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Series / Maude

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"...that uncompromisin', enterprisin', anything but tranquilizin', RIGHT-ON Maude!"
"...and then there's Maude!"

A spin-off of the hit sitcom All in the Family, created by Norman Lear and airing on CBS from 1972–78.

The title character, Maude Chadbourne-Hillard-Findlay (Bea Arthur), was originally written as Archie Bunker's Foil—female, suburban, affluent, educated, liberal, new age, free-thinking—and yet every bit as opinionated 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 character's greatest in-universe handicap 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 so much a Take That! at left-wing beliefs the way All in the Family was for Archie's stubborn traditionalism, so much as it was 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 due to good writing and Bea Arthur. Just Bea Arthur.

Not to be confused with Harold and Maude.


This show provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The three-partner where Walter loses his business, falls into depression, and tries to kill himself.
  • The Alcoholic: Walter Findlay.
  • Alliterative Name: Nell Naugatuck, the sassy British maid, and her husband, Bert Beasley. When it comes time for Nell and Bert to get married, Mrs. Naugatuck insists on retaining her maiden name.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Maude and Walter. When Maude plans to run for the New York state senate, Walter plans to divorce her; these plans ultimately fall through when Walter goes on a drinking binge and Maude finds him in bed with someone else (who turned out to be his best friend Arthur). Just as Maude is about to save her marriage by withdrawing from the election, Walter has a change of heart and decides to give his blessing to Maude's campaign, which turns into an Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment with Walter and Maude remaining married through thick and thin.
  • 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!"
  • British Stuffiness: Averted with Nell Naugatuck, who despite being from England, has a nip now and then, and is outraged when Maude nosily pries around in her room in one of her early episodes, in addition to snarky spats with Maude.
  • Catch-Phrase: "God'll get you for that, Walter", and Walter's "Mauuuude...SIT!!".
    • "I'll rip your heart out!"
    • [Maude, upon answering the phone:] "No, this is not Mr. Findlay, this is MRS. Findlay. Mr. Findlay has [a deeper voice, a mustache, etc.]."
  • Celebrity Star: John Wayne, in "Maude Meets the Duke".
    • In the two-part "Maude's Mood", Maude starts a campaign to elect Henry Fonda for president, only for Maude to persist in draining the savings in the process and Henry ultimately declines the nomination.
  • Christmas Episode: Played straight in Season 6's "Maude's Christmas Surprise", where Maude and the guests are waiting for a Christmas ham to be delivered while Carol's flight is laid over at the Cleveland airport, with a baby on the doorstep on Christmas Eve, and some men accompanied by a camel, wearing Magi costumes for a Christmas pageant and singing "Silent Night", one of whom reveals that the baby mistakenly left on the doorstep is his son, and they accidentally picked up the ham that was supposed to be delivered to the Findlays' house instead of the baby.
    • Downplayed in Season 2's "The Office Party" where Walter's employees announce plans to form a union at the Christmas party, and Season 4's "The Christmas Party" where Walter holds his annual Christmas party and worries that Maude's friend Stephanie may dampen the mood by lecturing on the women's lib movement, and Season 5's "Walter's Christmas Gift", where Arthur and Hubie buy another appliance store and they offer Walter (whose original store had closed down) a partnership in the new dealership, which is hampered by a fire sale purchase of compact washing machines from Korea, one of which tears Walter's shirt to shreds.
  • Closer to Earth: Walter, at first. In the early episodes, he stays calm and rational in the face of Maude's bombast and impulsiveness. Before long, though, Walter's ego nearly matches Maude's and he's just as likely to throw an immature temper tantrum.
  • Covert Pervert: Vivian is fairly innocent but she takes an intense interest in anything prurient going on in Maude's life. Apparently there isn't a lot going on in her and Arthur's sex life.
  • 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 Cavender. 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.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Vivian starts out with grey hair in a handful of early appearances, and after she gets a facelift, her hair is dyed blond.
  • 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 with Conrad Janis as emcee Lyle Bellamy. Maude gets a bit greedy and decides to come back for the next show to win the big jackpot... until Vivian mentions that her nephew helped her get the tickets, and Lyle Bellamy disqualifies Maude and Vivian who forfeit all of their prizes because Vivian's nephew works on the show as an usher and the staff has rules against nepotism.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Perhaps the earliest well-known aversion of this trope.
  • Grand Finale: "Maude's Big Move", albeit unintentionally; see Retool.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Maude
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: In "Walter Gets Religion", Maude learns from Arthur that Walter's motives for attending church may be primarily due to furnishing the social hall with $5,000 worth of appliances and air conditioners from his dealership which he sells at a 20% discount. Even though Maude is not pleased with Walter putting business before religion, she reluctantly attends the grand opening of the new social hall. When the Reverend Williamson praises Walter's generosity, Walter jokes that he's so pleased to serve God that he shouldn't be taking the $5,000 check, which backfires when the reverend interprets Walter's remark as giving the $5,000 check back to the church, which the reverend tears to shreds, and everyone in the social hall praises and applauds Walter's act of generosity.
  • 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.
  • Minimalist Cast: Only Bea Arthur and Gene Blakely appear as Maude and the psychiatrist in "Maude Bares Her Soul", where she spends the episode in the psychiatrist's office baring her soul as she opens up about how she feels about her dead father, her resentment of her mother, and her dread of turning 50 years old.
  • Noble Bigot: In "The New Maid", after Bert Beasley and Nell Naugatuck move to Ireland, Maude, after being inspired by watching the Roots (1977) mini-series, is so enlightened to the plight of African-Americans throughout history that she insists on hiring a black housekeeper, being impressed with Florida's pride in her heritage, liveliness, and gutsiness. When she meets Victoria Butterfield, a woman from the West Indies, Maude says that Harry Belafonte is one of her favorite singers, but Victoria prefers Andy Williams' music and when Maude wishes Victoria would take more pride in her native traditions, Victoria makes up a calypso song with her own lyrics: "Big mouth woman on a subway train, words come out like a lot of rain".
    • Hilarity Ensues when Maude gets on the subway, and after her wallet goes missing, she suspects and accuses Victoria, whose dress she accidentally tore. When Bloomingdale's department store calls her home, she learns that she left her wallet behind, and Maude is embarrassed at her hasty accusation of Victoria.
  • "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.
  • Pet the Dog: Arthur says lots of callous things about his patients, the poor, and anyone he isn't personally close to. He practically exists to be an obnoxious thorn in Maude's side, and his conservative viewpoints are very broadly caricatured. But when the chips are down, he'll do almost anything to help the Findlays. This is especially true if one of them shows signs of any illness.
  • Pie in the Face: The episode "Musical '78" culminates in a pie fight in which virtually everyone in the main cast except for Adrienne Barbeau ends up plastered.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Really Gets Around: Carol, at least early in the series.
  • Retool: 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 vs. 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. Good Times would spin-off from the main series in 1974 with the "Florida's Goodbye" episode.
  • 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. Stritch was later initially considered for the role of Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls, a role that ended up going to Bea Arthur after creator Susan Harris (who had written Maude's legendary abortion episode) insisted she wanted Bea for the part.
  • Twin Switch: In "Vivian's Surprise", Arthur apparently returns from Hartford with a changed personality, except that Arthur's twin brother Arnold is in town, posing as Arthur.
    • Arthur and Arnold were respectively portrayed by real-life identical twins Conrad and Bonar Bain.
  • 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."
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Maude sometimes borders on this. Hey, it's a Norman Lear sitcom.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Maude's attempts at proving she was not prejudiced tended to irk Florida quite a bit, since Florida just wanted to do her job. In Florida's first episode, Maude believed that having Florida come into the house through the back door was somehow offensive (even though that's where they parked), so Maude made Florida walk all the way around the house to the front door to bring in the groceries.
  • Very Special Episode: A few. The most controversial, of course, was the abortion episode.
  • World of Ham: That's half the appeal of the show.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "The Runaway", Francie Potter's boyfriend convinces her to makes up a tearjerker of a story about her abusive, drunken father to Maude, which ultimately unravels and turns out to be untrue when her father comes over and is nothing like he is depicted in the story, with Francie hoping to receive money from Maude so that she can elope with her boyfriend.
  • 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.


Example of: