An intimate look at a group of professionals creating something they felt proud of (as well as a survey of the changing landscape of American entertainment and culture in the early 1970s), this comprehensive history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is as enjoyable as reruns of the classic show. Originally pitched as a show about a divorced career woman, and forcibly revised to feature a never-married protagonist, the show launched at a time when the one female executive at CBS had to share a restroom with her male colleagues because the office had no women’s bathroom. Eventually, the MTMS gained a stronghold as a genre-defining program with many copycats, a show able to reference birth control and gay characters without ire from the FCC. At its core was a cast who believed in one another, two respected producers notorious for their kindness, and more women writing for a comedy series than ever before.
Author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, a former senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, penned this immersive, chronological history after interviewing many key players and engaging with primary resources. Her palpable love for television and pop culture is apparent in its engaging pages, wherein she covers everything from decisions about set dressing, to the women’s liberation movement’s reaction to Mary, to the personal struggles and triumphs of the cast and crew. Compelling and highly readable, this book is as informative as it is charming.
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, $18.89, amazon.com
By Christine Femia
This review appears in the June/July 2013 issue of BUST Magazine withCourtney Love. Subscribe now.