Forward-thinking Maude tries to prove her worth as a liberal by hiring a black maid, Florida Evans (Esther Rolle).
In doing so, Maude overcompensates by going out of her way to treat her as an "equal," which Florida cannot stand.
While Maude does her best to warn Carol of his ways, Carol believes Maude is interfering too much in her life.
However, a late night that went a bit too far, in which Russell calls Carol "Maude", proves that Maude was right.
Maude and Walter are labeled slumlords after they learn that they own a rundown apartment building and someone pickets the conditions on their front lawn.
It leads to problems for Phillip and aggravation for Florida, who temporarily quits her job.
Carol's eight-year-old son Phillip (Brian Morrison) is caught playing doctor with next-door neighbor Arthur's (Conrad Bain) visiting granddaughter, Angela.
Maude cannot gauge Walter's reaction as he is publicly indifferent to the idea.
After soul-searching and taking advice from Carol, Walter, Arthur and Vivian, Maude decides to terminate the pregnancy.
Maude convinces her rich liberal girlfriends to picket with her at the police station, and to get arrested themselves as a symbolic move when the police sees that they are also in possession of the drug.
It proves to be a challenge for Maude to "score" some, but when she does, she and Walter fight over it.
Maude's husband Walter is troubled to find Phillip swearing into a tape recorder and then playing it back.