Saturday, September 18, 2010

With A Smile

Hollywood Reporter
As I stood at my neighborhood corner this morning, I waited for the grade school children to run by (it was my parish’s marathon run for the students) and I thought about the film The Proposal (it was awful) and I thought about Betty White which reminded me of Golden Girls which reminded me of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show really was the greatest sitcom of all time.

I’ve thought about it.

M.A.S.H became too didactic and sanctimonious.

Seinfeld went one season too long. It became idiosyncratic for the sake of the oddity.

The Simpsons is too caustic and sarcastic.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show redefined the role of women in sitcoms. Mary was human. She had character and wasn’t just a caricature. The character of Mary Richards redefined society’s view of women in the workplace and examined the roles of women, wife, mother, and friend. Mary was staid. Yet her character was compared and contrasted to the stereotypes: Single man-hungry woman - Rhoda, Traditional wife & mother - Phyllis, Caustic career diva - Sue Ann. And most importantly Mary was contrasted with her mirror character - Ted. Ted represented the stereotype of newscaster as a crowned beauty pageant contestant who had a stash instead of a diploma. I recall the former Miss Americas who peppered the newscasts.

It redefined how men and women saw each other in platonic relationships: the boss / worker relationship with Lou Grant and the friendship between Mary and Murray. The Mary Tyler Moore Show wasn’t the first program to show that men and women could be friends. Yet it was the first to demonstrate that the friendship could be founded with an equity of love and respect.

And it was damn funny. There’s a reason that “Chuckles Bites The Dust” is widely considered the funniest episode in sitcom history. It’s hilarious.

I love The Mary Tyler Moore Show.