I, along with the rest of what I like to call “35 and older Twitter,” got really excited when a Murphy Brown reboot was announced in January. If the CBS upfront is any indication, the network is very happy with what they have – the cast was given a prime spot, and a teaser reel (with highlights from the original) was played. Candice Bergen said they didn’t film a pilot because the jokes would already be out of date.
So it’s going to be topical – Murphy is coming back from retirement to battle the forces of Fake News; Frank is grappling with neo-Nazis in designer polo shirts and Corky is looking for work after being pushed out by a “perkier” colleague. And Miles is there, too; my least favourite part about this whole thing was the joke that he worked on The View. That made me roll my eyes -- I don’t like that he was a shell of a man because of the backstage politics and backstabbing, which is always the same damn joke we hear about The View. The show is 20 years old and paved the way for many female-dominated panels, so I guess I’m over the “The View women are crazy!” jokes from 10 years ago.
Besides Miles, there’s a new social media manager who will teach team FYI about Twitter and memes. Murphy will of course be exasperated by all of it. (I hope they don’t just rely on the millennial jokes, because the power of social media can’t be dismissed after the 2016 election, and to treat it as an inconsequential vanity would be a disservice to Murphy’s journalistic experience.)
Overall, the show is definitely going for topical, which has worked for Roseanne. But Murphy is coming in not from the right or the left, but from a place of truth. But, and I’m not trying to be a facetious asshole, what does that even mean in today’s news cycle? How will Murphy and her team – now working on a morning show – contend with the constant flood of lies, falsehoods, misnomers, red herrings and distractions that are now a part of everyday life for reporters? And because today’s audience has so much access to so much news, and so much commentary on the absurdity of the news, I wonder how the show will set itself apart from the jokes on The Daily Show, SNL, or Samantha Bee (to name a few).
Not that I’m putting Murphy Brown in a corner. Remember, this show was on the forefront of the “family values” handwringing of the early 90s. If the current dumpster fire administration tries to come for Murphy Brown (or Candice Bergen), it will just be more fodder for a storyline, just like it was in 1992.
This teaser was set up as a “where are they now” format, so it didn’t include the sitcom twist, which is that Murphy’s son is now her professional rival – he works at a competing conservative network. So not only is Murphy disappointed in the state of journalism, but she’s also probably disappointed in her son’s workplace. We know she is formidable as a journalist, but what is she like as a mother to an adult who is messing with not just her legacy – and her time slot?
Attached - Candice Bergen at a screening of Book Club in New York this week.