For 1970s social politics and TV at large, a single, independent, career-oriented woman was a rarity. Thanks to creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, The Mary Tyler Moore Show delivered just that. Starring Moore, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and more, the show grew to become one of the most acclaimed shows in TV history, winning 29 Emmy Awards and setting a record that wasn’t broken until Frasier‘s 30th win in 2002.
The show follows Mary Richards (Moore) who at the age of 30 moves to Minneapolis as a result of a broken engagement. She tries to get her foot in the door at a local television station, applying for a secretarial position that has already been filled. Instead, she wins the role of associate producer for the station’s evening news program. She becomes friends with her tough loving boss Lou (Asner), news writer Murray (Gavin MacLeod), and jester-like anchor Ted (Ted Knight). Leachman plays the role of Mary’s landlord Phyllis, while Harper plays upstairs neighbor Rhoda, both of whom would exit to star in their own spinoffs. White would be introduced later as man-crazy cooking show host Sue Ann Nivens.
Fans of classic television or ’70s comedy won’t want to miss the antics of Moore, an iconic show that is continuously hailed to this day. Here’s how to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show streaming online.
How to Watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show Online & Stream the Complete Series
Hulu has the first three seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show included in its on-demand library. There are a couple different options when signing up, but either one will get you access to episodes of the show:
If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
After signing up for either of the above options, you can watch episodes from the first three seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
If you’re looking to digitally purchase individual episodes or seasons, the entire series of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is available on Amazon. Episodes cost $1.99, while individual seasons cost $9.99.
Once purchased, you can watch episodes on your computer via the Amazon website, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Mary Tyler Moore Show Seasons Are There?
Seven seasons aired between 1970 and 1977, accululating 168 episodes, 67 Emmy nominations, 22 Golden Globe nominations, and 13 TV Land Award nominations. And that only scratches the surface of the show’s legacy.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 1
24 Episodes | September 1970 – March 1971
Mary Richards is on the rebound, moving to Minneapolis where she begins a new life in a new apartment. She picks up a new job as an associate producer at the fictional WJM-TV where she quicklky makes fast friends with her co-workers. She befriends her upstairs neighbor Rhoda and the two make the most out of their single status, inviting dates over to the house and joining an organization for divorcees so they can take advantage of cheap flights. Mary lives her life laughing through its many ups and downs. she’s offered the chance to produce her own show at another station, her apartment is repeatedly burglarized, and she goes to bat for Lou when he’s ousted at the station.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 2
24 Episodes | September 1971 – March 1972
The station is flooded with calls after Mary’s documentary “What’s Your Sexual I.Q.?” airs. Mary and Rhoda’s vacation is dependent on whether or not they’ll deliver a mysterious package across the border of Mexico. When the newswriters go on strike other unions follow, and Mary must cross the picket line. When Rhoda moves in with Mary, their friendship is put to the ultimate test. Ted considers moving into an empty apartment in Mary’s building.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 3
24 Episodes | September 1972 – March 1973
The show’s third season explored issues like the gender pay gap, pre-marital sex and homosexuality. Lou and Ted are unhappy with the “happy” format Mary has been assigned to develop for the news. Mary’s parents move nearby and begin planning her social schedule much to her dismay. Mary’s longtime friends file for divorce, but she’s shocked to learn that the husband wants to start dating her. Phyllis tries to hook her brother up with Mary, but is surprised when he clicks with Rhoda instead. Mary is nominated for a Teddy Award and shortly after, disaster strikes at work and the awards ceremony.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 4
24 Episodes | September 1973 – March 1974
Season 4 (Valerie Harper’s last before moving on to Rhoda) weaves marital infidelity and divorce into the plot with stories surrounding Phyllis and Lou, respectively. Phyllis discovers her husband’s been cheating on her with Sue Ann Nivens (White), the star of the “Happy Homemaker Show.” Later, Lou separates from his wife after a suggestion from their counselor. Mary asks for more responsibility at work, so Lou offers her the task of hiring a new sportscaster with the caveat that she must fire the old one too. Lou and Rhoda start casually dating and everyone wonders how serious it’s getting. Mary writes a humorous obituary as a joke, but is suspended when it’s accidentally read on the air.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 5
24 Episodes | September 1974 – March 1975
Mary refuses to reveal a source and is jailed for contempt of court. While there, she meets a prostitute who later asks for Mary’s help. An office dispute turns the station upside down when everyone is snowed in for the night. Sue Ann is pleased when one of Mary’s old acquaintances joins her show, but when the young lady dates the manager and aims for Sue Ann’s job, things take a turn for the worse. Mary dates a divorced man she thinks might be the one, but she can’t stand his 12-year-old son and the feeling appears to be mutual.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 6
24 Episodes | September 1975 – March 1976
Again with the broken records, the sixth season of Mary Tyler Moore features Betty Ford, who became the first First Lady in history to cameo on a television sitcom. The news gang reveal the humor in death when Chuckles, the station’s clown, bites the dust. Murray realizes he’s in love with Mary, who doesn’t feel the same and has to let him down gently. Mary becomes a Big Sister to a juvenile delinquent but things get awkward when she catches the girl stealing money from the office. Ted reveals that he and his wife are having problems conceiving. The couple adopt a 12-year-old only to later find out that Georgette is pregnant after all.
The Many Mary Tyler Moore Season 7
24 Episodes | September 1976 – March 1977
Mary gets hooked on sleeping pills to cure her insomnia, which concerns Mr. Grant who thinks she’s become dependent on them. Mary asks Lou for his opinion on an article she wrote but gets upset when he says it “stinks.” The Six O’Clock News deals with a negative critic who attacks the entire city of Minneapolis. The new station manager fires Lou, Mary, Murray and Sue Ann, but keeps Ted on. Lou surprises Mary with visits from a few old friends. The gang watches their final broadcast together ending on an emotional but positive note.
What Are the Best Mary Tyler Moore Show Episodes?
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is known to have produced some of the best episodes in television history. Here’s a list of the best Mary Tyler Moore Show episodes.
Season 3, Episode 23: “Put On A Happy Face”
Mary gets nominated for a Teddy Award for her work in television, but everything goes wrong leading up to the awards dinner. The episode beautifully showcases Moore’s precise comedic timing and is even known as the actress’s personal favorite.
Season 6, Episode 7: “Chuckles Bites the Dust”
An Emmy-winning episode, “Chuckles” may be the series’ best. When correspondent Chuckles the Clown dies, the gang is inappropriately stricken with laughter. Mary is uncomfortable at first but ends up being overrun by the silliness.
Season 7, Episode 23: “Lou Dates Mary”
The show’s penultimate episode brings Lou and Mary together for a date that includes one hell of an awkward kiss. But this show was never about Mary finding love, avoiding all sorts of tropes about women, dating and TV endings. Moore was about her life as a single career-oriented woman in the workplace.
Season 1, Episode 23: “Love Is All Around”
The very first episode sets us up for what’s to come. Mary gets a new job, a new apartment and essentially a new life. Lou telling Mary that he hates spunk tells the audience we’re in for quite the treat.
Season 7, Episode 23: “The Last Show”
When the new station manager fires everyone but Ted, the gang reflects on their time together before saying their last goodbyes. It’s a finale that evokes so much feeling and an incredible amount of heart.
Who Are the Actors in the Mary Tyler Moore Show Cast?
Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards
The fictional Mary is a sincere Minnesotan who often serves as a foil for her co-workers’ eccentric personalities. Moore is also known for her work on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Ordinary People.
Edward Asner as Lou Grant
The winner of seven acting Emmys, Asner played Lou, the tough grump with a soft interior. Asner’s character was spun off into his own series called Lou Grant.
Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern
Rhoda is Mary’s best friend and upstairs neighbor. She’s insecure, yet outgoing, often dating and flaunting her self-deprecation. Harper appeared in the spin off Rhoda in addition to Valerie and The Office.
Cloris Leachman as Phyllis Lindstrom
Phyllis is boisterous and snobby, but is one of Mary’s friends regardless. After five seasons, Phyllis is widowed and moves to San Francisco to star in her own series Phyllis. Leachman is a comedy legend having starred in The Last Picture Show, Young Frankenstein, Malcolm in the Middle and The Facts of Life.
Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens
Golden Girl White played Nivens, the cheery, judgmental host of The Happy Homemaker Show. She’s full of double entendres, especially about bossman Lou who she’s insanely attracted to.
Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter
After Moore wrapped, MacLeod starred as Captain Merrill Stubing in The Love Boat for a whopping 250 episodes.
Ted Knight as Ted Baxter
Knight moved on to star in The Ted Knight Show and The Love Boat, reuniting him with his former co-star MacLeod.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on Mary Tyler Moore Show?
Jerry Van Dyke as Wes Callison
Although his brother Dick never appeared on the show, Jerry reunited with Moore for two episodes of the show’s third season.
Penny Marshall as Toni and Paula Kovacs
Marshall, aka Laverne from Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, played two different characters across three episodes of the series. Marshall later went on to direct movies like Big and A League of Their Own.
Johnny Carson as Himself
Carson provides his own voice for the episode entitled “Mary’s Big Party.” Aside from hosting The Tonight Show, Carson also provided his voice for The Simpsons and guest starred on Cheers.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind Mary Tyler Moore Show?
Although Moore herself had a big pull on the show, it was created by two main creatives.
James L. Brooks: The Mary Tyler Moore Show Co-creator, Executive Producer and Writer
Aside from Mary Tyler Moore and all its spinoffs, Brooks also created The Tracey Ullman Show and helped develop The Simpsons. He directed films throughout his career, adding Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets to his resume.
Allan Burns: The Mary Tyler Moore Show Co-creator, Executive Producer and Writer
Aside from the Moore universe, Burns created and wrote many various iterations of The Munsters.
Where The Mary Tyler Moore Show Ranks in the Television Pantheon
In 2017, Time magazine placed The Mary Tyler Moore show on its list of “17 Shows That Changed TV,” writing that the series “liberated TV for adults—of both sexes.” It also called it “a sophisticated show about grownups among other grownups, having grownup conversations.” The Associated Press also held the show in high regard, writing that it “took 20 years of pointless, insipid situation comedy and spun it on its heels. [It did this by] pioneer[ing] reality comedy and the establishment of clearly defined and motivated secondary characters.”
Two retrospectives specials were produced years after the show’s end: Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show in 1991 and also The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion in 2002. Its popularity seemed to never wane. A TV movie entitled Mary and Rhoda reunited Moore and Harper, while White’s Hot In Cleveland brought Leachman, Harper, Moore, White and Georgia Engel back together again. These women were powerful actresses during their time, symbols even, and that influence continues to be seen throughout our modern era of TV. Tina Fey even said that 30 Rock‘s office relationships were inspired by The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
As for Moore herself, she became a cultural icon, inspiring other actresses, professional women and feminists. Her characters, both here and on The Dick Van Dyke Show, smashed gender stereotypes, in the workplace and outside of it, and proved that women could occupy roles on television that were well-rounded and far more important than just the love interest or caring mother.