Witherspoon, an advocate for Time's Up, which seeks to protect people from harassment in the workplace, stars in and produces the upcoming series about the behind-the-scenes world of a morning news program. Few details were shared about the series — which also stars Steve Carell and Jennifer Aniston — but, when the first trailer dropped, it was revealed that Carell's character is hit with "allegations" that causes him to lose his job at the titular news program.
The parallels between Carell and real-life news anchor Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC in late 2018 following multiple sexual misconduct allegations, were clear. While the actress doesn't mention Lauer specifically in the show's inspiration, she did talk about the influence of #MeToo on the show and its characters.
"When we started, the show was just a book, and nothing had happened with Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves yet. The Roger Ailes scandal had happened the year before," Witherspoon told Portman for Harper's Bazaar. "Then, in October 2017, all those stories started to break about the way women in media were treated. We decided we needed to start from square one and redevelop everything with more of a slant about the truth coming out in media and people being held accountable for their behaviour."
Portman asked Witherspoon a question that had been on many people's minds: "Did you have any fear about depicting a nuanced portrayal of how the man feels in this type of a situation, having been so involved in the #MeToo movement?"
"As artists, we try to find the shreds of humanity in any crisis and open people’s minds to see all sides of things," Witherspoon responded. "What does it mean to be a person who loses their entire life? Their family. Their career. The #MeToo movement has been so emotional on all sides. I remember talking to women and holding them while they cried. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be the spouse or the child of one of these people who was exposed."
She added: "With the men, we ask, Where is the contrition? How are they supposed to behave? We deal with all of these questions as the season goes on."
How similar The Morning Show will be to real life headlines remains to be seen, but it will certainly tackle a cultural conversation years in the making.