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Norman Lear Wants to Recreate Maude's Abortion Episode on Live

Two-part episode "Maude's Dilemma" originally aired in 1972, prior to Roe v. Wade.
  • Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay in Maude (Photo: Everett Collection)
    Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay in Maude (Photo: Everett Collection)

    In November of 1972, just two months before the Supreme Court issued ruled in Roe v. Wade, Maude made waves with a two-part episode in which the sitcom's titular character, played by Bea Arthur, got an abortion at age 47. Five decades later, the show's creator Norman Lear believes the subject matter of the episode, titled "Maude's Dilemma," is just as relevant.

    In fact, Lear and producing partner Brent Miller think the episode could use the ABC Live in Front of a Studio Audience treatment. In an interview with Variety, Lear was asked if it would be possible to tell Maude's story through a modern lens, and he expressed his desire to reframe it for today's audiences.

    "It's such an interesting question, and I have no idea. My guess is certainly you can tell it," Lear said. "What the reaction would be — as one proceeded to rehearse and do it and anticipate it being on the air — it's hard to guess. But it could be done."

    As for how the sitcom could be reimagined, Miller said, "I think the world is ready for us to do a Live in Front of a Studio Audience with Maude."

    Maude originally aired for six seasons on CBS from 1972 to 1978. Other shows from the series' era have been made into live productions for ABC's Live in Front of a Studio Audience event, including episodes from Lear's iconic sitcoms All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life.

    However, Lear understands how difficult it would be for a new actress to play Maude. "There is only one Bea Arthur," he said. "There will never be another." Arthur died from lung cancer in 2009 at the age of 86.

    "It's exciting to imagine what somebody else will make of that character," Lear concluded. "It's opening a new door and that's exciting."

    Episodes of Live in Front of a Studio Audience are streaming on Hulu.

    Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.

    TOPICS: Maude, ABC, Live in Front of a Studio Audience, Bea Arthur , Brent Miller, Norman Lear, abortion, Roe v. Wade