Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

mary-tyler-moore-200a072108The Mary Tyler Moore Show is no Sex and the City. I see SATC as MTM’s natural cultural heir — along with Girls and 30 Rock all the young-woman-in-the-city shows now — but was surprised by how many of the former MTM writers I interviewed for my book hated SATC. They seem to prefer more traditional sitcom craft; they all cited Modern Family as their favorite current show.

But Mary Tyler Moore did break new ground when it came to young, single women’s sexuality. At first, the show treaded lightly in the dating arena, sending Mary on random, mostly comical dates good for plot — a short guy, her journalism class teacher. And the writers always knew their limits, despite the progressive sensibility of the times. “Mary Goes to the Playboy Mansion, I think, was an idea whose time had never come,” writer Treva Silverman told me. “‘Mary swims…

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