Alice: Iconic Working Mom Waitress.
It was a tempting offer.
She would get a beautiful home. Live comfortably. Her son Tommy would get his own room and see his childhood friends again. She'd be able to quit her 54-hour per week waitressing job and become an at-home mom again.She could move out of her one-bedroom apartment where she slept on a pull-out couch.
The man standing in front of her offering a proposal of marriage knew she didn't love him, but that didn't matter because Vinny said he loved her enough "for both of them." Though they'd dated for several months after high school, she broke it off because there "was no music" between them.Then she met Don, who became her husband, and, as her bad luck would have it, later was killed in a truck driving accident, leaving her with no money, no job and a son to raise.
Everyone was excited about the marriage proposal. A colleague at the
diner told her, "Vinny is your answer. . . You won't have to worry about Tommy's [hole-ridden] shoes anymore." Plus her buddy added, "You're a lady in her mid-30s with a 12-year-old son," and chances like this didn't come around very often.
"I think marriage should be more than a ticket out," she replied.Though she gave it some serious thought, in the end, Alice Hyatt, the lead character of the 1970s sitcom "Alice," decided not to marry her old boyfriend, even if it meant living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment with her son, his hole-ridden shoes and her 54 hours a week working at Mel's Diner with the cantankerous, greasy-shirted owner. "All my life, I've been dependent," Alice told her would-be suitor. "And now, for the first time in my life, I'm taking care of myself. I'm making it."
Though "Alice" bears a striking resemblance to "One Day at a Time" with its single mom theme, there are several key differences between the two series. On "One Day at a Time"(1975-1984) the mom, Ann Romano, left her husband because of irreconcilable differences. Her daughters were teenagers, and she had at least one friend with some cash who could help her every once and a while on the blue moon when she would allow it. On "Alice," (which ran from 1976-1985) the mom, Alice Hyatt, was a widow and mom of a 12-year-old. Her husband's sudden death gave her no time to plan for a life on her own. And, aside from the marriage proposal from her old boyfriend Vinny, she had no friends with money hanging around. (Her husband left no life insurance behind.) Nonetheless, the two series were similar in that they showed how difficult it was for divorced or widowed working moms to labor at low-paying jobs while trying to parent alone, with little or no help from the father.
Though "Alice" was populated by several quirky characters - from Flo
("Kiss my grits") and Vera (Remember her from the opening scenes where she sent the straws into the air?), to gruff diner owner Mel - the show's heart and center was Alice, who, despite her circumstances, didn't spend a great deal of time worrying about money, mourning her husband or fretting about her parenting. She took it all, bravely, in stride.