The announcement of Mary Tyler Moore’s passing earlier this year, prompted a collective recollection of the iconic sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Many have noted the show’s groundbreaking portrayal of an independent, professional woman facing real-world issues such as equal pay, as well as for its wide influence on later sitcom characters.
What’s been less mentioned is the sitcom’s groundbreaking locale—the workplace—a locale that’s since proven to be an endless source of comic material, as demonstrated by countless workplace sitcoms that have followed the original. Why the workplace would be so well-fitted to the genre probably has as much to do with our familiarity with the basic work environment as it has to do with the way that work introduces us to strange and unfamiliar people, rules, customs and culture. Offices, as those who work in AP and AR departments know, can be an arena of conflict, pressure and friction, as much as a sanctuary of common purpose and professionalism.
In other words, work is where we work out many of our differences, and figure out how to work together. The enemy of the workplace is friction, whether it’s of the technological kind (outmoded systems and equipment), or of the interpersonal kind.
On the other hand, if there’s anything that the last few decades of sitcoms have taught us, it’s that friction is hard for humans to handle, and how we handle it often leads to laughter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmbY4y5IOGg