“Mary: Why are you smiling at me?
Lou: Because you just reaffirmed my faith in human nature.
Mary: You mean what I did wasn’t rotten?
Lou: Oh, no, that was rotten all right. It’s just nice to know that everyone’s rotten. Up to now, I thought you were one of the few holdouts.”The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Season 2: . . . Is a Friend in Need
I’ve been watching a lot of the Mary Tyler Moore show. Most of the episodes are up on youtube, though I think Hulu has it, too. There’s something really comforting about classic television, to me. MTM ages pretty well, all things considered. There are some cringe things, like how Valerie Harper’s Rhoda is considered the fat friend when she’s like, tiny, but all in all, I can see how it was an incredibly progressive show for it’s time and there are lines that still make me laugh out loud. Plus, I’ve always found any Betty White content comforting, even before she passed away and even more so now.
I think my favorite relationship is the one between Mary and Lou Grant. Partly because he’s a pessimist and she’s the forever optimist. Partly because he’s settled into his life of middle management and she comes in and livens up the place, makes him care about his job again. Partly because for as gruff as he is, he’s competent and does a great job nurturing her talent.
I think in this era of extreme workplace burnout, watching a workplace comedy where everyone cares and the boss isn’t the worst person in the building, soaking up a salary and taking up space, is like the ultimate fantasy.
I’ve also been watching old gameshows. Password, watching Betty White be so sweetly in love with her beloved husband, host Allen Ludden, but also being smart as a whip and cleaning house more often than not. I’ve watched some Match Game episodes too, but those have NOT aged well and I can’t in good conscience recommend those.
I guess it’s part nostalgia. I guess it’s part longing for “normal” times, even though I know we can’t get back to that, and have to figure out life moving forward. But I think it’s not too late to look at the things from the past that we love and that worked and carry them with us into this new, uncertain future.
Things like Mary’s independence and spunk. Lou’s ability to tell a great story, one that was ethical and true. Sue Ann’s agency and unapologetic zest for life’s pleasures.
Maybe we take with us drinking scotch midday at work, too, I dunno. Let’s think about it.