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Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic Hardcover – May 7, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A rich chronicle of women making history." (TheAtlantic.com)

"Poor dead Chuckles the Clown might be squirting seltzer water down the angels’ robes, but as long as intelligent comedy has a role in our lives, the chuckles and change that “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” wrought will never die. And Armstrong, in this smart and charming history, shows us why." (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

"This is a wonderful book. It takes us backstage with a keen insight on the writing, directing and casting of one of the best television shows, ever. I didn't want it to end, any more than I wanted The Mary Tyler Moore Show to end." (Carol Burnett, author of Carrie and Me)

"I tried to skim this book, but failed miserably, finding I couldn't put it down. In case you're wondering how we got from I Love Lucy to Girls, the answer is: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show, stupid!" Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's deft weave of social history and sharp entertainment reporting explains how this revolutionary show made the world safe for Lena Dunham." (Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls)

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted hurt my face. Jennifer Armstrong brought back memories and laughs from one of the best eras in television. She made me stay up all night and by the morning my face hurt from smiling. I forgive her because I enjoyed the book so much. (Gail Parent, author of Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York)

"Pop-culture gold: a can't-put-it-down history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the misfit genius women (and men) who made it. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is essential reading if you love The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or TV comedy wizards, or things that are awesome." (Gavin Edwards, author of 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy)

“Fast-paced and charming…Armstrong’s absorbing cultural history offers the first in-depth look at a series that changed television.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Delicious… For any fan of the show or TV history in general, this book is pure pleasure.” (Kirkus (starred review))

About the Author

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She writes about pop culture for several publications, including The New York Times Book Review, Fast Company, New York‘s Vulture, BBC Culture, Entertainment Weekly, and others. She grew up in Homer Glen, Illinois, and now lives in New York City. Visit her online at JenniferKArmstrong.com.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451659202
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451659207
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. I. Farmer on May 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The title is a little misleading. In this sparkling, revealing, and wise portrait of one of the best and most significant TV sitcoms, the focus isn't on Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. It's on Jim and Susan and Treva and Allan and many more - the producers and writers who animated "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

In that sense alone, the book is as revolutionary as the show was; most old-TV nostalgia dwells on celebrity memories. (There's been one of those books written about this show already, "Love is All Around.") But here, author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong knows television is really made by the creatives and show-runners and network executives behind the cameras, and the portrait she provides of the show's birth pangs and mostly happy seven seasons is nothing short of fascinating.

Mary Richards of WJM was, in turns out, a walking pastiche of real-life stories from real-life women given a creative voice in TV for the first time. We see the step-by-step genesis of the program's premise, tone, and characters, shepherded by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, who, perhaps uniquely in 1970 Hollywood, recruited smart creative feminists -- some right out of college -- and generously assigned them storytelling power.

We are reminded how radical "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was for the moment: daring to make Mary independent, interested in but not obsessed by men, alluding subtly to her offscreen sex life and, occasionally, her loneliness and self-doubt. (There had already been a gutsy-for-its-time sitcom about a single woman, "That Girl," but Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie was a sexy, ditsy kewpie doll - and clearly still a virgin.) It was this honesty, yet unseen on TV and terrifying to most CBS execs, that made men fall in love with Mary and women want to be Mary.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I downloaded the Kindle edition of "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted" on a Monday and (sadly) finished it by Wednesday night. I couldn't stop. All I wanted to do was read this book. And now that I've finished - literally just moments ago - all I want to do is start it all over again and put on DVDs of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the background.

I was in high school when the show started and immediately liked it. In 1976 I got a job in the mailroom of a TV station in St. Louis and a few years later moved into the programming department where one of my jobs was to preview all of the 16mm prints of the syndicated "Mary Tyler Moore Show" before they aired. I would sit all day watching the whole week's shows and couldn't believe that I got paid to do that. I must have watch each episode at least five times. And I never tired of them. I now have them on DVD -- and still don't tire of them.

For the past 30 years I've been a TV news cameraman. I'm often asked what it's like to work in TV news and I tell everyone that the most authentic depiction of TV news was "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Not for the Ted Baxter character, but for the co-workers, the sense of family. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" depicted TV news as a job where it wasn't "big stories" and investigative reporting, but where it was simply going to work every day with people you genuinely like and respect, and then you leave and go on with your lives. Then the next day you come back into work again. That's what working in TV news really is and what "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" got so right.

This was also reflected in this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The new season had started. On Monday September 14, 1970, Richard Burton was masquerading as a plumber and Lucy got Elizabeth Taylor's ring stuck on her finger. Doris Day became a secretary and managed to snag a pied-a-terre apartment which was superbly decorated and matched her designer ensemble outfits.

The closest television approached anything that might pass for reality was Julia and even there you had a nurse supporting herself and a young son while still living above any unmarried mother's means.

But on Saturday September 19, CBS put on a program which changed the face of comedy, if not our own views on everything. It did it through talent and focusing on reality, not the improbable.

When James L. Brooks and Allan Burns (urged by Grant Tinker, Mary Tyler Moore's husband) unveiled their concept for a situation comedy, the CBS brass were less than enthusiastic. In fact, they fought the entire production company staff every step of the way.

Mary Richards was single and OVER THIRTY? At the moment, few (if any) television leads were women, never mind single! And, to complicate matters, she was not desperate to get married. Her best friend, Rhoda, was definitely not a WASP. She too was the trifecta of doom - single, over thirty and overweight.

Adding to the network's unhappiness you had to toss in Brooks and Burns other insane ideas - the show would take place in Minneapolis (not New York or LA), the main characters apartment would be in accordance (somewhat)with what a working girls salary could afford, and they would be softly attacking television's sacred cow - the news.

As punishment, CBS put the MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW in their death knoll spot - Saturday night. Remember, this was 1970.
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