Visit Me at USA Today’s Pop Candy Blog for More MTM

I’m guest-blogging at USA Today’s Pop Candy all this week, and, naturally, writing about The Mary Tyler Moore Show a fair amount:

Great Title Sequences in TV History

What ‘Modern Family’ and Other Current Shows Can Learn from ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’

Stop by and join the discussion!


Great ‘Mary Tyler Moore’-Related Reads

Of course I recommend my own book, but that doesn’t come out until next spring. So prepare with the following great books about the show’s context, its time in history, and its major players:


Buddy Holly: A Biography

Sex and The Single Girl: Before There Was Sex in the City, There Was (Cult Classics)

Televi$ion, The Business Behind The Box

C’mon, Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus

Prime-Time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women’s Movement Since 1970 (Feminist Cultural Studies, the Media, and Political Culture)

On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio

Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon

Today I Am a Ma’Am: And Other Musings on Life, Beauty, and Growing Older

David Merrick – The Abominable Showman: The Unauthorized Biography (Applause Books)

About Television

Great TV Sitcom

After All

Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes

Critiquing the Sitcom: A Reader (The Television Series)

The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes

Cue the Bunny on the Rainbow: Tales from Tv’s Most Prolific Sitcom Director (Television Series)

Second Act Trouble: Behind the Scenes at Broadway’s Big Musical Bombs

Tinker in Television: From General Sarnoff to General Electric

The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book: The Definitive History of Television’s Most Enduring Comedy

Here We Go Again: My Life In Television

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

One major occupational hazard that comes up when writing a book about The Mary Tyler Moore Show is staring at all of the gorgeous clothes on Rhoda and Mary. I’m more of a Rhoda than a Mary, fashion-wise — well, everything-wise — but I often drool over Mary’s dresses, too. My boyfriend has actually uttered the exasperated words, “Ugh, I wish you’d just buy a long-sleeved minidress like Mary’s and get it over with already.”

In that spirit, I’ve been browsing around the Internet for some modern-day Rhoda and Mary looks at reasonable prices. (There will be shopping once I get my advance check!) And because I couldn’t find any Mary-related fashion posts out there whose links were up-to-date, I’ll share some of my finds here for the greater good of Internet Marys and Rhodas everywhere:

A simple, classy, Mary-ish dress perfect for any laid-back workplace, from Forever 21:

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

This is from the working manuscript of my forthcoming book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted:

Anyone who wondered where Mary Richards got her chic sense of style—and many young women across the country wanted very much to know—stopped wondering when they saw Leslie Hall. The former beauty queen kept the trunk of her Plymouth stocked with clothing, sewing kits, and other emergency fashion supplies, and she kept herself dressed in the kind of fitted pantsuits, trench coats, flared slacks, and tailored blouses Mary’s character was becoming famous for.

Hall, who was married to an actor, grew up in Chicago and moved west as a young model to seek work as a showgirl. After her divorce in 1953, she went to work in live TV at CBS Television City. Though she’d hoped to be a set designer, she settled for costume design when she found the set world…

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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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