Maude was a half-hour, weekly American television sitcom on the CBS network that ran from 1972 until 1978. The program was a spin-off of All in the Family and, like that show, it was a topical sitcom created by producer Norman Lear.
Maude starred Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay, a middle-aged, politically liberal married woman living in Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York, who embraced the tenets of women's liberation, always voted for Democratic Party candidates, strongly supported legal abortion, and advocated for civil rights.
Maude had been married three times before, but her current husband Walter was played by Bill Macy, who ran an appliance store called Findlay's Friendly Appliances. Maude's daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau) from a previous marriage and grandson Phillip (played by Brian Morrison and later by Kraig Metzinger) also lived with the Findlays. Their next-door neighbors were Dr. Arthur Harmon (played by Conrad Bain) and his wife and Maude's good friend Vivian (played by Rue McClanahan, who in the 1980s would star again with Beatrice Arthur in The Golden Girls).
Also present in the cast was Maude's housekeeper. When the series began, this role was filled by Esther Rolle, who played Florida Evans. Florida was an African-American woman who often had the last laugh at Maude's expense. The character of Florida Evans proved so popular that, in 1974, she became the star of a new series - the Maude spin-off (and grandchild spin-off of All in the Family): Good Times. After Florida's depature from Maude, the Findlays had two more housekeepers: Mrs. Nell Naugatuck (Hermione Baddeley) from 1974 to 1977, and Victoria Butterfield (Marlene Warfield) in 1977 and 1978.
Maude spun off from All in the Family after the character of Maude Findlay appeared on an episode of the first program. Maude was Edith Bunker's cousin, and she represented everything Archie Bunker did not: she was a liberal, a feminist, and upper-middle class whereas Archie was none of those things. Although Maude's political beliefs certainly mirrored those of the series creators more than did those of Archie Bunker (the character of Maude was in fact said to be based on creator Norman Lear's wife Frances), episodes of Maude often lampooned Maude and did not always show her beliefs and attitudes in a complimentary light.
Maude had an abortion in November 1972, and the episode which dealt with the situation is probably the series' most famous and certainly its most controversial.
The Nielsen Ratings for Maude were quite respectable, particularly during the first seasons of the program (during the heyday of topical sitcoms which its presence helped to create), when it was regularly one of the top ten highest-rated American television programs in any given week.