Character Spotlight: Maryann Thorpe

by Judi

maryann Show: Cybil

Character: Maryann Thorpe

Played By: Christine Baranski

In a Nutshell: Maryann is Cybil (Cybil Shephard)’s best friend, a rich woman made only richer by her alimony checks from her ex-husband, who abruptly dumped her, earning himself the nickname Dr. Dick. Maryann loves drinking, shopping, and excels in The Art of the Prank, usually using her considerable talents to torment her ex-husband by ruining his dinner parties, dates and even his wedding. Terrible at men and dating, going so far as to drive away that guy from Newsradio by buying him six pairs of shoes after one date.

You Might Also Like: Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, Edward from Dharma & Greg, Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development.

Why I Love Maryann (Essay Portion)

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Cybil here at TV HQ. The discovery of the defunct sitcom on Lifetime in the wee hours has prompted marathon viewings and ridiculous text-conversations between myself and Beal. The show has proved to be so much better than we remember that I’m not exaggerating when I say we will probably gobble up all 89 episodes more than once before this little phase is over.

Maryann, and Baranski, is key to the show’s success. Gone are the days when a character could booze it up on prime time and still be completely lovable. Now we have to temper such actions with words like “rehab” and “intervention.” Perhaps my favorite part of Maryann and Cybil’s relationship is the way Cybil embraces the fact that Maryann is basically crazy, even going so far as to use it to her advantage.  She encourages her drinking, begs her to do things like help her pull a pig out of a muddy canyon and destroy her rival Morgan Fairchild’s wedding and Maryann complies happily, with a martini in her hand and a bag of hot peppers in her purse.

Who else would think an appropriate seduction technique involves a little Bo Peep costume? Who else would crawl through an AC vent to plant stinky cheese and ruin Dr. Dick’s first party since the divorce? Who else would watch her best friend’s teenage daughter perpetuate a ridiculous charade involving a fake boyfriend only to murmur to herself, “She’s coming along nicely.”

Favorite Moment: Maryann walks into the Country Western establishment, clearly out of her element, Chanel suit and all. “Oh, look. A BAR.”


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