South O’ the Highway

Candice Bergen Returns as Murphy Brown this Fall

After 20 years off the air, East Hamptonite Candice Bergen’s critically acclaimed sitcom Murphy Brown has received a 13-episode order from CBS, airing the reboot season in 2018-19. In a statement from the network, the show will return “to a world of cable news, social media, fake news and a very different political and cultural climate.”

The show’s original creator Diane English will serve as the reboot’s writer/executive producer, and Bergen will act as co-executive producer, while also reprising her role as the eponymous Murphy Brown. No word yet on whether the rest of the series’ main characters will reprise their roles.

Murphy Brown joins a long list of recent and upcoming reboots flooding primetime television, including: MacGyver and Magnum PI on CBS, Will & Grace and The Office on NBC, The Greatest American Hero and Rosanne on ABC, Charmed on The CW, and Party of Five on Freeform.

During the sitcom’s original 10-year run, from 1988–98, it won 18 out of 62 Emmy nominations and three out of 15 Golden Globe nominations. Bergen won a total of five Emmy awards and two Golden Globes.

Aside from its numerous awards, the show also made headlines when it was criticized by then Vice-President Dan Quayle. In a speech responding to the L.A. riots and their relation to crumbling family values, Quayle remarked that, “It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.”

Murphy Brown then reacted like no American sitcom had done before, it shot back. In its Season 5 premiere, it played the full clip of Quayle’s criticisms, followed by Murphy responding not with biting humor, but with a serious look at America’s definition of family, which is still pertinent today.

The Vice-President says he felt it was important to open a dialogue about family values, and on that point, we agree. Unfortunately, it seems that for him, the only acceptable definition of a family is a mother, a father and children. And in a country where millions of children grow up in non-traditional families, that definition seems painfully unfair. Perhaps it’s time for the Vice-President to expand his definition and recognize that whether by choice or circumstance, families come in all shapes and sizes. And ultimately, what really defines a family is commitment, family and love.

In the current political climate, it will be interesting to see which politicians the sitcom will target next, but if Saturday Night Live and The Grammys are any indication, there’s one man who is sure to be angrily tweeting about this show once it premieres this fall on CBS.

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