Lessons of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’

You're gonna make it after all...
You’re gonna make it after all…

Boy do I love curling up on my couch for a self-made marathon of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” built using my collections of seasons on DVD.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ran for seven seasons, beginning in 1970 — a time when America was going through political change, and women were beginning to experience economic freedom. Feminism was spreading, women were granted the right to vote, and in 1973, women were granted the right to an abortion.

But as the show premiered, the idea of women having freedom was new, so a show about a girl — a single girl — moving out on her own to establish a career was a fresh idea. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was the “Sex and the City” of its time.

Starring Mary Tyler Moore (obviously), Valerie Harper (Rhoda), Cloris Leachman (Phyllis), Ted Knight (Ted Baxter), Edward Asner (Lou), and Gavin MacLeod (Murray), the show is centered around Mary and her adventures in working and dating.

What I love about the show is that, aside from its already shocking plot (single woman on her own!!!), the show covers issues that are relevant today, even 40 years later, including equal pay for women, premarital sex, addiction, homosexuality, divorce, infidelity, prostitution, death, adoption, infertility, and heart health.

Here are a few things I’ve learned while watching “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”:

  • Alcohol at work should totally be allowed. Mary’s boss, Lou Grant, is known to keep a bottle of scotch in his bottom desk drawer, and take a swig when times get stressful. That’s a smart man.
  • Sleeping on a pullout sofa bed can be glamorous. Mary’s one-room apartment is cute with its tiny kitchen, dining table, and barely-there closet, leaving Mary to sleep on a pull out bed every night. Yet her place is never messy!
  • Working in the news business is cool. Okay, so Mary’s office isn’t anything special, but at the time, a room full of typewriters and clocks, complete with a coffee pot? BAMF.
  • You’re gonna make it after all. Although Mary dates a few people throughout the show’s entirety, she remains single. And you know what? I think it’s pretty badass. I need more single women role models in my life, and so what if one of them is on a TV show thats 40 years old.

If you want to check out the show for yourself, there’s a ton of episodes on YouTube. Click the pic to get started!

Photo from Time magazine, which named MTM as a show with one of the best pilots ever.
Photo from Time magazine, which named MTM as a show with one of the best pilots ever.

Well I just wanted to let you know that sometimes I get concerned about being a career woman. I get to thinking that my job is too important to me. And I tell myself that the people I work with are just the people I work with. But last night I thought what is family anyway? It’s the people who make you feel less alone and really loved.

—Mary Tyler Moore, as Mary Richards 


  1. Anna

    I’m so happy you enjoy and appreciate “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” – it was a weekly ritual for my mom, my 2 older sisters and me to sit down and watch. I really enjoyed it at the time, but I understand and relate to so much more as I’ve watched the episodes through various stages of adulthood. It’s my go-to comfort show, and I’ll never stop watching – Mary Richards Forever!!!

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