There’s nothing like a party to bring out bad behavior in well-dress people. In this week’s Murphy Brown, the gang gets gussied up for a a lifetime achievement award ceremony.
Murphy (Candice Bergen) and Avery (Jake McDorman) share more than parallel career tracks this week — it seems their love lives have also started to sync up. At the top of this week’s episode, Murphy is surprised to learn that her network isn’t buying their cast a table at Jim Dial’s Lifetime Achievement Award — and further shocked to learn that the Fox pseudonym that Avery works for (the “Wolf” network) is treating their talent. She’s nearly floored when Avery reveals he is bringing a date — and this author joined her in shock when Avery asks about her sex life. It’s not the conversation a typical mother and son might have had twenty years ago. But their dialogue is a harbinger of the direct and open communication taking place more frequently between Millennials and their parents. The barriers around certain faux pas subjects are beginning to become more acceptable, as demonstrated in Avery and Murphy’s relationship.
The members of Murphy’s generation struggle at the gala. Corky (Faith Ford) exchanges barbs with Katie Couric (playing herself) when they arrive in the same dress. Frank nearly stumbles into his own #MeToo moment when he asks the head of the network if she wouldn’t be a little more fun with a few drinks in her.
Miles (Grant Shaud) has dragged Pat (Nik Dodani) away from a Childish Gambino concert to attend the event, and in return (as revenge?) Pat has convinced Miles to go in a loud red suit. When Pat’s ex expresses distain of his choice of an unfashionable older man, Miles realizes his young social media director is gay and does not react gracefully. “How could you not know I was gay?” Pat asks him, to which Miles merely stumbles, stammers, and stutters awkwardly.
Miles, who started his career in an extremely different social environment, struggles with Pat’s cavalier “coming out”. For Millennials, many of whom came of age in an era of marriage equality, expressing who they are is less fraught in a more accepting world. While there are still without question battles to be won on the road to full equality and acceptance for queer people in America and across the world, Pat has benefitted from the generations who came before him, who fought the fights that enabled him to be blasé about his own sexuality.
The episode ends with both Murphy and Avery bringing dates home, and the two muscle through a truly embarrassing run-in the morning after. Murphy‘s choice to lean-in to the relationship between Murphy and her son is a wise one. Members of Murphy’s generation and her original audience see a recognizable world through her perspective, while younger viewers have a proxy in Avery. Ultimately fostering an understanding between generations as diverse as Baby Boomers and Millennials is a daunting task, but this show makes a fresh attempt at it. As is intrinsic to the nature of the sit-com, it is the misunderstandings of the characters that enable the understanding of its audience.