Devastated by the high court’s decision on abortion last week, I offer a two-part episode of the TV show Maude for your consideration. Maude’s Dilemma was videotaped in November 1972. Seeing it, I was blown away by the perfection of the script, the progressive messaging, and the actor’s stage-worthy performances.
I knew Bea Arthur well, I’d had dinners and drinks at her house, and we spoke on the phone after many of the Maude episodes aired. I’d met Bea through Margaret Whiting and the musical director, Herb Mesick.
After seeing these episodes, I was determined to work for Norman Lear, become more of an activist for all human rights, and learn to be a better writer.
The Chicago Tribune described the episodes as a watershed moment that “brought the battle over choice into the prime-time arena.” These episodes of Maude are considered groundbreaking for bringing the controversial issue of abortion into people’s living rooms and forcing families to confront this open secret.
Maude producer Rod Parker explained the topic: “The funny thing is that initially, we weren’t even thinking abortion … The group Zero Population Growth announced they were giving a $10,000 prize for comedies that had something to do with controlling population, so everyone came in with ideas for vasectomies”.
Two years after I watched these episodes of Maude—and lots of self-promotion—I was hired by Norman Lear’s Tandem Productions/TAT Communications.
BTW: My years working for Lear were some of the best years of my life.