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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

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  1,533 Ratings  ·  302 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 ...more
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…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)

Community Reviews

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Aug 25, 2013 Mediaman 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 Richard Kramer 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
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
Jun 26, 2013 Jordan 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 chan
May 29, 2013 Geoffrey 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
Katharine Holden
Aug 31, 2013 Katharine Holden 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.
Feb 27, 2017 Fergie 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
Jun 08, 2013 Steve 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
Andy Klein
Jun 09, 2014 Andy Klein 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
Paul Pessolano
Apr 05, 2013 Paul Pessolano 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
Jul 11, 2013 Gretchen 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
Jul 11, 2013 Donna 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
Sep 29, 2016 Steve 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
Terry Collins
Jun 16, 2013 Terry Collins 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
John Cooper
Feb 02, 2014 John Cooper rated it really liked it
For those who didn’t watch it at the time, it’s a bit hard to describe The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was funny, but avoided cheap laughs; it was realistic at a time when shows like Gilligan’s Island and The Beverly Hillbillies were popular. It was sweet without being cloying, yet it wasn’t afraid of a little wickedness, such as casting Betty White, whose image at the time was completely wholesome, as a hilariously self-serving bitch. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted puts the show in the context of ...more
Blair Slavin
Apr 10, 2016 Blair Slavin 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 befo
Diane Corradini
Jul 01, 2013 Diane Corradini 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
Jeff J.
May 09, 2013 Jeff J. 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
Eileen W
Dec 29, 2014 Eileen W rated it really liked it
"Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and....." If you can finish this verse, you know probably love the Mary Tyler Moore show like I do. I enjoyed reading about its history and how much it influenced television. There were some great tidbits about the personal lives of the cast and other behind-the-scenes information. I liked reading about the writers as well, although there were some points in the book early on where I was hoping she'd stop talking about the wri ...more
May 12, 2013 Susan 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
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
May 19, 2013 Vanessa 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 &am ...more
Aug 02, 2014 Hillary rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book must not have had an editor. I could complain about the writing, but the content was more upsetting. The descriptions of Ed Asner's and Gavin MacLeod's visits with Ted Knight not long before his death are so disturbing to me that I don't see how they fit into the context of this otherwise cheerful narrative. The way Armstrong just shifts from that unsettling story to frivolity like Treva Silverman's (irrelevant) European jaunt is just jarring. (I apologize for the cringe-worthy alliter ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, audio, nonfiction
As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

There’s a good reason for that. When this groundbreaking sitcom premiered in 1970, I was not quite 2 years old – not exactly the target audience. But I was a stubborn enough toddler (or so I’ve heard) that, had I understood what “MTM” was all about, I bet I could have made a pretty convincing case to my parents to let me watch it.

Instead, I saw it during its resurgence on Nick at Nite in 1992, when I – as someone with my first job
Oct 17, 2014 Carol rated it it was ok
As a very big fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I was excited to win this book when MeTV was running a promotion during their re-running of Rhoda. However, I am glad I did not pay for this book.

While it started strong, it quickly dissolved into random, possibly factually inaccurate, anecdotes about anything and everything even tangentially related to MTM. The organization of this book was all over the place.

I actually really enjoyed the way the book began by discussing Treva Silverman and how i
May 28, 2013 Kate 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
Mar 07, 2014 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, well built history of one of the best sitcoms of all time. No frills, no surprises, just good stories and good reminiscences. I was reminded (as I often am) of Mort Sahl's place in stand-up comedy history. MTM really nudged open the doors -- first unwed woman living on her own, making her life without a man to control it, first references to being on the pill -- but the people we canonize are the ones who took that tiny opening and forced it open with their foot; for the purpose of my c ...more
David Ye
Sep 03, 2014 David Ye rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I always do this to myself. Why read a book about the Mary Tyler Moore Show when I get teary eyed just thinking about it?

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is just as sharp and inimitable today as it was 44 years ago (has it been so long?). It's inarguably one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and well-written television shows of all time. The show is peerless in my book, and speaking of books, this one does a great job of filling us in on what went on behind the set. Pop in a DVD
Mary Lou
Nov 06, 2013 Mary Lou rated it liked it
This was an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the making of a classic TV show, but it has flaws. Chief among them, in my mind, is the omission of Sally Rogers. Armstrong presents the MTM Show in a totally feminist light (particularly focusing on the female writers on the show, to excess and to the book's detriment in my opinion). Other reviewers have remarked on the author's casual dismissal of groundbreaking predecessors like That Girl and Julia, which really is inexcusable. But what amazes ...more
Catherine Read
Sep 26, 2015 Catherine Read rated it really liked it
As someone who spent a lot of Saturday nights as a child watching "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" this was a satisfying read on many different levels. The show gave wonderful opportunities to women comedy writers and to actresses who gave more realistic portrays of women in the 1970s.

It was a new style of comedy show, character driven and with the humor emerging naturally out of situations with which viewers could identify. It was taped every Friday night in front of a studio audience and the show
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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, where she spent most of her time putting on shows in her parents’ garage, studying TV Guide, devouring Sweet Valley High books, and memorizing every note of every George Michael song. This finally came in handy when she got a job at Entertainment Weekly, where she worked for a decade. She now writes for several publications, i ...more
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