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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Murphy Brown is a sitcom about a female news reporter/anchor in a wacky workplace. When the show originally premiered in the '80s, the title character, played by Candice Bergen, made waves as a positive role model for women in the workplace. Brown, a capable and successful reporter, can be pretty sarcastic, and her wry one-liners might fly over the head of younger viewers, and there are some sexy jokes and relationship issues. The show makes frequent references to politicians and other newsmakers of the late '80s and early '90s, which can serve as a gentle history lesson for teens watching now. While it may not seem groundbreaking today, this series, like Mary Tyler Moore before it, changed the game for women on TV. The show's 2018 update is a literal one: same cast, same news show, a laugh track, jokes about Spanx. The show continues its focus on politics by leaning fiercely anti-Trump.
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What's the story?
In the hugely successful sitcom MURPHY BROWN, which enjoyed a 10-year run on CBS, Candice Bergen plays the title character. Murphy, an ace reporter for a network newsmagazine series called FYI, struggles to balance her work and personal lives. Joining Murphy in the studio are Jim (Charles Kimbrough), the uptight senior anchor who's often the butt of Murphy's jokes; Frank (Joe Regalbuto), a reporter, a perennial bachelor, and Murphy's best friend; Corky (Faith Ford), a former Miss America turned journalist; and Miles (Grant Shaud), a young, cocky Harvard graduate who's the show's executive producer. In 2018, the show was rebooted with the same cast relaunching their talk show in the Trump era -- in the exact same time slot as Murphy's son Avery's (Jake McDornan) political discussion show on the ultra-right Wolf Network.
Is it any good?
The show -- which has often been compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show -- is smart, the dialogue witty and topical, and the acting top-notch. Bergen won five Emmys for her role on Murphy Brown, and they were well deserved. Adults will howl at Murphy's wry witticisms, but younger viewers might not get the jokes. As the series goes on, the relationships between the characters deepen, and watching co-workers become friends and family is a pleasure.
The 2018 reboot of the show gets the band back together, with Murphy, Corky, Miles, and Frank all reprising their original roles and back on television on a liberal-leaning morning TV talk show. The cast always had great chemistry and still does; but the "line, pause for laugh, line, pause for laugh" pacing seems strange in the age of YouTube -- to say nothing of the laugh track. But those who remember the original version fondly will be happy to have more of what they loved a few decades ago, and the public figure-skewering humor reads as lightly cathartic in the modern political climate. The addition of one-man charm offensive Nik Dodani (Zahid from Atypical) as FYI's resident millennial techie/social media wonk was a good call, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about workplace etiquette in Murphy Brown. How do you do a job well and treat colleagues with respect? If you have a problem with someone you work with, how should you handle it? Is it ever OK to yell at or belittle a co-worker (or a classmate or a friend)?
How is the FYI team like a family? Are people more likely to become close friends with co-workers if they spend long hours at the office?
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