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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 ABC 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:

  • Absentee Actor: Ted Bessell doesn't appear in the second or third episodes of season one even though he's billed in the opening credits.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • Advertisement:
    • 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.
  • The Danza: In "Break a Leg", George Carlin plays Ann's agent, George.
    • Ann's father, Lew, is played by Lew Parker.
  • 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.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Ann somehow managed the rent on a nicely decorated, fairly roomy Manhattan apartment while working at mostly low paying temp jobs.
  • Pie in the Face: Ann takes one on a Laugh In type show (after some vacillating on whether or not to accept the potentially humiliating role).
  • Recurring Extra: The late actor Ed Peck played five different characters in all five seasons.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Family Guy did a full blown parody of the opening credits with Peter Griffin as That Guy.
    • As did The Simpsons in the episode "The Old Man and the Lisa," with Monty Burns chasing Lisa around Springfield. She even flies a kite with a monogram of herself in a mock-up of Central Park.
    • Animaniacs did it to, with Wakko as "That Kid."
    • Arthur did a parody with "That Miss Muffy", which also homaged the Mary Tyler Moore intro.
    • Rocko's Modern Life did a parody with Mrs. Bighead after she got an accidental nose job.
    • Saturday Night Live did a recurring sketch starring Danitra Vance as "That Black Girl", complete with a spoof of the opening credits.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: And Ann tries for stardom.
  • 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, Hopefully".
  • Title Drop: Once an Episode, as a kind of Couch Gag.
  • 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."


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