A little over two decades ago, I moved to Florida to work for Disney. It was my first time in the real world away from family and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I thought of myself as a shorter version of Mary Richards (aka Mary Tyler Moore). You know. Independent working woman trying to make it on her own …
Her Minneapolis was my Orlando.
Her producer job was my tour guide job.
Her cool apartment was eventually my cool apartment, after a string of roommates. Some were wonderful (Three gay men. Note: Gay men make the best roommates) and some not so wonderful.
Her signature letter M on the wall was my signature letter K on the wall. (Years later, my husband got a letter, too. Over the years, our J and K hung on a wall in various apartments. Now that we have a legit house, the letters can be found in the front hall closet because we’re GROWN UPS.)
Yes, Mary was definitely my go-to gal when I lived on my own in Orlando. And she’ll always be my gold standard of single working women. Plus, I watched tons of Nick at Nite back then and who doesn’t love a good rerun of the Mary Tyler Moore show?
But when my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to Chicago, another woman entered the picture. I have to confess that at first it felt sort of like I was cheating on Mary.
Enter: Jamie Buchman from Mad About You.
Helen Hunt – aka Jamie Buchman – epitomized everything I wanted for my life in Chicago: a huge apartment, cool furniture from Crate and Barrel, and THE LOOK. She wore a business suit (skirt or pants) like a boss. And her matching black shoulder bag contained everything a working woman needed: umbrella, change of shoes, extra hose or tights, water bottle, healthy snack, paper and pen. (She emptied her bag and identified the contents in one episode, in case you were wondering how I knew. #stalker )
Anyway, I had the black shoulder bag. I had the matching umbrella. I wore sneakers into work and changed into my heels that were conveniently in my black bag. I had extra tights in case of a pull or a run. And my “healthy” snack was a bottle of diet coke and some cookies. Whatever.
My husband and I watched Mad About You every week. They lived in a high-rise in New York City and, sans car, they walked, biked, or taxied their way around. Jamie worked in marketing and PR and they had a doorman for their fancy apartment right in the middle of the city. They were quirky, funny and their apartment was typical 90s decor furnished almost entirely (I’m guessing) from Crate and Barrel.
We lived in Chicago in a high-rise overlooking Michigan Avenue. I worked in marketing and event management and either walked, took a taxi or rode the train to work. My husband bought us bikes shortly after we moved there. We had a doorman and we lived in the middle of an exciting city. We didn’t buy furniture from Crate and Barrel but we did get a bedroom set and a few bookshelves from the now non-existent Marshall Fields. Our set is now in our spare bedroom and it’s a nice reminder of our short time living in the windy city.
To this day, if I have an important work deadline, job interview, or crucial meeting, I channel these two fictional women. What would Mary say? What would Jamie wear? Totally serious. I actually copied a navy blue business suit of Jamie Buchman’s for an interview once. Isn’t that ridiculous? But hey. It’s worked for me so far 🙂
A friend recently posed a fun question about which fictional TV character you most identify with. I guess I default to both Jamie Buchman and Mary Richards. These two shows are definitely on my list of all-time favorite TV shows, but more than anything, these shows and these two women can instantly transport me back to happy memories and happy times in my life.