WANTED: Cautious professional woman seeks loose, wacky gal pal who can prod, provoke, and give advice about men. Next-door neighbor preferred. Such an ad could have been placed by quite a few prime-time leads, who all seem to need...a Rhoda. Someone who, like Valerie Harper's Mary Tyler Moore Show character, will barge through the (unlocked) door to offer wisecracking wisdom. Consider:
Maryann (Christine Baranski), alcoholic, shopaholic, rich
divorcee, and best friend of Cybill (Cybill Shepherd).
Style: Designer duds, clunky costume jewelry.
What she'll do to get a man: Buys her first postdivorce date several pairs of expensive shoes.
Typical quip: ''Here, baby, drink this. It's called alcohol, and it'll make you not care.''
Rhodameter: 4 (with 10 indicating perfect Rhodaness)
Gloria (Jessica Lundy) on Hope & Gloria, smart-mouthed
confidante across the hall from Hope (Cynthia Stevenson).
Style: Loud prints, short skirts, red nails, big jewelry.
To get a man: Challenges Hope to an arm-wrestling match while competing for a guy.
Typical quip: ''My ex-husband, the world's worst salesman, meets my best friend, the biggest sucker on earth. What will happen? Let's watch.''
Didi (Mariska Hargitay), ditsy, hot-to-trot neighbor of Annie
(Nancy McKeon) on Can't Hurry Love.
Style: Retro T-shirts, hip-huggers.
To get a man: Leaves a sexy greeting on Annie's answering machine.
Typical quip: ''A good date is 3 a.m., tequila stains on your blouse, and your bra in your purse.''
Paige (Joely Fisher), man-hopping Hollywood development
executive and best friend of Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres).
Style: Platform sneakers, short kilt skirts, slip dresses.
To get a man: Asks no questions (boasts of dating ''like 100 different guys'' she knows nothing about).
Typical quip: ''I don't get opera. Why do they have to sing everything? Why can't they just say it?''
Annie (Amy Pietz), wry, laid-back apartment-building buddy of
Caroline (Lea Thompson) on Caroline in the City.
Style: Tight cotton dresses, cut-glass jewelry.
To get a man: Helps Caroline throw fruit out the window to get a guy's attention.
Typical quip: ''I hate to say I told you so....Actually, I like saying that.''