“Alice”

Alice is a single working mother attempting to earn a singing career in Hollywood; however, her plans drastically change when she becomes a waitress at Mel’s Diner in Phoenix, Arizona. The television show Alice aired from 1976-1985.  This episode has three main female characters that all work at Mel’s diner as waitresses: Flo, Vera, and Alice.  Flo is a sassy and man-hungry Southern waitress that effectively uses her sexuality to get anything from a fifty-cent tip or the talk-of-the-town gossip.  At the start of the episode she “gives Bert Jenkins a thrill every time she leans over to check the sugar bowl.”  In contrast to Hazel, Flo has no problem “leaving the sugar in the sugar bowl.”  Vera is depicted as neurotic and scatterbrained.  Alice is a single working mother attempting to pursue a career in singing.

The episode begins in the chaotic diner with Alice hard at work and Tommy eating his breakfast.  Tommy is shown spending many hours at the diner including mealtimes.  This concept is very different compared to the typical Donna Reed type of family meal where all the members of the family sit down together to enjoy a delicious home cooked feast.

While at work, Alice is being chased by a much younger man who attempts to woo her with a pink rose.  Alice blatantly rejects his attempts and states, “I am a widow. I am a babysitter for my twelve-year-old son.”  Alice openly defines herself as a single mother and does not attempt to cover it up.  In contrast to Flo, Alice is not interested in dating; she is focused on her career and raising her son.  Alice’s desperate need to become a singer is proved when she quickly accepts a date after the young man tells her he is a Hollywood agent and willing to “sign” her.  Her opinion about the young man swiftly changes and she remarks, “a little dinner could never hurt.”  Although Alice is not interested in dating or sex she is still more than willing to use her sexuality to develop her singing career.

Alice and Flo both use brash and witty verbal communication while speaking to each other and clients.  Alice’s bold remarks continue as she waits on tables; she jokingly demands that a client “eat up your[their] liver!”  Alice and Flo even “back talk” a bit to Mel when he nags on them to do a better job or work faster.  Flo tells Mel that she’s too much of a lady to tell him what she really thinks about the condition of the diner and commonly uses the phrase “kiss my grits!”

On the day of Alice’s date with the “agent” she realizes that she will never get to show off her singing talent unless she has a piano to sing along with.  Flo surprises Alice and the entire diner when she pushes in a piano.  When Alice asks Flo how she got the piano she states, “I just bought him a few beers, unbuttoned the ol’ top button and made a few promises I don’t intend on keepin’.” Flo uses her captivating sexual powers once again to get what she wants.  Alice’s singing transfixes everyone in the diner.  Alice wore a red and black low-cut v-neck dress for the date and “performance.”

Eventually the date progresses back to Alice’s apartment and Tommy is sitting in the background while Alice and her admirer converse.  I found it odd that Tommy was even present while the two adults were on their date.  Personally, it seemed like this would be a time when a person might call a babysitter instead of spending the first date accompanied by your son. Alice has an in depth conversation with her son while sitting on the couch earlier in the episode.   Alice definitely has a good relationship with her son and she respects and values his opinion about her potential boyfriend.

Finally, Alice realizes that the young man is not a Hollywood agent that he claimed to be.  Within minutes, Flo barges into the apartment and kicks out the lying man.  After the ordeal Alice offers a beer but Flo rejects it because she’s “still got a buzz from drinking with Cleo.”  Alice and Flo are both hardworking women that are not hesitant to discard the young man or enjoy a cold beer.  Alice and Flo clearly consume alcohol regularly and without guilt, similar to Jaime in Bionic Woman and Casey Jones in Decoy.

This episode begins to show an evolution in parenting style.  Alice views Tommy as more of an equal instead of an “immature” twelve-year-old.  She has regular conversations with him and values his viewpoints on issues.  This episode depicts women as using their sexuality and alcohol to get things from men.

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One response

  1. This is a complete summary of the ep’s plot. This will be a solid reference piece when you begin to write your essay. Just make sure you move beyond the level of description and more firmly into the level of analysis with your final essay.

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