How the Amazing Mrs. Meisel coped with the “Wheel of Wonders” scene in season 4


The 4th season of The Amazing Mrs. Meisel began with the memorable episode “Rumble on the Wheel of Wonders”, and it was quite a creative task to capture and film the iconic attraction of Coney Island. The historical comedy-drama takes place in the 1950s and 1960s, and Rachel Brosnahan plays the lead role of Miriam “Midge” Maisel. The series premiered on Amazon Prime Video in 2017, and has since received critical acclaim, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy for the show as a whole and several members of its stellar cast. Season 4 premiered in February 2022, at the same time the fifth and final season of The Amazing Mrs. Meisel was ordered.

In the first episode of season 4 of the TV series “The Amazing Mrs. Meisel”, Midge returns home from her unsuccessful comedy tour. She has to break the news to her family, including her father Abe (Tony Shalhoub), mother Rose (Marin Hinkle), ex-husband Joel (Michael Zegen) and his parents Moishe (Kevin Pollack) and Shirley (Caroline Aaron). . All this is revealed during a ride on the Coney Island Wonder Wheel, when the characters shout at each other, expressing their shock and disappointment about Midge’s secret.

Filming that scene on Coney Island in The Amazing Mrs. Meisel was no small feat, and according to Vanity Fair, it took a lot of people to figure it out. When the creator of the series Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote this scene, Coney Island was closed due to the pandemic, so it was a unique opportunity to shoot there without worrying about the park being interrupted. For some shots, they used a real Miracle Wheel, but also recreated its carriages on a sound stage in front of a green screen. Visual effects supervisor Leslie Robson-Foster built a miniature model of the wheel to make everything clear, for example, which characters were opposite each other, where they were on the wheel at any given time, whether they were moving up or down, etc. . Cinematographer M. David Mullen took a ride on the wheel with Robson-Foster to find out how the position of the characters on the wheel determines which views and ambient sounds should prevail: seagulls and the ocean or crowds on Coney Island. During the filming, the actors stood behind the scenes and shouted their dialogues to the people sitting in the created “Wheel of Miracles” carriage. Read Tony Shalhoub’s description of filming this scene below:

“It was a multi-layered absurdity, if you will. It was kind of the absurdity of the scene itself, and then the absurdity of us all pretending that you’re moving up and down and swinging in this little thing, and then having cues, shooting dialogues at you and trying to find the person you’re talking to at any second. So there were a lot of jokes. It just seemed completely absurd.”

The creative group allowed themselves some artistic liberties. The fact that the characters can hear each other’s screams at all during the ride is just for show; they won’t be able to talk about the real attraction since it’s too big and loud. There were no “Wheel of Wonders” carriages in the show, which swing back and forth, because they would make it even more difficult to hear the dialogue. They also played with the colors of the Wonder Wheel, using more pastel tones to match the established aesthetic of the “Amazing Mrs. Meisel.”

All this work—modeling, research, and shouting—pays off with a fun and memorable scene in “The Amazing Mrs. Meisel.” The fact that the team behind the series is willing to put so much work into one scene is a testament to their love of the craft and the series, so it’s interesting to anticipate what they’ll do with Season 5 and its “Gilmore Girls” cameo. Despite their creative freedom, they tried to make it as realistic as possible, and the result was an unforgettable episode with the right combination of fun and “stardust” of the “Amazing Mrs. Meisel” of the 1950s.