Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

The minute I heard of this book, I knew I had to have it! Back when I had just graduated from college and was working two part-time (35 hours per week) jobs, 7 days a week, I had a very brief window every night where I could watch one half-hour show to chill out at the end of the day. Lucky for me, Nick at Night showed The Mary Tyler Moore Show at precisely that time! And I really identified with Mary: young, single, with a small apartment and just embarking on her career. In later years, I identified more with Rhoda, who didn't like her job, dated lunatics, was divorced, her best friend was her sister and her mother drove her crazy. But initially at 22, I aspired to be Mary Richards when I was 30.

I was not alone. The show was amazingly popular. The first TV show to really show an independent career woman (That Girl didn't really count because she wasn't very independent), The Mary Tyler Moore Show was also groundbreaking for the career women working in television such as Treva Silverman and Susan Silver and a host of other woman who wrote and worked on the show. A huge reason behind the popularity was the brilliant casting and the chemistry between the cast members. As well as the careful work done by Mary Tyler Moore herself and her husband and producer, Grant Tinker.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show also had a very long influence on American culture, from Murphy Brown to 30 Rock and dozens of shows in between. And it had a very long influence on young women of multiple generations. After all, if Mary can make it on her own, can't we all? This world is awfully big and girl this time you're on your own.

A huge thumbs up for any fan of the show, and also for anyone interested in the women's movement and how professional woman in the television industry have gotten where they are.

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