Dude, You Ruined The Mary Tyler Moore Theme Song

I was excited to go to Minneapolis for the first time. I was there to support the launch of App Camp. But, as a lifelong fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I was looking forward to visiting the city that my hero Mary Richards inhabited.

To enhance my experience, I downloaded the theme song, Love Is All Around by Sonny Curtis. I was planning to listen to it on infinite repeat while walking around the city. The lyrics are familiar to so many, opening with “Who can turn the world on with a smile?” So poetic and evocative.

Then you get to the next verse:

“You are most likely to succeed.

You have the looks and charms, girl you know that’s all you need.

All the men around adore you.

That sexy look does wonders for you.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Mary is one of most iconic single working women in pop culture history, and now I’m supposed think her success is attributable to her looks and her ability to please men? Apparently, the song was extended to extra verses by Curtis so it could be aired on the radio. I am going to assume he had total control over the song, because I’d like to think that Mary Tyler Moore or producer James L. Brooks would not have approved a sexist verse that undermined the strength and intelligence of the show’s main character.

So I barely listened to the track in Minneapolis, and I always had to have my thumb ready to pause before that second verse started up. The song was ruined for me. And then I discovered that Joan Jett did a cover of Love Is All Around and she revised those terrible lyrics.

“You’re the one most likely to succeed

Just be sure to keep your head, ‘cause girl you know that’s all you need

Everyone around you adores you

Don’t give up, the world is waiting for you.”



PS. If you like TV theme songs, you might enjoy the TV Theme Song Draft episode of The Incomparable, which I appeared on. I chose the MTM theme in the third round, after Mission: Impossible in the first and The Monkees in the second.

PPS. Here’s me at the Mary Tyler Moore house. So happy!

Jean MacDonald @macgenie