Sitcoms have always been avenues of escapism for audiences all over the world. Whether it’s the antics of Lucy Ricardo on I Love Lucy, or the goofiness of Two and a Half Men, sitcoms deliver lots of laughs to both young and old.
The genre of the situation comedy has had its ups and downs since the invention of television. Much like today, there were times in history when people felt that the sitcom was on its way toward obscurity.
This sentiment was definitely true during the mid-1960s when the sitcom became the “anything goes” format. It was during this time period that the traditional sitcoms that focused on domestic situations like Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and The Donna Reed Show were turned on their heads, and satirical versions of the genre began to take their place.
The Munsters, The Addams Family, and Bewitched took the family sitcom conventions and gave them a satirical and supernatural spin. But the idea of adding fantasy and zaniness to the sitcom formula took viewers to places that they had never been before, for better or worse.
It was during the era of The Munsters that audiences ere overloaded with fantastical and wacky concepts, stories, and characters on series like Mr. Ed, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, and the infamous My Mother the Car. Primarily aimed at younger audiences and always playing it safe, the shows become more like live-action cartoons, and the result was at times hilarious but other times mad a mockery out of the networks that aired them.
CBS earned the name of the Country Broadcasting Station due to its rural-themed series that included Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Mayberry RFD. Sick of their new title, CBS swept their schedule of these types of series and decided to give audiences sitcoms with a more contemporary and adult-oriented tone.
Enter All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, series that revamped the genre of the sitcom by exploring topical and sometimes controversial subjects in a comedic way.
While the primary instigator of controversial storylines was All in the Family (which featured the first toilet flush on TV among other things), The Mary Tyler Moore Show dealt with issues of sexism, dating, sex, and adultery, all things you’d never see on an episode of Beverly Hillbilllies.
The Mary Tyler Moore show is an iconic series from the rebirth of the sitcom. The show was a powerhouse in the ratings, took home numerous awards, and is considered one of the top sitcoms of all time. The series explored the life of Mary Richards (Moore) a single woman living in Minneapolis who works as a news producer at the small TV station, WJM.
At WJM Mary’s colleagues include the crusty executive producer Lou Grant (Ed Asner), writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), pompous anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), and sportscaster Gordy (John Amos). They would later be joined by The Happy Homemaker Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White).
At home, Mary had two good friends, Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman). If you’re a fan of comedy, and are a fan of Betty White or Cloris Leachman, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a showcase of comedic talent from season one to its finale. Fans of White and Leachman should definitely check out “The Lars Affair” from season four. Comedy at its finest.
After seven years on the air, The Mary Tyler Moore Show went out in style and delivered a final season filled with classic TV moments and plenty of laughs and heart. It was a series popular enough to result in three spin-off series (Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant), and included the amazing comedic talents of Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Betty White, and Gavin MacLeod.
I also have the recommend what had become known as one of the funniest episodes of all-time, “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” from season six. If you don’t laugh there’s definitely something wrong with you.
If you don’t have time to sit down and watch every episode, here are my favorites from the final season:
Mary the Writer – Mary writes an article about her grandfather and wants Mr. Grant to critique it. But can she handle what he has to say?
Ted’s Change of Heart – After a heart attack on the air, Ted begins to see the world in a different light. But will his co-workers go along with his newfound change in attitude?
Mary’s Insomnia – Mary can’t sleep so she starts taking sleeping pills. Can Mr. Grant break her of her addictive habit? (By far my favorite of the season seven.)
Murray Ghosts for Ted – Ted gets an offer to write an article for the paper, but there’s one problem: he can’t write. When Murray agreed to write the article and Ted gets praise and lots of money, can Murray keep his mouth shut despite suspicions from his friends?
Lou Dates Mary – Like the title says. Will it be a match made in heaven?
The Last Show – One of the great final episodes, everyone but Ted finds themselves fired by the new station manager. The last few minutes of this episode are classic TV.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is the sitcom at its finest. Lots of laughs, great performances, and plenty of classic moments you’ll never forget. I highly recommend The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Seventh Season on DVD.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Seventh Season is available NOW on DVD!
What’s your favorite sitcom of all time? Leave a comment and let us know!