Grim Gratitude: Thanksgiving on Murphy Brown Address Undocumented Immigrants in America

This week, the Murphy Brown's gang gathers to give thanks and tries to stand up to ICE.

In 2018 anything is possible, even Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) cooking a Thanksgiving dinner! The news crew is all invited, but no one wants to come — and not just because as Pat (Nik Dodani) puts, “it celebrates the slaughter of thousands of Native American people.” Murphy is a notoriously terrible cook, so her hosting a Thanksgiving is a dangerous gamble.

“It’s the Turkey Hotline, not the Suicide Hotline.”

Murphy calls the “turkey hotline” (this is a real thing) for assistance with her $350 25 pound turkey. A sardonic “helper” on the other end has plenty of wise crackers to make about Murphy’s lack of cooking skills. “$350,” he asks incredulously, “what’s it stuffed with? iPhones?” Murphy has purchased a “heritage turkey” who received five-star treatment its whole life. Until, as Murphy puts it, “one bad day.”

“It’s Like Freddie Kruger’s Thanksgiving in There”

Murphy is struggling to feed her friends, and her friends are struggling to keep their cool as a Nor’easter blows in. As the storm threatens to trap everyone into a turkey-less holiday, Miguel’s mom ventures into the kitchen to try and save the day. Her and Murphy have a heart-to-heart about the things they sacrificed for their children — in Miguel’s mom’s case, her country and her safety. She risked it all to bring her son to America as an undocumented immigrant, living more than half her life in fear of being discovered.

“I Feel Like A Pallbearer at Big Bird’s Funeral”

When the power goes out due to the storm, it’s once again immigrants to the rescue. Everyone puts on their coats and huddles out in the food truck driven by Miguel’s parents to finish cooking the turkey. But ICE arrives. Avery (Jake McDermont) films at Miguel’s parents are cuffed and escorted out of their own business by government agents. Their crying son does not even get to hug them goodbye. This light-hearted Thanksgiving special quickly turned very serious.

There is no happy ending to this episode. There’s no “get-out-of-jail-free” card for Miguel’s parents. In a heartfelt segment at the end of the show, Murphy says “I can’t imagine how it feels for a parents to be separated from their child.” Ending the show on this somber note has enormous impact. There are no jokes in the final five minutes of this episode. No quippy one-liners undercut the show’s emphatic message — we as a country must do better. We, as a country of immigrants, have an obligation to come up with a better system for refugees whose only crime is seeking a better life.

Murphy Brown continues Thursday nights at 9:30 ET on CBS.

Photos and video credit courtesy of CBS. 

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