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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
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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

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,082 ratings  ·  240 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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Mediaman
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
...more
Richard Kramer
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
Geoffrey
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
Jordan
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
...more
Gretchen
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
...more
Paul Pessolano
“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
...more
Steve
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
Donna
Jul 11, 2013 Donna rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
...more
Diane Corradini
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.
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
...more
Susan
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
Vanessa
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 & ...more
Katharine Holden
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.
John Cooper
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
Andy Klein
Jun 16, 2014 Andy Klein rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Hank Stuever
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
...more
Kate
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
Roger Smitter
This is a enjoyable and informative read about a sitcom that changed TV. The book is more a geneology than a history. We find out how talented minds came together to create the Mary
Tyler Moore show in the early 1970's and, more importantly, how these bright people continued to influence TV. The book provides a useful insight into the creative process and gives full credit to the writers who produced fantastic scripts week after week.

The book also links the MYM sitcome and its actors with a gia
...more
Kevin
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
...more
Terry Collins
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
Marion
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
Biblio Files
Just the sort of book you want about a TV show -- lots of behind the scenes revelations and ins and outs of how the show was made. Armstrong told how the show was cast and how the stars got along with each other and there are plenty of entertaining stories about who said what to whom. She interviewed all the surviving cast members and many of the writers and producers. As a fun and gossipy entertainment, it's perfect. However -- I think the author gives the show too much credit for being a femin ...more
Sarah
I remember watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show a a kid. I don't remember anything about Mary being controversial or thinking it was unusual that she was single and working. Everybody loved Mary. In many ways, I grew up to be like Mary. Now there is nothing unusual about a single girl living and working in the city.

This book is a fun romp into the TV of my childhood. What surprised me was how controversial this show was, from the hiring of female writers to the subject matter of the show. For exam
...more
Robert Greenberger
A seminal television series went on to make it safe for women to work in television and showed that respecting the audience's attention could work. The series' struggles early on shows a network mentality that totally missed what was happening in the world they lived in. The show went on to win awards but more importantly, it helped change prime time television and the workplace. Armstrong's book does a nice job placing the show, its cast, and its creators into a cultural context. The actual sea ...more
Christopher
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
Carol
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
...more
Karen
The Mary Tyler Moore show was a major influence in my life, beginning its run when I was in junior high and continuing on through college. While my mother married one year after college, I wanted to live in my own apartment and have a cool job with fun co-workers. I ended up in sharing a basement apartment and working an entry level job (with fun friends), but the Mary influence was there.

I loved the behind the scenes look at what it took to put the MTM show together. I didn't realize at the tim
...more
Lynn
Enjoyable summer reading. As a youngish adult living in New York City, the Saturday night CBS comedy lineup became must-watch TV for us, as it did among many even sophisticated persons of the type who would normally eschew all TV, especially situation comedies. I would say that it was the Mary Tyler Moore show that drove the whole thing, but that would be an exaggeration. Clearly, "All in the Family" was the leader in ratings and in knocking over barriers. Still, MTM was revolutionary in its own ...more
Ron Ratchford
Full of itself but lacking in accurracy and a big disappointment.
This book seems to want ot praise the writers and the history of the Mary Tyler Moore television series and misses both by a long shot.

The premise that they broke ground was noted but not illustrted.

I read the book and came away with a very sad view of what could have been a wonderful story but ended up being a minor gloss of half truths and distortions.

The book has a series of false leads and empty hallways with locked doors.

The
...more
Chris
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
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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded SexyFeminist.com, and now writes for several public ...more
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