The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of my favorite all-time comedies. In fact, I consider it to be one of the best television shows ever made.
How can I even begin to tell you how much I love this show? Well, I guess we can start with how much it influenced my life, and the lives of others.
Just look at Oprah. Oprah admired Mary Richards, had the show’s cast on her show, and recreated the opening credits sequence starring herself. Mary Richards was a woman to be admired, no matter what generation you grew up in.
Sure, independent, working women today are not as rare as they were in the 1970s, the age of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But watching the show as a kid, it meant a lot to me. Here was a woman who worked in an office, who enjoyed her job, who had valuable relationships with her coworkers. And that was enough. Over the course of the show, Mary aged from thirty years old to thirty-seven, and she never married. She never had children. And that was OK.
Mary Richards was cool. She had an awesome apartment (two, actually), a phenomenal wardrobe, handsome dates, fantastic friends. She was kind, funny and lovable. Men wanted her, women wanted to be her. I’ve re-watched the show a lot over the past couple years, as I began collecting it on DVD, and I still find Mary Richards to be an inspirational character.
The show has aged well in other ways, too – in fact, it has aged well in the most important way: it’s still laugh-out-loud funny. The jokes are sharp, written and delivered with the sort of wit that never gets old. The way Murray and Sue-Ann trade barbs, the well-timed jabs at Ted, Lou’s curmudgeonliness (yes, Microsoft Word, I know that’s not a real word, shut up) and Mary’s charm. In earlier episodes, I absolutely revel in the perfection of Mary’s friendships with Rhoda and Phyllis. As a kid, I hated Phyllis – I wasn’t old enough to understand the comedic chops required to pull off such a character. When I started re-watching the show as a teenager, I realized just how hilarious and talented Cloris Leachman was. I still believe the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most talented, funny groups of people ever on television, with some of the best chemistry you could ever ask for.
With seven seasons, it’s hard to pick out some favorite episodes. The pilot episode, where Mary meets Lou for the first time, is a delightful introduction to the series. “You’ve got spunk…I hate spunk!” There are many, many classic episodes where Mary hosts a disastrous party – one favorite that springs to mind is the one where Mary loses power in her apartment the night Johnny Carson himself is scheduled to make an appearance. Most of the episode takes place in the dark, but it’s still hilarious. Then there’s the sleeping pill episode, ‘Chuckles Bites The Dust’, Mary’s unfortunate trip to jail, and countless other amazing, hilarious, touching installments. The series finale moves me to tears every time I watch it. I can’t tell you how many Rhoda-centric episodes are my favorites – especially ones where her mother comes to visit.
My favorite friendship might be that of Mary and Lou, though. In this day and age, there would be “shippers” online, christening them with an obnoxious name (MaryLou? Mou? Loury?) and begging showrunners to finally get those crazy kids together. But what makes the show great is that they never did it. When, in the penultimate episode of the series Mary and Lou finally do go on a date, they burst into laughter after attempting to kiss. I feel like that’s so rare nowadays, watching the episode again recently actually felt refreshing. Their relationship was so many things – Lou was a father figure, a mentor, a brief love interest, but he was always a friend.
All seven seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show are available on DVD, and if you’re in the States I’m pretty sure they’re on Netflix as well. (Here in Canada, we have a dismal Netflix selection. I am anxiously awaiting improvement.) I highly, highly recommend you check it out.