Twenty years after the original series ended, Murphy Brown will make its TV comeback this fall. We can’t tell what we’re more excited about — the return of the tough-as-nails title character, or to see how a show that has always been ahead of its time will change to suit the time we now inhabit.
We already know that the series will be the same in some ways, starting with bringing back star Candice Bergen. We suspect Bergen’s Murphy Brown will still be as sharp as ever, perhaps with even less patience with society’s shortcomings. But CBS has made it clear that the reboot isn’t a carbon copy of the original, which aired from 1988 to 1998 and received a whopping 62 Emmy nominations.
To get to the bottom of what the new Murphy Brown will be bringing to our screens, we did our own bit of investigative journalism. Here are a few key differences we found.
1. Murphy’s got a new gig
In the OG series, Murphy acted as a news anchor for FYI, a fictional CBS television newsmagazine show. This go-round, Murphy will host a show called Murphy in the Morning.
2. Her show will square off against a familiar rival
OK, so the rival isn’t familiar to us, the viewers. However, it’s someone who isn’t just familiar to Murphy — he’s downright familial. Figured it out yet? If you guessed Murphy’s now-grown son, Avery, you’re right.
According to the Daily Beast, Avery hosts an ultra-conservative talk show. The competition between his show and his mother’s show is meant to mirror the rivalry between MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Fox News’ Fox & Friends.
3. There will be new faces alongside the vets
Naturally, you’re probably wondering who’ll play Murphy’s son Avery. Spoiler alert: It’s not Haley Joel Osment. Rather, Jake McDorman (Limitless) got the part. According to the network’s official character description, Avery is a "millennial journalist who is following in his mother’s footsteps, perhaps too closely, and has his mother’s competitive spirit and quick wit."
There will be other newcomers as well. Emmy Award-winning Tyne Daly (Judging Amy) is set to play Phyllis, a new friend of Murphy’s. Nik Dodani (Atypical) will play Pat, a social media director.
4. A few old favorites couldn’t return
The sad reality is that two decades have gone by, during which a few of Murphy Brown’s original stars passed away. In 2004, Robert Pastorelli — who fans knew as Murphy’s beloved painter/nanny Eldin — died from an accidental heroin overdose. In 2006, Pat Corley, who played barkeep Phil, died of congestive heart failure. And Brittany Murphy, who guest starred on the series, died unexpectedly in 2009 at the age of 32.
5. The new age of political sparring is upon us
There should be no doubt in fans’ minds that the new Murphy Brown will be just as politically charged as its predecessor. According to a press release for the show, the reboot will focus on "a world of cable news, social media, fake news and a very different political and cultural climate."
In fact, the current political climate is part of the reason the reboot is happening. Bergen said that she and creator Diane English "thought it might be nice to have a counterweight to this administration." As for whether the cast thinks the reboot will draw the ire of the current administration, well, Bergen had something to say about that, too. "We’re hoping so much for a comment, but I think they’ll be as restrained as they can be," she told a TV Guide reporter.
6. The #MeToo movement will have its moment
Given the sexual misconduct allegations that have toppled the careers of so many men in Hollywood over the last year, it’s not surprising that a cultural touchstone like Murphy Brown would address the #MeToo movement. In the show’s fourth week, a special episode titled "#MurphyToo" will air.
"I can tell you that in the writers’ room we have a great collection of people — men and women, gay and straight — who developed this episode," English said at the Television Critics Association’s press tour. "I don’t think there is a woman out here who hasn’t had some experience with misogyny or misconduct. It’s a powerful moment and we wanted to do it justice."
Murphy Brown premieres Thursday at 9:30/8:30c on CBS.
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