Rhoda: New York, this is your last chance
A few years back, Valerie Harper spoke at a hotel near my home. My Mom and I went with a friend of hers to hear Valerie speak. She spoke a lot about her part of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and I got a chance to talk to her. I happen to look a bit younger than I am and she looked at me and said she couldn't believe I remembered her from the beginning of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and I told her that not only did I remember the beginning of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, but that I was very excited when I had heard she was going to be on the Mary Tyler Moore Show because I had already heard her on a comedy album I used to listen to when I was babysitting in my teens.
Valerie Harper's wit was clear on that night, as clear as it had been all those years earlier when she played Rhoda Morgenstern for the first time. I loved that first episode as much as I loved every episode afterwards and every episode of Valerie's own program, Rhoda.
When Rhoda first aired, I was rather heavy and I was then working as a bank teller. I had identified with Rhoda when she was heavy, when she was on the Mary Tyler Moore Show (I loved the episodes where she and Murray would eat lunch, since both were on Weight Watchers) but by the time Rhoda first aired, Valerie and Rhoda had lost weight. Brenda took over the "heavy single Jewish woman" rold, so I identified with her too. Add to this that Brenda was also a bank teller and that I was also living in NY at the time and I felt, in some ways, that this show was about me.
While I'm not totally sure, I'm pretty sure that many other young Jewish women felt this way too. Rhoda and Brenda, in their fight against fat, their struggle to survive and thrive in New York City, their loves and loses, their relationship with their parents, all contributed to making Rhoda a classic program. As a Jewish women, Rhoda and Brenda made me proud. As a sometime New Yorker, they made me laugh. As a single women, they made me cry. Thank you, Valerie Harper and Julie Kavner for making my 20s easier to deal with.
Rhoda and Brenda made us laugh all those years ago. I hope you enjoy these looks back.