When I first heard that sad news that Bea Arthur had passed over the weekend, I immediately thought of Maude, one of the first strong female characters my young eyes had ever watched on television. She was sassy and confident and talked back to that mean ol’ Archie Bunker. She scared me a little bit, but in a good way.
She wasn’t hot; she was sort the Susan Boyle of the day. I know that’s stretching it. But back in the 70’s, it seems the definition of “hotness” was different. I mean Sally Struthers on “ All in the Family” was considered the cutest person on the show. Not that there’s anything wrong with Sally, she did a remarkable turn on “Gilmore Girls”
But I digress...
Most people seemed to be talking about Bea on “Golden Girls” which I personally don't think could have happened without the ground breaking “Maude.” I read on blog a rather smart statement that “The Golden Girls” was “the original ‘Sex and the City’ but without all that ugly consumerism and pathetic pining. “ True dat.
But honestly, I didn't care for "The Girls" when it first came out. When I moved to Seattle however, it was the only thing on at 9 AM besides horrible talk shows. And I began to see the subtle charm of the show. It wasn’t about a bunch of old biddies; it was about a bunch of friends who somehow managed to save enough to retire to Florida.
Bea Arthur came from Broadway and was a star there first, until Norman Lear “discovered her.” She said many times she didn’t want to be the “voice of feminism” but I think it's better than being the voice of Jimmy Choo.
Looking back, she was a role model to a young girl who didn’t even know at the time what “feminism” meant. She just liked a tall funny woman who spoke her mind and wore long shirts. I’d rather look up to Maude then Carrie Bradshaw any day.
Think about television today- what strong role models for girls/women are there right now? Mushy Meredith from “Grey’s Anatomy?” Spoiled and Bratty Serena & Blair from “Gossip Girls?” Shady and skanky Kate on “Lost?”
Maybe Betty on “Ugly Betty” or Mary on “In Plain Sight” could be considered "Maude like?"
Yes I watch a lot of television, I know I know.