What does today’s war news have in common with the fact that I am writing a new book about the 1970s TV Sitcom “Maude”? Well, I’ve been trying to write a positive post this week about the sitcom but I just could not see how to try and insert positivity into such a sad world situation. Then I went online and typed in “1970s” just to get some ideas. First thing that popped up was about the anti-Vietnam war protests, a colossal movement to say the least.
Then there was the women’s movement as women gained success in business, politics, education, science, the law, and even the home. As far as television went Maude’s producers and creators were right on time as she was portrayed as a strong, independent, liberal feminist.
Then, as I was going through my social media sites I found the perfect post giving a brilliant explanation of this latest war that I think has a much deeper relevance to Life (with a capital L). I cannot credit the writer as I do not know who it is but I can give you the gist of what it said: She (one side of the war) was in an abusive relationship but she fed him, let him use her car, etc., until she built up the confidence to call it quits. She began working on herself, becoming a strong, independent woman with help and support from her friends. She was single for a number of years. Then The toxic ex (the other side of the war) showed up and wants her back. He started sitting outside her house, her friends tried to warn her that he might do her harm, but he said her friends were lying to her. Then the ex broke into her house and beat her up and dared her friends to do something about it.
I identify with a lot of this explanation. For me, it is about the fact that there are wars going on somewhere, every day. It may not get plastered all over the news media, but it’s there. And we need to somehow learn to love and care for each other in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in the market, on the roads. As countries. We must learn to help each other simply because we don’t want to do away with our existence on Planet Earth, or do we?
Of course, it was not all doom and gloom in the 1970s. Which, thank heavens, let’s me write about something truly positive. There was Disco. Donna Summer, babee. The beginning of rap – The Sugarhill Gang with “Rapper’s Delight”. Gil Scott – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. At the movies we saw Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Godfather. And, as for the women’s movement, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and even won Helen a Grammy Award.
Which brings me back to Maude. Uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilzin’, right on Maude. What I heard Mr. Norman Lear call a “leaning into life” character. Strong, outspoken, no-nonsense, liberal wife and mom. Played beautifully by Bea Arthur. Arthur said herself that the only thing that she had in common with her character, Maude, was that they were both tall and had deep voices. But Bea Arthur was such a good actor you forgot that Maude was a TV character. In one episode “The Analyst” Bea does a 22 minute monologue to a psychiatrist (actually an empty chair) that blew me so far away it wasn’t funny. The writing, by Jay Folb, read like parts of my own life. I was Maude laying on the doctor’s couch, crying and crying. She was so good. Mr. Folb received an Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series nomination for this episode.
There is an article about the episode at the Paley Center for Media in New York on line. The Paley Center for Media explores how media influences attitudes, behaviors, and actions, as well as shapes public discourse, on important social and cultural issues.
I hope we can all Study War No More and lay our burdens Down By The Riverside. I love you all, thanks for stopping by.