Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Former Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda writer Pat Nardo loves 2 Broke Girls, but worries about the messages young women are getting from today’s single-girl shows:

“I just think that it’s worse now for women than it used to be because today every woman is expected to f— every single guy she goes out with. And it’s so much better for men. The other way men were trying to get in our pants. Now you’re trying to get them in your pants. I happen to like that show with the two waitresses, 2 Broke Girls. It’s cringe-making in terms of how they speak, how they think. But they remind me of Mary and Rhoda. Their relationship itself is darling.”

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

One of my favorite finds during my research for Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is Joe Rainone, a Rhode Island accountant who spent his early 20s sending exhaustive five-page critiques to the Mary Tyler Moore producers every week. Mind you, this was the early ’70s, so that meant trudging up to his parents’ office every Saturday night to clack out his double-spaced analyses on a manual typewriter. This also meant watching the show live, with the rest of the nation — no VCRs, no DVRs. He was perhaps TV’s first recapper. Now we’re used to producers getting instant feedback from fans on every moment of every episode, for better or worse. But at the time this turned out to be so intriguing that the producers started counting on his weekly feedback, sometimes even wondering, as they conceived a plotline, “What will Joe Rainone think of this?”

They enjoyed…

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means, to a person’s life, to create a classic in his or her genre. A classic movie, a classic book, a classic TV show. I’d love to say that I’ve been thinking about it because I am currently creating a classic book, but a person can’t sit down and do that — that’s one thing I’ve learned in studying the people who did make a classic TV show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Alas, I haven’t uncovered the alchemical secret to their success, but I have roughly figured out the career trajectory of anyone who has created a classic. It seems to go something like this:

1. Fight for your vision against a bunch of doubters.

2. Become suddenly recognized for having a singular vision that speaks to the times and hooks lots of fans; gain recognition as a visionary/genius.

3. Have…

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