From The Mary Tyler Moore Show, here’s a classic episode that focuses on Sue Ann Nivens, the character played by Betty White (who turns 91 today, Jan. 17, 2013).
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Sue Ann Gets the Axe” (1977)
In “Sue Ann Gets the Axe,” Sue Ann’s Happy Homemaker show has been canceled, but she is determined to work out her contract at WJM. The station assigns her to a variety of jobs intended to humiliate her and force her to leave—including recording voice-overs while seated in close quarters with a lecherous, cigar-smoking slob (see it at 10:48), and later performing as “Aunt Daisy” in a silly costume with hostile puppets in a Kukla, Fran & Ollie-type children’s show (see 15:14).
Sue Ann begs Lou to give her a job in the newsroom, but in a moment of cowardice, he delegates the decision to Mary, who refuses. Ultimately, feeling guilty about a previous one-night-stand with Sue Ann, Lou pressures Mary to hire Sue Ann, but Mary stands her ground.
This episode is interesting for a number of reasons. Not only is it a rare Sue Ann-centric episode, but it also showcases Mary’s growth as a character over the run of the series—notably, her increased self-confidence and maturity.