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"My name is Rhoda Morgenstern. I was born in the Bronx, New York, in December 1941. I've always felt responsible for World War II. The first thing I remember liking that liked me back was food. I had a bad puberty -- it lasted 17 years. I'm a high school graduate. I went to art school. My entrance exam was on a book of matches. I decided to move out of the house when I was 24; my mother still refers to this as the time I ran away from home. Eventually I ran to Minneapolis, where it's cold, and I figured I'd keep better. Now I'm back in Manhattan. New York, this is your last chance!"—Rhoda Morgenstern, Opening Narration
A Spin-Off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that ran on CBS from 1974 to 1978. Created by The Mary Tyler Moore Show creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, this Sitcom followed Mary's best friend Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) as she moved from Minneapolis to her native New York City to be with the man of her dreams, good-looking divorcé Joe Gerard (David Groh), whom she marries midway through the first season. Other characters include Rhoda's perpetually self-deprecating sister Brenda (Julie Kavner), their parents: meddling Jewish Mother Ida (Nancy Walker) and Closer to Earth father Martin (Harold Gould), and Carlton, the never-seen doorman in her building.
The show became famous as an example of the disaster that can befall a show when They Do too soon. CBS chief programmer Fred Silverman forced the writers to marry Rhoda to Joe as soon as possible, with the reasoning that getting her married at last would result in huge ratings. He was right about the ratings: the special one-hour wedding episode was one of the most-watched TV events in history. Unfortunately, however, the writers were now finding it increasingly difficult to write stories about a happily-married Rhoda, often instead writing episodes showcasing Walker's comedic performance as Ida, or focusing on Brenda's problems including her on-again, off-again relationship with accordion player Nick Lobo (Richard Masur). Eventually, they decided that Rhoda's appeal came from her status as an insecure single woman. A series of Re Tools thus ensued, with Rhoda getting separated and divorced from Joe, which caused the show's popularity to plummet. It managed to last for over 100 episodes, but it never got back the popularity of its early years. Even Silverman later admitted that having Rhoda marry Joe so soon was a mistake.
- Catch Phrase: "Hello, this is Carlton, your doorman."
- Creator Cameo: Lorenzo Music, who developed and ran the show with his writing partner David Davis, found a new career as a voice actor after he lent his voice to Carlton the Doorman.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rhoda and Brenda.
- Edited for Syndication: In the pilot a Cold Open that featured Mary seeing Rhoda off at the airport is missing in reruns.
- Happily Married: Rhoda and Joe were supposed to be this in the first two seasons, but the writers had trouble making it convincing.
- Jewish Mother: Ida.
- Progressively Prettier: Brenda dresses better and gets more dates as the show goes on, mirroring Rhoda's own progress on the parent show.
- Put on a Bus: Nancy Walker and Harold Gould both left the show during season 3: Walker to headline Blansky's Beauties and The Nancy Walker Show on ABC; Gould to star in The Feather and Father Gang on NBC. Both returned the following year after their respective programs ended up failing.
- Replacement Flat Character: Brenda is basically everything Rhoda was on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, with the same low self-esteem and Deadpan Snarker tendencies. Lampshaded in the pilot by Rhoda, who says that looking at Brenda is "like looking in a four year-old mirror."
- Required Spinoff Crossover: Mary appears in several episodes, and almost the whole The Mary Tyler Moore Show cast (minus Ted Knight) shows up for Rhoda's wedding.
- Retool: Several. The last year of the show even had Rhoda going to work for a crusty but Benevolent Boss who was the writers' obvious attempt to re-create the Mary/Lou Grant relationship from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- They Do: Rhoda and Joe.
- The Voice: Carlton is heard on the intercom but never seen.
- Wedding Day: One of the most famous episodes of this type.