Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Before 'Girls': A Television History of the Single Woman in the City

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 13, 2012 at 1:23PM

This weekend, Lena Dunham's highly anticipated new series "Girls" officially debuts on HBO. And if early reviews have anything to say about it, the show should quickly become an imperative addition to a long-cherished television genre: the single woman (or women) trying to make it in the big city.  In honor of this, Indiewire decided to take a look back at the historical progression of the shows that came before it.
4
Lena Dunham Girls

This weekend, Lena Dunham's highly anticipated new series "Girls" officially debuts on HBO. And if early reviews have anything to say about it, the show should quickly become an imperative addition to a long-cherished television genre: the single woman (or women) trying to make it in the big city.  In honor of this, Indiewire decided to take a look back at the historical progression of the shows that came before it.

While examples of the genre across the half-century or so of television are clearly fewer and farther between than demographically responsible, there's a clear trajectory that led to "Girls" (which notably features the youngest characters and frankest discussions of pretty much any of its predecessors). 

From 1966's "That Girl" to a slew of shows that premiered earlier this season (including including the similarly titled "2 Broke Girls" and "New Girl"), here's a few examples:

That Girl (ABC, 1966-1971)
Though "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" deservedly gets a lot of credit as a pioneer of the professional single women television genre (let's face it, it was a much better show), "That Girl" was definitely its forerunner.  The first sitcom ever to focus on a single woman (at least one who was not a maid or living with her parents) came in 1966 when Marlo Thomas brought the character of Ann Marie to airwaves.  An aspiring actress who moves to New York City from her small hometown, Thomas based the premise of her own life trying to get into acting.  Thomas herself was the real creator of the show (originally titling it "Miss Independence"), but she wasn't credited as such, explaining in retrospect that she "played down her power" purposely to not come across as threatening. Either way, her influence is clear. It was Thomas who fought to leave her character unmarried at the end of the show's five-year run, not wanting to send the message that that was the ultimate goal for young women.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-1977)
Widely considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was clearly a huge influence on so many female-led sitcoms that would follow it (it's even name-checked 40 years later in "Girls").  Starring Moore as the iconic Mary Richards, the show ran for seven seasons in the 1970s, winning three consecutive Emmys for best comedy series.  Richards' character was a thirtysomething, never-married, successful  television producer who remained single throughout the show's duration (though had two somewhat serious relationships at times). And in addition to her, "Mary Tyler Moore" gave us a quartet of other classic female sitcom characters (though not all of them quite as independent as Richards) in Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper, who who would spin-off the character in "Rhoda), Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman), Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) and Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel).


This article is related to: Girls, Lena Dunham, Television, Features, TV Features






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More