Are You a Mary or a Rhoda?

nonamePeople have asked me this several times while I’ve been promoting Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. I like this question, which somehow encompasses the fun, the fashion, and the intense identity politics at the core of The Mary Tyler Moore Show for women. My answer, for the record, is that I am a Rhoda, and have always wanted to be a Rhoda. When I first watched the show, and then the spinoff Rhoda, when I was about 4 or 5, I used to love wearing scarves around my head to mimic Rhoda. Even then, I responded to her outspoken attitude and artsy, free spirit. I played Mary sometimes, too, but that just involved me sitting at a desk with office supplies. I believe I was quite a Mary growing up — a perpetual good girl, full of straight As and good graces and right answers. I suspect that’s why I loved Rhoda, and maybe why Mary loved Rhoda, too. She represented a freedom we good girls strove for, and struggled for.

I believe I’ve gotten to the promised Rhoda land, or at least closer to it, in my older age. Allowing the messiness of life into my existence helped. I left the long-term relationship I had once been bound and determined to make into the perfect marriage. I even left the day job with benefits to be a freelance writer and write a book about The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’ve embraced scarves in a big way after watching hours of my role model, Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern, wear her signature fashion on DVDs of both shows. I like that they remind me how far I’ve made it, after all.

You can see me wearing a scarf, in my own way, while leading a panel discussion this week with Mary Tyler Moore Show writers Susan Silver and Gloria Banta, along with superfan Joe Rainone, in the photo above. Do you have photos of yourself as a Mary or a Rhoda? Send them to me here and I’ll post them, or just tell us in the comments below whether you’re a Mary or a Rhoda.

There are lots of ways to show your inner Mary as well, as some fans are doing in these photos, whether you’re posing in front of Mary’s house or at the Mary statue in Minneapolis, or just choosing your daily wardrobe with Mary in mind:

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2 comments

  1. I would love to say I’m a Mary, but honestly, I think Rhoda is def. closer to a lot of us. As Valerie says, “Mary’s who you want to be, Rhoda’s who you prob. are, and Phyllis is who you’re afraid you’ll become”! 😉

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