Thursday, February 02, 2017
Mary Tyler Who?
Mary Tyler Moore was a big enough celebrity that several major networks devoted hour tributes to her (even some that only used Oprah sparingly). If you knew who Mary Tyler Moore was it was a big deal. More than just a beloved entertainer, she helped paved the way for feminism in the 1970’s. She affected people’s lives.
And today’s generation can’t quite place the name.
At first that is shocking. And then again it’s not. How would they know who Mary Tyler Moore is? THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, in my humble old school opinion is one of the finest sitcoms ever produced. It hit all the targets – consistently laugh-out-loud funny, characters you cared about, and groundbreaking subject matter that helped shape society in a positive way. For the sake of convenience, they should have just held the Emmy award ceremony on the MTM set in the ‘70s.
But for whatever reason the show didn’t age well. And storylines that were somewhat revolutionary back then – a single woman working, a single woman spending a night at a man’s apartment, a single woman on the pill, a single woman fighting for equality in a man’s world – those stories no longer have the same punch. The series feels and looks a little dated. So the bottom line is you don’t see THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW in syndication as much. It’s on nostalgia channels and streaming services but you have to really seek it out. By the way, it’s WORTH seeking out.
We always say in tributes that these performers will live on forever, but that’s really not true. Some do. They’re the fortunate ones whose body of work is still being seen and appreciated. Lucy. Bogart. Cary Grant. Sinatra. Or they’re Hollywood Babylon – Marilyn Monroe.
And it’s hard to imagine that someone who could be SO famous, SO beloved, SO known by 100% of the population could be virtually forgotten in only twenty or thirty years. How many people under forty know who Bob Hope was? Or Jack Benny? Or Johnny Carson? And again, how would they?
How long do the Beatles have? Or Elvis? Or Michael Jackson?
What big stars from today will live on fifty years? Or, for that matter, other than THE SIMPSONS, what current show will even survive fifty years? Who will join that I LOVE LUCY, MASH pantheon? 2 BROKE GIRLS? I don't think so.
I’ll extend the question to semi-current shows. So FRIENDS? Maybe. CHEERS and FRASIER? I hope but don’t know. CHEERS has already lasted thirty years so it’s getting there. SEINFELD? I’d give better odds on FRIENDS.
Of course when we were making MASH we never thought the show would still be around today. We would have been paralyzed writing it if we did. But it’s a little unsettling to think that shows or people who can be so ingrained in popular culture and so adored by the entire world could be forgotten in a few short decades. Or in the case of Mary Tyler Moore, forgotten even while she was alive.
Homer Simpson will outlive all of us.