Mary Tyler Moore is mirrored by a bronze statue of herself in Minneapolis in 2002. (Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press)

The news Wednesday that Mary Tyler Moore had died at 80 felt like a continuation of the grimmest trends of 2016, the death of important artists precisely at the moment when we needed their voices. Moore’s loss the week after women’s marches around the world announced a resurgent feminist sensibility in the face of a sexist’s election to the U.S. presidency feels particularly bittersweet.

Moore leaves a long legacy as an actress, producer and advocate, but she’s known best for her starring role in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” where as Mary Richards she turned in a groundbreaking performance that illuminated the lives of single women at a moment when it was becoming easier for them to live on their own, and that encouraged generations of women to consider the possibility that there was a place for them in journalism.

One of the things that’s stayed with me longest about “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was the way it captured the confusion and anxiety of living in a moment when opportunities and expectations for women were shifting radically, and the challenges involved in seizing those new chances and shaking off the norms that discouraged women from prioritizing their own ambitions.

It’s true that Sonny Curtis’s theme song for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” emphasized that Mary Richards was the kind of person “Who can turn the world on with her smile? / Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?” But part of what’s great about the song are the lines, which appear in the pilot but were cut in later edits of the credits sequence, that turn the focus around from what Mary can give others to what they ought to be giving her: “It’s time you started living / It’s time you let someone else do some giving / Love is all around, no need to waste it / You can never tell, why don’t you take it / You might just make it after all.” Love and the life you’ve always wanted are out there for the taking, but you have to seize them for yourself.

Mary Richards’s origin story isn’t necessarily radical by modern standards, or even the standards of 1970. She moves to Minneapolis after two years of supporting a boyfriend who was a doctor in training, only for him to tell her that he was in no rush to get married. It might have been a small gesture, the first step toward liberation for a woman who acknowledged that she was “some kind of a pushover.” But the point of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is that it takes a lot of small, personal steps to take the ideas of a social revolution and put them into practice.

Mary Tyler Moore’s inherent niceness and exuberant smile made it impossible to recast her feminist strides as shrillness or selfishness. But the way the show juxtaposed Mary Richards’s desire to be accommodating with Rhoda Morgenstern’s (Valerie Harper) spikiness and pushiness, her boss Lou Grant’s (Ed Asner) grouchiness and anchor Ted Baxter’s (Ted Knight) incompetence was a regular reminder that niceness will only get you so far, and that sometimes you have to ask for what you want in order to get it.

In that sense, Mary Richards had a lot in common with another Mary, Armistead Maupin’s Mary Ann Singleton, whose move to San Francisco is the catalyst for the events of “Tales of the City,” the first book in Maupin’s long-running saga, published in 1978, the year after “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” went off the air. Both women moved to new cities hoping to become secretaries, both end up in the television business, and both have to figure out what they really want amidst the changing social norms (which it must be said, are rather more extreme in “Tales of the City” than “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”).

Now, we’ve arrived another moment of great social upheaval, though one that’s frightening because of the possibility that the opportunities women fought so far to win are going to contract, rather than expand. As we confront the days and weeks to come, we’d do well to remember one of the lessons of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” that there’s power in being kind to yourself as you navigate new territory. I don’t know exactly how, but I have to believe that we just might make it after all.