Maude

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For other uses, see Maude (disambiguation)

Template:Infobox television Maude is a half-hour American television sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS network from 1972 until 1978. The program was a spin-off of All in the Family and, like that show, it was a topical sitcom created by producer Norman Lear.

Maude starred Beatrice Arthur as Maude Findlay, a middle-aged, politically liberal married woman living in Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York, who embraced the tenets of women's liberation, always voted for Democratic Party candidates, strongly supported legal abortion, and advocated for civil rights and racial and gender equality.

Maude had been married three times before: two of her husbands had died and she had divorced the other. Her current husband, Walter (played by Bill Macy), ran an appliance store called Findlay's Friendly Appliances. Maude's divorced daughter, Carol (from her second marriage; played by Adrienne Barbeau), and Carol's son, Phillip (played by Brian Morrison and later by Kraig Metzinger), also lived with the Findlays. Their next-door neighbors were Dr. Arthur Harmon (played by Conrad Bain) and his wife Vivian (played by Rue McClanahan, who in the 1980s would star again with Beatrice Arthur in The Golden Girls). Arthur was Walter and Maude's mutual friend (though Maude never really cared much for Arthur, who was a conservative); he "affectionately" called Maude "Maudie." Vivian was Maude's best friend. When the series began, Arthur was a widower and Vivian was a divorcée (her previous last name was Cavender); they soon began dating and eventually married.

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Maude starred Beatrice Arthur.
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Maudegreeting.jpg
Beatrice Arthur greeting the viewers as Maude. Every week, the opening sequence would showcase a drive from the city to Maude's house in Tuckahoe, where Maude would answer her door and greet, ostensibly, the viewing audience.

Also present in the cast was Maude's housekeeper. When the series began, this role was filled by Esther Rolle, who played Florida Evans. Florida was an African American woman who often had the last laugh at Maude's expense. The character of Florida Evans proved so popular that, in 1974, she became the star of a new series - the Maude spin-off (and grandchild spin-off of All in the Family): Good Times. After Florida's depature from Maude, the Findlays had two more housekeepers: Mrs. Nell Naugatuck (Hermione Baddeley) from 1974 to 1977, and Victoria Butterfield (Marlene Warfield) in 1977 and 1978.

Maude spun off from All in the Family after the character of Maude Findlay appeared on an episode of the first program. Maude was Edith Bunker's cousin, and she represented everything Archie Bunker did not: she was a liberal, a feminist, and upper-middle class whereas Archie was none of those things. Although Maude's political beliefs certainly mirrored those of the series creators more than did those of Archie Bunker (the character of Maude was in fact said to be based on creator Norman Lear's wife Frances), episodes of Maude sometimes lampooned Maude and did not always show her beliefs and attitudes in an entirely complimentary light. While the show was written as very funny in nature, scripts also incorporated much darker humor and even drama, to the point where the show, in some episodes, could be seen as depressing rather than humorous.

Maude had an abortion in November 1972, and the episodes which dealt with the situation are probably the series' most famous and certainly its most controversial. Maude, at age 47, found herself pregnant, and her daughter Carol brought to her attention that abortion was now legal in New York state. After some soul-searching, Maude decided at the end of the two-parter that the abortion was probably for the best. Noticing the wide controversy around the episode, CBS decided to rerun the episodes in August 1973, and an all-out war waged between the network and the country's clergy. At least 30 stations dropped the show.

The producers and the writers of the show did not stop with that one controversy. In a story arc that opened the 1973-74 season, Walter came to grips with his alcoholism and subsequently had a nervous breakdown. In the beginnings of the arc, Maude, after a night of revelry that Walter and Arthur had, woke up and found Arthur in her bed, which scared her to the point that both of them swore off alcohol entirely. Walter could not do it, and got so aggravated with Maude that he hit her. Afterward, he suffered a breakdown as a result of his alcoholism and him striking his wife. The arc, which played out in three parts, was also very controversial and was highly publicized in the press.

In the later seasons, Maude went through menopause, and many episodes showed Maude, sitting on a couch in a psychiatrist's office, talking through her insecurities about getting old as well as life in general.

The Nielsen Ratings for Maude were quite respectable, particularly during the first seasons of the program (during the heyday of topical sitcoms which its presence helped to create), when it was regularly one of the top ten highest-rated American television programs in any given week.

By 1978, however, the ratings started to sink and CBS decided to revamp the series. The final few episodes paved the way for Maude to get elected to Congress (she helped campaign for a female congresswoman who unexpectedly died in her house), causing Maude and husband Walter to move to Washington, DC, with the rest of the cast being let go. In the story, the Harmons decided to move out west, and Carol got married. The plans changed after just four episodes in the new format, when Bea Arthur decided she no longer wanted to continue the role of Maude. The idea was revamped again and again and several years later led to a short-lived CBS sitcom starring Bill Macy which bore almost no resemblance to the original idea (Macy even played a different character).

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