Synopses & Reviews
When writer-producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns dreamed up an edgy show about a divorced woman with a career, the CBS executives they pitched replied: “American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a series’ lead any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York.”
Forty years later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most beloved and recognizable television shows of all time. It was an inspiration to a generation of women who wanted to have it all in an era when everything seemed possible.
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted tells the stories behind the making of this popular classic, introducing the groundbreaking female writers who lent real-life stories to their TV scripts; the men who created the indelible characters; the lone woman network executive who cast the legendary ensemble — and advocated for this provocative show — and the colorful cast of actors who made it all work. James L. Brooks, Grant Tinker, Allan Burns, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel — they all came together to make a show that changed women’s lives and television itself. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is the tale of how they did it.
"Pop-culture gold: a can't-put-it-down history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the misfit genius women (and men) who made it. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is essential reading if you love The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or TV comedy wizards, or things that are awesome." Gavin Edwards, author of 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy
"This is a wonderful book. It takes us backstage with a keen insight on the writing, directing and casting of one of the best television shows, ever. I didn't want it to end, any more than I wanted The Mary Tyler Moore Show to end." Carol Burnett, author of Carrie and Me
"I tried to skim this book, but failed miserably, finding I couldn't put it down. In case you're wondering how we got from I Love Lucy to Girls, the answer is: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show, stupid!" Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's deft weave of social history and sharp entertainment reporting explains how this revolutionary show made the world safe for Lena Dunham." Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted hurt my face. Jennifer Armstrong brought back memories and laughs from one of the best eras in television. She made me stay up all night and by the morning my face hurt from smiling. I forgive her because I enjoyed the book so much." Gail Parent, author of Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York
“Delicious… For any fan of the show or TV history in general, this book is pure pleasure.” Kirkus (starred review)
“Fast-paced and charming…Armstrong’s absorbing cultural history offers the first in-depth look at a series that changed television.” Publishers Weekly
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 executives replied: “Americans won’t watch television about New York City, divorcees, men with mustaches, or Jews.” But Moore and her team were committed, and when the show finally aired, in spite of tepid reviews, fans loved it.
Jennifer Armstrong introduces readers to the show’s creators; its principled producer, Grant Tinker; and the writers and actors who attracted millions of viewers. As the first situation comedy to employ numerous women as writers and producers, The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a guiding light for women in the 1970s. The show also became the centerpiece of one of greatest evenings of comedy in television history, and Jennifer Armstrong describes how the television industry evolved during these golden years.
About the Author
Jennifer Armstrong is a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly and the author of Why? Because We Still Like You, a history of the original Mickey Mouse Club. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, Fox News Channel, and ABC, and her writing has been featured in Salon, MTV.com, Glamour, Budget Travel, and the Chicago Sun-Times. She also co-founded and continues to run SirensMag.com, an alternative online women's magazine. Her essays have appeared in the anthologies Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings, and Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest.