Hank Stuever's Reviews > Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
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Apr 16, 2013

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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 impact of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," I kept coming back to that dreaded book-review word: "uneven." There are some great stories in here, well-reported, clearly organized. It's sort of enthralling to read along as the MTM Show (and the subsequent MTM juggernaut of sitcoms and drama) come together and recover from a disastrous start.

But the writing is often clunky, especially in long passages that try to put the whole thing in a social context. There is also a lot of stating-the-obvious. The book recovers near the end when detailing the afterlife of the show and its actors, then dips back down into term-paper talk and pop-contextualizing. This book felt like it was one more edit away from finished, but it was worth reading.
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Reading Progress

April 16, 2013 – Shelved
May 2, 2013 – Started Reading
May 27, 2013 – Finished Reading

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