Mary Tyler Moore and the Song of “Making It” When the 70’s Weren’t Enough
My childhood was a collage of TV shows that were spurned through the interests of mom and dad. The choices back then were limited but great. I mean we’re talking Good Times, M*A*S*H, All In the Family, Sanford and Son, and of course The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
These nightly treats were introduced by theme music — playing in my head as I write this.
Good Times! You see the artwork and hear the crooning about “Keepin’ your head above water, Making a wave when you can.”
The verses mirrored the simplicity of life as demonstrated by my young parents as I watched them watching and laughing while I smiled and sat still.
I internalized the instrumental offerings of the other shows as they sifted through the egusi soup being prepared with love in the kitchen, where I was stationed — as my pregnant mother flittered around with short stops at the box on the shelf with black and white images.
Her disposition is melodious and I’m an excited 4-year-old who can’t wait to meet her baby brother. The commercials that nobody acknowledges — inspire me.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show! “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” “Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?”
That was mom!
She was the girl who would marry the guy she wasn’t sure about, but turned out to be the feminist who would prove how she could make it after all.
She loved Mary Tyler Moore, and I had to love the girl that threw her cap to the sky — because she gave me the best part of a childhood that was infectiously bipolar.
The 70’s were raw.
There was a ton of joy, but also loads of dysfunction, desperation, and improvised scrapbooks that depicted how an African immigrant can be gainfully employed, and while roaming the aisles of a grocery store, searching for thyme — he gets a police escort back home — because an employee was nervous.
I was tuned into the epicenter of an era that produced characters filled with the essence of what the present time seduced — with music and words. The beautiful brutality of exposure, through neatly strewn cornrows and the scene of a mother holding her daughter tightly as she silently cries and begs that they don’t skid down the basin of an ice-crusted hill.
Mommy and daddy made it.
He became a civilized civil servant and she ran a television network and managed the Nigerian version of TV Guide under the guidance and admiration of a man that wanted her to exceed him in all the ways that matter.
“This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone.”
My mom wasn’t alone, and neither was Mary Richards.
It was all about the woman with the dream that was big enough to inflate the beauty of being feminine and subtle enough to creep up with the desires of family — and extensions of what that means when you achieve and breathe at the same time.
The 70’s crowd had a lot of work to do — and they did it.
And Mary Tyler Moore had something to do with that.
It’s time to start living.