Saturday, June 9, 2012

You're gonna make it after all

"Oh yes, I'm so very Mary Tyler Moore, everyone says so." 
-Janeane Garofalo, The Matchmaker

It's very possible that we've come to a time in history when not everyone knows who Mary Tyler Moore is and that there was an amazing and ground-breaking show called The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This is both sad and disturbing but entirely possible given the fact that there are people who don't know what a VCR is, who the Captain and Tennille are, and that there was a time when people read newspapers in paper form and not online. People also wrote letters to one another and didn't wear tights as pants. And I don't mean leggings, I mean tights. As pants. This can't be right.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the first television show to feature a single, never-married, career woman as the main character. The show ran from 1970-1977 (yes, before I was born) and featured the amazing Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, a single woman in her 30s who moves to Minneapolis and becomes a producer on the evening news program. She's not looking for a man or waiting for one to find her. She puts up with her curmudgeon of a boss, the wonderful Ed Asner and serves as the center of the show, the proverbial glue that holds it all together. The show also featuers the great Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern, Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens, and Ted Knight as Ted Baxter. And did I mention Cloris Leachman? Oh yeah, she's the landlady.

Oh and did we discuss the title sequence? If I wore hats I'd want to stand at an intersection in Minneapolis and throw my hat in the air and be amazing and awesome and have my own theme song. But I don't wear hats (even in the winter when visiting Minnesota).

I watched reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Nick at Nite (around the same time The Monkees were on). I loooooved Mary Richards and her friends and her life. I've never been able to decide if I'm more Mary or more Rhoda (sort of like I've never been able to figure out if I'm more Rory or Lane - I think I'm more Lane). Do I get to be sincere and nice and the glue that holds it all together like Mary or the wise-cracking, dating disaster who eventually gets her own show like Rhoda? I just don't know.

When I moved to California one of my friends started calling me Mary (and only the two of us and one other person in our office knew what we were talking about without explanation) and told me how excited she was for me to forge a new life on the West Coast. She called me brave and pioneering. I didn't feel very Mary; I felt more like a character from the Oregon Trail (and yes, I know the Oregon Trail did not go through California - I read and played the video game). There was the real possibility that my car would break down on the drive or some other terrible thing would happen on the way to Alameda. I'm not sure what the modern equivalent of dysentery (obviously it could just be dysentery) or fording a river would be but I'm sure there's something similar. Maybe it's dealing with food judgement (I'm talking to you lady at the store who turns her nose up at the non-organic carrots in my shopping cart) or finding a parking spot in Berkeley.

I've decided that my move to California was not my Mary Richards moment; my move back to Virginia is. It's not that moving to Cali wasn't exciting or different but it hasn't been the life-changing moment I think my friend (and I) thought it would be. So this winter I would like to stage my own version of the MTMS title sequence in Arlington. I think it could be fun - I will need a photographer/partner in crime to assist. I would also like someone to write me a theme song.

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