Discovering Mary in 2012

It wasn’t until my feminist role model Jennifer mentioned The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s forward-thinking plotlines (birth control in the 70s!) that I felt compelled to dive into the fabulously free Hulu archives and find out for myself why this TV show had earned its reputation as a classic. I watched the first few episodes and was genuinely surprised by my experience. I had assumed MTM would feel dated; its themes stale, distracting my attention the same way that Dana Scully’s awful 90s pantsuits prevent me from loving old X-Files episodes. It’s a testament to the show’s fantastic writing (and the revival of many fantastic ’70s trends) that the show feels not only relevant, but also refreshing in its honest and authentic portrayal of women.

Considering these women existed in a world of bell bottoms and berets, I did not expect to relate to Mary Richards and Rhoda the way I did. As a single 20-something New York woman working in television (as an Associate Producer!), I found much more in common with these women than Carrie Bradshaw and her brunch-loving company. Instead of a glamorized, sleek version of professional and personal struggles, Mary faces conflicts that are relevant and relatable 40 years later. One moment that struck close to home for me occurred when Lou Grant drunkenly comes knocking on Mary’s door, causing Mary to suspect, for the first time, that her typing skills weren’t the only reason she was hired at this company. I doubt any confident woman has not had the same suspicions during interviews.

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Heather at MTM house!

Here are a few photos from my friend Heather’s trip to Minneapolis to visit the MTM sites, something I did recently as well. (And so did Ellen DeGeneres, seen here with the Mary statue.) Minneapolis is really lovely, and the house is in a neighborhood that’s particularly gorgeous. And the house itself! It appears to be a single-family private home now, and it’s absolutely stunning, as you can see — even when random tourists are taking their photo in front of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: After I posted this, a Twitter friend, Coleen Harris (I’m @jenmarmstrong on Twitter, Coleen is @cdawg2610), sent me this adorable photo of her mom at the MTM statue. She says, “My brother and sister drove across the country about 6 years ago and my mom flew out to Minnesota to meet them — and go to the statue!  There were actually some foreign tourists there too, who loved my mom taking a photo at the statue they asked if they could take her photo too.” When I was there, I totally wanted a pic of myself like this but didn’t have anyone with me to take it; instead, I tried to take a photo of the woman posing in full hijab next to it, but had a camera fail. In any case, I’m glad we have this one of Coleen’s mom instead:

Share your favorite ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ thoughts …

I’m an author writing a book about The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its influence on women. If you have a favorite memory, episode, outfit, or insight related to MTM, please let me know here! I’ll be inviting several of my friends to post as we watch the show together, but I welcome any input from around the Internet.