That Girl and Mary Richards.

My husband is all verklempt about how everyone is saying Mary Richards was the first modern woman-- single and working-- when That Girl preceded her. For sure Ann Marie was a trailblazer in sitcoms. She was the first single woman who had her own show. But she was cute and adorable and had a fiance who tolerated her shenanigans.

But Mary Richards-- she was single for real. There was no man. She wasn’t cutesy. There wasn’t a man in the wings ready to catch her when her womanly wiles didn’t work.

Ann Marie is an icon and we should not forget about her. I hope when Marlo dies we all remember her groundbreaking character and give her her dues. But Mary Richards was a the real breakaway character.

You won’t get an argument from me. It always seemed like both Ann Marie’s parents and her boyfriend were a huge safety net ready to grab her if things blew up. Frankly, I thought That Girl wasn’t much of a step up from 50’s career-gal shows like Our Miss Brooks and the various Ann Sothern and Gale Storm sitcoms.

Not to mention that MTM was better conceived, better written, better acted and funnier.

If I recall correctly, even though Ann Marie had her own apartment and a job, her father was always butting in to control her life.

I think in one episode after another, the plot line revolved around the father suspecting that the boyfriend was trying to have sex with his daughter and had him barging into her apartment and trying to prevent it.

For some reason, one episode stands out in my mind: Ann Marie and her boyfriend attended another couple’s wedding. They were driving the other couple to a country hotel. A snowstorm developed. The hotel had only two rooms available. The hotel clerk suggested that the men could stay in one room and the women in another. This was unacceptable on the other couple’s wedding night.

With much consternation, they decided that Ann Marie and her boyfriend could share a room and he would sleep on the floor. In the morning, Ann Marie got up early to shower and told the BF he could use the bed. He got into bed, when her father burst into the room and assumed they had slept together. Hilarity ensued.

Gotta agree… That Girl was nearly as much about Don as about Ann Marie.

It’s a bit like The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., where the show was nearly as much about Mark as it was about April. The producers and networks didn’t have the courage to have the woman as a solo (if you will pardon the allusion) role.

I remember that episode well. What struck me was that Ann was utterly repelled at the thought of her and Don sharing the bed.

You mean if things went AW-ree?

Well, they both dated Ted Bessell*. So there’s that comparison.

The shows differed considerably in how they represented single life. Mary “dated” a lot of different men. A lot. They came and went, rarely sticking around for more than one episode. (Bessell was in two, a rarity.)

And they made it clear she was sleeping with these men. (As they did with Rhoda.)

You are not “representing a single woman’s life” in that era if you don’t allow them a varied sex life, especially without judgment.

  • He later had a live in relationship with a chimp. Ewwww.

She and Joe were supposedly in love, but he quickly vanished like all the others. In one article I read (I don’t remember where), fans reacted negatively to him because he limited their ability to live vicariously through Mary Richards (whom her creator described as “promiscuous”).

The thing I always noticed about the guys Mary dated was that they looked like they’d just walked off the set of a cheap porn flick. But hey, it was the '70s, and a lot of guys looked like that!

I seem to remember a big to-do about Ann Marie going braless. I think that might have kick-starts puberty for me.

“Crispets”… that is all.

Swear to God, a week after the show debuted I had a dream in which she was naked. I was in fifth grade at the time! :o

The episode where she did a strip tease in front of a full-length mirror really had me going. (She was feeling insecure after a casting director told her she had no sex appeal. Of course, he eventually ended up hitting on her.)

Funny how she and Don could spend hours necking on her couch, but the thought of innocently sharing a bed with him rang all her alarm bells. It was like she was bent on being returned to her maker unopened. :frowning:

I remember this very well, because in the next episode, as she was preparing to leave home, her father commented on her wardrobe, saying “You came to us naked, I thought you might leave us naked.”

Sitting on the floor in our living room, I must have blushed beet red! :eek:

oh I remember when Ted Bessell came on MTM. I’d read something about how the producers wanted to give her a regular boyfriend and I thought, that’s who they picked? Yech. She’d dated a lot of spunky guys on the show. He was a throw back to an earlier era. I haven’t seen it in years but I remember his character just did not fit in.

We recently watched the entire run of MTM.

His character was a liar. He was seeing another woman and when Mary found out she forgave him and continued to see him. That is not Mary Richards. It didn’t work at all. There were a dozen guys she dated over the show that would have been reasonable long term beaus. Esp. Richard Schaal.

Schaal was on 5 times. 3 as ex/semi-boyfriend Howard Arnell. Once as Chuckles the Clown. (No, not that episode. No one played Chuckles in that episode.)

I think That Girl was a necessary step. Thomas was only the second woman, after Lucille Ball, to be involved in the production of her own tv show. She was bra-less, which was a big step forward. It was the first show about a single woman with her own career. And, the series finale didn’t end with a wedding, contrary to what the network wanted, because Thomas didn’t want the show to end with the message that marriage was the only natural goal for young women.

All of those were major changes from the sitcom world of the 60s.

I think this is the real reason MTM is remembered with such affection, and That Girl is more of a footnote. The ensemble cast, in particular, made MTM a success, and paved the way for similar shows, right down to TBBT and How I Met Your Mother.

You mean varshtaydict? “Varklempt” means choked up with emotion.

Interesting. When I google “varshtaydict” I only get two results: This thread and “Kovair Appoints Resellers - Higher Profit & Brand Values.”

I mean, how often can you google anything (even a made up word) and not get hundreds of pages of results, even if most of them are totally unrelated to what you are looking for? Reminds me of the early days of google.

Good work!

ETA" If it sounds like I am saying you made up that word, I apologize. Just pointing out that you have used a word that the internet has never heard of before!

I translate varkempt with “all choked up”. He was upset that they were giving Mary Richards acolades he thought should go to That Girl and was defending this position passionately. Also, I hate to say this bu,t ‘varkempt’ also conveys a kind of overdramatic not-so-serious emotional response. To me at least. What does “varshtaydict” mean?

I disagree. Mostly she dated dweebs, which is why they didn’t last. The only one I thought she fit with well was the Journalism instructor, Dan. Why she didn’t latch on to him, I don’t know.