Crowded around each other expressing excitement and joy, the men of FYI discuss a night of opportunities that awaits them. When Murphy Brown enters the conversation is quickly hushed, as the subject is something they know will agitate her. The night they are discussing takes place at the last men’s only club in D.C, meaning Murphy is excluded simply because of her gender. The episode chronicles her fight against this, illuminating the sexism that continued to exist in the wealthy workrooms of 1989 America.
While the episode follows Murphy in her individual battle, the overall issue is one that affects more than just her. A notable moment occurs in the beginning of the episode when Miles is explaining that Murphy has no place in the club. At this moment, Corky quickly jumps into the conversation and her interruption is met with a cold shoulder as Miles shrugs her comment off stating “Corky, you’re not even in this conversation”. “Every woman in this room is in this conversation”, Corky quickly responds, illuminating that this single argument is undeniably connected to a greater issue of gender inequality. Backed by a multitude of other women, this statement is powerful, despite it being subsequently dismissed by the writers with an offside joke.
As the storyline progresses, we see Murphy’s multiple attempts at “breaking the sex barrier” and the rude and demeaning responses she receives from the men she encounters. When she first attends the club the manager bars her, claiming that her “behavior is inappropriate”, despite her being a highly respected journalist whose behavior is perfectly in line with the clubs policies. Later, when she manages to become a member due to discrepancies in the rulebook, every fellow member treats her rudely and eventually all of the men leave due to their discomfort with her presence. It is a disheartening and frustrating scene, documenting the ridiculous and childish attitude men had (and some still have) towards the other sex. While Murphy Brown often is able to triumph over her challenges, she fails in this episode, a smart choice by the writes which acknowledges that it will take more than one woman, no matter how incredible she is, to fight the system of inequality that women are subject to.
The episode does create hope in the matter, however, with the change witnessed in the character Jim. When first confronted with his good friend and coworker Murphy Brown’s desires to “infiltrate” the men’s club, he completely shuts her down. This dismissal continues throughout the episode until he experiences first hand the disrespect Murphy has to endure from the men in this club. A final scene depicts him fighting against the men in the club who he previously stood beside, showing that progress is possible when it comes to sexism and gender inequality.