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And Then There's Maude: Episode 11

Our tribute to the 35th anniversary of the debut of Maude continues.

*

Season 1, Episode 11
Episode Title: Maude's Reunion

Original airdate: 28 November 1972

Plot: Following the controversial "Abortion Episode," Bea Arthur and company lob a softball with an episode about Maude reuniting with an old friend she hasn't seen in 25 years. In preparation for the visit, Maude has pulled out boxes of ancient history from the attic. Carol and Walter entertain themselves going through old yearbooks - "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Maude with the baby carriage." Or in Maude's case, "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes love and another marriage, then comes love and another marriage, then comes love and another marriage . . . "

Carol finds Maude's old cheerleading sweater; judging from the size, it appears the last time it fit, Maude was about 12. Holding the sweater up in front of her, Maude remembers how the "W" once covered her entire chest, and Walter remarks she now has enough room to spell out "Massachusetts Institute of Technology." Maude picks up her old pom-poms, demonstrating how once-upon-a-time she could Bring It On, nearly throwing out her back performing a high-kicking cheer. Florida does her one better, giving a "boogie woogie" cheer that brings down the house.

Maude tells Carol and Walter the backstory on her old friend Phyllis, who earned the high school nicknames Mousy (for her personality) and Bunny ("because of an overbite.") When Carol asks what she's doing now, Maude says Phyllis mentioned something about "being with Avon," which they take to mean she's a "ding-dong" Avon lady.

When Walter asks if they should call Phyllis "Bunny" or "Mousy," Maude becomes protective of her friend, warning Carol and Walter to be careful what they say around Phyllis, because she always was a very sensitive girl. Anticipating that Phyllis (who never married) will burn with jealousy when she sees what a glorious life her friend is living in Tuckahoe, N.J., Maude rushes off to hide her 20-year-old "Mother of the Year" award. Now that's sensitivity.

Phyllis arrives and (surprise!) she's nothing as Maude described. In a stylish triangle-print dress, with frosted hair, impeccable Avon makeup, and no overbite, Phyllis has got it all together. Nevertheless, Maude keeps referring to her as "poor Bunny" behind her back; obviously her life is still empty - if you can call being a female executive in the 1970s meaningless. Yes, it seems Phyllis isn't just an Avon Lady, she's an Avon Vice President Lady. Poor Bunny, indeed.

News that Phyllis is a female executive is a dream come true for uber-feminist Carol, who's "dying to find out what it's like to be vice president of Avon . . . Do you find you're discriminated against because you're a woman?" Phyllis insists companies are really "coming along" and she loves every minute of what she does. Maude, feeling ignored, whips out her "Mother of the Year" award, waving it under Phyllis' nose and slamming it on the ground for attention, to which her friend proclaims the award "adorable."

After Phyllis leaves, Maude is completely in denial, thanking her family for being so supportive of "poor Mousy" and helping to build her up. What is she talking about? Walter proclaims Phyllis "Mighty Mousy" and Carol gushes that she's got everything a woman could want. Maude is astounded they can't see how miserable and unfulfilled Phyllis really is. Of course we know who Maude is really talking about when alone in the kitchen she breaks down, lamenting her wasted life.

Later, over dinner at the Findlays, Arthur is boring Phyllis with his medical humor while in the kitchen while an insecure Maude grills Walter about the attractiveness of the "untamed" career woman. She's determined to help her "poor, dear" friend fill up her "empty life." Over coffee, Maude encourages jet-setting Phyllis to take a desk job where she could meet someone and settle down - a suggestion that Phyllis proclaims makes her want "to throw up." Maude plays the grandson card, dangling motherhood and grandmotherhood as the ultimate fulfillment of womanhood. This sparks a children's poetry reading duel over who gives the best interpretation of The Slithergadee, which Maude performs for the group.

The gal pals are left alone to toast the good old days. ("To old friends." "To you, Chunky." "To you, Mousy.") In trying to sympathize with her friend's pitiable singleness, Maude displays a surprisingly un-feminist attitude. ("What is a woman without a man?") Phyllis assures Maude that she doesn't need a man to justify her existence. (Though if she did, she could choose from a collection that includes a 50-something billionaire and a 28-year-old beach boy!)

Soon the friends are arguing over "the girl most likely to . . ." and their respective life choices, ending with Maude amazed to learn that Phyllis wouldn't trade her life for Maude's ("No way!") and vice-versa. With their tearful heart-to-heart, these two old friends agree, "No matter what you get in life, we can't have it all."

Hot button social issue: Successful career woman vs. happy housewife - we want it all!

Neckerchief count: 1

Cocktail hour: After dinner, Maude and Phyllis reminisce over snifters of brandy.

Pop culture trivia quiz: Can you name the author of The Slithergadee?

Number of times Maude yells: 2

'70s slang: "Oh, any company that's with-it today . . . accepts you for what-you-are!"

Memorable quote: "Thank you Walter. And I'll remember that little remark the next time you wake me at three in the morning with one of your simple yes or no questions."

Times the live audience breaks out into spontaneous applause: 2

Keep an eye out for: Barbara Rush as Maude's old pal Phyllis "Bunny" Nash.

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Previously:
Season 1, Episode 1: Maude's Problem.
Season 1, Episode 2: Doctor, Doctor.
Season 1, Episode 3: Maude Meets Florida.
Season 1, Episode 4: Like Mother, Like Daughter.
Season 1, Episode 5: Maude and the Radical.
Season 1, Episode 6: The Ticket.
Season 1, Episode 7: Love and Marriage.
Season 1, Episode 8: Flashback.
Season 1, Episode 9: Maude's Dilemma (Part One).
Season 1, Episode 10: Maude's Dilemma (Part Two).




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Posted on December 4, 2007


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