Maude – the most controversial, opinionated woman of the 1970s

In September 1972 , Maude premiered on television in many American homes. This show would destroy stereotypes and break down the barriers of women in 1970s.

Actress Bea Arthur starred as Maude Findlay, a woman not afraid to voice her own opinion. She was a middle-aged, married to her fourth husband, liberal woman living in Tuckahoe, New York. (Wikipedia)

This show was a spin-off from All in the Family. Maude was Edith’s cousin (character on All in the Family). (Bergman, n.d) Maude was a mother, a wife, and a strong, independent woman. In the past women were reserved, obeyed their husbands, and were insignificant compared to a man’s role.

Maude had many supporting actors — Maude’s fourth husband, Walter, her daughter from a previous marriage, Carol, her housekeeper, Florida, and many others. (Maude – TV.com, n.d.)

Maude represented a change in television sitcoms during the early 1970s. Many 1960s sitcoms reflected the context and values of white middle America, where gender and family roles were fixed and problems encountered in the program rarely reached beyond the confines of nuclear family relationships.” (Fry, n.d.)

Maude was a very controversial show and her strong personality was the reason it would forever be remembered. One huge topic that had never been featured on television before was the issue of abortion. “Maude wasted no time becoming one of the most controversial shows ever when she, at age 47, became pregnant and decided to get an abortion (the first show to ever have the lead character get an abortion).” (Maude – TV.com, n.d.)

Other controversial topics highlighted in Maude:

  • Divorce
  • Women in government
  • Birth Control and men
  • Bankruptcy
  • Plastic surgery 

My perspective: Maude showcased a woman who didn’t answer to anyone. She did what she wanted to do and believed in what she wanted to believe in. No man was going to shape her.

I admire the character Maude stood for. She was voice for women during a time when women were fighting for a voice. She had the power to share her opinions, and I think it helped society see a more liberal side to women.  Another note to take away from this television show is the risk of controversial topics. Maude discussed many of the topics not accepted in society at this time. This was a risk that I feel paid off. Presenting real problems and issues could have steered viewers away from this show; however, it opened their eyes to reality.

About Bea Arthur: Actress Bea Arthur was born in May 1922. She was an American actress, comedian and singer who had a great career. She is known for her role in Maude, All in the Family, and The Golden Girls. (Wikipedia)

Check these clips from Maude:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arOa5geOED0&feature=endscreen&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9NY8R-LmIw

Bea Arthur –Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (n.d.) Wikipedia. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bea_Arthur

Bergman, M. (n.d.). Maude (TV Series 1972–1978) – IMDb. IMDb – Movies, TV and Celebrities. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068103/

Fry, K. (n.d.). The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=maude

Maude (TV series) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maude_(TV_series)

Maude – TV.com. (n.d.). TV.com – Free Full Episodes & Clips, Show Info and TV Listings Guide. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://www.tv.com/shows/maude/