She only wanted to play a great character, and she did so. That character also happened to be single, female, over 30, professional, independent, and not particularly obsessed with getting married. Mary had America facing such issues as equal pay, birth control, and sexual independence way back in the ’70s.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is as beloved now as it was when it aired in the 1970s. The sitcom was incredibly progressive for its time — its lead character was a working woman who happened to be single, a rarity in the decade’s TV landscape. The show ran for seven seasons, earning 29 Emmy Awards along the way. (Read More)
Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday, wasn’t just beloved. She was the kind of beloved where they build you a statue. Moore’s statue is in Minneapolis, where her best-known character, Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, worked for the fictional television station WJM. She’d already won two Emmys playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but Moore cemented her icon status when Mary Richards walked into that job interview. Even if she got off to a rough start with Lou Grant, her soon-to-be boss, who kept a bottle of whiskey in his desk. He wanted her to join him for a drink. She asked for a Brandy Alexander.
He didn’t mean a Brandy Alexander.
Mary Richards was not TV’s first working woman, or its first woman on her own. But before Mary, if you saw a woman without a partner at the center of a TV comedy, she was probably a widow, like Diahann Carroll’s single mom on Julia or Lucille Ball on the show she did after I Love Lucy, which was, perhaps unsurprisingly, called The Lucy Show.
Mary didn’t have a living husband, a dead husband, an ex-husband, or even a permanent boyfriend like Marlo Thomas did on That Girl. It wasn’t that she didn’t want one. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong wrote Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of the show. And in 2013, she told NPR how Mary stayed single for so long: The show tried out some possible boyfriends, but “no one was good enough for her.”
This was my favorite episode of this show. Mary accompanied her boss (Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner) to his ex-wife’s wedding. He and his ex had remained friends and - I can’t remember if this was brought out, but - I think he was still in love with her. Mary went with him for support, but SHE ended up breaking down as Lou and his ex said goodbye after the ceremony (don’t get me started on this brief exchange- to me, it was one of the most beautiful, bittersweet moments in a sitcom). The show writers, director and actors - with Mary Tyler Moore in the lead - pulled this emotional scene off with a fine balance of grace and comedy.
carefree toss of a black beret — into the downtown Minneapolis winter
wind — Mary Tyler Moore captured the hearts of millions of TV viewers.
That opening scene from her hit 1970s sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show,
cemented an image in our minds that would never fade away. Moore was
the girl next door, the colleague at the next desk, the neighbor in the
apartment just below. When her ensemble sitcom ended, it was with a big
That’s what we’d all like to give Moore one last time.
of the most beloved television actresses of the 20th century, Moore
died Wednesday. according to her longtime publicist, Mara Buxbaum. . She
was 80, and had fought a long battle with diabetes.
Hollywood won’t let female journalists be competent at their jobs.
…Even when journalists do their jobs, they’re often inexplicably thwarted by the narrative. Female journalists often turn out to have been manipulated by their sources all along (House of Cards, The Life of David Gale). In fact, pretty much the only time female journalists in Hollywood are allowed to be competent, successful, and professional without violating any ethical standards is when the journalists are based on real people (Spotlight, Good Girls Revolt).
The fictional female journalist has only been allowed to be unequivocally excellent at her job on a few occasions. The vintage classic His Girl Friday gave us Hildy Johnson, an iconic role for Rosalind Russell that contained all the classic rom-com tropes of personal and professional conflicts, yet never once saw its character crossing ethical lines. In Woman of the Year, Katharine Hepburn was a hardboiled feminist reporter whose success upstages her husband’s. Mary Tyler Moore’s TV news producer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show notably chose to face jail time rather than give up her sources; then there was the long-running ’90s series Murphy Brown (and even Murphy’s hard-hitting competence was countered by ditzy Corky Sherwood).
Most of these examples of “good” female journalists aren’t without issue, but they at least show us that Hollywood is capable of delivering complex, professional women in the world of journalism who are committed to their jobs and capable of maintaining basic ethical standards.
Many Gilmore Girls fans had hoped that Rory would take her place among these fictional examples as a proud professional journalist, as one more much-needed reminder that female journalists can be both competent and capable of getting a story without crossing ethical lines.
Alas, it seems Hollywood just isn’t ready for the Rory Gilmore of our dreams.