Great Performances: Season 6, Episode 10

Uncommon Women... and Others (20 Jun. 1979)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
6.8
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While at an impromptu reunion lunch, five women reminisce and relive their college days at Mount Holyoke, and weigh their goals and aspirations against their lives.

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
Kate Quin
Ann McDonough ...
Samantha Stewart
Alma Cuervo ...
Holly Kaplan
Ellen Parker ...
Muffet DiNicola
...
Rita Altabel
Josephine Nichols ...
Mrs. Plumm
Cynthia Herman ...
Susie Friend
...
Leilah
...
Alexander Scourby ...
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While at an impromptu reunion lunch, five women reminisce and relive their college days at Mount Holyoke, and weigh their goals and aspirations against their lives. Written by Kathy Li

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20 June 1979 (USA)  »

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Muffet DiNicola: It's debilitating constantly seeing your worth in terms of someone else.
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We're Saving Ourselves for Yale
10 November 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This wonderful play was filmed as part of PBS' "Theater in America" series. Although this Wendy Wasserstein work never played on Broadway, it's among her best plays.

A group of college friends are having a lunch and remembering their college days at Mount Holyoke 8 years before. The flashbacks show us the women as students at a women's college in the early 70s just as the old sorority system and "gracious living" are dying out.

On the cusp of their adult lives, the women fret about careers, grad school, dating, feminism, and marriage while they strive to be educated a liberated. They are uncommon women.

Meryl Streep plays Leilah, the serious student who is uneasy with her comfortable life and who wants to do something important. Swoosie Kurtz is the rebellious Rita. Jill Eikenberry as Kate is analytical. Alma Cuervo is the unsure Holly. Ellen Parker is Muffet, the one with no real goals. Ann McDonough is the wifely Samantha. Cynthia Herman plays the peppy Susie. Anna Levine is the near-comatose Carter. Josephine Nichols plays the house mother, Mrs. Plumm.

All the performances are terrific. Kurtz steals the show as the funny and irreverent Rita who ends up in Vermont and is still trying to write her novel. Cuervo is very touching as she calls a doctor in Minneapolis who she met in a museum a while back. Nichols is also touching as she is about to retire and "gracious living" is being abolished. Her character is a sharp contrast between what life offered a woman graduate 40 years before and the choices the uncommon women have in 1970.

This is a funny and wistful look at a "seven sisters" college and at how our society has changed. A highlight is the funny song "We're Saving Ourselves for Yale." The play was staged off Broadway in 1977 (where Glenn Close played Leilah).


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