Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, January 30, 2017

RIP, MTM 1-30-17

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Life and Faith for the Years of Winter

Why are so many of us grieving the passing of Mary Tyler Moore? Well, we all knew her. She was pretty and talented and smart, a good guest in our homes on a regular basis, mostly as Mary Richards, the associate producer at WJM-TV in Minneapolis, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s.

More, though, Mary Richards was an icon, folks say. As Richards, MTM took on the issues of sexuality and economics and role expectations for women in the aftermath of Vietnam and the 1960s in a way that was more palatable, and thus more productive, than the feminism of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem.

I enjoyed the humor of the show, as when Mr. Grant tried to explain to Mary that a man doing the same job as hers ought to make more money just because he was a man, but gender equality was not a real issue for me. I had two daughters. I was already convinced.

Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the show so much, not because it took on the issues those daughters would face, but because we shared it with our girls. Remembering MTM, I think of how we watched that show together. [1] Our daughters were just entering their teens. Mary Richards was a good role model for girls of that age, who were going to have to face challenges for which no one had any experience. Quietly but persistently, without sacrificing anything of what is central to being a woman, she insisted that a girl should be free in the same way as a boy to do whatever God gives you to do.

There’s another reason, though, that I didn’t think MTM was really iconic. She wasn’t any different from the girls I grew up with. She was only 37 days older than I. Had she lived in the poor white section of Indianapolis and not gone to a private girls school in California, we would have been in the same grade. Although I did not meet her [via TV] until we were in our early twenties, she could easily have been in my high school class in Oakland City. She had that great look about her, that sparkle, that “spunk” that Mr. Grant so deplored. [2] She would have been very popular in our class, but she would not have been either the prettiest girl or the smartest girl there. She would have been just one more girl I was madly in love with and afraid to ask for a date.

That’s plenty enough reason to mourn her passing. RIP, MTM


I tweet as yooper1721.

1] We watched the whole CBS Saturday night lineup. Along with MTM, there was All In the Family, MASH, The Carol Burnett Show, The Bob Newhart Show. It’s hard to believe there ever was or ever will be a single evening with a whole series of shows of that quality.

2] Mr. Kell, our principal, was an excellent man, but he would probably have deplored that spunkiness, too.

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