Episode 215--"be a good girl"

Richard Kramer
Richard Kramer
Air Dates
4/25/89, 7/25/89
Guest Star
Sylvia Sidney as Rose Waldman; Phyllis Newman as Elaine Steadman; Herbert Edelman as Murray Steadman
Melissa's grandmother falls ill and leaves her dress shop to Melissa.
Melissa hangs out with Hope and Michael while Michael kids her about their family and the upcoming birthday upon which Melissa, her mother, and grandmother all celebrate at the same time as they were all born in the same month. Melissa's mother, Elaine, brings over a lot of old photos to help Melissa put together an album of her own work and pictures of her grandmother as a birthday present. Elaine is concerned about Rose, the grandmother, since she's so sick and hasn't been taking her medication, but refuses to stop working in her dress shop. Ellyn comes over to visit and offers Melissa a job taking pictures for a project on prisoners and recidivism.

Melissa's parents throw a dinner party for all the female relations and they bicker and visit as Rose has a brief flashback to a little girl rollerskating. Nancy, Michael, Hope, and Melissa discuss taking care of aging parents while making ice cream sundaes. Melissa gets wistful as she recalls how her grandmother was her only real friend.

The next day, Melissa helps out at the dress shop where Rose is comfortably in charge of everything. Rose has another spell and Melissa has to call the doctor. Elaine is having some trouble, trying too hard to take care of Rose and begins pushing to get a permanent attendant. Melissa gets Rose to tell her the story of Granddad Jack, his exploits before the Wall Street Crash, and how Rose had to start the shop to support them.

Over the next few days, Melissa helps out at the shop and entertains her grandmother. Elaine has a flashback to Rose neglecting her a little bit during the Depression in order to run the store and provide. That night, they throw the big birthday party at 7 P.M. The party seems quite formal with lots of toasts and talk. Finally, Rose makes a big announcement and leaves the store to Melissa which pretty much kills the party as no one knows how to react.

Melissa comes by the office and gets Michael's advice on escaping one's family. He's helpful and tells her that she can't keep being "a good girl" for her family and caving into her grandmother's demands. Melissa goes to see Rose at the dress shop and Rose is obviously waiting on an answer, dismissing Melissa's work as a photographer. Finally, Melissa tries to break it to her that she doesn't want the store, while Rose begins to come down hard and insist that Melissa needs her help, a real job, and that she knows what's best for Melissa. For once in her life, Melissa stands up and walks out. Rose flashes back to the girl again and follows her to an Italian market scene in turn of the century New York where the girl observes a woman become suddenly ill and die. (The intimation is that the girl is Rose, the woman her mother.) Rose wakes up and the paramedics are there along with Melissa.

Elaine goes to her loft to talk to Melissa and reassure her that she did the right thing, that she's amazed at Melissa's courage. They end up smoking together. After her mother leaves, Melissa begins to paint the walls of the loft.

  • Michael's Mom is 62
  • There are many running jokes about Melissa's single earring
  • Aunt Bea doesn't speak to Aunt Cookie and Aunt Helen doesn't speak to Aunt Muriel
  • Ellyn is in therapy with Dr. Phipps now
  • Rose's dress shop has been running for 55 years
  • Elaine was born three days after the store opened, and Rose was back at work the next day
  • At the party Ellyn is seated next to someone with a bleeding ulcer (just like hers!)
  • Fashion
    Clothes galore, all over the place.
  • Ellyn wears the horrible black and neon green spandex pants.
  • Michael wears the faded green Philadelphia Eagles T-shirt.
  • During Melissa's work at the shop she looks positively mainstream with her hair and clothes, but at D.A.A. Melissa's clothes are almost Buster Keaton-ish, really great stuff for her.
  • Quotes
    "I'm a busy woman. You want a wedding cake, get married." --Hope

    "Do you like [your therapist's] shoes? You know, they can only help you if you like their shoes." --Melissa, who would know, to Ellyn

    "Sweetheart, give this [drink] to Aunt Muriel with a coaster, and don't bring up Cousin Hannah. She's still in Oregon with the lesbian puppeteer group and it would just upset her." --Elaine to Melissa

    "I know it's a Calvin. On you it's a Coolidge." --Rose at the dress shop

    --"You're missing an earring." --Rose and customer

    --"I'm looking for it." --Melissa

    --"What're you going to do with all your missing earrings?" --Rose

    --"Make a bracelet." --Melissa