Episode Title: "No Ma'am"
Production Code: 0809
Reviewed By: Nitzan Gilkis
The first in a string of "Al and NO MA'AM vs. Marcy and her women's group" episodes (e.g. "Business Sucks", "I Want My Psycho Dad", "Reverend Al") and the debut appearance of the aforementioned anti-women organization, "No Ma'am" marks the start of what I like to call the 'machoization' of MWC, a trend which continued till the end of season ten (and lost the show a good share of its viewers). Namely, the gearing of more and more episodes towards a very specific target audience, with more sports-themed storylines, more sportstar cameos, more scantily-clad babes -- and nearly two-dozen NO MA'AM episodes, often at the expense of the other three Bundys' screentime. These episodes weren't necessarily all bad (some were great), but they're not what I think of as classic MWC, and would've been better off at a rate of 2-3 per season at most, like in the show's earlier seasons. At least that's the way I feel... I'm sure a lot of people will disagree. Anyways, now that I have that off my chest, let's get to the review itself...
Al: It's not the dress that makes you look fat. It's the FAT that makes you look fat!
Jerry Springer about to undergo TV's first sexorcism?
"No Ma'am" is probably best-remembered for Jerry Springer's cameo appearance as the host of a talk show named "The Masculine Feminist". The great thing about this and other guest appearances on MWC (Larry Storch, Jerry Mathers, the "Old Aid" musicians etc.), is that instead of being applauded and sucked up to like they would be on most other shows, the guests are presented at their very worst, made fun of and parodied. Gotta admire the guts and the ability to take themselves lightly of those who agreed to appear on the show despite this... The parody on Jerry Springer and his show here is not as direct as one might expect, and is so much the better for it. No bleeped-out stage fights and such (been done to death and wouldn't really fit in with the plot anyway), but there is a spoof at Jerry's famous 'final thoughts', the format of "The Masculine Feminist" is clearly a reference to TJSS (wild audience*, stripper as a guest, questions from audience members and so on), and of course there's his hilarious phone conversation with Al which is classic Springer. Springer also holds the honors for being responsible for what is IMO the episode's funniest moment, the "I can't believe it's a tampon" ad. His solemn, pensive expression while advertising it is simply priceless, and always has me on the floor. Takes a lot of self-humor to go through with something like this, so thumbs up to JS for that.
Al: If god had wanted women to bowl, he would've put their breasts on their back so we would have something to watch while waiting for our turn.
Al's back home early from bowling
The visit to the nudie bar turns out not to be exactly what the guys expected
The problem with the episode is that it builds up to a climax, but that climax never really comes. The scenes leading up to the takeover of Springer's show are all quite enjoyable, jam packed with jokes and one-liners in the best of Larry Jacobson tradition. Al and Marcy's bowling alley tales ("you don't wanna know how a bum puts out a trash fire" and "those blower things were kind of fun", respectively) are hilarious, the fat female poet at what used to be the nudie bar even more so, and we are treated to the first ever nudie bar song (plus all the quotes I've spread throughout the review). But things go rapidly downhill once Al and the guys take over "The Masculine Feminist". Firstly, too many lines in the scene are aimed solely at drawing applause and whooping from the macho studio audience, rather than entertaining the viewers at home. Secondly, since when is Al at a loss of words, especially when confronted with Marcy? His meager "you're a chicken!" responses to Marcy's very palatable arguements are dumb, unfunny and more than a little out-of-character for Al, and even the fervent studio audience seems to have some trouble cheering at them. And thirdly, there's the lack of climax I mentioned at the start of the paragraph. After Marcy taunts Al: "you need us more than we need you" and Al replies: "you're in NO MA'AM's land now, baby!", you're certain that we're about to hear a triumphant, cutting speech like only Al can deliver. Instead what do we get? A measely one line - "you need us jar-opening, oil-changing, spider-squishing, furniture rearranging men a lot more than we need you". Talk about a disappointment...
Marcy: Al, don't you think women
Bud: What can you spell?
Kelly: 'Cat'. So let's look in the K's...
Miss D, a working woman
Quite unusually for MWC, the ending fails to satisfyingly resolve the issues at hand, and leaves you with a rather bad taste. The bowling alley and the nudie bar are still taken over by women, Al is under arrest and Peg and the kids have left home. Not even the slightest victory for Al and the NO MA'AM gang (I'm sorry, but Al egging the poet while doing community service at the nudie bar is not what I'd call a victory). The episode's message is clear, and is the same as that of many other NO MA'AM (as well as non-NO MA'AM) eps: women have a clear and indisputable superiority over men, and there's nothing men can do about it. Which is pretty interesting if you think about it, given that the show's production staff was always male-dominated. Then again, that might be the exact reason...
Al: Here's a gripping drama about a newlywed couple waiting at their house for their furniture to arrive. It's called "Where Oh Where Is The Mayflower Truck".
"The Cat family. Good choice, you blonde airhead"
The Bundys watch the takeover on TV. You can see the pride...
To sum things up, if you can ignore the last few minutes, "No Ma'am" is an episode well worth watching. It's an enjoyable ride, but unfortunately it's a ride to nowhere.
* - the guy in the audience wearing the colorful afro wig and holding the "John 3:16" sign is a reference to "Rock'n'Rollen Stewart", a guy who used to constantly pop up in the background of televised US sporting events in the 70s and 80s, often holding up that sign.