Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Get Me -- That Girl!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Get Me -- That Girl!

I've fallen behind on the news lately, and there's plenty to blog about, but I'm afraid I've got That Girl on the brain lately. There's a reference in Busting Out to the show, and the first season came out on DVD a few months ago, and somehow the topic seems to keeping up. I was talking to a friend tonight who claimed that Julia was the first TV show to feature a single woman, but Ann Marie beat her by two years (Julia was, however, the first single black woman--and I think the first black woman at all--to have her own series). As far as I can tell from a quick Google search, Marlo Thomas played the first single woman who lived by herself to star in a TV series (although Lucy Charmichael was a single mother, she lived with her kids--and sometimes Vivian Vance). Sure, she had dizzy adventures and a fiancé, but you can only move into the future so far at a time. I was very annoyed a few years ago when I heard a radio report about a class taught by a TV producer (I want to say it was Tom Fontana, but it could've been somewhere else) that required a screening of an episode of That Girl so students could understand everything The Mary Tyler Moore Show was reacting against. I always thought that was giving short shrift to That Girl. A recent New York Times review of the DVDs downplayed Ann Marie as a "pre-libber." In Sunday's Times, no less than Gloria Steinem stands up for the show (scroll down). Her letter is short, so I'll excerpt the whole thing:

In celebrating the DVD of "That Girl" starring Marlo Thomas, Claire Dederer makes an interesting and original point about the changing television portrayal of age. But given my age, I think she misses the point when she plays down this series as pioneering TV feminism. Where else was there a young woman who lived on her own and wasn’t obsessed with getting married? Trust me, nowhere.

Of course, if Ms. Thomas had won out over network executives completely, "That Girl" would have been "That Woman" with different male friends, not just one very proper boyfriend who turns into a fiancé.

I haven't seen the show recently, and I'm told by someone that has that it doesn't really stand up to the passing of time. I don't find that too hard to believe, because Marlo Thomas was on the cusp of a big change. Now that the change has overwhelmed us, her performance that once seemed pioneering and groundbreaking can easily come across as quaint. It's the curse of the trailblazer.


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