CBS's "Murphy Brown" didn't avoid political theater during its initial run. The show, following a faux news magazine fronted by Candice Bergen's brassy lead, riffed on the headlines while offering standard sitcom shtick.
The series even went to quasi-fictional war with then-Vice President Dan Quayle over being a single mom in the 20th century, a story that ricocheted around Hollywood for some time. The media declared Bergen's character the winner, while the actress admitted off-screen the Vice President had a point – 10 years after the kerfuffle erupted.
Art is imitating life … again.
The show, like "Will & Grace," "The X-Files" and "Roseanne," is coming back this Fall 30 years after its CBS debut. We recently got our first look at the rebooted series, which brings back show regulars like Bergen, Grant Shaud, Faith Ford and Joe Regalbuto.
And guess what the reboot will target next, according to the extended teaser for the upcoming reboot? The same target virtually every other show maligns of late.
President Donald J. Trump.
The teaser shows how Brown came back to television thanks to Trump's shocking political victory. To illustrate what she meant, the clip features protest signs and other "resistance" templates in a dizzying montage. It's as fair and balanced as a CNN report.
Next up? Corky Sherwood (Ford) shares why she's back on the news front. The details don't matter. What does? She's holding a placard saying, "We Shall Overcomb," with a picture of Trump's distinctive 'do loud and proud.
Why? Her character entered the series as a dim bulb of sorts, relegated to frothy news stories. Now, she's waving a sign meant to insult a sitting president.
Isn't this a news show?
Later, new cast member Tyne Daly takes a swipe at the Trump administration's revolving door of a cabinent. Needless to say no one takes a satirical swing at Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or other Democratic foils.
We'll have to wait a few months to see how much the show follows the teaser's blueprint. Chances are this is only a sample.
In a way, the updated "Murphy Brown" should fit right in with both the latest TV offerings and journalism circa 2018. Reporters are routinely shoving their principles aside to "get" Trump on something nasty enough to dislodge him from the Oval Office. More importantly as it pertains to Hollywood, much of today's TV shows excoriate Trump in any number of ways.
Late night programs weaponize their monologues, giddy at how easily news reporters frame their jokes as breaking news stories. Sitcoms like "Will & Grace" 2.0 taunt Trump and the GOP with regularity. "Supergirl" talks of the "resistance," as does "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
The one show that doesn't directly insult Trump or his devotees? The new "Roseanne" reboot. And that show is doing just fine in the ratings, by the by. It's almost like we have another Fox News-like narrative emerging. No matter what your views on Fox News, the channel offers an alternative to most news outlets. As a result, it's a consistent ratings champ.
The new "Murphy Brown" might be better served taking a more neutral approach. Better yet, it could mock how far many news organizations have fallen in their zest to attack a GOP president. That would be subversive to the core. Instead, expect more Trump attacks come Fall. It's what the industry's key players demand, if not the audience at large.