What Would Mary Richards Do?

I’m convinced that Mary Tyler Moore is the reason I wanted to become a producer. I didn’t even really get what a producer did watching the show but I liked how the word sounded and if Mary was one, then obviously being a producer meant you were, pretty, smart and a success.

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The show which was based on the premise of a single, working, woman's life at the office — in Mary's case the newsroom — and at home, became a television staple, rating in the top 20 for six seasons. It slipped during its 7th and final season but by the time I was watching it, the show was already in re-runs. I didn’t know that then and wouldn’t have cared. I was hooked: I wanted to be Mary Richards.

I wanted an apartment in an old house with a sunken living room. I wanted my initial on the wall. I wanted Mr. Grant to have my back, Rhoda’s wardrobe and her best friend status. Most of all I just wanted hair that was flat enough to fit a beret over top of, so that I could pull it off and throw it joyfully into the air. Who didn’t? I would venture it’s impossible to think about throwing your hat into the air, without thinking of Mary Tyler Moore.

A few of my favorite episodes were: when Chuckles The Clown died; when Mary imagined herself married to Mr. Grant; when she moved into her new apartment and finally found the right spot for her “M”. Despite the bumps she had in every episode, it seemed that Mary Richards was completely satisfied with her life. I learned that being single meant being happy.

When a September issue of the Hollywood Reporter arrived featuring Mary Tyler Moore on the cover as an Emmy Icon, I got all mushy. It was like seeing an Auntie who lived overseas, someone I missed having in my life and the feelings I felt watching her many years ago came flooding black. I wondered, who are little girls these days modeling themselves after? Who is their Mary Richards?

Mary Tyler Moore was 34 and married for the 2nd time when she started production on her series that would win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series three times. I wonder if she had any idea then that she was creating a show that would become emblematic of the women’s movement (despite the fact that it hired just six female writers over the course of its seven year run). I wonder if she knew then how many little girls would want to grow up and be just like her. Even though 35 years later, a life like Mary’s is more typical, I know many single gals who need a dose of her joie de vivre.

So next time you’re lamenting your single life, remember the words in the show's opening theme written by lyricist Paul Williams, “love is all around, no need to waste it"; "you can have a town, why don't you take it"; because just like Mary, “you’re going to make it after all.”

What about you? Did you watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show? What were your favorite episodes?

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