How "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" Changed Everything

On Wednesday, the world lost a great woman. Mary Tyler Moore died today at the age of 80. She was a wonderful Academy Award-nominated and Emmy winning actress, producer and advocate for diabetes (she was diagnosed with the disease at 33.) She gave the world Mary Richards, an entirely different kind of leading lady for the small screen on her groundbreaking 1970s series The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A single woman (who also had some great single friends. Carrie Bradshaw's squad totally followed Mary and Rhoda) with no desire to get married who put her career first. And she still turned the world on with her smile. 

It was really the combination of the character of Mary Richards as well as the talented lady that played her that made her so popular and a leader for women during a really interesting time in the 1970s (The Pill had just become available and more women were entering the workforce.) Author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong wrote in her book “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic” "It was the first time in television history when a woman's perspective was not only highly regarded, but crucial to the success of the show."

The character of Mary Richards was a newly single associate producer of a six-o’clock news show in Minneapolis, who wasn't afraid to call out her male boss when she felt that she was treated differently just because she was a woman.  Moore once explained that her character was “breaking new ground for women by going in and bringing up to her boss the fact that the man who had the job before her was making more money and why was that?” The super popular series which earned Moore 3 Emmys and 7 Emmy nominations (Julia Louis-Dreyfus only recently beat her record) ended in 1977 with Moore still not married, but thriving in her career. Getting married and having the white picket fence (or just living with Big in a fabulous apartment) was not Mary Richard's happy ending. “Thirty-three, unmarried and unworried — Mary is the liberated woman’s ideal,” TV Guide wrote in 1973.

We've had Murphy, Roseanne, the Golden Girls, Dana Scully, Lisa Simpson, Ally McBeal, Carrie and the gang, Buffy, Betty Suarez, Jane the Virgin, Rebecca Bunch and many more, but none of them would have been possible without Mary Richards.

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