The Rebel Missing Mary Tyler Moore in Lena Dunham’s world


The Rebel - Tuesday February 7th, 2017

The death of actress Mary Tyler Moore prompted a lot of reflection upon her revolutionary TV portrayal of a modern, single woman.

Her show hit the sweet spot in the development of feminism, when it was still a reform movement.

The women of my generation remember it as then being fluid, optimistic and democratic rather than ideological and dogma-driven. And Moore herself felt strongly that the show should not be about activism. 

And then there’s Lena Dunham’s Girls.

Unlike Mary Richards, a mature, responsible and psychologically healthy team-player, Dunham's Hannah is a stunted, narcissistic mess, and painfully lacking in sexual self-respect (proof of which, alas, is never left to the imagination—more matronly sighs).

The route from Mary Richards to Hannah Horvath is the story of the feminist movement.

The message to young women in the early 1970s was confident and happy:

“Who can turn the world on with her smile?”

The message today is darker and dysphoric:

“Girl, you’re probably not going to make it, after all.”