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Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,118 ratings  ·  367 reviews
The story of the making of a classic and groundbreaking TV show, as experienced by its producers, writers, and cast.

Mary Tyler Moore made her name as Dick Van Dyke’s wife on the eponymous show, a cute, unassuming housewife that audiences loved. But when her writer/producers James Brooks and Allan Burnes dreamed up an edgy show about a divorced woman with a career, network
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Simon Schuster (first published May 1st 2013)
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Paige The producers wanted to have Mary divorced but the network wouldn't allow it, giving all those examples of what the audience at the time wouldn't tole…moreThe producers wanted to have Mary divorced but the network wouldn't allow it, giving all those examples of what the audience at the time wouldn't tolerate. They changed their plan to make Mary recently broken up with her boyfriend she had supported through med school. That line you're responding to had nothing to do with MTM show, it was just what the network told them they couldn't use with a lead character. The show ended up having Rhoda be Jewish, Ted grew a mustache and Lou eventually got divorced. Unfortunately in the synopsis for this book, they didn't continue on explaining what that line meant, but it's made clear in this book. (less)

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Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I love the MTM show but this is one of those books written by a know-it-all young pop culture writer who knows nothing about what she’s writing. She apparently wasn’t around when the original Mary Tyler Moore Show aired and has no sense of the cultural context in which to put it.

To me the show was the greatest sitcom ever and it deserves huge praise. But this book is filled with hyperbole, major mistakes, and gross exaggerations. And the “women’s lib” spin to the whole book mistakes what ended
Richard Kramer
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Before I spent some years in show business I used to think show business was interesting. It's not. And neither is this book. The author is a fan, and not a dumb one, and she makes all the expected dull arguments for this show as feminist statement (an argument deployed with great wit and insight by MG Lord in her book on Liz Taylor, THE ACCIDENTAL FEMINIST). The problem might be that happy tv families, like any families, are all alike. No one really knows what they're doing while they're doing ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I grew up in the 70's and I loved The Mary Tyler Moore show then and I still do today whenever I catch reruns on TV. This book brought back great memories of the series and reminded me why I always loved the show. I recommend this book for fans of one of the most groundbreaking & influential shows of all time. ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: female boomers
Shelves: nonfiction
There once was a Golden Age of television and it was Saturday night in the 1973-1974 season: All in the Family, M*A*S*H*, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett. I was in my third year of college and it was worth it not to have a date on Saturday night--television was better.

This books describes the ground-breaking series which was The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was the cultural phenomenon which had an impact on the feminist movement perhaps even more than Gloria Steinem. MTM not only s
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lots of behind-the-scenes stories of how The Mary Tyler Moore show came to be, along with stories of the actors, producers, writers and directors who were involved and made the show the icon it still is today. A pleasure to read!
Brian Eshleman
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Between books on history and explicitly biblical subjects, my palate cleanser is typically a book on sports or one focusing on the behind-the-scenes of the creative process. Usually I expect a three-star satisfaction of some curiosity.

This work was unusually good. The creative team behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show really comes alive. The issues going on during its run are well related by the author.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I'm down or sick (word @ dis week), I usually revert to a handful of classic shows, most notably I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

So, you can imagine my nerdgasm when this book informed me that auditions for MTM happened AT THE OLD LUCY STUDIO. !@#$%^&*()_+AMAZING.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's new history is brimming with such facts: what it was really like to work with Mary Tyler Moore; how the beloved show as we know it was originally pitched to CBS, and what had to change;
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
I'm torn on this book...probably more because of my expectations of what the book could be.

The book opens up with great promise. There's a great social history perspective to MTM: the rise of the women's movement, and the impact on Hollywood, including opportunities for female writers to break in to television for the first time. There is also a really interesting opportunity to talk about Television as a social medium. What happens when "women's issues" are presented on TV? And how did MTM's ap
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. I think it is an excellent study of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and of the individuals involved in its production. This book does not provide a detailed synopsis and/or critical analysis of each episode of the series, like other books on television programs. Instead, author Jennifer Armstrong explores other important dimensions of the series. She details the circumstances concerning the creation of the program itself, such as the initial network resistance to and critic ...more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for any fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This book is packed with countless behind the scene details into what went into making the classic T.V. show. Author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong covers all her bases, focusing not only on the actors who brought the characters we've come to love to life, but also on the writers and producers who dreamed big enough and had enough talent to make an indelible mark on T.V. programming in an age that would rightfully become known as the "Golden Age ...more
It is likely obvious why I read this. I grew up on Mary Tyler Moore and All In The Family, so I grabbed this when Mary Tyler Moore died. I agree with the author that the show had an enormous effect on the way women regarded themselves. I never had the slightest hesitation that of course I'd have a career. It is lovely to read just how nice the cast was to each other. They were a real family. Like real family, there were falling outs, such as Ed Asner and Ted Knight. Ed Asner rose above the disco ...more
Katharine Holden
Aug 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
Poorly written, poorly edited, and sorely in need of a fact-checker. The MTM Show was a fun show to watch. It still is. The death of the tv clown, Ted Baxter's inept reading of the news, so many moments made me laugh. But this book tries so hard to prove that it was an earth shatteringly wonderful show and changed the planet forever that it only succeeds in being ridiculous and demeaning the show it tries so hard to praise. ...more
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
It’s very hard to believe that it’s been over 36 years since the WJM-TV crew formed that famous group hug and then group shuffled over to get a Kleenex to end a seven year run. Full disclosure. I don’t remember if I watched that final scene live or not. In fact, I don’t remember watching the Mary Taylor Moore Show at all. After beginning my professional career in television, if I was even an occasional viewer, it was probably more out of a curiosity just to see how TV portrayed itself doing TV n ...more
Paul Pessolano
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
“Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted” by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Media/TV

The title of this book should give the subject matter of the book away, especially if you were watching TV in the 1970’s. Yes, it is the history of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The book is an excellent history of how the show came about, how the plots came about, and how the actors came about. Amazingly enough the show was a hard sell and received some very negative comments from revie
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a 'good listen' from an audiobook borrowed from Hoopla Digital. Interesting detail about the forming of one of the best shows in its time- a Golden Age of TV comedy in the early 1970s. The MTM Show, along with 'M*A*S*H*' and Norman Lear shows like 'All In The Family', 'Good Times' and 'Maude' were pushing the envelope of social mores like showing single women living on their own w/o the need for a man, struggling working class families dealing with racism and economic pressures, and the ...more
Diane Corradini
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Great book - made me realize why I liked the Mary Tyler Moore show in the first place. It was ground-breaking for the 70's, a single career woman living in the big city of Minneapolis. Great historical perspective of the thinking of the television executives at that time and since - they wouldn't allow Mary to be a divorced woman, afraid the public wasn't ready for that. Very good perspective on the writers and everyone involved in the series. It opened the door for those t.v. shows to come and ...more
Blair Slavin
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No matter des how influential MTM Show was to Women & TV

I knew I'd liked the show, and I'm currently digging through rewatch all the shows after all these many years. I was under 10 when the show came out. So that I remember them I must have watched it as a kid with my parents. But to find out that Mary Tyler Moore show had leveled the playing field for women so significantly where I guess never occurred to me as a man to think women as anything but equals. Guess I was progressive long before i
Jeff J.
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a review copy of this book via the GoodReads FirstReads program.

Don't confuse this book with other tribute volumes to well-loved television programs, it doesn't have an episode guide or extensive photographs. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted instead focuses on the sociological impact of the Mary Tyler Moore program. While the author makes a convincing case for the role the program had on expanding the population of women in the television industry, I'm less convinced that the program it
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-tv-movies
Fun look back at one of the classic TV sitcoms. Readers should be aware that Armstrong devotes a lot of pages to MTM's female writers. While this allows her to explore how a group of smart, funny women made inroads to what had previously been a male-dominated world, it leaves less room for stories about the actual show we all remember so fondly. There are discussions about a few seminal episodes, most notably "Chuckles Bites the Dust," but I would have liked more of a focus on the show and the s ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a major television history geek, I thought this book was perfect. It's not just for MTM fans, but for anyone who loves this pop culture medium. It goes beyond cast and crew to executives, critics, the cultural climate of the era and the show's effect on our current TV landscape. I thought I knew all there was to know about this classic program, one of my all-time favorites, but this well-researched and wonderfully narrated story exceeded my expectations. Recommended for any fellow MTM, TV & e ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book at face value since The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of my favorite TV shows ever. Yet, I felt that, ultimately, this book really didn't know what it wanted to be. Is it a dishy behind the scenes look at one of the greatest sitcoms of all time? Is it a look at how this show ushered in a new era of women in entertainment and TV in particular? It would start off one way and go another way by the end of the chapter. An enjoyable read if you like reading about entertainment histo ...more
The Mary Tyler Moore show was never one of my favorite shows (I did covet her book shelf that went around her sunken sitting space). I was interested in this just because I love TV in general and like behind the scenes stuff. The most interesting thing to me about this book is how many women got their start on this show at a time when there were very few women comedy writers. Most of the other news was information I already knew or wasn't that interesting. If you are a fan, though, I think this ...more
Tony Siciliano
Aug 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a summer of universally horrible, rotten, lousy news, it was a pleasure to escape for a few hours. I went back to the 1970s when Saturday night TV viewing was wonderful, and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was the most wonderful of all. The author provided so much behind-the-scenes information about how the show came to be, the writers, the cast members and their interactions. The show's content proved to be inspirational to a generation of young women who might have been afraid to escape the mol ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this an entertaining read for fans of one my favourite shows of all time. To appreciate the book, you have to be someone who loved the show enough to watch every episode once, twice, three times ... It brought back fond memories of Mary and the gang.
Andy Klein
Jun 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
This is an atrocious book. For a more detailed explanation as to why this book really stinks, see Mediaman's review. In any event, the book contained numerous factual errors, focused too much attention on some of the female writers, gave the show way too much credit for changing television and, more absurdly, society as a whole, and went down some rabbit holes for no particular reason other than that the author wanted to shoehorn in some of her interviews. The best example of the latter was the ...more
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it
When I was growing up, my parents would only let me watch unsupervised television if it was a kids show on Nickelodeon or a re-run Nick at Nite. So even though I was born a year after it went off the air, I grew up with The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Also with Donna Reed, My Three Sons, The Patty Duke Show, Mr. Ed...) When I watch television, it's almost always for enjoyment and escape. I'm not typically trying to place the show in the context of television history. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this awhile ago, and I've been trying to figure out how to word my review.

This was one of the last books my mother got a hold of. I remember her talking to me about a couple things early in the book, like the My Mother the Car put down that the secretary gave, and she seemed to really like it. She only got about 50 pages into it when her ailments were getting to her too much, so she gave it to me to read. Sadly, I haven't been able to get around to reading it until recently. Although she
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're a fan of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW or even just interested in how a TV show is created, nurtured and maintained, they you will love this book. Far from an instant classic sitcom, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW surmounted numerable hurdles (apathetic TV executives, dismissive early reviews, a shaky pilot shooting that had to be redone, lackluster initial ratings) before it became the classic we appreciate today.

This is filled with the kind of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories that you u
Hank Stuever
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Books about TV history are hard to do; the risk of being boring is pretty high. Also, I tend to think that there's sometimes no faster way to ruin the pleasure of a good TV show memory than to read a 300-page book about it. There's a lot to juggle -- the story of How It Was Made + the reader's (and writer's) nostalgia + the Social Meaning and Historical Context + all the insidery network poop about ratings, executive decisions, Emmys, etc.

While reading Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's history and im
Terry Collins
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Unique in structure, Armstrong's research focuses on the WRITERS of the series, particularly how the producers encouraged female authors to come aboard and craft this now American classic. What's great about The Mary Tyler Moore Show is that it did push against (and sometimes break open) boundaries, but it never got "preachy" or overtly message driven as other shows from the same era (All in the Family, Maude, well, anything by Norman Lear, I'm looking at you). As a kid who who watched Mary the ...more
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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia; Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted; Pop Star Goddesses; When Women Invented Television; and Sex and the City and Us. She spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly and has since written for many publications, including BBC Culture, The New York Times Book Review, Vice, New York magazine, and Billboard.

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