The Mary Tyler Moore show wasn’t just a landmark for its single career-gal heroine or for inventing the workplace-as-family sitcom, but also for being one of the first scripted TV shows (along with Moore’s previous sitcom, The Dick Van Dyke Show) to make TV itself its subject. Every episode gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the news is actually put together at the WJM newsroom in Minneapolis.
From Mary to Murray to Lou, everyone seems surprisingly good at their jobs – with the notable exception of anchorman Ted, he of the stentorian voice, perfect hair, and empty noggin. (No doubt a collective “Whaaa?” echoed through the land during the show’s 1977 finale, when new station management fired everyone but Ted.) WJM was also a newsroom with very little interoffice dating; Mary and Lou go on one awkward date, but the two feel too much like relatives to let a seemingly incestuous relationship develop. For all the WJM newsroom’s jokey camaraderie, real journalism sometimes gets committed, and Mary even goes to jail briefly rather than reveal a source.