Characters We Work With – The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Careereon Blogging Team
September 26, 2022

Characters We Work With – The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Richards

Mary is the perfect worker. She gives her all to what she does, she cares almost too much about getting it right. She is available for those in crisis, none of whom report to her, but who know she will listen and help in any way possible. You see also that she not only works like a dog from the extra hours to painstaking attention to detail, but also that her work is excellent. Everyone wants to believe they are the best at what they do, and even though you and Mary have different jobs, you feel somewhat competitive with someone that competent with such stature and career trajectory. You find yourself rooting for her, able to see that if she is able to maintain this pace, quality and investment in her work, she is going places. And you will be happy to see her make it after all…

The Ted Baxter

Ted is among the most frustrating of your co-workers. He is out front, and clients love him. He is the ‘face of the franchise’, and there are few positions considered more important than Ted’s. When he is not ‘performing’, he is marginally functional, does not seem very bright, has a terrible personality, and appears to have stopped maturing around fourteen years old. There will be times that you will be asked to fix one of Ted’s mistakes, or even claim ownership for something he has done that, if attributed to Ted, could hurt the company. So, as a company person, you do it. It can be infuriating, but you learned early on that Ted has that key skill that only he can do at the level he does it, and it is up to everyone else to do what it takes to make sure nothing gets in the way of him doing it. Ted has the ‘It Factor’, and neither you nor your co-workers can deny that he is incredibly effective in that role. So, while you lament Ted’s success, as well as what is high compensation, you actually agree that he is almost irreplaceable…in spite of himself.

The Sue Ann Niven

Sue Ann is in a role similar to Ted’s, but not nearly as critical. Sue Ann believes that she is indispensable to the operation, and tends to act like a more polished, professional version of Ted. She never makes mistakes like Ted, because she too is particularly good at her role, and is ever the perfectionist. So, while her work is never in question, her personality can often leave you and your colleagues wincing at the things she will say or how she says them. Compliments are all backhanded, and she revels in the missteps of most around her, particularly those she perceives could be a threat, now or in the future. You dig as deeply as you can into your thoughts of whether there is more to Sue Ann than meets the eye, but thus far every possible avenue of excavation ends at the surface.

The Murray Slaughter

Murray is the ‘everyman’ player around the office. He is great at what he does and looks for nothing in return outside of his paycheck, and an occasional ‘attaboy, Murr’. He not only gets his work done at a high level, on time, every time, but he is a positive contributor to office morale and the overall atmosphere. Murray does nothing to draw attention to himself, never acts or thinks he is better than those around him, treating everyone with respect and kindness. Without the Murrays in your office, it would be hard to get everything done necessary for the business to be successful. Despite going unnoticed by many, those who work closely with Murray know of his great sense of humor, which typically comes through in the form of sarcasm. And much like Ted’s ‘It Factor’ in his role, Murray’s ‘It Factor’ is his impeccable timing and sarcastic wit, and why you love working with The Murray.

The Lou Grant

Lou is the boss, has been around your place a long time, and in the industry his whole career. He knows his stuff, always has the right answer, and even if he goes about giving you answers and sharing his decisions in a fairly grumpy manner, you hold him in high esteem for all that he brings to the table. You have seen that this same gruff attitude is no accident. Lou uses it not to intimidate people or scare them away from coming to see him, but to protect his people, his team. Over time you see how much love and respect he has for the people he leads, how much he cares about his work, and getting it done right. He is not effusive in his praise for your good work, he does not give out stars on foreheads. He expects everyone to do their job and won’t go out of his way to pat you on the shoulder for doing that – ‘that’s what paychecks are for’ is something you may hear Lou mutter. You realize though that when you do get that ‘job well done’ from Lou, you did something outstanding. You would happily trade a hundred ‘nice job’ comments for one of Lou’s ‘Great work on that, thank you’, even if you get just one in a year. While you put Lou in that ‘Old School’ category of bosses, which he surely is, you understand that there was a reason the Old School was successful, and you would be well-served to bring a lot of that mentality to your own work and career.


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