The Mary Tyler Moore Show



Classic '70s comedy reflects women's liberation era.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show represents a turning point in how the media presents female characters, centering on a liberated thirtysomething career woman who isn't looking to be someone's wife. Her surrounding characters treat her with varying levels of respect based on their opinions about women in the workplace, but she wins them over with her aptitude for the job and her kindness. Over the course of its seven-year run, the show addressed serious issues like divorce, death, addiction, infidelity, and discrimination, all in a thoughtful (but ultimately humorous) manner.

Positive role models

Mary represents the first round of modern career women; she's independent, self-sufficient, and hard-working. She seeks out romantic relationships, but isn't willing to sacrifice her goals for a man's, and she leans on her friendships for quality companionship. Her male coworkers don't always exercise decorum in her presence, but she forms close friendships with them over time. Quirky character types (a promiscuous woman, an incompetent news anchor) are a major part of the show's laughs.

Not applicable

Innuendo and double entendres are as racy as the content gets. Several characters' sexual escapades are implied, but nothing beyond kissing is shown onscreen. Men comment on women's figures in terms that would be unacceptable in the modern workplace, as when Mary's boss tells her that she has "a great caboose."


Occasionally "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mixed drinks and liquor are present in most social gatherings and in the workplace, where the boss keeps a stash in his desk drawer. Some characters show signs of overindulgence (hangovers, drunken slurred speech, etc.). The issue of addiction arises in an episode that shows Mary overcoming her dependence on sleeping pills.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a '70s sitcom that reflects the gender relations of a time that saw the birth of the "career woman." Sexual remarks, crudity, and drinking are present in the workplace in a manner that wouldn't be acceptable today. On the other hand, contrary to today's primetime standards, there's very little strong language, minimal physical contact, and nothing beyond double entendres of a general sexual nature. All of the supporting characters are well-meaning, but have their shortcomings (one drinks a lot, another's promiscuity is the subject of multiple wisecracks), but Mary shines as TV's first single, career-oriented leading lady and reminds viewers of some of the challenges met by her real-world counterparts. Tweens likely won't see the humor in this show, but teens who can put the content in its rightful place in history might enjoy it.

What's the story?

THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW centers on Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), a 30-year-old single woman who moves to Minneapolis to start a new life after a romantic break-up. There she reacquaints with Phyllis (Cloris Leachman), who rents her a room, and meets her upstairs neighbor, Rhoda (Valerie Harper), who becomes her best friend. Mary unexpectedly lands a job as associate producer at the TV station WJM, where she works alongside her bristly boss, Lou (Ed Asner); the comical newswriter, Murray (Gavin MacLeod); and the newscast's often-incompetent anchor, Ted (Ted Knight). Later seasons saw the addition of sharp-tongued Sue Ann (Betty White) to the newsroom, and the eventual departure of Leachman and Harper to their own individual spin-off series. The show cultivated its comedy from workplace relationships, family issues, and the characters' quirky personality traits.

Is it any good?


First airing in 1970, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the first TV series to present an entirely modern female character, reflecting the changing American society and women's growing freedom from the traditional expectations of marriage and family. The series opens with her opting out of a romantic relationship that didn't suit her emotional needs, choosing instead a career and her independence. It's not always an easy path to blaze, and she encounters her fair share of naysayers, discrimination, and self-doubt, but her determination to make it work is reminiscent of an entire generation of motivated young women who knocked down barriers in the workplace.

Insightful, endearing, and humorous at every turn, this classic continues to hold a place atop all-time TV favorites, thanks to a collectively superb cast and the writers' willingness to cultivate substantial content that continues to be relevant decades later. Though our tolerance toward some of the issues has changed (strong female leads are now commonplace, as is sexual liberation and marital infidelity that makes headlines in this '70s show, for instance), the difference in how this show and modern ones portray them can prompt lively discussion with your teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the nature of gender equality today. How far has our society evolved from the time of the women's liberation movement? Is gender equality truly conceivable in every career?

  • Watch some later series with career-oriented female characters and discuss how the presentation of gender relations has changed over time. Do the women in these more modern series face any of the same obstacles evident in The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

  • Explore various comedy styles. What role does crudity, sensationalism, and stereotyping play in some of these forms? Where is the line between acceptable and offensive content?

TV details

Cast:Ed Asner, Mary Tyler Moore, Ted Knight
Topics:Friendship, Great girl role models
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Kids might not get memorable '90s sitcom.
  • 80s fave about single moms, friendship, and fun.
  • Funny senior housemates crack wise; teens and up.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byLilWeiWei December 8, 2013

Who can turn the world on with her smile? (Hint: It's Mary!)

I started watching this show as an 8 year old. I didn't remember much of it before I started watching again recently, simply because nothing other than I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched interested me. This show is chocked full of role models and morals, along with lots of humor, and of course, from seasons 1-5(?), the beautiful Valerie Harper! I don't know what the CSM reviewer, Emily Ashby, means that there is sex in the show. There's none at all! In fact, it's a running joke in the series that no one can get a date, yet alone have intercourse! Like I said, the show has great role models. Mary stands up for what she believes in, and stands up when something is wrong or immoral. Rhoda teaches us that we are ALL self-conscious of ourself, and that we all have imperfect families. Lou has no valuable lessons for children, but he's not a bad guy. Ted and Georgette have lessons in parenting (So, again, nothing for the kids). Murray teaches us to be nice to everyone in our lives (Even if he isn't always nice), even our own Ted Baxters (And God knows we all have one!) Sue Ann teaches us that it's unappealing (And unappreciated by men and women alike) to be promiscuous. Phyllis teaches teens and young adults that it's unappealing and unkind to be mean and stuck up. This show is wonderful for anyone who can keep up with a sitcom, honestly, and I think that's ages 8 and up.
What other families should know
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byChrism1 November 20, 2013

I love it

What other families should know
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide