The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Mary’s Insomnia

After Mary struggles with insomnia three times in one week, so goes to a doctor who gives her a magic little pill that makes everything better. Lou is immediately concerned that she’s in some kind of Valley of the Dolls situation. She tells him it’s really none of his business, so he tells her that it is work related because he’s putting together a documentary “on the dangers of sleeping pills.”

Mary reassures Lou that she isn’t addicted and that she’s taken them for fourteen consecutive days without issues. Lou challenges her to try to go one night without taking them (because he’s damn sure she is addicted). I mean wow what a strange way to handle a health concern with your subordinate.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Season 7 Episode 11

That night Mary tosses and turns. She finally breaks down and takes a pill. But she feels pretty crappy about this because it proves that Lou is right that she is, at the very least, reliant on the pills. The next morning, Mary lies to Lou and says she didn’t take the pill. So he heaps praise on her…until she finally admits she took the pill as he suspected all along.

According to Lou, getting over insomnia is easy. He says, “All that you have to do is make yourself go to sleep at night.” Oh boy, if only someone had told me this in my mid-twenties. Could have saved me a lot of sleepless nights!

Lou urges Mary to skip the pill that night and promises to come over if she needs support. When he doesn’t hear from her, he goes over to her apartment, and the super just straight up lets him into her place. When Lou enters Mary’s apartment, he notices the phone is off the hook. Fearing the worst, he frantically searches for her presumably lifeless corpse. But she’s really just in the bath, reading a book and drinking some milk. Yikes.

Mary's Insomnia (1976)

Mary is understandably upset that Lou is in her bathroom. But he gets offended because he was only worried about her and he isn’t a pervert, he just insists that she is a dope fiend. So my GOD there is NO reason to be OFFENDED. WJM should be counting their lucky stars it’s the 70’s and they don’t have an HR department because this justifiable lawsuit would surely put them under.

Murray barges, quickly followed by Ted (who is as oblivious as Lou). Murray at least has the decency to turn around and face the wall. Murray and Ted leave but Lou stays behind to make sure that Mary doesn’t take a sleeping pill. She’s understandably a bit agitated and tries to sneak pill behind his back. So he puts them down the garbage disposal.

Lou wraps Mary in an afgan, sits her down on the couch, and puts his harm around her. He tells her to breathe deeply and pretend she is asleep. He then says he will sing to her just as he used to sing all of his children to sleep. I’m having a full on panic attack at the thought of being in this situation, so I’m not sure how Mary is feeling. For the record, Ed Asner has a pretty decent voice though.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Mary's Insomnia (Lou Grant Singing to Mary) -  YouTube

Against all odds, this actually works. Incidentally, this is the first time that Mary Richards, a woman in her late-thirties, has had anyone tell her that she snores. It’s never too late for some good old fashioned self-discovery.

Very Special Episode: Evidently, the cure for insomnia is an Ed Asner a capella album of Irish lullabies and a warm afgan blanket. For best results, exhaust yourself beforehand by moving into a building whose super will gladly let all of your coworkers into your bathroom without your permission.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Mary’s Three Husbands

Long extolled as an example of thriving on your own, this episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show wonders just the opposite.

At the end of the workday, Ted, Lou, and Murray share a drink in Murray’s office. The conversation quickly turns to how great Mary is and how odd they find it that “a woman like Mary never got married.” They all start to consider the fact that she hasn’t met the right person and maybe there isn’t even anyone worthy of being married to her. (Wow, so so much to unpack there.) And then they all start to fantasize about being married to her.

Murray’s fantasy is first: A much younger Mary and Murray share an apartment where Murray writes poorly and Mary praises everything that comes out of his mouth. A very pregnant Mary then announces to Murray that she is with child. They’re both super excited. Murray then apologizes for being so self-focused that he didn’t notice his wife has a giant womb. He admits that he’s barely even seen her because she’s been working several jobs while he sits at home and writes all day. Mary then delivers their baby by herself in the bedroom while Murray continues to write. Wow! She’s SO great.

Ted’s fantasy is next: We see Mary and Ted on their wedding night. Mary is disturbingly horny for Ted. Underneath his dress shirt, Ted wears a t-shirt with a photo of his face on it because of course he does. Then fantasy Mary turns the tables on him. She won’t sleep with him. Even in his fantasy. Which is great. Then she leaves him. Alone. In his fantasy. Oh to be Ted’s therapist.

Lou’s Fantasy is Last: In Lou’s fantasy they’re about 95 years old and still working at WJM – TV News. In this fantasy, Mary receives a postcard from Rhoda who is still waiting for Joe to return (cringe). Another fun fact is that this fantasy occurs circa 2027 but the newsroom hasn’t changed at all in 50 years! All throughout this fantasy Mary keeps hinting about being blissfully happen except for this ONE THING. Finally, we learn that the one thing marry is upset over is that she and Lou have never consummated their marriage. Lou explains that he doesn’t have romantic or sexual feelings for her, which seems like something he should have mentioned earlier like probably before the wedding. But then Mary takes her hair down and wow old Lou has a change of heart!

At the end of the episode Mary walks into the office just as they’re all leaving. She’s returned early from a date. Lou and Murray both tell her that the guy would be very lucky to have her end up with him. Ted tells her she should be sure to sleep with him if they get married (yikes).

Very Special Bizzaro Lesson: Maybe I shouldn’t speak for all women, but I do find the thought of three of my male coworkers sitting around the office and fantasizing about sharing a life with me to be a very off-putting group activity. They’re definitely all respectful (except for Ted), but it would have been a great episode if just one of them had realized that Mary was better off alone than in any of the scenarios they imagined for her.

Bizzaro episode aside, this is truly a beautiful show. Of the countless think pieces floating across the internet, here are a couple that I recommend:
“How Nora Ephron Said Goodbye to The Mary Tyler Moore Show
“How Mary Tyler Moore Is Getting Me Through This Pandemic”

That’s the end of our Bizzaro Series to cap off a very bizzaro year! 2020 sure has been weird, but I am super grateful for all you Very Special Readers! One small silver lining of having so much time on my hands these days is that I’ve been able to brainstorm more ideas for this blog over the past few months than I have in the past few years combined. So stay tuned for more in 2021!

Bizzaro Episodes: The Most 2020 Trope

2020 has been nothing if not bizarre. So let’s round-out the year with a look back the moments when your favorite tv shows got well, weird.

So in case you’re like — hey, hey wait as second what is a bizzaro episode anyway? It’s anytime a show breaks from form or tone in such a remarkable way that the episode gives regular viewers an uncanny feeling. As Pop Culture Crime says of one dark episode of I Love Lucy, “I felt like I was in the midst of a weird fever dream.” If that’s the vibe you’re getting from a show you regularly watch (unless that show is Twin Peaks) then chances are — you’re viewing a bizarro episode!

Stay tuned this week for an in-depth look at bizarre episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Miami Vice, and Murder, She Wrote.