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Murphy Brown - #MurphyToo - Review

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Murphy Brown “#MurphyToo” was written by the team of Gina Ippolito and Skander Halim and was directed by Don Scardino, whose other credits include Rescue Me, 30 Rock, 2 Broke Girls, and Young Sheldon. The show remains on point politically. I liked the balanced way that the show approached a very hot button issue. I think this is Candice Bergen’s strongest performance so far in the reboot.

As the show opens, the team is just finishing up an episode and warning the viewing audience about flu season – especially Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It’s a nice nod to why this episode is timely politically – the recent Kavanaugh debacle as the latest salvo in the #metoo movement.

It’s sexual harassment seminar day at Murphy in the Morning. Murphy (Candace Bergen) doesn’t think that she needs to stay, but it’s important to remember that even Murphy’s little dig at Frank’s (Joe Regalbuto) v-neck shirts is inappropriate – and could result in her being fired. Murphy points to her name in the title of the show as further evidence that she’s above such considerations and the seminar leader brings up Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Bill O’Reilly… all fired after thinking they were “untouchable.”

Pat (Nik Dodani) is excited to be at his first Sexual Harassment Seminar – he’s a man! He’s fully employed! Meanwhile, we’ve seen that always unlucky in love Miles (Grant Shaud) is interested in one of the research staff – Monica (Paloma Guzman) – and it’s pretty clear it’s reciprocal. However, when Miles asks a “hypothetical” question about asking out a co-worker, he’s told in no uncertain terms that any such conduct is unacceptable and not allowed.

Meanwhile, Pat helps Frank try to regulate his behavior with a phone app that Pat’s developed call “App-ropriate Behavior”! Every time Frank says something inappropriate he gets a zap from his phone via the app. The app turns out to be even more successful than Pat could have imagined. By the end of the episode, Frank is all but lame due to the violent shocks the system is giving him. In fact, the app works so well that it’s learned to read Frank’s blood pressure and pulse patters, so that he merely has to think offensive thoughts to get really zapped!

So far, one thing the show isn’t make good use of is Miguel (Adan Rocha). His only contribution in this episode is to tell us he worked in his family’s food truck and to be freaked out by patrons asking for ICE for their drinks. It’s a nice way to keep the DACA question – and the behavior of ICE – in our minds, but I’d like to see more development of the character to round him out to be more than simply a political placeholder.

The team heads to Phil’s after their seminar. Miles continues to be hilariously inept around Monica – I still love Shaud’s physical comedy – and the truly tormented faces he can pull off. Corky (Faith Ford) spends virtually the entire episode listing all the creeps that have harassed her over the years – and Corky is exactly the sort of vulnerable person you’d expect it to have happened to. Corky points out that every woman has a story. I loved Phyllis (Tyne Daly) getting one of the best lines in the episode – she had four husbands and “none of them could find the spot!” When Corky pushes Murphy about her experience, Murphy brushes her off – who’d be stupid enough to try anything with Murphy? But Murphy hasn’t always been the self-confident person we’ve all known…

Avery (Jake McDorman) returns home to find a very distracted Murphy clipping coupons. I loved him trying to get her attention by saying that Trump shot Bob Mueller! It’s also perfect when he tells Murphy that they had their sexual harassment seminar at Wolf last week but it was more of a “how to” than a “#metoo” approach. Avery finally teases out the story of Murphy’s college professor – Professor Talbot (Harris Yulan) who took advantage of her. Murphy wonders if maybe she’d lead him on, but Avery insists that she is victim blaming.

This is another really great scene between these two. And again the show does a good job in providing some balance. Murphy asks Avery how he manages in this new – hopefully – more enlightened era. He points out that first of all, he was raised right – to respect women. Secondly, he asks before he ever initiates any physical contact. He says it can be awkward but that it’s worth it because he never wants a woman to feel the way she does. He emphasizes again that Talbot worked at gaining Murphy’s trust – Talbot was grooming her.

Murphy turns to Phyllis for advice. It makes sense as they are women of the same era. Daly is excellent in this scene as she tries to put Murphy off – this is why she never wanted to take over the bar! She doesn’t want to engage – and is horrified when she does… but of course, then she’s all in. As Phyllis puts it, back then, they didn’t realize it was assault or abuse, they simply filed it as a bad date – because that’s what was expected.

Phyllis asks if Talbot is still alive and tells Murphy that it’s not too late for her to confront him and get closure. She urges Murphy to do it because Murphy has a voice – she’s someone that people will pay attention to – and Murphy owes it to all the others he no doubt did it to over the years, and the ones he still might do it to.

Murphy takes Phyllis’ advice and is greeted at Talbot’s door by his latest 19 year old assistant – Jessica (Sasha Diamond). I would have liked Murphy to warn her outright, but she does make sure that Jessica doesn’t feel like she has no options and gives her her card, telling her to call her station. Murphy assures her that the network is always looking for bright young people. Naturally, Murphy’s award is in a glass case by the door. More creepy, however, is that Talbot has a whole wall of clippings about her – and brags about knowing her – and teaching her – to everyone.

It seems like Talbot has no idea that he’s done anything wrong. He’s happy to see Murphy and is confused that he could never get through her secretaries to get her to speak at his class. The secretary part is pretty funny really… Murphy, however, gets right to the point. She describes the night he attacked her. He immediately asks if this is part of #metoo. He knows what he’s done. Murphy tries to emphasize what he did to her – he made her doubt herself.

Talbot, however, wants to continue victim blaming, claiming that she lead him on. He claims that he opened up the world for her and tries to claim that everything she’s achieved is because of him! Murphy tells him that he gave her nothing – and then, realizing that she’s never going to get through to this old white guy, she grabs a hammer – another award – and breaks the glass case – nicely and symbolically freeing the award and herself from Talbot.

Back at the bar, Miles is thrilled when Monica quits to take a better job because it means that he can ask her out – and she says yes! Avery is proud of Murphy for not getting arrested, and she worries she may have lost her edge. She presents the hammer to Phyllis, telling her it makes an excellent “nutcracker!”

I thought this episode was funny and still politically right on point. I liked that we see most of the men in the show taking the issue seriously and even Frank trying to do better. It’s also a bit amazing that a CBS show did a great job in tackling this after the entire debacle with Les Moonves. Good for them! What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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