So, I’m Watching the Entire Run of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
…because I got sent this random galley (thanks, publishers!) of “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted and All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic”* (Indiebound | Amazon), which I started reading, despite never having really watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and was immediately transfixed by it. It’s a perfect microhistory of television and feminism and writing and money and pressure and the joy of creativity and those capri pants she wore on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Also, I mean, they originally wanted her character to be divorced, and the CBS executives responded: “American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a series’ lead any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York.”
So, not being a complete idiot, I thought: you know, I bet if a book about a TV show is really good and moving and powerful and funny, perhaps the award-winning classic comedy itself might be worth a look? It’s on Hulu Plus!
And watching pilots is one of my all-time favorite things, generally, because pilots are always completely terrible. Everyone has weird hair and penciled eyebrows, everything happens a half-beat too late, the canned laughter seems extra-manic, and there’s all this super-obvious plot explication: “oh, but Mary NEEDS this apartment, because the doctor boyfriend she supported through medical school won’t marry her like he promised!” “I’m just a tough New York City girl who’s used to scrapping!” “I’m Ed Asner.”
But the pilot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, despite all these things, is completely wonderful. The first scene between Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner is the single greatest example of comedic timing I’ve ever seen. It’s perfect. It is a perfect exchange. And then it gets better from there.
So, whatever, tl;dr, famously good show is good. But really, it really really is.
*Feedback: the title needs work.