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San Filippo Says Lear’s ‘Maude’s Dilemna’ Episode Still ‘Very Special’

In honoring Norman Lear ’44, Visual and Media Arts Associate Professor Maria San Filippo shared a column she wrote for Flow reflecting on a “very special” episode of the Lear-created TV show Maude.

It’s a two-part episode that focuses on abortion and reproductive rights. In the column, San Filippo writes about the responsibilities of a feminist media critic circa 2021.

San Filippo provided context to the two-part episode that aired in November 1972, two years after New York (where Maude is set) decriminalized abortion, and before Roe v. Wade was decided.

San Filippo included what her students think of the episode:

In my decade-plus of teaching “Maude’s Dilemma,” students are consistently impressed by its confronting head-on what scripted TV (then and now) too frequently deflects; unplanned pregnancies are more typically resolved by miscarriage or found to be mistakes. 

And she discussed the lasting impact of the episode:

While scripted TV has since offered a range of ‘takes’ on abortion, that ‘Maude’s Dilemma’ remains my teaching go-to attests to an ongoing paucity of similarly daring representations of reproductive justice. 

Please visit Flow to read the rest of the column.

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