En español | Breaking news: Apple TV+’s Emmy-winning drama The Morning Show returns for its much-anticipated second season on Sept. 17. For decades, the behind-the-scenes dealings at broadcast and radio news stations have been excellent fodder for TV series, often combining the petty squabbles of the workplace with the high-stakes news happening outside the studio walls. See how The Morning Show stacks up against this list of newsroom-set sitcoms and ripped-from-the-headlines dramas ranked from number 11 to number 1.
11. Back to You (2007-08)
The Plot: You might be surprised you’ve never heard of this sitcom, which has a very strong pedigree: It was executive-produced by future Modern Family creators Christopher Lloyd, 61, and Steven Levitan, 59; every episode was directed by Cheers creator James Burrows, 80; and the cast is filled with comedy legends. Chuck Darling (Kelsey Grammer, 66) and Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton, 63) were popular Pittsburgh coanchors, until Chuck got a better job in Los Angeles. When his expletive-filled on-air tirade goes viral, he finds himself fired and back in Pittsburgh, sharing the anchor desk with Kelly — who reveals that her daughter is Chuck’s, following a one-night stand a decade ago.
Newsworthy Tidbit: The actors who play the news team’s sportscaster (Fred Willard) and field reporter (Ty Burrell, 54) were later cast as father and son on Modern Family.
Watch It: Back to You, on Vudu
10. The Michael J. Fox Show (2013-14)
The Plot: If you’re a fan of Michael J. Fox (60) — and who isn’t? — you’ll be charmed by this comeback vehicle, which was canceled after only one season. In his first series regular role since leaving Spin City in 2000, Fox plays Mike Henry, a local New York City news anchor who is also returning to work after taking time off due to Parkinson’s disease. The Wire’s Wendell Pierce (57) plays his WNBC boss, while Anne Heche (52) recurs as a rival newscaster.
Newsworthy Tidbit: Need proof of how well-liked Fox is in the industry? Cameos and guest stars included Sting (69), Al Roker (67), Candice Bergen (75), Brooke Shields (56), and his Back to the Future costar Christopher Lloyd (82).
9. Kenan (2021-)
The Plot: The longest-tenured cast member in Saturday Night Live history (18 seasons and counting!), Kenan Thompson is pulling double duty as the star of his eponymous new sitcom, in which he plays a widowed father and the host of a popular Atlanta morning show. The show is divided between his home life, where he lives with his daughters, his brother Gary (fellow SNL cast member Chris Redd) and his father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson, 71), and his work at the studio, which answers such burning questions as, “How does a morning-show host function when he has to wake up at 4 a.m.?!”
Newsworthy Tidbit: Thompson was nominated for two acting Emmys this year, one for SNL and one for Kenan.
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8. The Morning Show (2019-)
The Plot: Filled with soapy twists and turns, this star-studded drama pulls back the curtain on the inner workings of a network morning show. After longtime anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell, 59) is fired due to sexual misconduct allegations, his on-air partner Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston, 52) finds a new rival in his replacement, the spunky field reporter Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon). Billy Crudup, 53, won a best supporting actor Emmy for playing network executive Cory Ellison in season one, and the new season will see the addition of Julianna Margulies (55), Holland Taylor (78), and comedian Hasan Minhaj.
Newsworthy Tidbit: The show was loosely inspired by CNN chief correspondent Brian Stetler’s book Top of the Morning, which charts the rivalry between Today and Good Morning America and the unceremonious exit of Ann Curry, 64.
Watch It: The Morning Show, on Apple TV+
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7. Being Mary Jane (2013-19)
The Plot: Gabrielle Union stars as Mary Jane Paul, a powerhouse cable news host with a very messy personal life, in this BET drama from Mara Brock Akil, 51, the creator of the hit sitcoms Girlfriends and The Game. With so few Black female lead characters on television, Union’s flawed, ambitious, realistic Mary Jane felt even more vital, and she won an NAACP Image Award in 2014 for the role.
Newsworthy Tidbit: Akil said that she based Mary Jane on her good friend and former Today host Tamron Hall, 50.
6. The Newsroom (2012-14)
The Plot: West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, 60, had already tackled the backstage drama of a television studio twice before — with Sports Night (see below) and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip — and in this controversy-courting series, he turned his attention to a cable news network called ACN. Jeff Daniels, 66, won an Emmy for his role as volatile anchor Will McAvoy, who decides to stop playing it safe (he’s called “the Jay Leno of news anchors”) and start really going after the truth. The series takes place in the real world, meaning we hear McAvoy’s takes on topics like the rise of the Tea Party, the Trayvon Martin killing and the war in Syria.
Newsworthy Tidbit: Jane Fonda (83) — whose third husband was CNN founder Ted Turner (82) — plays the CEO of ACN’s parent company.
Watch It: The Newsroom, on HBO Max
5. Great News (2017-18)
The Plot: Tina Fey (51) co-executive-produced this witty and underappreciated 30 Rock follow-up, which is set behind-the-scenes at a cable news show called The Breakdown, hosted by former network anchor Chuck Pierce (John Michael Higgins, 58) and self-promotional upstart Portia Scott-Griffith (Nicole Richie). Briga Heelan stars as segment producer Katie Wendelson, who’s faced with a unique work challenge — her mother, Carol (played by the legendary Andrea Martin, 74), has joined the team as an intern!
Newsworthy Tidbit: Fey has a recurring role as network head Diana St. Tropez.
Watch It: Great News, on Netflix
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4. Sports Night (1998-2000)
The Plot: While it lasted only two seasons, this Aaron Sorkin dramedy was quietly revolutionary in the way it subverted sitcom tropes to tackle such big topics as steroid abuse and sexual assault — proving that “sports news” could be every bit as important as straight news. Set at a fictionalized version of ESPN’s SportsCenter, the series features Josh Charles, 50, and Peter Krause, 56, as the show’s hosts, Dan Rydell and Casey McCall; Felicity Huffman, 58, as executive producer Dana Whitaker; and Robert Guillaume as managing editor Isaac Jaffe.
Newsworthy Tidbit: Sports Night was Sorkin’s first TV show, premiering exactly one year before The West Wing.
Watch It: Sports Night, on Amazon Prime Video
3. NewsRadio (1995-99)
The Plot: One of the most underrated shows of the 1990s, this workplace comedy followed the shenanigans at WNYX, an AM news radio station in New York City, with an ensemble that included Dave Foley (58), Stephen Root (69), Andy Dick (55), and Maura Tierney (56). When Phil Hartman, who played news anchor Bill McNeal, died in between seasons four and five, his old SNL castmate Jon Lovitz (64) stepped in. “I’m doing this for Phil,” he said at the time. “There’s nothing more to say.”
Newsworthy Tidbit: According to show lore, the entire cast and crew was banned from the SAG Awards after one appearance, when they took their shoes off, stole wine from other tables, and got drunk and rowdy.
Watch It: NewsRadio, on Crackle
2. Murphy Brown (1988-98, 2018)
The Plot: Candice Bergen racked up five Primetime Emmys for her portrayal of the titular investigative reporter and anchor of the 60 Minutes–like newsmagazine FYI. Set in D.C., the show featured a rotating door of high-profile guest stars, including Connie Chung (75), Katie Couric (64) and even Newt Gingrich (78). In 2018, the show came back for a one-season reboot to tackle the political and media landscape in Trump’s America; in a nod to one of the show’s long-running gags, Hillary Clinton (73) cameos in the premiere as a candidate to fill Murphy’s open secretary position.
Newsworthy Tidbit: The show made headlines of its own when Vice President Dan Quayle (74) criticized Murphy for being a single mother. The writers later incorporated his speech into the 1992 episode “You Say Potatoe, I Say Potato” — and Bergen thanked Quayle in her Emmy acceptance speech the next year.
1. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77)
The Plot: Ranked fourth on Entertainment Weekly’s 100 best television shows of all time list, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is undeniably “important”: The story of Mary Richards, an unmarried Minneapolis news producer, set the template for all future workplace comedies and shows about single women in the city. But what really made the show sing is that it was absolutely hilarious, with one of the most well-oiled comedy ensemble machines in television history. Who wouldn’t want to work alongside grumpy producer Lou Grant (Ed Asner), vain but lovable anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), trustworthy writer Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), and, yes, even the Happy Homemaker herself, Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White, 99)?
Newsworthy Tidbit: The groundbreaking sitcom picked up 29 Emmy wins and launched three successful spinoffs: Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant.
Watch It: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, on Hulu
Nicholas DeRenzo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and travel. Previously he was executive editor of United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset and New York magazine.