This Surprising ‘Gilded Age’ Theory About Maud Beaton Spells Major Trouble for Oscar

Oscar, you should know better

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the gilded age maud beaton theory uni
courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

We don’t know about you, but we simply can’t help but root for The Gilded Age scammer and party boy, Oscar van Rhijn. Maybe it’s Blake Ritson’s devilishly charming performance, or maybe we just want a happy ending for the series’ only gay character and his old flame, John Adams. But while Oscar’s newest attempt at obtaining a rich wife seems to be going much better with Maud Beaton than it did with Gladys Russell, our latest Gilded Age theory makes us think he might be getting scammed. Big time.

maud and oscar the gilded age
courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery

To catch you up, Maud Beaton (played by Nicole Brydon Bloom) was introduced in season 2 as the rumored illegitimate daughter of Jay Gould, one of the richest men in American history. It’s said that, while Gould couldn’t possibly publicly recognize Maud as a part of his family (think of the scandal!), he is incredibly fond of her and as such has set her up with vast accounts to ensure a more than comfortable life. However, as Maud laments to Oscar, Gould has also been using her to help do business for him, which stresses her out so much that she asks for Oscar’s help. Here’s where we started to see red flags and developed a theory that may spell trouble for Mr. van Rhijn.

Our worry is that Maud Beaton is based on a real life individual named Cassie Chadwick, who for years posited herself as the illegitimate daughter and heir of Andrew Carnegie (another of the richest men in American history). Ms. Chadwick spent almost a decade racking up nearly $2 million ($65 million in modern currency) in debts and loans from banks, who assumed everything would be fully repaid once Carnegie died and she inherited his fortune. Of course, that was all a lie—she had no relation to him whatsoever, with Chadwick working under the assumption that no one would dare ask Carnegie about an illegitimate child for fear of embarrassing him. She also forged securities in Carnegie’s name to back up her claims. She was eventually caught and sent to prison, but managed to get away with the deception for more than eight years.

Hmm, sound familiar?

the gilded age oscar
courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery

After all, why on earth would Jay Gould be using his daughter to do business if he won’t actually recognize her publicly? It also doesn’t sit right that the banker Maud takes Oscars to visit first tells him that he can’t invest in this vague railroad venture with the excuse that the group of investors is an elite and prestigious group. Of course, this just leads Oscar to up his offer...which they then accept. We don’t know about you, but we feel our boy Oscar is getting played.

That said, Maud did pay a visit to Aurora Fane, Oscar’s cousin to basically outright ask if Oscar is a gold digger, and seems to have real chemistry with van Rhijn. But was she actually concerned for her future or was she just trying to gauge whether Oscar would be a perfect pawn for her scheme? Only time will tell. Fingers crossed that Oscar’s own scammer instincts kick in before Maud can really get the best of him.

New episodes air every Sunday evening at 9 pm EST on HBO, and you can stream seasons 1 and 2 of The Gilded Age on MAX.

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...