Long before Ally McBeal furrowed her brow, fretted over her love life and fawned over her male coworkers, there was Molly.
Molly Dodd (Blair Brown) was a thirtysomething, divorced, self-involved Manhattanite who spent much of her time musingabout her love life and ever-changing careers–which usually went hand in hand.
There was ex-hubby Fred (William Converse-Roberts), who was her boss when she sang with his band; Dennis (Victor Garber), her boss and love interest when she sold real estate; Moss (David Strathairn), her boss and the object of her flirtation when she worked in a Village bookstore; and the ill-fated Nat (full name: Nathaniel Hawthorne), a black policeman who fathered Molly’s child and then died after having an allergic reaction to MSG while eating lunch.
Not quite as quirky as Ally and gang (thankfully, there were no dancing babies), Molly’s crew also included her widowed but dating mother, her unhappily married sister Mamie and her best friend Nina. The show ranks right up there with female-driven series like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda before them and Roseanne and Grace Under Fire after them.
Molly only lasted a year on NBC but helped put Lifetime on the map when she migrated to the cabler, which started touting itself as the first network for women. Almost as trailblazing was Molly’s interracial romance, the single-mom storylines, Ally-esque fantasy scenes and relentlessly intelligent comedic/dramatic writing.
It was the real deal, way before McBeal.
USA / NBC-Lifetime-Finnegan-Just You and Me Kid / 65×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 21 May 1987 – 29 Jun 1988 (NBC) and 21 Jan 1989 – 3 January 1993
Creator and Producer: Jay Tarses
Blair Brown as Molly Dodd
William Converse-Roberts as Fred Dodd
Allyn Ann McLerie as Florence Bickford
James Greene as Davey McQuinn
Victor Garber as Dennis Windmer
Kabir Bedi as Birmanyi
Jay Tarses as Nick
Richard Venture as Edgar
Sandy Faison as Mamie
Tanya Fenmore as Katherine
Peter MacNichol as Steve Cooper
Joan McMurtrey as Claire Windmer
Maureen Anderman as Nina Shipman
David Straithairn as Moss Goodman
Darrell Larson as Dwight Bickford
John Glover as Mike Sayles