‘Murphy Brown’ 11×09 Review: ‘Thanksgiving and Taking’

There is a recipe for Thanksgiving episodes. It includes a turkey, an awkward family gathering, a dash of ribbing about the culinary talents of the host/hostess, and the eventual realization that despite difficulties, family is something to be thankful for. This episode of Murphy Brown has all those ingredients, but turns the realization on its head in heartbreaking fashion. The mix of holiday humor and heartbreak makes “Thanksgiving and Taking” the best episode of the season so far. It’s also one of the best Thanksgiving shows I have ever seen.

All The Laughter

I really feel for Murphy and how she wants to give Avery the perfect Thanksgiving, after they’ve spent so many holidays apart. But I also feel for her co-workers, who all try – and fail – to skip out. None of them have any faith in Murphy’s cooking skills. And when she pulls the instruction book out of her never-before-used oven, you can’t blame them.

The hungry, uncomfortable wait for dinner is punctuated with the kind of humor you’d expect. My favorite gag was when Frank receives a texted photo of someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner. All the guys stare at it as if they’re watching video of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot. And my favorite one liner came from Avery, after walking into the kitchen: “It’s like Freddy Krueger’s Thanksgiving in there!”

The humor is everything you expect from this show, and it’s exactly what’s been strongest in this reboot: Playing off the relationships between the characters. It puts us at ease, making the twist in the final third of the show a real shocker.

 

All The Tears

This episode introduces Miguel’s parents, Carlos and Maria. They entered the U.S. illegally 20 years ago, bringing their then 2-year-old son with them. Miguel is a DACA recipient, going to school and working for Phyllis and helping with the family food truck.

That food truck winds up being their downfall. Someone calls in a complaint, and agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show up to arrest Miguel’s parents. The ICE agents are unimpressed with Murphy’s bluster and unworried about the recording Pat makes of them in action. They handcuff Carlos and Maria and take them away. And there is no happy ending; despite pulling every string available to her, Murphy is unable to get the deportation reversed.

This is the kind of twist that I loved in M*A*S*H. It gives dimension to the characters, but more importantly it makes a statement about our world. There are too many people out there who still believe people who cross the border illegally are all “bad hombres” who are only out to rob, rape and push drugs. The truth of the matter is, most of them come to pick our crops and to build our houses.

“Thanksgiving And Taking” is deserving of Emmy and Golden Globe recognition. The episode presents us with a real picture of many of this nation’s undocumented immigrants, and of what can happen. It is to be hoped that the new Congress convening in January can begin to address the problems in the U.S. immigration system, so no more children are put in cages and no more families are separated.

Murphy Brown airs Thursday nights at 9:30/8:30 Central on CBS.




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