'Great News' Sends Up Real-Life Newsrooms

Evans Vestal Ward/NBC

The HBO series The Newsroom brought a reverence and occasional hijinks to the world of cable news. Backstage drama is always fun, but NBC's new sitcom from 30 Rock Emmy winners Tracey Wigfield and Tina Fey, on the other hand, is likely to be heavier on the hijinks. At least the territory is familiar. While The Breakdown on Great News is not a real show, the type of world that these characters inhabit feels real. It's a workplace sitcom where the workplace is all too familiar.

The real world or flip side of television personalities always makes for juicy drama and hilarious comedy. Take for example Network, Anchorman, Broadcast News, Morning Glory, Sports Night, 30 Rock, heck even Groundhog Day. To anchor the news on television takes a certain kind of gravitas. It's disingenuous in a positive way, which is not only difficult to pull off, but only makes for a stronger juxtaposition when an anchor "drops the act," so to speak.

The show also pokes fun at real cable news content. When your network does the same thing all day, it does tend to get weird. In the promo for Great News, Nicole Ritchie's character describes a segment in which she "goes undercover as an ugly person," calling to mind Tyra Banks' fat suit experiment as well as other somewhat vacuous cable news investigations. Here are The Breakdown's two anchors in action:

The Breakdown airs on MNN, which, unless you're a fan of public access television on the island Manhattan, is not a real network either. For the purposes of Great News, it's a cable news network like CNN.

This fictional show will only be enhanced by the quirky characters who work on and off-screen. Joining the two anchors are Horatio Sanz as Justin, a wise editor, creator Tracey Wigfield as a meteorologist, Adam Campbell as Greg, the boss, Briga Heelan as Katie, a producer — and Tony winner Andrea Martin as Katie's mother, who comes to work at MNN as an intern.

It helps that The Breakdown is similar to the cable news program of everyone's choosing from both sides of the aisle. We already know how these jobs work and how they'll clash before Great News even gets started.