Before bed I like some easy viewing. Lately that means I’m binging on The Mary Tyler Moore Show reruns on Hulu Plus. The original show ran from 1970-1977. When it first aired, I was too young to understand the big picture, but during this second viewing I’ve been thinking – hey, wait, except for the fabulous clothes that are still in vogue today (watch and see why I’d still wear all of those clothes), that’s my life!
I am the Mary. A Mary plays by the rules, sometimes underestimates her abilities, believes in being polite and well mannered, plans things out a lot, worries about everything and takes life and especially work pretty seriously. She thinks she should be married but can’t figure out to whom. Marys think they are keeping Rhodas in line, and it may take years but ultimately Marys learn they experience so much more out of life for having been pushed by Rhodas. That’s me, plus I was single an exceptionally long time and everyone would always insultingly and annoyingly ask why. Remember that episode when Rhoda won’t let her mother stay with her so her mom, Ida, stays with Mary and starts micro managing in her over protective mom way? Up until the time I started working from a home office (a few years ago), my mother would literally announce herself on the telephone as follows- “Ida here (My mother’s name is Nancy and I refer to her as “mom”.) Are you aware the roads will be icy on your way to work? You better stay home.” Also like Mary, I worked in an industry that was at the time mostly male dominated – advertising; in fact I was the first female account executive at my agency, and I developed my own gang of the most terrific business friends and living caricatures who seemed too over the top to be real, but they were.
Imagine these very real scenarios and how they could have been MTM episodes:
- The Receptionai. Identical twins who said they were job sharing but decided they couldn’t stand to be separated so they’d come in together every day though only one would get paid, and as much as they wanted to be together, too much togetherness resulted in lots of hissing arguments between the on duty and off duty sibling, each harshly critiquing the other’s work. They made “Sparky” seem understated.
- The Self Esteem Overload client . Evidenced by one of his most memorable quotes: “You know how awesome everyone thinks I am, my father is twice as awesome.” Ted Baxter couldn’t have said it better.
- The Drink Em Up Sales Rep. This was the tail end of the liquid luncheon era and I had a media salesperson, probably twice my age, discontinue working with me because he didn’t trust anyone who wouldn’t have a martini at lunch, especially because he, reminiscent of Lou Grant, wanted a multi-martini lunch. He had so much practice with so much alcohol that his driving and his afternoon work didn’t appear to suffer too much. Had I indulged, I would have needed to sprawl out on the conference room table for a nap. By mutual agreement we did not have a second lunch.
But as with Mary Richards, life is more than just work. It’s about relationships outside the office. Every straight-laced, buttoned-up, professional needs a Rhoda, just as every Rhoda needs a Mary. A Rhoda is someone who gets you to move outside your comfort zone for squirm-inducing, but not illegal madcap adventures, who calls them as she sees them and who has learned to ask for what she wants. Rhodas are free spirited and creative. They are impulsive with a penchant for bringing you along for the ride, even if at first you say “no”, and say “no” again. Rhodas want very much to be optimists, but think pessimism might be more practical to protect their big hearts. They may see Marys as pulled together and themselves as comparatively scattered, though they eventually figure out, that given the choice they’d choose their own life.
I never had a Phyllis but I never thought she was very nice so I’d like to think I wouldn’t keep her in my circle. This gave me the chance instead to have my two Rhodas. They were and continue to be: Judy Andralones McGrath and Cindy Klayman. Thank you ladies, my life is much fuller for the adventures you both have thrust me into.
I have to wonder, if our roles change over the years. Sometimes I get the look from my husband or stepdaughter that speaks volumes to the fact that they are uncomfortable with the direction I am taking them on a given day, but they aren’t true Marys as they just say “no” and mean it.
Here’s a link to one of my character altering changes where I thrust off my old Mary and started on the route to Rhoda – all due to Mel Torme called I Hate Jazz But Mel Torme Changed My Life http://wp.me/p13Md6-qp
So the questions to my readers are:
Are you more the Rhoda or the Mary?
Who is your counterpart?
Has your role changed over the years?
On TV what is the guy equivalent of a Rhoda and a Mary? Which are you, Who is your counterpart?
(C)2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell
NOTE: I do not own nor claim rights to any of the Mary Tyer Moore Show or Rhoda photos found in this post. I found them unattributed on the web.