Maude: Season One

"Very Good"

Maude: Season One Review


One of the most controversial sitcoms of its era and still one of the most memorable for its strident political viewpoints, Maude probably never would have gotten on the air at all had it not been for its lineage. As the first spinoff of All in the Family and a pet project of Norman Lear, the king of TV comedy at the time, CBS had to give it a go, even if it wasn't sure what it was in for.

At a time when Vietnam still burned, Roe vs. Wade and the Equal Rights Amendment were in the headlines every day, and Watergate was warming up, Bea Arthur's unforgettable Maude Findlay, a harridan for the ages, became TV's most outspoken liberal voice, pleasing the left wing with her positions even as Archie Bunker was pleasing that same audience by demonstrating how distasteful right wingers could be. (It's amusing to imagine what Bill O'Reilly would say if Maude hit the airwaves today.)

Maude lives in suburban Tuckahoe, New York with her fourth husband, the much trod-upon Walter (Bill Macy), and her daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau). She rules the roost in a constant state of simmering rage, exploding at injustices big and small. Walter tends to cower from his rather butch wife, and every time he assets himself Maude shoots him a withering stare and mutters her famous catch phrase, "God'll get you for that, Walter."

The series dives right into controversy just nine weeks into season one when Maude finds herself pregnant and openly discusses getting an abortion (note that Bea Arthur was a rapidly graying 49 years old at the time). Maude also hosts a fund-raising party for a Black Panthers-like organization, discusses psychiatric treatment with her daughter, and fights for more lenient punishments for pot smokers.

Along the way Maude hires an African-American maid, Florida Evans (Esther Rolle), but then suffers all sorts of liberal guilt about it. (No problem, Florida will soon spin off to her own Norman Lear show, Good Times.) Though some of the episodes are built around conventional sitcom plots, especially those that involve next door neighbor Arthur Harmon (Conrad Bain) and Maude's friend Vivian (Rue McClanahan), when big issues come up, Maude becomes a furious dervish spinning wildly in her living room.

Bea Arthur is the perfect embodiment of a polyester pants-suit-wearing outraged women's libber tearing her way through the '70s burning bras and picketing all along the way. (In fact, this reviewer, age seven when Maude premiered, vividly recalls being unsure whether Maude was a woman or a man. He's also surprised in retrospect that his mother let him watch it.) The show deserves its place in any '70s time capsule, and its theme song -- "Lady Godiva was a freedom rider/She didn't care if the whole world looked" -- will live on forever as one of television's all-time best. They don't write 'em like that any more.

My hands!



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Bill Davenport

Producer: Norman Lear, Fern Field, Charlie Hauck, Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.