I grew up on Mary Tyler Moore. First as Laura, Dick Van Dyke’s adorably thin wife with the shrill voice always uttering “Roooooooob,” in her cute pedal pusher pants, or straight sleeveless shift dresses, raising Richie in New Rochelle, using a deft comedy hand in playing Rob’s straight guy.
Then on her own show, as the impossibly plucky single woman who, after a break up with her fiancé, moves to Minneapolis, gets her own apartment, and becomes an associate producer at WMJ-TV. The ultimate working girl.
With Rhoda (Valeria Harper) as her polar opposite neighbor, wrapped in boho clothing, 10 extra pounds and a head scarf for every day of the week, and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) with her abundance of curls piled high on her head, as her annoying know-it-all neighbor, Mr. Grant (Ed Asner), her old time news man boss, Murray (Gavin Mcleod), her loyal friend and co-worker, Sue Ann (Betty White), the nymphomaniac host of the Happy Homemaker, and Ted (Ted Knight) as the overblown bufoon anchor, this show, (along with my big sister who lived Mary’s life, but in Boston), helped to mold my desire to go to a city, have my own fabulous apartment, and my own exciting job.
Mary was competent, beautiful, funny and sincere. She dated great men, had magnificent clothes and a fascinating job.
Who didn’t want to be her?
To the extent that a tv show can influence what kind of person you want to grow up and be, this one did. It wasn’t just funny, it taught me that I could have my own life, that I didn’t have to get married, but could be my own person. Can a tv show do all that? It did.
I’ll never forget Mary, or what I learned all those years of watching her on my small bedroom tv. Thanks, Mare, for teaching me I could throw my hat into the air, and make it on my own.
This was one of my favorite episodes. And still, watching it this morning, I laughed my head off. Impossible not to, right?