"...and then there's Maude!"
A spin-off of the hit sitcom All in the Family
, created by Norman Lear
and airing on CBS
The title character, Maude Chadbourne-Hillard-Findlay (Bea Arthur
), was originally written as Archie Bunker's Foil
— female, affluent, educated, liberal, new age, free-thinking — and yet every bit as domineering and pushy. Though the show was overtly political, it didn't suffer from the problems with strawmen
that plagues so many other "hot button" shows. While Maude's political views were usually cast in a positive light — helping the needy, racial sensitivity, women's liberation — the greatest handicap to the character was her personality: she was too forceful, stubborn, ego-driven, and often out of touch with the very issues she claimed expertise of. Thus the show wasn't necessarily a Take That
at left-wing beliefs the way All in the Family
was for Archie's stubborn traditionalism, but more a character-driven sitcom that simply had politics at its surface.
The show is usually remembered for featuring one of the first (positive) portrayals of abortion in TV history, when Maude realizes she's pregnant by her husband but makes the decision that she's just too old to have a baby. Her family supports her and she comes out of the situation (for the most part) better for it. Keep in mind this episode premiered just two months before the Roe v. Wade
decision made abortion legal nationwide.
Lasted for six years in no small part to good writing and Bea Arthur
. Just Bea Arthur
Not to be confused with Harold and Maude
This show provides examples of:
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": The only thing most people know about this series is that Maude has an abortion. So when she discovers in a Very Special Episode that she is pregnant, it's a pretty safe bet she won't be welcoming a new baby into the world.
- Awful Wedded Life: Maude and Walter.
- Bankruptcy Barrel: Used by Walter in an Insane Proprietor tv commercial.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: Maude and Carol.
- Bragging Theme Tune: Which compares Maude to such notable historical females as Lady Godiva and Joan of Arc.
"...that uncompromisin', enterprisin', anything-but-tranquilizin', right-on Maude!"
- Catch Phrase: "God'll get you for that, Walter", and "Mauuuude...SIT!!".
- Closer to Earth: Pretty much averted. Both Maude and Walter and pretty frequently shown to be childish, petty, and self-involved. The only difference is that Maude is at an advantage as far as delivering crippling put-downs.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ignoring the obvious mention Bea Arthur as the undisputed Queen of Deadpan Delivery, it's hard to think of a character on this show who wasn't a deadpan snarker at least some of the time.
- Distaff Counterpart: Maude was a mirror reflection of Archie Bunker: female instead of male, upper-middle-class instead of working-class, and liberal instead of conservative. However, though their lifestyles and ideologies were very different, their personalities were very similar.
- Drop-In Character: Next-door neighbor Arthur Harmon (somewhat of an Expy of Archie), particularly before he married Maude's friend, Vivian. It was understood that as a bachelor, he couldn't cook for himself and depended on Maude to feed him. Arthur and Viv continue to drop in after they marry, though, if only so Arthur can continue to stir up arguments with Maude.
- Game Show Appearance: Maude is tricked into appearing on a fictional Game Show called Beat the Devil. Game Show Announcer Johnny Olsen appeared as himself.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Perhaps the earliest well-known aversion of this trope.
- Grand Finale: "Maude's Big Move", albeit unintentionally; see Re Tool.
- Lady Drunk: The second maid, Mrs. Naugutuck, was the butt of lots of drunk jokes, even though most of the characters drank a lot all of the time.
- Ms. Fanservice: Adrienne Barbeau as Carol, though in the early episodes they inexplicably had her wearing conservative dresses.
- Make Up or Break Up: Over the six-year course of the series, Maude and Walter almost split up numerous times. Is it any wonder they have four previous marriages between them?
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: Done a lot, although frequently tempered with doses of Not So Different.
- Not Important to This Episode Camp: Carol's son Philip also lived at Maude's house, but only appeared on an as-needed basis. When they pulled The Other Darrin with him late in the series, it didn't disrupt the show in the least.
- Protagonist Title
- Really Gets Around: Carol, at least early in the series.
- Re Tool: The last season of the show ended with a three-parter that saw Maude becoming a congresswoman, her and Walter moving to Washington DC, and the rest of the cast put on buses. This was an attempt by Norman Lear to give the show's ratings a boost after it had gone from being a top 10 show (peaking at #4) its first four seasons to falling out of the top 30 in its fifth and sixth seasons. This never really panned out because after the last episode of the season Bea Arthur decided she had grown tired of playing Maude and she wanted to move on to other projects and as such the three-parter ended up becoming an unintentional Grand Finale.
- Sassy Black Woman: Florida was normally a little too deadpan to fit this trope, but the sass would really come out when Maude made too many pointed attempts to show how enlightened she was about black people and/or maids.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Quite cynical, unlike All in the Family. While the Bunkers and the Stivics (specially Archie and Mike) cared for each other in spite of their many differences, the Chadbourne-Hillard-Findlays were far from being an "ideal" family; Maude had housekeepers in spite of her beliefs, Walter was an alcoholic who often set off Maude's Hair-Trigger Temper with his chauvinism even when he tried to be progressive, and Carol and her mother would usually argue even if they had similar opinions. This was deliberately done by Norman Lear, who wanted to show the hypocrisies and neuroses of upper-middle-class liberals.
- Spin-Off: of All in the Family. The show itself spun off Good Times.
- Suburbia: The show was set in the affluent real-life NYC suburb of Tuckahoe, New York.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: In a reversal of All in the Family, Maude was remade for the UK as Nobody's Perfect (starring Elaine Stritch, of all people).
- Twofer Token Minority: When Maude becomes a congresswoman she discovers that her press secretary is (half) black, and is quite pleased. It's further pointed out that "she's Catholic, and a woman. I mean, we practically fill our entire quota for minorities in this one little gal right here."
- Unintentional Period Piece: Like all of Norman Lear's contemporary productions, this is a very 1970s show in every respect.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Maude sometimes borders on this. Hey, it's a Norman Lear sitcom.
- Very Special Episode: A few. The most controversial, of course, was the abortion episode.
- Your Favorite: For Arthur - Beef Stroganoff.
Maude: Yes, I invited Arthur to come over to eat with us... you know his favorite meal is Beef Stroganoff.... we're having beans and franks.