "offends my sensibilities"; same episode where he thought that Imogene would cancel surgery to watch The Music Man....with Penny Pan.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Played With. He stains a shirt with some jam and Imogene (affected by Midge's separation) takes the shirt to his secretary's apartment and demanded to have the woman compare her lipstick shades to the stain color.
- Shipper on Deck: For Joel and Midge, at least that his marriage wouldn't be marred by Imogene fearing that he too would leave her for his secretary.
The Weissman Family's live-in maid who is privy to the family quirks and dramas.
- Kindly Housekeeper: She is a very tolerant and patient woman that doesn't mind the day-to-day dramas of the Weissman household; she also takes care of Ethan and Esther, and it's implied that she might have took care of Midge and her brother as well.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Normally she is adaptable and unflappable when it comes to the shenanigans of the family. In "Look She Made a Hat," though, she loses it when the Weissman-Maisel family drama (and Midge's insistence on disclosing the truth about her standup comedy) delays a dinner that she and the maids have been preparing for hours;
- Pink Is Feminine: She wears a pink dress with a frilly white cap and matching apron as part of her uniform.
- Secret Keeper: For Midge and Rose in Season 2.
- The former is seen packing away Rose's late grandmother's china to send to Paris. Granted Abe and Midge would have known if they paid more attention to Rose.
- In the second episode of season 2, she is fully aware of Susie staying over at Midge's apartment while Susie is hiding from Harry Drake's muscle, even preparing meals for her.
Joel's secretary and mistress who is very mediocre in comparison to Midge.
- The Ditz: She has trouble with the electronic sharpener and has worn her blouse inside out more than once.
- Hypocrite: After Midge sleeps with Joel again, Penny Pan confronts her and calls her a "whore" for stealing her man. A man who was married to Midge by the way.Midge: (to audience) She has a point. After all, she has a teddy bear he won for her at Coney Island. All I have is a wedding ring and two kids who call him "Daddy."
- Ridiculously Average Gal: She is merely pretty, but she is very ditzy and gullible and less exciting and intelligent than Midge. Joel describes her as nice but his father critiques that Penny's most positive traits are that of a Danish pastry.
- Running Gag: Midge remarks in the pilot that Penny's ankles are the same size as her calves. In a later episode Rose remarks the same thing.
- Sexy Secretary: Averted. She had an affair with Joel and soon started acting like his wife, but she is a mediocre personality and talent compared to the sassy and sexy Midge who once had sex with Joel in public at night while hiking her skirt up and even in a public restroom after their wedding.
- Shiksa Goddess: She is Methodist. The Jewish Midge is less than pleased to learn that Penny's and Joel's shared apartment is essentially the same as hers and Joel's had been.
- What Does She See in Him?: Midge wonders why Joel dumped her for a less educated and overall mediocre woman who wore her blouse inside out twice and struggles with electronic pencil sharpeners.
The B. Altman Co-Workers
- Played By: Lilli Stein (Vivian), Wakeema Hollis (Harriet), Megan McGinnis (Lula), Colby Minife (Ginger), Erin Darke (Mary)
- Book Dumb: Vivian doesn't know what A Christmas Carol is. Mary scolds her for not knowing about Doctor Zhivago.
- Cool-Kid-and-Loser Friendship: The very sophisticated aspiring model Harriet, savvy and engaging Mary, and the snarky, worldy Midge are very good friends with the naive and slightly Book Dumb Vivian.
- Popular and savvy Midge with the nervous and excitable Ginger.
- Deadpan Snarker: Harriet, even in her first appearance, where Midge asks if she's a runway model and she deadpans "not with this skin".
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: The third episode of season 2 has the normally composed and perky Mary in tears after Midge gives a tasteless toast revealing that she has a shotgun marriage.
- Fangirl: Vivian watches a lot of movies and mentions movie stars with a gasp during conversation, comparing everyone she knows and meets to movie stars.
- '50s Hair: A lot of it (pageboys, artichokes, blunt bangs, French twists), justified since their job requires them to be stylish and fashionably coiffed.
- Girl Posse: A very friendly and supportive version of the trope.
- Hidden Depths: Harriet is an aspiring model who has been in Ebony magazine eight times.
- Inter Class Friendship: Not much known but Vivian's parents are about as wealthy as Midge's, yet all four girls get along with one another.
- Motor Mouth: Ginger talks a lot to Midge even while working.
- Shotgun Wedding: Mary gets this in Season 2.
- Token Minority: Harriet, the black member of the Girl Posse, who is the designated cosmetics girl for African-American clients. The white girls treat her as one of their own.
- We Used to Be Friends: After Midge delivers a profane toast at Mary's wedding that includes several insensitive jokes towards Mary's pregnancy, Mary gives her the silent treatment.
Joel's middle-aged secretary who follows him from his ad agency to his parents' business.
- Ditzy Secretary: She issued a very Innocently Insensitive plea to Joel that one of his co-workers shouldn't wear a suit that makes him look "tubby" in front of him.
- Gallows Humor: She understands it, even telling a shocked and clueless Archie about how Joel's toast could be both cheerful and morbid.
- You're not Jewish, are you?
- Genius Ditz: The second episode of season 2 reveals that she can identify Aramaic and she can go far to figure out Shirley's crazy accounting documents.
- Girl Friday: She is very competent and functions as a wingman to Joel when keeping track of his dates with models, urging him not to mix up the dates he set up; she is also very concerned about him.
- Spanner in the Works: She seems a bit forgetful, revealing to Midge that Joel is living in a part of town not to dissimilar to where they lived.
A phony psychic that Rose has relied on and befriended for years.
- Phony Psychic: It's clear to the audience that most of her methods are questionable, pretty much taking advantage of Rose's anxieties about perfection and of her family.
- Put on a Bus: And it's not to Budapest like Rose thought, but to the Bronx.
A psychic who replaces Drina and seems more on the ball about Rose's life.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Second season finale hints that she could have psychic powers regarding Midge's future....or just watched Midge on the telethon.
- Only Sane Woman: She seems to see that Rose needs to relax and let Midge live her life more.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Everything that would make more context for her is this for her.
Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg
An accomplished doctor who is still single, to the bewilderment of New York's Jewish community. He finds his match in Midge.
- The Cynic: He notes to Joel that people around him are pretty awful and there is no such thing as forgiveness. He is even cynical about love. Joel tells him he will be proven wrong.
- Deadpan Snarker: Snarks about people at the resort watching him and Midge on a boat while a contest goes on and about their meddling mothers.Midge: Are you cold? You look cold.
Benjamin: I'm a man. I'm a Jew. I suffer.
- Hospital Hottie: He is very attractive and a doctor.
- Knight in Sour Armour: Thinks people normally are terrible but proves to be very supportive of Midge, and even quite feminist for the Fifties.
- Love Interest: For Midge in Season 2; after she gives a set of lines spoofing the news of the summer of 1959, he starts smiling.
- The Missus and the Ex: A male version with Joel, he barely goes out with Midge and in the 4th episode he is talking with Joel on the philosophies of forgiveness.
- Nice Jewish Boy: He is Jewish and a catch as far as Rose is concerned, he also happens to be very supportive and progressive on his views on women (even for the 50s).
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He's quite tall, brunette and handsome.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Handsome, witty, and stands a full head taller than Midge.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: He is a bit broody and informs Midge that you are supposed to haggle with artists on their work before purchasing them, while Midge points out that the hat in the painting made the $25 ($217.27 in 2018) worth it.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Gender-inverted. He wants a girl that is "weird," and Midge fills the bill.
A relatively renowned obscure artist.
- Married to the Job: To the point that his apartment is also entirely his main studio.
- Shrouded in Myth: Declan allegedly made a painting that was of such indescribable beauty that it made Jackson Pollock almost swear off painting forever, which many don't believe is real. Turns out it's real, and he keeps it in a secret room in his studio.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Midge's visit to him at his studio is influential to her realization in the season 2 finale that she needs to prioritize her career above her family and personal relationship commitments.
- Starving Artist: He lives in poverty because he refuses to sell his paintings.
Leonard Alfred Schneider / Lenny Bruce
The famous comedian and a close peer of Midge.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: He does Midge a big favor in the finale since she once paid for his bail.
- Deadpan Snarker: One of the preeminent ones.
- Heroes Want Redheads: His wife Honey is a redhead, which probably helped attract him to her despite his irritation with her ditzy personality.
- Historical Domain Character: Obviously.
- Interclass Friendship: With Uptown Girl Midge.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He lampshades it in the 1st season finale when he tells Midge that he will use his new fame to help her open up her stand-up after having eviscerated Sophie Lennon onstage, he acknowledges that doing a nice thing for someone is rare in the business.
- Stepford Snarker: Lenny allows his comedic chops and his sarcasm to hide a drug problem and depression. It gets highlighted in musical form in "All Alone", which depicts the real-life Steve Allen show performance.
- The Ditz: She thought to pick Lenny up from another precinct because "he always goes there''.
- Hero of Another Story: Her life story could make a movie. She came from a Dysfunctional Family, was a Juvenile Delinquent, studied glamorous movie stars and ran away to Florida to be a topless dancer. She was raped and was jailed for being with some car thieves. After release she was known as "Hot Honey Harlow" and she took part in "Bride of Frankenstein" stand-up bits with Lenny.
- Redhead In Green: She makes her appearance in green.
A famous comedian whose bestselling shtick turns out to be false.
- Apron Matron: Her comedic persona is this. A dowdy and modest housedress, an obese and heavy bosomed body (fatsuit), hair in a handkerchief, and an apron.
- Ascended Extra: After only appearing in one episode of season 1, and the last two episodes of season 2, she becomes a series regular in season 3, concurrent with Susie going to work for her.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Her interview of arthritis sufferers during the telethon, leaves much to be desired.
- Catchphrase: "Put that on your plate!" Season 2 has Midge and Susie comment how repetitive she is.
- Evil Is Petty: She tries to keep Midge from performing on the telethon after Midge told that set about how phony she was.
- The Fashionista: Her real-life persona is slim and coiffed in the most-of-the-moment couture. She gives Midge a fur coat she only worn twice.
- Fiery Redhead: Her comedic persona has a straggly red wig in contrast to her real-life Ice Queen blonde locks.
- Hidden Depths: Sophie is a classically-trained actress, who only ended up doing standup with her Apron Matron persona because Harry Drake ignored her desire to perform in legit theater.
- Hollywood Thin: She actually is very slim and doesn't eat much. She is horrified when Midge (who is no Big Eater herself) takes a few macarons that the footman gave her; she herself sucks on a lemon.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Her Housewife character comments that she went from "rubenesque" to "Ruben Sandwich".
- Lower-Class Lout: Invoked with her "Sophie from Queens" character. She's actually a refined aristocrat, but pretends to be a fat, boorish Apron Matron for her career.
- Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Her justification for covering up with a frumpy costume and fatsuit. She tells Midge that male comedians can get away with being themselves while women have to put on a persona that isn't their own.
- Men dont want to laugh at you. They want to fuck you. You cant go up there and be a woman. Youve got to be a thing.
- Secretly Wealthy: To hide it, her publicist pays off the reporters. It's a known secret, though, to anyone who's in the business.
- Secret Test of Character: In the season 2 finale, Susie threatens to rain fire and brimstone down on Sophie if she keeps on sabotaging Midge. The threat backfires...as instead it causes her to gain Sophie's respect, seeing a manager who is so passionate about advocating for her client, something Harry Drake would never do (in fact Harry never even listens to what she wants). The meeting ends with Sophie offering Susie a job as her manager.
- Trade Your Passion for Glory: It's revealed in season 2 that Sophie is a classically-trained actress with a passion for legit theater. Unfortunately, her manager ignored her desires and pushed her into her Apron Matron comedy shtick, and while she's certainly made a fortune and become a household name with it, she's not happy with what she's doing, and thus jumps at the chance to hire Susie when she gets a taste of how Susie advocates for Midge.
Sophie Lennon's agent.
- Jerkass: He's very unpleasant to deal with.
- Serial Spouse: It's implied that he has been married several times, the current one being his Sexy Secretary (who is also a ditz). it is also implied that he may have cheated on several of his wives.
- Trophy Wife: It's implied that several of his wives function as this role, with Sophie joking that he should sleep with the beautiful and stylish Midge.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: It's implied that he has been married to a long line of hotties and he's a very pudgy and bespectacled man with unremarkable looks.
- Your Cheating Heart: Upon meeting Midge face-to-face, Sophie Lennon jokes to Harry to cheat his way towards her, implying that this isn't unusual behavior from him.
- Deadpan Snarker: He behaves this way a lot, especially when people object to his laziness and demand more from him.
- Hidden Depths: He's a former carpenter by trade and also has some sage words of advice for Susie before she goes to visit Sophie Lennon.
A singer that performs at the MDA Arthritis telethon.