A few "Mary Tyler Moore Show" fans tried to out-trivia one another Monday at the National Archives.
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, who said her obsession began at 5 years old, visited the District from her New York City home to discuss her newly released nonfiction book "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted," about the making of the 1970s sitcom.
Armstrong said when she re-watched the show in her 30s, she realized she still found it compelling — especially because her life seemed to mirror that of Mary Richards (played by Moore), a journalist living in a big city.
"It was because they were independent, single, career women on television, and that was unusual," Armstrong said. "This is not the kind of thing I was thinking about then; I would just put on my little head scarves and watch Rhoda."
Armstrong's book explores both the writers — "the first comedy to hire multiple women behind the scenes on the writing staff," according to Armstrong — and the characters depicted on screen. Armstrong, a former Entertainment Weekly writer, said Monday that many popular female-centric sitcoms of today demonstrate the show's influence.
"It's, by the way, still not that easy to be a woman writing for comedy," she said. "We've come at least a tiny way; we're getting there."