Thursday, December 27, 2012


I don’t know if being an avid fan of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is a gay thing.  Based on the commercials during last night’s airing, I’d say it’s a geriatric thing.  Diabetes management.  AARP.  Incontinence.  I’ve always been mature for my age.
Gay or not, I’ve always had an inexplicable affinity for “MTM”.  I can watch old episodes and not laugh once, yet I still thoroughly enjoy the experience. 

“Mary Tyler Moore” was more than comedy.  The show consisted of lovably flawed characters whom Mary Richards had to awkwardly, endearingly finesse her way around:  buffoonish, egotistical Ted, tough guy/softie Lou, snarky Murray (kept in check by acerbic Sue Ann), batty, tender Georgette, hard-done-by Rhoda and grand dreamer Phyllis (with ever-sage daughter Bess).  The actors always brought their A-game, making each character seem entirely real.

While I’ve had many Rhoda moments (and perhaps even more Brenda connections from the “Rhoda” spinoff), I have identified most with Mary.  While the theme song—more on that in a minute—included the line “Love is all around”, it always felt that “Loopiness is all around” in Mary Richards’ fictional life and in my real life. 

Even at seven, I empathized with Mary over dating woes—sadly, never the right guy.  Sometimes the guy with newsman good looks is unattainable.

 I remember one episode in which Lou recalled Mary’s first entrance into the newsroom.  Apparently she said “Excuse me” to a desk she bumped into.  I’ve done that many a time.  (Garbage cans also receive my profuse apologies.  I run into them more than you can imagine.  Indeed, they are the source of the perpetual leg bruising.

Mary exuded 70s fashion, with long-legged pant suits flared at the bottom, curve-accentuating sweaters and colorful scarves.  Her hair was always thick, lustrous and flawless.  Despite mild indignities, she strutted with confidence.  I try, at least.

Perhaps nothing sticks with me more than the theme song, ending oh so cautiously in Season 1 with “You might just make it after all” and dreamily evolving to “You’re gonna make it after all.”  Yes, I should be so lucky.  When I am down, all it takes is a quick YouTube search of the tune to give me a needed pick me up.  In fact, when I moved from L.A. to Vancouver, a friend who knows me too well bought me a beret as a going away gift.  The instruction:  toss it high—like Mary—when you truly make it.

Eighteen years later, I still have the beret and I’m still waiting for my Mary moment.  I still believe it will come. 


canoetoo said...

I agree that MTM was a wonderful TV show. I've always identified a bit with Mary. I prefer not to have attention drawn to me ... although I don't believe I've ever excused myself to a garbage can.
One of my favourite episodes was the one where Mr. Peanut (station mascot?) was killed by a runaway elephant in a parade. Everyone but Mary saw the macabre humour although in the end she was the one who got the giggles at the funeral when the minister quotes the clown who played Mr. Peanut:
"A little song, a little dance,
A little seltzer down your pants"

Rural Gay said...

Yes, classic episode. I seem to have seen more of that funeral clip than the actual episode. I'm sure I'll stumble upon it again. Just have to sit through all those incontinence commericials.