Narrated by David Bushman, Television and Mass Media Curator for The Paley Center
Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin’s Tandem is one of two independent production companies credited with infusing the sitcom with cultural relevance in the 1970s, the other being MTM whose founders included iconic television actress Mary Tyler Moore and her then-husband Grant Tinker. MTM wasn’t political like Tandem was, but it was daring, addressing issues like death, divorce, which sitcoms of old wouldn’t have touched. MTM’s signature series was The Mary Tyler Moore Show which was set in Minneapolis, but it bears relevance to our New York story for a couple of reasons. One because it was co-created by James L. Brooks whose earlier work included one of the great TV sitcoms of all time, Taxi, and second because it spawned a spinoff called Rhoda following Rhoda Morgenstern, a character from the original show, after she moves back home to New York City. In season 3, Rhoda’s husband walks out on the marriage and the following season, they’re divorced, which was audacious stuff for a sitcom of that time.