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Modern Day Females: The Mary Tyler Moore Show

2225 words - 9 pages

In American culture today, women continue the struggle of identifying what their roles in society are supposed to be. Our culture has been sending mixed messages to the modern day female, creating a sense of uneasiness to an already confusing and stressful world. Although women today are encouraged more than ever to be independent, educated, and successful, they are often times shamed for having done just that. Career driven females are frequently at risk of being labeled as bossy, unfeminine, or selfish for competing in many career paths that were once dominated by men. A popular medium in our culture such as television continues to have significant influences as to how people should aspire ...view middle of the document...

She gets a job at a male dominant newsroom at WJM-TV as associate producer. Mary’s new boss, Lou Grant, admits that he thought the position would have ultimately been filled by a man, but hires Mary for less pay than what the position was advertised for. In the first episode Mary wonders why she was even hired in the first place and her new male colleague, “Murry Slaughter, tells her explicitly that she will be their ‘token woman’…. Mary does not begin her job with the presumption of equality; rather, she will have to earn it.” (Dow 31) Bonnie Dow, author of Prime-time Feminism, notes that it is meaningful to acknowledge that Mary recognizes that her gender makes a difference, but it is also meaningful that “Mary accepts this situation with good humor, and is grateful for the job.” This kind of situation becomes a trademark of Mary, “she is a woman sophisticated enough to recognize sexism when she sees it, but she is not necessarily assertive enough to do anything about it.” (Dow 31) This show becomes influential in the 1970’s because it is the first of its kind to embrace social change. Mary is removed from the traditional female dominated private sphere of domestic life in the home, and is put in the male dominated public sphere of office life. However, within the public sphere that Mary is in, she maintains a traditional essence of the private sphere by becoming the office mother, sister, and daughter figure to many her colleagues. Mary Richards is “making it on her own”, but the show still projects a message to women that encourages them to continue to fulfill their traditional female roles as caretakers and nurturers at home as well as at work. Mary Richards’ character is a “combination of girl next door sweetness” and being a confident independent career driven woman “that allowed The Mary Tyler Moore Show to ride the currents of social change, endorsing modernity at the same time as it hallows tradition.”(Dows 25)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show has influenced many workplace sitcoms since its run between 1970- 1977, including another popular work place comedy called Murphy Brown.
The show was a product of the growing minority of powerful female producers and writers in the 1980’s. Murphy Brown, like Mary Richards, works for a news broadcasting firm, but unlike Mary, Murphy has none of the nurturing feminine qualities that was so common for televisions female characters of its time. Murphy is a woman in a “man’s world”. “She does not achieve success by playing a domestic role in the work place; rather she has adapted successfully to the masculine culture of television journalism and made her way to the top of her profession through rugged individualism.” (Dow 140) Murphy’s boss and executive producer of the network she works for, Miles Silveberg, is much younger and incredibly inexperienced at his job which creates animosity and annoyance for the intelligent, career driven news anchor. Murphy is often times described as having a male persona in...

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