Last night, I watched the first three episodes of ‘The Morning Show’.
For the third time.
It took me about 6 hours and ten pages of notes and I’m gonna try to make sense of it all. I was gonna write about all three episodes today, but I as I write this, I realize that’s ridiculous, so this covers only the first episode.
(Warning, this will be very dialogue heavy, because that’s what my brain wanted to focus on last night. I love me some snappy words.)
This isn’t going to be a true recap, because I’d rather y’all experience the show with your own eyes and ears, so don’t expect me to tell the story… just react to it.
Also, I have a neurodivergent brain (autism, OCD, aphantasia) so I often misread intention, motivation and facial expressions. I am interested to hear y’alls interpretations as well!!!
There will be spoilers, so go watch the first episode and come back and read this!
Hit play on this playlist if you wanna immerse yourself in ‘The Morning Show’. (highly recommend, the theme song is SUCH a bop.) Let’s get started.
(These screen caps from ‘The Morning Show’ opening credits courtesy of Art of the Title.)
Episode 1: In the Dark Night of the Soul It’s Always 3:30 in the Morning
Okay, so the gist of this Apple TV+ show is:
Steve Carrell plays the co-host of ‘The Morning Show’ which is like a ‘Today Show’-type thing. He gets ‘cancelled’ for being sexually inappropriate with employees and, at its simplest, the show deals with the fall out from that.
But it’s so much more than that. It is a deep exploration (the first season at least) of the entire Me Too movement. How it effects the accused, the accusers, and something I’d not given a lot of thought to before… the people who shared a screen with the accused every single day.
Ok, so the first thing I did when watching the first three episodes was write down the first line of dialogue from each of what I considered the main characters.
Charlie (Mark Duplass): “Fred, what happened? So, that’s it? Motherfuck, we’re destroyed.“
Mitch (Steve Carrell): “Somebody better be dead, buddy.“
Alex (Jennifer Aniston): “Oh, shit” (then, after answering the “call”) “Oh my god, who died?!“
Bradley (Reese Witherspoon): (rant about the song ‘American Pie, then after hearing the news) “One less idiot to peddle soft news to the masses!“
Cory (Billy Crudup): “I feel like Mitch died.“
If you’ve seen the whole thing you know how impactful all these opening lines are.
One of the first things that I notice about the show is that everyone hovers around and protects Alex. The treat her with kid gloves.
This is particularly apparent when she walks into the newsroom after the Mitch story spreads. No one will look her in the eye. Folks she has been working with for 15 years refuse to look at her until after she’s passed them. It’s like she descends on the newsroom like a queen and everyone is afraid to make eye contact.
And none of the men break the awkward silence either. It’s a woman who does it. In fact, no men speak a single word from the time Alex arrives in the newsroom to the moment they start the countdown to live TV.
It makes me wonder what’s going on in their heads… are they feeling bad for her? Guilty? Questioning their own actions in relation to the situation?
And she greets them with silence as well, which, in my opinion is a huge difference from the way Bradley is around her coworkers.
Bradley Jackson, while confronting a coal protester on a remote, “You tell me five facts about coal and I’ll let you go!“
People are NOT afraid to tell Bradley exactly how they are feeling and I think that’s because she doesn’t filter herself. I know it’s what Cory falls in love with (professionally, at least) about her initially and, honestly, I think it’s really refreshing.
Bradley Jackson might honestly be my favorite Reese Witherspoon role. I forget Bradley’s not real sometimes, she’s that good.
I think what the characters say while Alex is addressing her audience about the Mitch situation is very telling as well. (My thoughts about the words are in parentheses. I’m trying to figure out a style for these rambling messes.)
Mitch: “She’s throwing me under the bus!” (cares only for himself and how EVERYTHING effects him)
Fred (Tom Irwin): “She’s on fire today!” (interested only in how the show and it’s scandals can further line his pockets)
Charlie: “‘sgood. Good.” (as long as he’s not in trouble he doesn’t care about shit)
Cory: “It’s too bad we can’t always throw a crisis at her; it turns her lights on.” (Ugh, Cory is so smarmy. But I feel a streak of genuine deep inside him. He likes the drama, yes, but I think he truly cares, too)
Bradley: “What a load.“
This illustrates the difference between Bradley, who at this point considers herself a “real” reporter and the “soft” journalism at ‘The Morning Show’. She can see through the bullshit, while they thrive on it.
Claire (played fabulously by Bel Powley) finds Bradley via a YouTube clip of her coal protest outburst and shares it with a producer, saying, “She’s like a piece of performance art.”
Alex, on the other hand, lives a life where people baby her, even her family. The night the news breaks, her daughter visits and Alex automatically assumes it’s to soothe her mom’s feelings, but the kid (who is normally away at boarding school) is there for a pre-planned theater trip and dinner with her dad.
While Alex and her hubby are still together, it’s clear that there is no love there. It is purely a marriage of appearances. He talks to her more like a casual acquaintance than a lover.
Hannah (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a producer for TMS hunts down Bradley at her West Virginia home to ask her to appear on the show. When Bradley asks Hannah how she even hunted the reporter down, Hannah replies, “We’re ‘The Morning Show’; we can do anything.”
I mean, that embodies the bulletproof feeling everyone involved in the show seems to have. Which is probably why it shocked them so much that Mitch went down.
Cory ponders: “Alex is like Mitch’s widow now. There is some unspoken sexual fantasy between co-hosts. She can’t provide that […] Nobody wants to watch a widow get fucked.”
Like, honestly, this is a thing I never thought about before. The women that got hurt not from direct sexual misconduct directed at them, but the way the falloit from it affected their careers or life at all. Obviously I had sympathy for the victims, but I never considered the effects on co-workers.
I’m glad this show got my brain spinnin’ on this, though.
Another thing that I thought was notable about this episode is that Alex doesn’t show emotion other than anger until she slips into Mitch’s old dressing room, where she finally gives into her tears.
One of my favorite moments of the first episode is when Bradley arrives to TMS studios. Everyone is so used to people being starstruck just being in the building that they are all taken aback when Bradley is unimpressed.
Alex, of course, treats Bradley like a piece of fluff during the interview and Alex’s cynicism is really shining through and it makes her look so old and mean. Like I get a real okboomer feeling off of her. Bradley, however, easily goes toe to toe with the seasoned professional and doesn’t get fazed one bit.
Bradley: “Parties have created a good side and a bad side for their own purposes, and once you villainize someone, there’s nothing left to do except go to war with them.”
Alex: “I know that you work for a conservative news outlet. What side of that argument do you personally fall on?”
Bradley: “Uh… the human side.“
Alex: (obviously taken aback by this answer): “W-wh-what does that mean?“
Bradley: It means I see both sides.
Ugh I love Bradley the character SO MUCH.
Okay, those are some highlights form my three pages of notes. Here’s a lightening round of some other things I wrote down:
- Alex is just as lonely as Mitch
- Alex is not mad about Mitch’s actions, just how they affect her
- Mitch to Alex: “This is Weinstein’s Fault!”
- Cory is pure smarm, but sexy AF somehow
- Claire doing the Veruca Salt bit tickled me so much
- First booze Alex drinks is Grey Goose
- Alex drinks A LOT
- Supporting cast is just as good as the mains
- Again, the theme song is a bop. I’m gonna say that every time.