Series: Mary Hartman Mary Hartman

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (sometimes abbreviated as MHMH or MH2) is a soap opera developed by Norman Lear in 1976. The show is set in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio, and revolves around a neighborhood of lower-middle-class characters, including perpetually frazzled Housewife Mary Hartman (Louise Lasser), her emotionally distant husband Tom (Greg Mallavey), her "serial monogamist" sister Cathy (Debralee Scott), and her wannabe country-western-singer friend Loretta (Mary Kay Place), as well as a multitude of supporting characters. Soap opera cliches, such as adultery and over-the-top character deaths, are often satirized in absurdist ways on the show, but they are just as often used for genuine dramatic effect, making Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman more of a Dramedy than a flat-out farce. Following the departure of series star Louise Lasser, after two seasons and 325 episodes, the show was retooled as Forever Fernwood in 1978.


This show provides examples of:

  • Black Comedy: Mass murder, adultery, indecent exposure, drowning in a bowl of chicken soup ... and that's just the first season.
  • Crapsack World: Crapsack Fernwood, Ohio, at least. Despite the capacity for absurdist humor, this show also has the capacity to be downright grim.
  • Daddy's Girl: Heather Hartman, Mary's daughter, adores her father and is openly antagonistic towards her mother. May be somewhat justified, since Mary is by no means Mother of the Year.
  • May-December Romance: Despite the big difference in their ages, Charlie and Loretta Haggers arguably have the happiest marriage in all of Fernwood.