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

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

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....

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.