by the end of The wonderful Mrs. Maisel, which ended its five-season run this year, Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) has undergone a complete transformation. No longer the aspiring comedian-slash-housewife we knew when she started the show, it turns out Midge becomes the smash hit she always seemed like she would be.
In their latest batch of episodes, showrunners Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino gave audiences a glimpse into the future via flash-forwards, complete with detailed aged makeup, which demonstrated the Joan Rivers-esque feel in which Midge will be converted, along with the complicated bonds she has with her children. In the 1960s timeline, Midge lands a job on a talk show run by Johnny Carson-type figure Gordon Ford (Reid Scott), a seizing job that ultimately makes her a huge star. It’s a triumphant ending for the prickly talker that also delves into her most crucial relationship: the one she has with her 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 sitcom made during its swan song, explaining that not all actors like to see what they look like as an older person.
How did you decide 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 older actors in 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 one era to another. Not all of the actors were excited to see what they would look like in the far future, but they all leaned into it, too.
How did you want to trace Midge and Susie’s friendship arc?
From the beginning, Amy and Dan always knew that Midge and Susie’s friendship was the most important relationship on the show. And they knew there should be speed bumps. But they always knew that they would be very close at the end.
Why was it an important note to end? What led to the final moment of Susie and Midge watching Danger!?
It was an image that the writers established at the beginning of the season, although it was kept secret until the end. The cast and crew did not know what the final scenes of the series would be until the last table was read.
What went into creating the character of Gordon Ford as Midge’s last big hurdle?
Amy had said from the start that the trip would end with Midge landing on Johnny Carson’s couch. But they felt he was too early to use Johnny Carson: he was not the kingmaker in 1961 that he later became. So, they slowly began introducing the fictional talk show character Gordon Ford in the fourth season.
What was it like saying goodbye to these characters?
It was emotional for the entire cast and crew. Amy, Dan and I put together a killer team of department heads for the pilot, and almost everyone stayed with the production from the pilot to the final episode. All I can say is that there was a lot of crying last night.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an independent August issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, Click here for subscribe.