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Murphy Brown has taken on President Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders in its first two episodes, and in its third outing the CBS sitcom revival focused on the #MeToo movement.
It was sexual harassment seminar day at Murphy in the Morning, and while Murphy (Candice Bergen) and her co-workers Corky (Faith Ford) and especially Frank (Joe Regalbuto) weren’t too pleased to sit through the talk, Miles (Grant Shaud) was adamant that every employee be educated about gender dynamics in the workplace.
“Even a seemingly innocent comment about a co-worker’s attire can constitute harassment,” warned the instructor, to which Murphy replied, “I’m sorry, but if Frank wears another deep V-neck again I’m commenting.”
A good burn, sure, but still the kind of comment that could get someone in trouble. Miles asked a “hypothetical” question about whether an executive could ask out an employee if they were getting positive signals — which the instructor shot down. “Any advances, welcome or unwelcome, toward subordinates are unacceptable,” the instructor said.
Meanwhile, Frank was having a hard time keeping the new, woke world straight, so social media/tech whiz Pat (Nik Dodani) downloaded a new app he’s developing on to Frank’s phone that would help the old dog learn some new tricks, so to speak — namely, how to not be lecherous. Every time he said anything inappropriate, the phone would buzz. (It buzzed violently enough that, by the end of the episode, Frank begged Pat to take it off his phone.)
At Phil’s, Phyllis (Tyne Daly) informed her patrons that because “ICE” is a triggering word for her DACA student employee Miguel (Adan Rocha), ice cubes would now be known as “frozen cubes of water,” or FCWs. The Murphy in the Morning gang then entered, discussing their experience at the seminar and how many times they’d been harassed. While Corky was open about the myriad times it had happened to her — “I don’t know any woman who doesn’t have an experience,” she said — Murphy was suspiciously quiet. Later, at home, her son Avery (Jake McDorman) realized something was wrong, and she opened up to him about the time when, at 19, her college professor and mentor took advantage of her.
“I put it in a drawer in the back of my brain and moved on,” Murphy said, because that’s just what you did. But Avery told his mom she was victim-blaming herself and that her professor had groomed her. Avery gets consent before any physical contact. “Maybe it’s a little bit awkward, sure, and maybe it’s less romantic, but I would never want to make somebody feel the way you do right now,” he said.
Chatting with Phyllis, who had experiences of her own — “In those days, it wasn’t sexual harassment. It was a bad date,” she shared — Murphy decided to confront the professor.
At his house, the same place where he assaulted her, she noticed that not only did he have a young, 19-year-old female assistant (the same age Murphy was at the time of her assault), he also had a shrine to Murphy.
Murphy reminded him about the “celebration party” he told her he was hosting the night of the assault, the night she won a student journalism award. “You made me doubt myself,” she tells him. “I always wonder if I deserved my praise or you had singled me out.”
The professor said she’d been flirting with him. When she countered that she ran away shaking and that she wanted an apology, he lashed out. “Everything you accomplished, Murphy, was because of me,” he said.
But she told him she accomplished everything in spite of what he did to her, and got the closure she sought by telling him off and taking back the award she won that night as a student.
In happy news for Miles, the researcher he had a crush on (the subject of his “hypothetical” question) got a new job, opening the door for him to ask her out. Happily, she accepted, telling him to call her.
Murphy Brown airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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Tyler James Williams
The Duffer Brothers
Robert De Niro