• Agonizer / Text / We Have Feels About Valerie Harper and the Jews

Rhoda was more beautiful than Mary, but she was the pathetic man-hungry one, because “Jew”

Rhoda Was More Beautiful Than Mary, But She Was The Pathetic Man-Hungry One, Because 'Jew'

Valerie Harper, currently in some sort of happy nice time remission from her dumb brain cancer, joins the cast of “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night at 8 p.m. on ABC. That makes this a perfect time to talk at you about how we feel about Valerie Harper, and Rhoda, and Mary Tyler Moore, and Jews.

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When my son was a baby, his first mom died. She had been a soap opera star, and the slutty teen who survived Piranha II. She also played the 11-year-old babysitter in the Mary Tyler Moore episode “Baby Sit-Com.”

So my son and I rented the whole season. And until we’d rented the season, and eaten it up (in just a couple of sittings, with a spoon) this was what I’d assumed about Mary Richards, and her pathetic, man-hungry, loser-y sidekick Rhoda Morgenstern.

Everyone knew Rhoda was the sad foil to Mary’s perfect, perky, spunky gal who seemed to have a different airline pilot or ski instructor falling at her feet in every episode. Rhoda, meanwhile, had frizzy hair. And a Bronx accent. I mean, really. Gross!

Then I actually watched the damn thing.

And then I got mad.

Here was Mary Tyler Moore, painfully thin—so thin her face sagged. So unhealthy-looking her skin had a caste of gray. And even as thin as she was, you can still see her girdle lines. People are terrible.

And Rhoda was juicy! And often had her hair piled in a big mess on her head like she’d just been most fabulously fucked! And she had green eyes the size of Jupiter! And bosoms and hips and… you get the idea.

We’re sorry if we’re body-shaming you, skinny girls. Oh wait, that’s right, no, we’re not.

Then Rhoda got her own show, and they decided that to carry her own show, she must be beautiful. And so she got designer duds, and never wore the same thing twice, and even had multiple fab dressing gowns for when she “casually” spent her mornings (in false eyelashes, hair done) at home. And they straightened her hair.

Because frizzy hair is for ugly girls. Girls who can’t carry a sitcom. Girls who are Jews.

This was all fine; you do what you have to do to get Valerie Harper her own show. But then they gave her a loser-y pathetic man-hungry sidekick of her own, Julie Kavner, playing her sister, Brenda. And Julie Kavner at least was plain-looking, as Rhoda never had been.

But they also had her say, at least five times per episode, what a fat honking cow of a pile of human Sad she was, and she probably weighed in at all of a buck-thirty, and really, 1970s television, just fuck you.

And so one night, I was a few glasses of wine in, and relating the long version of my Magnificent Discovery that Rhoda had been far more beautiful than Mary, but “Jew.” And the man who had been plying me with a very nice Malbec leaned in and murmured in my ear, “I always had a thing for Rhoda.”

And so I fucked him.

The End.

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  • Deleted

    This post was deleted.

    • redarmyzombie

      Never mind Carlton, what about Uncle Phil!?Oh, wait; wrong Carlton…

  • William Burns

    Julie Kavner went on to be the voice of Marge Simpson, so happy ending for everyone, really.

    • Zippy W Pinhead

      from frizzy hair to great big blue hair


  • Indiepalin

    I love Rhoda too but she got what she had coming to her when she married the pathetic, creepy Joe. Especially after her doomed affair with the affable Gordy in season 1.

  • discus_sucks_ass

    smart man!

  • MrsReardon

    In my frizzy hair world, “being the Rhoda ” was always more fun than being Mary. Mary was boring in every possible way

  • ph7

    Now, if I can just find a woman who had a thing for Ted Baxter….

    • $40339025

      Wait a minute, you changed Murray to Ted! I like Murray. Captain Stubing, not so much.

  • Pandora Maltese


  • goonemeritus

    Hell I would have happily schtupped Georgette Baxter.

    • glasspusher

      I bet she was a freak in the sack.

    • glasspusher

      Wow, goon, with a disqus acct I can comment on titilating articles like this one.

      • goonemeritus

        Did you notice the lack of trolls on the ScientificComputing website?

        • glasspusher

          Not yet, but I dunno. There are plenty of trolls on sciency websites. One fuckhead, related by a friend of mine, bought at 20″ Dob, said the image in it was terrible- kept mushing around and so on, blamed it on the bad optics, people were like “dude, that’s the air being unsteady”, guy was “don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m doing!”, returned the 20″, bought a 25″, same “problem” with the scope…you can’t fix stupid, even in sciency circles…

    • Funruffian

      Georgette was pretty tasty, Cloris was the ugliest of the five.

  • glasspusher

    Some guys find “man-hungry” attractive. Like me.

  • FlownOver

    So, does HNTP allow comments?

    • glasspusher

      I’m so pathetic I bitched about creating a disqus acct and then found out I had one, although I’d never used it.

    • glasspusher

      They weren’t allowed yesterday, why do you think the policy will change today?

      • LesBontemps

        You know who else didn’t allow comments?

        • DrShitferbrains

          All of the Katies.

          • nothingisamiss

            Nicely played.

        • janecita


    • DrShitferbrains

      Too soon to tell.

  • boobookitteh

    Now that you’ve forced me to get a Disqus account, there is nothing standing in the way of me trolling the CNN comment boards. Also, too, Rhoda Morgnestern was my absolute favoritest when I was a kid. Pretty mush the reason I always wanted to move to New York.

    • glasspusher

      Folks like you going on CNN might actually be a good thing…but probably not enough for me to want to go there

  • Rotundo

    MTM always seemed so pinched and constrained as the character and in real life as herself, almost a cardboard cutout. The writers and the players, particularly Valerie and Ted Knight really rounded out the people they played. Mary Richards was a Barbie, Rhoda Morgenstern was a real woman. Ted Baxter could have been a bit, Ted Knight and some great writers made him a legend.

    • glasspusher

      Well said. Think about it- the main character in that show was the most boring. Was that their plan all along? Interesting. It was fun watching it when it was on, but then, I was 9…Edit: I must say, I’m greatly enjoying the nice, sharp avatars this site displays on my MBP retina display. Mmm…yours looks great, if I may be so forward. Would you like to come up to my place?

      • Melinda Piette

        What’s interesting is that frequently the heroine/good girl on many sitcoms is vastly less likable or attractive than the “bitch”/sidekick/bad girl. Not to mention the sidekick/bad girl is usually portrayed by a better actress—–I give you….Whitney versus Denise Huxtable on “Different World” (Jasmine Guy was prettier, more talented and Whitney was a vastly more interesting character)Erica Kane, Dorian Lord or original recipe Tina Lord against ANYONE on their soaps. Ditto Rachel on Another World (also played by Robin Strasser) v. Alice Frame.Sharpay v. whatever her stupid name is in High School Musical.Bree and Gabrielle v. Susan on Desperate HousewivesDemi Lovato’s liar character v. that prettier, more talented blonde girl in Camp RockDemi Lovato’s character v. the prettier, more talented blonde girl in Sonny with a ChanceRayna (self righteous whiner, played by a weaker actress who can’t sing) v. Juliette (much sadder background, didn’t have Daddy bankroll her career AND is played by a better, prettier actress who can sing) on NashvilleIf you watch really crappy stuff—-Kay v. Charity or Gwen v. Theresa on Passions.

      • shelwood

        It tends to turn out that way on sitcoms. The central straight man/woman is almost always the least liked by fans, probably because they have the least dimension.

  • Beowoof14

    Oh Rhoda was always the cooler person. Much rather hang out with than boring old Mary.

  • Melinda Piette

    I wish they had just kept Rhoda with that super cute guy who left his high paying job to be a forest ranger—THEY had awesome chemistry and made a charming couple.Meanwhile, the whole Mary v. Rhoda was always absurd on sooooo many levels: it’s been pointed out that Rhoda made more $$$ (and would’ve received a discount as a department store employee), yet Rhoda had the crappy, cheap apartment (and yeah, I know, initially she tried to poach the bigger pad), was always broke—had to borrow $$ from Mary, who of course had savings AND a great wardrobe AND great digs on a salary “lower than a secretary’s”, etc….And don’t even get me started on how it was bad that Sue Ann owned her sexuality and was simultaneous domestic AND independently successful. And a completely awesome bitch. Oh or that Mary decided she would be just the awesomest mom EVAH because she spent one afternoon shopping and lunching with the nicest tween beknownst to mankind.

    • Richard Pickel

      Oh. So that’s where they got the idea for Steve to leave his high paying job to be a forest ranger, on Married With Children. “Steal from the best” is an old show business saying.

  • Philly05

    Yeah, I never did understand why Rhoda was the ‘bad’ one; I thought maybe she swallowed? and what not.Or because ‘fat’ ?But it was the Jew thing all this time!Aryansplains why Phyllis with the Swede Lars hated Rhoda, as well — a two for!

  • Cleo_Cat

    And Valerie Harper, like Joy Behar, and Penny Marshall are not Jewish. Seem so, because New York, but Joy and Penny are Italian-American. Not sure about Valerie’s ethnicity.

    • shelwood

      Yup, Valerie Harper was raised Catholic and isn’t the least bit Jewish. Growing up in the Midwest and raised on ’70s tv and Woody Allen movies, I assumed anyone with a NYC accent was Jewish. Then I moved to NJ and found out that wasn’t true at all.

  • UnholyMoses

    I didn’t get why this was a happynicetime story until the end, when we discover there was, in fact, a happy ending.For both of you, I hope …

  • pearlsarefuzzy

    When I watched MTM as a young woman, I could never understand why Rhoda was so self-deprecating. She was absolutely gorgeous and much healthier looking than poor Mary (lovely though Mary was, let’s face it, she was skinny as hell). I remember one episode in particular where Rhoda was eating some candy, and she said something like “I shouldn’t eat this, I should just apply it directly to my thighs”. WTF?! Beautiful face, beautiful body – and she was supposedly FAT? No way.

    • Funruffian

      Rhoda was very good looking. She even had a prettier face than Mary. Mary came across as this Miss Perfect that was prude, coy and a bit lanky. Rhoda had a more buxom figure, but was brash, outspoken and uncouth in manner in contrast to Mary. With time it was shown that Rhoda was regarded as an attractive and stylish woman and that being a bit brazen and rude in demeanor didn’t necessarily detract from a woman’s physical appearance.

  • trex67

    I always liked Rhoda more than Mary, but then I liked Brenda more than Rhoda, so what do I know.

  • meepmeep09


  • Michael Whittier

    Rhoda was Mary’s gay male best friend, before such a thing was allowed.(Whenever they showed Rhoda’s attic apartment, I STUDIED it, like a gay, preadolescent anthropologist. I knew it was critical to becoming a proper gay (minus the hot pink and orange everything.)According to legend, it was MTM who realized Valerie Harper’s talents were being wasted as a second banana, and pushed for her to “blossom.”Her gentrification may have been a little condescending, maybe even insulting to her authentic schlubbihood, but remember Valerie/Rhoda became a style icon in her own right, greatly surpassing MTM’s influence on style and fashion.

  • edith prickly

    We are sorry if we are body-shaming you, skinny girls. Oh wait, that’s right, no we are not.

    And this is why Wonkette/HNTP will always be better than Jezebel.

  • I must have missed this show. Too busy making beds out of Kleenex boxes so that Ken could fuck Abortion Barbie.

  • (((JustPixelz)))

    Rebecca returning to her “… in the O.C.” style.

  • La Cieca

    I was around in the 1970s, and Mary’s extremely slim figure was not considered “anorexic” as such back then as such: a lot of women at that time aspired to being super rail thin. Plus I think this was the body Mary Tyler Moore came with at the time, and she was the star, so that was de facto “attractive” — even though, as you say, she does look drawn and sort of gaunt from time to time.For the jokes about Rhoda’s weight to be actually funny (as at least they were intended to be) she couldn’t be actually obese or very unattractive: she just felt unattractive because she thought she was carrying around an extra 20 pounds, again in an era when really stylish women were skinny and underweight.In the show’s defense, Rhoda did date a lot, a mixed bag of guys but definitely not all losers. She spent a lot of money on clothes and you can imagine she did a lot of little money-squandering things, e.g., running late for work so she’d have to take a cab, that kind of thing. The point here I don’t think was shaming her lifestyle choices so much as setting up a contrast with Mary, whose shtick was that she was just so perfect-perfect in every way: neat, thrifty, hard-working, always immaculately groomed.Again, I think a big reason for making everyone else on the show eccentric to some degree was that Mary Tyler Moore didn’t have much of a track record as a star comic. Her major resume item was “The Dick van Dyke Show” where she essentially played straight woman. So at least to start, the MTM show kept Moore in that comfort zone: let everyone else get the big laughs. (Later, the focus shifted a bit to allow Mary to appear ridiculous, with the laughs at her expense.)To the credit of Moore and the other producers of the show, they did let Rhoda bloom over the course of several season: succeeding at work, meeting nicer and hotter guys, dieting to what she defined as her goal weight. And, as far as the dieting goes, she got an episode in which she was conflicted about the results: now she was at the weight she had always dreamed of being, but she didn’t feel different, not suddenly beautiful or anything.The spinoff was a great idea but unfortunately the character sort of got lost. Part of the fun of Rhoda was always that she so obviously had this great potential to be gorgeous, smart, witty and successful but she just never quite got it together. Once she did get it together, with the blowdried bob and the glamour makeup and the dressing gowns and the great apartment, there really wasn’t any story left for her. And, unlike Moore, Harper wasn’t a natural “straight” leading lady, at least by 1970s TV sitcom standards, so her performance became a little stiff and defensive, while Julie Kavner and Nancy Walker walked away with the show.I think it demonstrates how basically attitudes have changed in 40 years that the Rhoda character is now much more “normative,” whereas the Mary character now seems sort of stiff and vaguely unpleasant.

  • shastakoala

    Mary Tyler Moore is also a severe diabetic, diagnosed in young adulthood. Staying slim, increases a person’s ability to regulate and keep a upper hand on the disease.

  • elpinche

    Forget those two broads. My face had a spot for Linda Lavin’s hot buns.

    • Funruffian

      Ugh! that’s just gross.

      • Richard Pickel

        Yeah. I hadn’t thought of the saying “I just threw up in my mouth a little” for a long time. But some guys – even some guys with looks and/or money – will F anything. Some will marry things most homeless guys wouldn’t want to have to touch with a stick. That gives all the girls hope.

  • $160578

    Rhoda made me laugh. Laughing is better than crying, and you can’t get somebody pregnant or spread STDs doing it or making other people do it. Brenda made me laugh too. Plus she had zits just like I did.Mary couldn’t hold a shamash to either one, and I didn’t even know from Jews then.

  • Lectricboogaloo

    “Maude” put a stop to all of this mashugana. Anything but tranquilizing…

    • nothingisamiss

      Right on, Maude!

  • nothingisamiss

    Tis a beautiful story.

  • Guest

    Aaarrggh! Rhoda, she giving me big hebraic!

  • 6Cinnamongirl3

    Rhoda was always prettier, funnier and just an all around more interesting woman than Mary.
    Long live Rhoda. She is missed.

  • L. L.

    Mary ROCKED! So did Rhoda! they were both hilarious & fab for their era!
    ‘the end’