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Series / That Girl

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"... that girl!"
—The punchline to the Once an Episode Cold Opening gag.

The person who'll describe the show That Girl here will be... that troper!

An American sitcom that aired on American Broadcasting Company from 1966 to 1971, following the adventures of Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas), a budding actress who moved to New York City to make her big break into Broadway. Occasionally aided by her boyfriend Donald Hollinger (Ted Bessell), she attempted or was pulled into many different schemes in hopes of becoming a star, though later seasons focused on more formulaic sitcom situations.

Aside from the comedy aspect, That Girl is often viewed as the forerunner of other successful shows starring single women such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Murphy Brown. It also addressed the issues of its time, in its own unique style.

Most famous for the opening of every show, the "That girl!" Title Drop, accompanied by the title itself appearing at the bottom of the screen, with only a few variations over its five year run.

Those Tropes:

  • Animated Adaptation: That Girl in Wonderland, a 1973 Rankin/Bass special that put Ann in various fairy-tale heroine roles.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The railroad tracks shown in the opening credits actually take you out of New York and into New Jersey. The footage is played backwards so it looks like the train is moving into New York. If you look closely, you can see traffic moving backwards.
  • Artistic Title: The shots of Ann walking around New York.

  • Briefer Than They Think: The famous opening with lyrics, which has been parodied to death by pop culture, only appeared during the show's fifth (and final) season. The previous four seasons used an instrumental theme.

  • Babysitting Episode: "All's Well That Ends" and "Never Change a Diaper on Opening Night". "I Am Curious Lemon", though the charge in that episode is about eight years old, she brings along a rather high-maintenance lemon tree.
  • Big Applesauce: Outdoor scenes in later seasons that were supposed to take place in New York City, had obvious non New York features, such as Southern California Rapid Transit District buses.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Newsweek -> Newsview
    • William Morris Agency -> Gilliam and Norris Theatrical Agency
    • Lee Strasberg Institute -> Benedict Workshop of the Dramatic Arts
  • Break the Cutie: Usually, Ann, who responds to being broken with a frantic "You're a big meany" monologue where she's on the verge of tears.
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid" (Season 1) and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas, You're Under Arrest" (Season 2). The writer of the former, James L. Brooks, later wrote an episode for The Mary Tyler Moore Show called "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II".
  • Clip Show: Season four episodes "Fly By Night" and "Ugh, Wilderness" are actually a two-part episode about a trip Ann and Donald take in a small plane that goes wrong. "Fly By Night" is mostly a clip show, with Ann's life since she moved to New York flashing before her eyes as she thinks the plane is going to crash.
    • The series finale is also a clip show.
  • Daddy's Girl: Ann. She's very close with her father, and it's clear that he adores her (hence his overprotective tendencies).
  • Disguised in Drag: The subplot in "A Muggy Day in Central Park" has Donald doing this. He's intrigued by the police's undercover operations to bust muggers, so he volunteers to play a female role in order to write an article about it. Hilarity ensues, especially when Ann's father sees him in drag and on the arm of a guy (really the undercover police officer on the scene).
  • Episode on a Plane: Ann as stewardess on a flight to Florida in the episode "The Hi-Jack and the Mighty".
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Ann somehow managed the rent on a nicely decorated, fairly roomy Manhattan apartment while working at mostly low paying temp jobs.
  • Helicopter Parents: Ann's father, Lew Marie, who's always trying to find reasons to get Ann to leave New York and move back in with him and her mother. If he finds Donald in his daughter's apartment, he'll assume he's got some kind of degenerate behavior in mind, despite that being totally unlike Donald.
  • Murderous Mannequin: In the intro sequence, Ann playfully waves at a mannequin in a store window that looks just like her. The mannequin winks back.
  • Once an Episode: The "...that girl!" gag.
  • The Teaser: Setting up the plot and the title gag.
    • Including a cute aversion where Donald objects to one of Ann's ideas: "Oh you would think it a fine idea, and it is for that girl, but not This Man!" Cue title card and soundtrack.
    • Another example - A Russian man does the Title Drop in his native language, resulting in the title written out in Russian, with "(That Girl)" written underneath.
    • Likewise, an Italian opera singer does the same, only his version of the title caption morphs into English.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Thanksgiving Comes But Once a Year, Thankfully".
  • Title Drop: Once an Episode, as a kind of Couch Gag.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: The end of "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Nervous". Ann almost misses her train to Philadelphia because she and Donald are so caught up in their goodbye that they fail to notice she's boarding the wrong train until the last second.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: In this interview, Marlo Thomas acknowledges that there's no way Ann Marie could have afforded all those outfits.
  • Vapor Wear: Marlo Thomas stopped wearing a bra on the show when the braless look became fashionable. When the subject was brought up in an interview, her response was, "God created women to bounce, so be it. If I bounce, I'm glad to be a girl."