Estelle [played by Pippa Scott]: “Mary Richards. It's still Mary Richards, isn't it?”
Mary [played by Mary Tyler Moore]: “Yes, it's still Mary, too.”
Estelle: “So you've never been married, Mary?”
Mary: “No, Estelle, I haven't.”
Estelle: “I've been married twice.”
Rhoda Morgenstern [played by Valerie Harper]: “She liked it so much the first time!”—The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Season 2, Episode 7, “Didn't You Used to Be... Wait... Don't Tell Me,” air date Oct. 30, 1971, teleplay by Allan Burns, directed by Jay Sandrich
Following the recent death of Mary Tyler Moore, I felt that I needed another chance to re-experience the joy of her show. This particular episode—not really anything out of the ordinary for her sitcom’s seven-season run—nevertheless reminded me of the sly ways the show poked fun at the status quo—not just in the workplace, but in ordinary mores.
The idea of a vivacious, attractive woman still single in her early 30s would barely cause a lifted eyebrow now, but it was a Big Deal at the start of the Seventies. While Mary Richards might have preferred a change in her marital status, all else being equal, her famous “spunk” was a reminder to real-life women that being single was okay in the end. After all, “love” was all around—if you didn’t narrow the term, or your life choices.