Film & Television

Murphy Brown is Back with Trump
in its Crosshairs

Murphy’s relationship with her son Avery is a nice addition to Murphy Brown. Avery, it seems, has followed in his mother’s footsteps. He’s a news correspondent in his own right and in episode one, we, along with Murphy, learn that he’s been offered his own show on rival network Wolf. (I’m guessing this is just the first of many thinly veiled allusions to current people, places, and things.) Avery hopes to elevate his new employer’s ultra-conservative programming by profiling real people having real conversations in real places. The show happens to fall in the same time slot as his mother’s but, always a fighter, Murphy welcomes the competition.

The premise of the new Murphy Brown is timely and — within the fictional world of “FYI,” Murphy — believable. For fans of the original series, there are plenty of winks and nods. Murphy, a brilliant journalist, was always notoriously bad at managing people; in virtually every episode, we were introduced to a new and short-lived assistant. The 2018 show brings in Hillary Clinton herself to interview for the thankless job. The scene is great fun, and Clinton seems to enjoy herself immensely, in a marvelously self-deprecating way. As Murphy runs through the standard questions, Clinton admits that she does have experience as a secretary “for a large organization,” and that she’s “Yes, very familiar with emails.”

As much as I enjoyed the premiere of the new series, the constant quips (and ubiquitous laugh track I already mentioned) feel somehow dated. Some running gags — like now middle-aged Corky’s hot flashes, or Murphy’s inability to use technology — are overdone. One of the things I remember fondly about the original Murphy Brown was that it wasn’t funny all the time. I’m hoping that English (who has returned as creator and writer) will pull back a bit on the humor and weave in some plot lines and themes that resonate as much as the show did back then. I’m certainly going to give it a chance to hits its stride.

Acknowledging some minor disappointment and reservations, I’m still glad that Murphy Brown is back. When the first episode ended, I felt like I sometimes do when getting together with old friends after a long absence. Things are different; people have grown older and changed. It’s virtually impossible to recreate the adventures you had with former classmates or the day-to-day camaraderie you knew with former coworkers. But the affection you once felt is still there somewhere, and the times you shared are still cherished.

Murphy Brown, circa 2018, is like a reunion. Even if it pales in comparison to your memories, even if it doesn’t live up to every expectation, you’re still glad you went.


You can find Murphy Brown on CBS, Thursdays at 9:30 pm. You can stream the first episode (and some classics from the earlier years) at


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  • Alexis Rhone Fancher October 2, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I was rooting for this one, but sadly, I found the reboot dull and formulaic. The only bright spot was when Hillary Clinton applied to be Murphy’s secretary du jour. That Hillary could the the bright spot anywhere says more than I ever could.