Sherman-Palladino's worlds are widely beloved, yet also distinctly not for everyone. Don't like mile-a-minute-dialogue laden with pop culture references so deep you might have to take out a shovel? Stay away. For others, like yours truly, they are catnip. But even I am willing to admit their flaws.
Gilmore Girls, for example, featured male love interests who stayed on the show long past their prime. The series was oddly invested in Rory's dad, Christopher, continually trying to throw him back together with her mother, Lorelai, despite the fact that the whole show was predicated on Lorelai's choosing to leave him behind to pursue a life on her own terms with her daughter. Then there was Dean. In Season 1 he was a dreamy, well-read heartthrob. By Season 4, he was cheating on his wife with Rory. And don't get me started on Logan. (I'm Team Jess, if you hadn't noticed.) For all of the female energy Sherman-Palladino gave her signature WB show, there were always some lame-duck males hanging around.
In Maisel, there's Joel (Michael Zegen). Once again, Maisel's entire premise relies on Midge leaving her philandering spouse in the dust as she gets her Lenny Bruce on, but Joel now has an even bigger presence in the narrative than he did in the first season. He's living with his parents, depressed, and in need of work. Suddenly we're asked to be invested in the fate of the older Maisels' finances and their inefficient textiles business. Entire scenes totally unrelated to Midge are dedicated to this subject. Why? I've seen the argument floating around that Joel should be excised from the show entirely, and while I don't agree with that -- their broken chemistry feels oddly genuine -- he's largely irrelevant independent of her.
The first three episodes of the new season, then, oddly feel like filler -- often fun filler, but filler nonetheless. The cold war between Midge's parents Rose (Marin Hinkle) and Abe (Tony Shalhoub) recalls some of the hurdles Sherman-Palladino made Emily and Richard Gilmore jump through, but it's resolved with a somewhat inexplicable trip to Paris. (Somehow it seems unlikely that a French crowd would respond well to Midge commandeering a stage and doing a whole set in a different language. But in the fantasy of the show she kills.) Another plot involves Midge organizing a wedding for her B. Altman department store pal (Erin Darke), and then subsequently sticking her foot in her mouth. It's a narrative that touches on how Midge's comedic instincts can hurt those around her, but it still feels like nothing more than a diversion.