For the past three seasons, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel viewers have watched Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) rise from lowly staffer at the Gaslight Café comedy club to Miriam “Midge” Maisel's (Rachel Brosnahan) hustling manager. Fans have witnessed her navigate the dark past of her family dynamics, all while she tries to make ends meet in a struggling financial state.
But there’s one thing the show has not explored: her sexuality.
According to Borstein, that’s because she doesn’t believe Susie herself has a clear idea of her sexual identity.
“I don't know that Susie's ever been kissed or ever been held, and I think the first time she has a moment to experience that — I think the first person that decides to hold her or kiss her, that might be her first love, and I'm not sure what gender that would be,” Borstein told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
“I just feel like she's kind of a unique creature that hasn't experienced any of that yet,” she said.
Susie's love life, unlike that of every other major character on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, is nonexistent; there aren’t any glimpses into her romantic ventures or feelings, and her character’s sexuality has been left ambiguous. She’s been on the receiving end of countless jokes about her butch appearance, tough demeanor, and masculine-leaning wardrobe of pants, caps, leather jackets, and suspenders, which is frequently juxtaposed against Midge’s traditionally feminine dresses and made-up aesthetic.
Over the years, a lot of fans have speculated that Susie isn’t straight like the majority of characters we’ve seen on the show. As illustrated in headlines like “Make Susie Gay, You Cowards: On The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Lesbian Problem” and “Why Won’t ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Let Susie Be Queer?”, some viewers have taken issue with the fact that Susie’s love life goes entirely unexplored.
Borstein, who won an Emmy for her work on the show, compared the portrayal of Susie’s sexuality — or lack thereof — to Susan Boyle’s viral 2009 audition on America’s Got Talent in which she described her romantic inexperience.
“You watched that moment, and she made a comment to the audience that she's never been kissed. And I think I feel like that rings so true for Susie,” Borstein said.
Of course, the show is set in New York City in 1958, an era when LGBTQ culture was firmly underground. But Borstein doesn’t think Susie is “about having a relationship or sexuality” at all, because her priority has been overcoming the other difficulties in her life.
“Susie has never had the luxury of a relationship or wanted to give a shit about or focus on that in her life,” Borstein said. “Her childhood was pretty rough from what we've explored, and I think her whole existence up until now has been very protective of herself. She's put up a lot of walls, she’s pushed forward, and she wants to survive. She wants to put food on her plate and she wants to be significant in some regard. She wants to leave a mark, and I don't think that's on her mind.”
Amazon has yet to confirm a fourth season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — which was just nominated for another Golden Globe on Monday — although show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino reportedly plans to make four to five total seasons.
Borstein said she can imagine a day, perhaps in a future season, when her character might be able to “breathe” and turn her mind to more personal matters.
“I think if she gets to the point where she's able to relax a little and sit back and breathe, and feels like she can cover her rent and do things, then maybe she'll have some time to say, now what do I want?” Borstein said. “What would I want to spend this extra energy or time on? Do I want a person in my life, and what person would that be? What am I? Who am I?”