A season and a half before Norman Lear made "relevant" programming a dominant genre with the introduction of programs like All in the Family and Maude, Room 222 was using the form of the half-hour comedy to discuss serious contemporary issues. During its five seasons on the air, the show included episodes that dealt with such topics as racism, sexism, homophobia, dropping out of school, shoplifting, drug use among both teachers and students, illiteracy, cops in school, guns in school, Vietnam war veterans, venereal disease, and teenage pregnancy.
Most importantly, Room 222 served as a prototype of sorts for what would become the formula that MTM Enterprises would employ in a wide variety of comedies and dramas during the 1970s and 1980s. When Grant Tinker set up MTM, he hired Room 222's executive story editors James L. Brooks and Allan Burns to create and produce the company's first series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This series eschewed issue-oriented comedy, but it picked up on Room 222's contemporary and realistic style as well as its setting in a "workplace family." Treva Silverman, a writer for Room 222, also joined her bosses on the new show, and Gene Reynolds, another Room 222 producer, produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off Lou Grant several years later.
Room 222 was given a number of awards by community and educational groups for its positive portrayal of important social issues seldom discussed on television at the time. It won an Emmy for Outstanding New Series in 1969.
TV shows set in high schools are a dime a dozen these days, but when "Room 222" debuted in 1969, it was unique -- and made even more so by its writers' willingness to introduce issues of the day like drugs and racism into its story lines.