Monday, April 27, 2009

Artifacts of the Olden Days: Maude and Pontiac

RIP Bea Arthur, comic and star of TV's Maude. I don't remember whether Maude was any good or not, only that my mother considered it appointment viewing. According to the wikipedia entry, Maude was

... an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York with her fourth husband. Maude embraced the tenets of women's liberation, always voted for Democratic Party candidates, strongly supported legal abortion, and advocated for civil rights and racial and gender equality. However, her overbearing and sometimes domineering personality often got her into trouble when speaking out on these issues.
Mystery solved! Except for the stuff about Tuckahoe, New York and the fourth husband, that's a dead-on description of my mom. Watching Maude was, for her, something like looking in a mirror -- more or less the viewing experience I have with TV's Peter Griffin:
Peter is unintelligent and consistently depicted as crude and lowbrow. He enjoys stereotypical blue-collar activities such as causing mischief while drinking with his friends. His favorite pastime is watching television. An I.Q. test confirms that his low intellect places him in a category slightly below mentally retarded.[4] Peter's brash impulsiveness leads to several odd scenarios, such as attempting to molest Meg in order to adopt a redneck lifestyle. He is incredibly jealous of other attractions Lois has in her life, an attitude that tends to get out of hand in most cases. He mostly loves his children, although he emotionally abuses Meg, and neglects Stewie a great deal.
Granted, I don't have children with those names, and a few other details fail to match, but by the standards of today -- as distinguished from the greater verisimilitude of the sit-coms of the 1970s -- this is close enough.

And RIP also to Pontiac, soon to be disbanded makers of the Trans-Am, Firebird, GTO, and, in more recent years, the comically hideous Aztek. Pontiac will surely be missed by those who were once gainfully employed by it, and possibly a few others.

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