Before 1970, when Mary Richards made it onto the airwaves of the somewhat misleadingly named The Mary Tyler Moore Show, there was nary a trace in mass media of the single woman portrayed in a manner that was anything other than disgraceful and pathetic–if any such woman was portrayed at all. But with Mary Tyler Moore’s plucky, sophisticated air in this unprecedented role, a paradigm shift started to occur with regard to how women of a certain age sans a wedding ring were viewed and treated.
The narrative of the show commences in a way that was already controversial to begin with. After ending it with her boyfriend of two years to pursue a life separate from “the couple,” Mary moves to Minneapolis and lands a job at a TV news station–as a secretary, naturally. Let’s not forget this was still the 70s. But Mary’s ultimate leap toward producer by the end of the show is one of the many testaments to just how far and scorchingly she blazed the trail for the perception of females, and their rightful place in going after their career objectives and passions.
In addition to championing the cause of “you’re not a total fucking loser for not being married,” The Mary Tyler Moore Show also addressed the (apparently still) taboo subjects of abortion, equal pay and, yes–gasp–homosexuality. The appearance of such bad broads as Cloris Leachman and Betty White throughout the series lend added cachet to its spirit of feminism, and the confidence that can come from being on one’s own–immune to the latent self-judgment and repression that can often originate from having a significant other.
Best of all, Mary remains single at the end of the series, with a few monogamous relationships thrown in for good measure/plot value. That’s more than can be said of its equally revered successor to the throne of single woman glamor, Carrie Bradshaw, who ends up with arguably one of the biggest prats of all time. In this regard, The Mary Tyler Moore Show will always be a true original in every sense, catering to no one other than the eternal free spirit of a female untethered.