"My name is Rhoda Morgenstern. I was born in the Bronx, New York, in December 1941. I've always felt responsible for World War II. The first thing I remember liking that liked me back was food. I had a bad puberty — it lasted 17 years. I'm a high school graduate. I went to art school. My entrance exam was on a book of matches. I decided to move out of the house when I was 24; my mother still refers to this as the time I ran away from home. Eventually I ran to Minneapolis, where it's cold, and I figured I'd keep better. Now I'm back in Manhattan. New York, this is your last chance!"
of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
that ran on CBS
from 1974 to 1978. Created by The Mary Tyler Moore Show
creators James L. Brooks
and Allan Burns, this Sitcom
followed Mary's best friend Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) as she moved from Minneapolis to her native New York City
to be with the man of her dreams, good-looking divorcÚ Joe Gerard (David Groh), whom she marries midway through the first season. Other characters include Rhoda's perpetually self-deprecating sister Brenda (Julie Kavner
), their parents: meddling Jewish Mother
Ida (Nancy Walker) and Closer to Earth
father Martin (Harold Gould), and Carlton, the never-seen
doorman in her building.
The show became famous as an example of the disaster that can befall a show when They Do
too soon. CBS chief programmer Fred Silverman forced the writers to marry Rhoda to Joe as soon as possible, with the reasoning that getting her married at last would result in huge ratings. He was right about the ratings: the special one-hour wedding episode
was one of the most-watched TV events in history. Unfortunately, however, the writers were now finding it increasingly difficult to write stories about a happily-married Rhoda, often instead writing episodes showcasing Walker's comedic performance as Ida, or focusing on Brenda's problems including her on-again, off-again relationship with accordion player Nick Lobo (Richard Masur). Eventually, they decided that Rhoda's appeal came from her status as an insecure single woman. A series of Re Tools
thus ensued, with Rhoda getting separated and divorced from Joe, which caused the show's popularity to plummet. It managed to last for over 100 episodes, but it never got back the popularity of its early years. Even Silverman later admitted that having Rhoda marry Joe so soon was a mistake.
This show provides examples of:
- Catch Phrase: "Hello, this is Carlton, your doorman."
- Christmas Episode: "Guess What I Got You for the Holidays" is kind of an interesting example, in that it's never specified whether Rhoda and Joe are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, or both.
- Creator Cameo: Lorenzo Music, who developed and ran the show with his writing partner David Davis, found a new career as a voice actor after ending his voice to Carlton the Doorman.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rhoda and Brenda.
- Happily Married: Rhoda and Joe were supposed to be this in the first two seasons, but the writers had trouble making it convincing.
- Informed Judaism: Rhoda's Jewishness is considerably de-emphasized compared with her portrayal on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This was presumably done to make the character (and her relationship with the non-Jewish Joe) more acceptable to "mainstream" audiences.
- Jewish Mother: Ida.
- Matzo Fever: Rhoda's relationship with Joe could be considered a mild example.
- The Merch: Music recorded a song named "Who Is It?" in character as Carlton.
- New Year Has Come: "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"
- Progressively Prettier: Brenda dresses better and gets more dates as the show goes on, mirroring Rhoda's own progress on the parent show.
- Put on a Bus: Nancy Walker and Harold Gould both left the show during season 3: Walker to headline Blansky's Beauties and The Nancy Walker Show on ABC; Gould to star in The Feather and Father Gang on NBC. Both returned the following year after their respective programs ended up failing.
- Season 4 opens with the revelation that Rhoda has divorced Joe, who's never seen again.
- Replacement Flat Character: Brenda is basically everything Rhoda was on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, with the same low self-esteem and Deadpan Snarker tendencies. Lampshaded in the pilot by Rhoda, who says that looking at Brenda is "like looking in a four year-old mirror."
- Required Spinoff Crossover: Mary appears in several episodes, and almost the whole The Mary Tyler Moore Show cast (minus Ted and Sue Ann) shows up for Rhoda's wedding.
- Re Tool: Several. The last year of the show even had Rhoda going to work for a crusty but Benevolent Boss who was the writers' obvious attempt to re-create the Mary/Lou Grant relationship from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- They Do: Rhoda and Joe.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Rhoda herself, in a way; the pilot episode has her staying with Brenda for a "two-week vacation", but things change once she meets Joe.
- The Voice: Carlton is heard on the intercom but never seen (save for a couple times when he appears as The Faceless).
- Wedding Day: One of the most famous episodes of this type.