In the era of TV reboots, Murphy Brown has managed to hit a sweet spot of nostalgia and modern relevance. The show captures the original's sense of humor while acknowledging things like fake news, the #MeToo movement, and the generally diverse landscape of today's media.
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The reboot's most recent episode featured its first gay regular character's coming out scene. At a fancy media event, Miles (Grant Shaud) learns that Pat (Nik Dodani) is gay when Pat's ex, Jack (Isaac Powell), who happens to be a cater waiter at the event, confronts him.
For out actor and comedian, Dodani, his role on Murphy Brown marks his first time playing a gay character. We caught up with Dodani to find out his reaction to his coming out scene and what his first onscreen kiss with a guy was like. He also chats about working with Candice Bergen and iconic Sex and the City costume designer, Patricia Field.
OUT: How does it feel to be playing a gay character for the first time, especially in this golden age of representation in TV?
Nik Dodani: It feels like I've finally come home. It feels great. For the network to cast an openly gay actor to play an openly gay character is pretty dope. But I will say, I think the golden age of representation is yet to come.
Is your own style as adventurous as your character?
I like to think I'm adventurous in a more subtle way. So no, not really. But I'm definitely trying to get my hands on some of the wardrobe when we wrap. Putting the outfits together with Pat Field and her team every week is one of the most fun parts of the job. They say I'm the Carrie of the group when it comes to fashion (their words not mine).
Was it nice to have a coming out scene that was casual and not dramatic like they usually are?
Yeah, absolutely. I was jazzed when Diane English told me how the coming out scene was gonna go down. It's chill, funny, doesn't make a big deal out of it. No drama, no tears, no heart-wrenching diatribe about the crippling, crippling shame. Bleh.
Was this your first onscreen kiss?
This was my first onscreen kiss with a boy. Isaac and I were definitely a little nervous in the beginning. After the first few rehearsals, we would awkwardly shake hands and just walk our separate ways. But once we hung out a bit on set and got over the jitters, it was really fun. Though it was hard not to laugh at Grant's stuff while it was all going down.
Have you ever had to come out at work like that?
I've never been outed by an ex who shows up at a work event, thank god. My go-to coming out tactic at work is to casually mention a boy in the middle of a conversation. "What a crazy coincidence, Linda, I used to date a guy who wrote Lost fan fiction!"
Growing up, was there a coming out scene in a show or a movie that resonated with you?
To this day, the "Gay Witch Hunt" episode of The Office where Michael outs Oscar is one of my favorite moments in TV.
What's it been like working with Candice Bergen and the Murphy Brown cast?
The whole cast is incredible and has really welcomed me into the family. And Candice is an absolute delight to work with. She's funny, smart, and will tell you exactly what she's thinking. There's no bullshit with her, and it's hilarious. Last week, I curled my hair for fun, and when I asked her what she thought, she said, "I can't see, come closer." So I got closer. And while dramatically squinting her eyes at my head, she says, "Yeah, that's not what you want, Nik." Minutes later in the middle of rehearsal, unprovoked, she looks at me and says, "I really hate your hair." I love her so much.
Did you ever watch the original?
I used to watch reruns with my mom as a kid. I had no idea what was happening, but I think it was one of the first sit-coms I ever watched, if not the first. I wanted to binge all 10 seasons before we started shooting, but I only managed to get through the first half of the first season before I got overwhelmed and had to stop.
See Nik Dodani in Murphy Brown, Thursdays at 9:30 on CBS.