- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the season five premiere of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
- Rachel Brosnahan and Michael Zegen spoke to Insider about Stephanie Hsu’s exit from the show.
- Zegen said he missed working with Hsu this season while Brosnahan said she “wanted more Midge and Mei.”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” stars Rachel Brosnahan and Michael Zegen have addressed Stephanie Hsu’s exit from the show in the season five premiere.
The Academy Award-nominated actor played Mei Lin, a Chinese American character who, when audiences last saw her in the season four finale, was poised to become the new Mrs. Maisel after accepting Joel’s (Michael Zeglen) proposal.
But, as viewers learn in the first episode of the new season, which is available to stream on Prime Video now, Mei has chosen to prioritize her dreams of becoming a doctor over their future together and has left New York to start a residency program in Chicago.
Zegen told Insider that Hsu being written out early in the show’s fifth and final season was down to scheduling conflicts with the actor’s other projects, which include the Oscar-sweeping “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” the Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and the upcoming comedy “Joy Ride.”
The actor said that Hsu “was amazing” and he “certainly missed working with her” this time around.
His costar, Rachel Brosnahan who was also present for the interview, added: “We miss her so much.”
Asked if there was an earlier version of season five that had more scenes involving Mei that creator and writer Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote before Hsu landed her other roles, Zegen said: “I don’t know. Not that I’m aware of, no.”
“We never really know though. We so often get surprised by how characters exit the show. We’re not always privy to why characters exit the show,” Brosnahan said.
The Midge Maisel actor continued: “And then also sometimes really surprised by who reappears on the show in ways that we never could have expected.
“So, I’m not sure, but we love Stephanie and are so excited for everything she’s got going on right now and we got to have her for as long as we did.”
“I wanted more Midge and Mei!” she added.
Hsu’s character was introduced in the third season after Joel decides to open a club above the basement where Mei’s family runs a shady gambling ring.
After becoming his unofficial translator in Chinatown, Mei and Joel became friendly, leading to a romance and an eventual engagement in season four.
However, their relationship suffered a few hiccups along the way, including Joel attempting to hide Mei’s ethnicity from his family for as long as he could, and his father (Kevin Pollak) having a heart attack upon learning that they were going to have a baby together.
In the new season, viewers learned that Mei had had an abortion as she was not ready to become a mother.
In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter in 2021, Hsu reflected on her role in the Emmy award-winning series while opening up about the xenophobia that she has faced as an AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) actor.
She wrote she nearly turned down the role because she was “scared of the jokes that I might find on the page” but has found that “it is one of my greatest joys to play Mei.”
“Slanty eyes, broken English, a dragon lady in a high collar smoking a long cigarette pinched between curled red nails. Yes, my mind went there because I’ve seen every version of that Chinese woman portrayed,” she wrote.
“And, let’s be honest, you have too. So when I was given a description of Mei — a strong, funny, bilingual Chinese American love interest in 1960s Chinatown — I naturally thought, ‘Yeah right, no way.’ Then, I read the script.”
The first three episodes of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” season five are now available to stream on Prime Video.