As far as TV reboots go, I am of the general opinion that they’re always going to be a massive letdown—thanks in part to Netflix’s Gilmore Girls revival and its majorly anticlimactic ending. And then there was the return of Roseanne, which… yeah…
But despite my usual reservations, I can’t help but be seriously jazzed about the news that this fall CBS is bringing back everyone’s favourite trailblazing investigative journo, Murphy Brown.
The original series, which aired from 1988 to 1998, starred the inimitable Candice Bergen (also known as Carrie’s Vogue boss Enid on SATC), as a seasoned news anchor and journalist for the fictional magazine FYI. Bergen (who notably has a current side hustle as a handbag designer) is slated to return both as a star and co-producer—along with original exec-producer and series creator Diane English—for the 13-episode revival.
Besides being helmed by two pretty spectacular women (Bergen won FIVE Emmys for playing that single character, and English, a former Vogue writer, also produced the 2008 film The Women), here are three more reasons you, too, should get excited for Murphy’s return.
Signs of the times
During its 10-year run, Murphy Brown was critically acclaimed for tackling issues of modern politics in nearly real-time. Most famously, after Bergen’s character gave birth to a son out of wedlock on the show (more on that later), and Vice President Dan Quayle attacked the storyline for “mocking the importance of fathers,” the series kicked off its fourth season with a poignant response. In the premiere episode, Murphy puts together a special edition of FYI that celebrates all the different kinds of American families—and then she organizes a prank on Quayle.
I’m not sure people know what a singular event the Murphy Brown/Dan Quayle controversy remains: A real VP attacking a fictional woman and the fictional woman being able to respond on her show. That episode was watched by 70 million people.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 24, 2018
I can’t wait to see how the new show will skewer today’s political personalities.
Pushing the envelope
Murphy getting pregnant out of wedlock, as a woman over 40, and deciding to keep the child and raise it as a single working mom is just one of the then-taboo subjects the show tackled unapologetically.
The sitcom’s premise revolves around Murphy returning to her career after a sabbatical at the Betty Ford clinic to treat her alcohol dependency, subtly nodding to the very real mental and physical health hazards of our often too-demanding careers.
Later, while battling cancer, Murphy turns to medical marijuana to manage side-effects from her treatments. Not only did this help to normalize a then-rare form of therapy, the episodes surrounding Murphy’s cancer reportedly led to a 30-percent increase in women getting mammograms that year. How’s that for pop culture having an impact?
Just add a brooch
If you’re looking for a way to rock the ’90s fashion revival like a grown-ass woman, look no further than Murphy and her sunny counterpart Corky (played by Faith Ford). Seriously, give me an oversized patterned blazer, sheer pantyhose and a tasteful brooch over crop tops and velvet chokers ANY DAY. That level of sophistication transcends decades.
Besides being a formidable fashion icon (don’t @ me), Murphy Brown paved the way for strong, funny female characters to come, like Cybill, Ally McBeal and Liz Lemon. As with any show from the ’90s, it wasn’t perfect—the all-white cast, for example, is particularly jarring in hindsight—but the series that took on topical subjects frankly, openly and most often hilariously has major potential to make itself feel as relevant today as it did when it first hit TV screens in 1988.