Saturday, April 25, 2009
R.I.P.: Beatrice Arthur (1922-2009)
A strange coincidence: Just a few days ago, I was talking with Melinda Wayne, daughter of the late, great John Wayne, about her father's hilarious guest-starring stint on Maude back in the 1970s. And about how charmed he was by Beatrice Arthur, despite their obvious political differences. Wayne could not have been alone in that regard, considering that Maude aired at a time when TV truly was a mass medium, and no series could sustain acceptably high ratings for very long without attracting an audience comprised of folks from all political camps. Back then, for better or worse, audiences were far more willing to sample, if not always celebrate, elements of pop culture that didn't consistently reinforce their own beliefs. True enough, there were angry protests, and a few affiliate blackouts, when CBS aired the episode in which Maude opted to have an abortion. But, you know, I have to wonder: Would the decision-makers at any TV network today have the cojones to allow the lead character in a sitcom to terminate a pregnancy? Or would they be afraid of, you know, offending viewers?