Mr. Grant must be scowling at the news, and not because of the usual bumbling incompetence in the WJM-TV newsroom, but because his best hire ever, Mary Richards, has finally let him down.
Mary Tyler Moore passed away this week and right now, all I want to do is pull out a hide-a-bed, grab a box of kleenex and mourn Mary the way that she mourned Chuckles the Clown. Laughter and tears.
Was there ever a more shining example of a modern career woman? She was sunny, funny, spunky, and sweet. She played the straight man so well, especially against Rhoda and Mr. Grant, but she knew how to get a laugh. Every girl wanted to be her. And certainly we all wanted to live in that airy Minneapolis apartment.
The entire space was outfitted with vintage and thrift store finds -- mismatched end tables, shag area rugs, the giant letter 'M' on her wall, wicker stools -- the producers wanted to emphasize that she wasn't wealthy. But we loved it all, as do many of today's hipsters who have translated Mary Richard's look into a popular decor style. I adored the little skirted table in front of the imposing arched window. And the sunken living room / bedroom. We were too young to understand the implication of Mary's pullout couch. That she couldn't afford a place with a bedroom, no doubt because she was earning a third of what Ted earned.
Mary strode around her apartment with grace and warmth. The flow of the space was made for parties, though Mary was a flop as a hostess. Remember when Sue Ann passed off her cooking as Mary's during the dinner party for the congresswoman? ("The Dinner Party", season 4, episode 10.) She made living alone look very appealing to little girls whose only other TV female role model for single life was Barbara Eden, a woman literally trapped in a bottle. Even the opening credits -- one of the most charming ever -- balanced scenes of Mary with co-workers and friends with an equal number of scenes of Mary out and about in Minneapolis, enjoying her city by herself.
Of course what we loved best about Mary was her ability to navigate her job and personal life with equal parts youthful idealism and life-learned sophistication. That tension between the 1970s age of feminism and the more conservative values of the 50s was a subtext to everything that occurred in the series' 7-year run. She walked a fine line between winsome naif and worldly thirty-something. In season 6, episode 8, Mary tells Murray, "I'm hardly innocent. I've been around. Well alright, maybe not around. But I've been nearby."
She is no longer around or even nearby. Our favorite career girl next door is gone.
Shop the Mary Richards Style at Finder Not Keeper
I had no idea until I studied photos of the Mary Tyler Moore Show set, that I was obviously influenced by that sitcom. But of course! If only I had her wardrobe too... .
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