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13 Times 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' Revolutionized Television

Following Mary Tyler Moore's death on Jan. 25, look back on the important strides she helped make in television.

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When They Put A Strong, Independent Woman On Screen

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Not only did Mary Tyler Moore headline her own sitcom, but the show was one of the first to feature a never-married working woman as its central character. She played Mary Richards, a single, 30-year-old TV news producer who was both brazenly outspoken and fiercely independent.

When Mary Didn't Need No Man

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In one of the very first episodes, Mary's ex showed up at her apartment hoping to win her back. After she turned him down, he told her to "take care of herself" as he was leaving. Her response? "I think I just did." Bye, Felicia.

When Mary Stood Up For Women Who Don't Want Children

Even in 1974, Mary made it clear that she wasn't here for men dictating what women did with their bodies. If a woman didn't want a kid, that was her prerogative, and damn if a man was going to question that.

When Mary Fought For Equal Pay

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The gender wage gap has been a hot topic in Hollywood as of late, but Mary was an OG when it came to asking for her rightful cut. Upon discovering her male co-worker had been making $50 more than her per week, she marched right into her boss's office to confront him. Skip to the 3:50 mark to watch her stand up for her work.

When Mary Was Frank About Her Sexuality

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When Mary's co-worker tried to tell her she may not be "experienced" enough to mentor young women, she wasn't shy about her sexual history. "I’m hardly innocent. I’ve been around. Well, all right I might not have been around. But I’ve been nearby," she said, showing women don't have to be married to have a sex life. Scroll to the 3:30 mark to watch.

When Mary Was Open About Birth Control

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show slipped a casual remark about birth control into a season three episode. As Mary's mother was heading out the door, she called back, "Don't forget to take your pill," to which both Mary and her father both shouted, "I won't!" It's a subtle mention, but it proved the series was willing to bring up issues many others weren't. Catch it around 18:38.

When It Made Casual Sex OK

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One day, Mr. Grant (Ed Asner) came into the office feeling ashamed about a one night stand, but Mary wasn't phased. "I think you're really being much too hard on yourself. So you were with someone, so what? What's done is done," she said. That may be par for the course on modern television, but it was a big deal in the '70s, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show helped demonstrate there was nothing wrong with two consenting adults sharing an overnight fling.

When Mary Got Hers, Too

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When Moore starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show, she and her TV husband had been made to sleep in separate beds. But the Mary writers made sure to squash the outdated notion that women — especially single women — had to be chaste. In a season six episode, Mary went out on a date and returned home the next morning in the same clothes. Check it out at 15:30.

When Mary Called Out Misogynist Interview Questions

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After her potential employer inappropriately hounded her with personal questions like her age and marital status, Mary didn't hesitate to challenge him, and you best believe she got the job. Watch her stand her ground at 5:30.

When Mary Rocked A Pantsuit

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Moore pushed for her character to wear capris and flats on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and she carried it over here. Mary flaunted plenty of skirts and dresses, but she wasn't afraid to pull out a power suit.

When Rhoda's Date Was Gay

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Adding to the show's inclusion of then-taboo characters, Rhoda (Valerie Harper) once went out with Phyllis' (Cloris Leachman) gay brother (Robert Moore), and they were both totally fine with it. Watch their exchange around 23:30.

When It Put Women Behind Camera, Too

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In 1973, 25 of the Mary Tyler Moore Show's 75 writers were women — an unprecedented number for a sitcom, according to The Atlantic. One early hire was Treva Silverman, who went on to become the first solo female writer to win an Emmy for comedy writing.

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