It might seem easiest to blame it on the heat, but the truth of the matter, things were a lot different only 43 years ago.
There weren't any messages or warnings included with American Woman Season 1 Episode 6, but with the world as different as it is now, it almost feels as if there should have been.
When the Paramount TV president gets fired on the night this particular episode of television airs for concerns raised about comments made by Amy Powell in a professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent with our company’s values, well, it makes any discussion about sensitive topics feel very prickly.
But maybe watching this slice of life from 43 years ago will help. I have no doubt it will also hurt. What I mean is I hope it will help the conversation even though bringing it up at all will hurt because thankfully, we've come a long way.
For people who never lived at a time when any of this was the course of daily behavior, it's hard to understand why some people had such a difficult time with integration. What a word. Integration.
It isn't a word that should be used for human beings. That it is used for humans is monstrous.
That's why the episode makes a lot of sense. Bonnie has been enjoying her retail job and getting to know Louise. She was shocked when dealing with a customer who dared say something so ignorant to her new friend.
Customer: These people certainly take their time, don't they?
Bonnie: Sorry, what did you say?
But I don't think Bonnie even understood what she was doing when she invited Louise and her family over for a pool day on the weekend. When she did it, and Louise asked her if she was sure, Bonnie hesitated just a bit. Was she sure?
Bonnie: Girls, we're having company tomorrow!
Bonnie: My friend, Louise, and her family.
Becca: Why? Are you trying to prove how cool you are by inviting your black friend over?
It was Bonnie's eldest daughter who called her on it, and while I believe Bonnie's intent was other than what Becca suspected, I don't believe it was pure, either. Even though Bonnie is now suffering a bit, she still feels entitled and wanted to share some of that with Bonnie and her non-air conditioned family.
There couldn't have been a worse crash course in combining untested friendships in the Hollywood Hills than the pool date on that one day. Everyone was out of sorts.
Kathleen still doesn't know how to read people, and although Diana was suffering over what she discovered from Mr. Bishop about the promotion, Kathleen still thought it would be the nicest thing ever to include dear Peggy in their plans for the week.
Peggy's purpose in life seems to be to push the buttons of every available person in close proximity starting with Diana. She's the kind of mother who makes her kid get her haircut only to hate the new style or says she isn't wearing enough blush then complains about the shade when blush is applied.
When the camera panned around the pool to reveal that Kathleen had undermined Diana by allowing Peggy to tag along, I was annoyed. How can someone be so rude when it comes to a friendship?
Then Peggy was saying how chilly it was outside while the girls were sporting skimpy swimsuits. If only that were the last we heard from her.
It was already a tough introduction for Louise because Bonnie's kids weren't out by the pool when the family arrived. Thank goodness Louise's husband opted not to make an appearance.
The kids were well-behaved and Louise seemed happy to have a day with the ladies, such that it was.
Until everyone started opening their mouths. There weren't enough feet around that pool to stop the wrong things from pouring out of various mouths.
Diana and Peggy immediately started rubbing each other the wrong way. In fact, if they were any closer, I'm pretty sure they would have started a brush fire and all of LA would have been swept up in heat of another sort.
The verbal burns were firestarters all their own, and Peggy is a master. Diana is a saint to remain in the house with her.
Kathleen: Well, they seem like a nice family.
Diana: Uh huh.
Peggy: Would have been nice to know they were colored.
Diana: What difference would that have made?
Peggy: It doesn't make any difference. It just would have been nice to know.
Diana was easily the most comfortable of the women there with Louise, so it's a shame Peggy had to keep jabbing and poking until she quite literally drove her daughter away.
Peggy: I'd be careful, Diana. When you've had a couple drinks, you tend to eat more, and I'd hate to see you put that weight back on that you lost. She put on seven pounds. When was that? Two summers ago. I mean a pound or two is normal, but seven?
Diana: In case anyone was wondering, the answer is yes, today is the best day of my life.
Considering the day started because of an incident at the store, you'd think Bonnie would have had a word with her friends to be cool. Was it a combination of the booze and the heat that made everything go so wrong or just a sign on the times?
With Kathleen, it's hard to tell.
Being from Texas, it's probably the norm for her to speak her mind regarding such issues, but she's in LA now and should have learned a thing or two about a more diverse population.
When she tried her Texas whimsy on Louise, it came out as elegant as the rude customer and her "these people" comment.
Kathleen: I've heard so much about you, Louise, but Bonnie never mentioned how beautiful you are.
Louise: Oh, why thank you.
Kathleen: You're welcome. You have such pretty skin. You know, the thing about colored people that I notice is that y'all have different colors of skintones. Some colored people are very light skinned and some are very dark, but you have just the perfect tone. It's like chocolate.
Where is the logic in what Kathleen was saying? It was one of the most ridiculous, backhanded "compliments" I've ever heard. Why wouldn't a different race have a lot of varying skin tones?
The three Caucasian women spread out on lawn chairs were all of varying colors, too. As the words came tumbling out of her mouth, I hoped she might vomit up her margaritas so we'd discover she was suffering a wee bit of heat stroke.
No such luck. There was really nothing that was going to save that day at the pool.
But fear not because if Louise thought she still had her friend Bonnie on her side, she was about to be let down on that front, too.
For all the begging it took for Becca to get outside and "play" with William, they discovered they had mutual music interests.
Becca wasn't dissing William but her mother and her mother's friends. Being by the pool meant being by mom and that wasn't cool. As soon as she found out she had something in common with William, the two of them hit the den together to listen to the Ohio Players.
I mean, come on, who wouldn't rather to listen to music in that groovy den than listen to the women snark at each other all afternoon?
And as teenagers will do, they found out they had a lot more in common than their love of the Ohio Players. Like kissing.
Kissing is a great pastime when the parents are out of the house, and quite exciting when you don't really know the other person very well.
Unfortunately, it was also a test for Bonnie to fail.
I knew it was going to go down the way it did because of Bonnie's initial hesitation when inviting over Louise and Becca's reaction. Bonnie was testing the waters; she had no black friends. She was making a leap into uncharted territory.
Yes, it's ridiculous, but it doesn't take away the fact that at the time, it was the reality.
Having lived through the time, I never understood why black/white kids shouldn't hang out, but it was a thing. My Jr. High was rocked with scandal when the school secretary's daughter wouldn't stop dating a black boy. They were sent away! It was crazy. I lived through those crazy times.
Bonnie's gut reaction to seeing her daughter kiss a black boy wasn't good. Her conversation about it with Louise was even worse. I can only surmise she thought Louise would be reacting similarly.
Louise reacted alright. She was hurt.
Louise: I am very sorry about this, Bonnie. I don't know what to say. I guess this is what you can expect when you raise teenagers in this day in age.
Bonnie: I can tell you, when you walk into a room and you see something like that, it stops you in your tracks! It's not right!
Louise: It's not right? I think we should probably head home now. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon.
The one good thing about 1975 was that as people were feeling their way into their new world, they were allowed to f--k up and make amends, to learn from their awful mistakes.
I do believe Bonnie's heart is in the right place, and when she had time to think of what an ass she had been to her friend and Becca, she realized her mistake. She managed to talk to Becca, and while it was a short conversation, it was meaningful.
Bonnie: Becca, I might have overreacted. I don't know what got into me.
Becca: It's called racism.
Bonnie: Becca, don't say that. I'm not, you know. That. I screwed up, alright?
She explained that she's not moving as fast as her daughter. In her defense, though, she is moving. When the world changes, you have to move with it, but it's not always as easy and taking the strides with the rest of the world.
Sometimes words hurt, but if someone can turn around after some time and some discussions about what they said and how to do it better, they should be afforded the opportunity to change and make amends.
And then there are people like Diana who just need to let off a little steam.
Peggy sure was worried about the daughter she loves to hate when she wasn't present and accounted for, wasn't she?
Like a tea kettle, Diana was working so hard she was probably waking up half of LA when her steam finally blew!
We knew Diana was going to go through some changes, let her hair down, loosen her collar and all those cliches, and the more her mother pushes her to act appropriately, the further away Diana is getting from being Peggy's ideal little girl.
Wait! It wasn't Diana at all. It was Diedre. Diedre was getting her freak on out in the wild streets of LA.
While I don't want her to go overboard, I was happy she put herself first for a change and allowed a little sunshine into her life.
What did you think of this episode of American Woman? Was it good for you? Did you know it was only in the '70s that it could be so difficult for people of different races to be friends? Are you surprised at how much things have changed?
Hit the comments and watch American Woman online to be caught up with the entire series!!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.