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Generations drama

Briga Heelan in 'Great News' (Patrick Wymore/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Television

Generations drama

A mother-daughter relationship anchors newsroom comedy 'Great News'

It’s tough not to compare NBC’s midseason comedy Great News to other shows by Tina Fey.

This one was created by former 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield and is produced by Fey herself. Fey fans will spot similarities to 30 Rock—from the flashback sequences and nearly identical background music to the basic plot premise: A bunch of harried producers try to cobble together a live show starring two divas.

Still, Great News takes some refreshing risks. At its core is a mother-daughter relationship—not a strained one that’s exhausting to watch, but the story of two quirky, authentic women who actually love and appreciate each other.

Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan) works as a segment producer for an afternoon cable news show. Her 60-year-old mother, Carol (Andrea Martin), gets an intern job at the network, creating the setup for something else that feels fresh: generational comedy. Extending the theme of generational disconnect are show hosts Chuck Pierce (John Michael Higgins) and Portia Scott-Griffith (Nicole Richie), who have almost nothing in common, age included.

This theme feels relatable at a time when millennials and older generations compete for office space: Millennials recently surpassed Generation X as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Banter ranges from topics like Carol’s helicopter parenting to Chuck’s “mansplaining.”

Great News has likable characters and great writing, and without its occasional mild language and crude humor, it would make for great family viewing. But by now, the cable news show premise is a bit stale. The cast also suffers from some awkward acting. Despite a positive message that the older and younger generations need each other, this particular show would probably tank without the comedic presence of Higgins and Martin.