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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
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TV Series
    (January 6, 1976-March 10, 1977)
    Syndicated prime time soap opera (325 episodes)
    Aired five days a week without repeats
    Produced by Norman Lear
    Louise Lasser as Mary Hartman
    Greg Mullavy as Tom Hartman
    Dody Goodman as Martha Shumway
    Debralee Scott as Cathy Shumway
    Claudia Lamb as Heather Hartman
    Mary Kay Place as Loretta Haggers
    Graham Jarvis as Charlie Haggers
    Dabney Coleman as Merle Jeeter
    Marian Mercer as Wanda Jeeter
    Martin Mull as Garth Gimble/Barth Gimble
    Premise: Dysfunctional (naturally) family coping with life in fictional Fernwood, Ohio
    Ranked #21 on TV Guide's 'Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time'
    Lear stated he named it 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' because he felt 'everything that was said on a soap opera was said twice.' (huh?)
    It was a soap opera parody/satire that appealed to some but confused others, unlike Soap, which was a parody but infused traditional sitcom fare, enjoying higher ratings and longer lifespan.
    It was controversial enough that many stations aired it after their local nightly news programs, meaning it was either in competition with Johnny Carson or people choosing to go to sleep.
    Lasser left the series in 1977 and the ratings went down, never to recover enough to save it.
    It killed off characters in unique ways, such as drowning in a bowl of chicken soup, impaled by an artificial Christmas tree, plugged-in TV in the full bathtub, etc.
    It tackled topics head on such as VD, sexual dysfunction, domestic abuse and mental breakdown, mild by today's standards but risque back in the mid-70s.
    It was a springboard show that helped launch the careers of Coleman, Mull and Place (who won an Emmy for her role as country singer Loretta).
    The pilot episode won an Emmy for three writers in the category 'Outstanding Program and Individual Achievement,' and a song by Place's character Loretta, 'Baby Boy,' made it to #3 on Billboard's Country Singles chart.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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