It was only a matter of time before The Morning Show embraced a smooth jazz cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” The fact that a woman is singing “I’m a creep / I’m a weirdo” is fittingly ironic, considering this show is about the explicitly cringy and inappropriate interactions between a man and his younger woman counterparts in the workplace. Picking up right where the The Morning Show premiere left off (and creating the ultimate binge) episode 2, “A Seat at the Table,” delves deeper into the pre-existing relationships between the staff of TMS — and the new relationships on the horizon.
The most interesting budding relationship is, of course, the one between Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon). There is a connection forming between the two journalists with lax bro names — whether they like or not. While Bradley is raw and not afraid to ruffle feathers, Alex is been subdued and restrained after being the public face of a huge media corporation for nearly two decades. The wear-and-tear of being the first face America sees every morning — always cheery, never tired — starts chipping away at her. Without her wingman, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), she has no protection. She’s fearful of being left high and dry (another Radiohead reference for you guys), but she’s facing a lack of allies behind-the-scenes. She’s also crying a lot, which is messing up her makeup.
It’s only been one day — 24 hours — since the New York Times story on Mitch broke, and Alex is likely days away from being out of a job. She counts Charlie ‘Chip’ Black (Mark Duplass) as a friend and confidant, not realizing that he is trying to preserve his job by getting rid of hers. But mostly, the open co-host seat and the fate of Alex’s career is in Cory Ellison’s (Billy Crudup) hands. Even though Chip is the executive producer of the show, Cory is head of the news division and he has a new vision for the show — a younger, Alex Levy-less vision. His plan to get Alex out is to play mind games with her. Cory half-heartedly starts to vet Bradley to come on as a Morning Show correspondent after witnessing the charged interview between the two women, and invites her to an evening gala honoring the show to throw Alex off her game. Bradley is so green to the world of high-brow and high-stakes broadcast media that she isn’t aware that she is being used as a pawn to get under Alex’s skin.
Cory’s attempt to make Alex frustrated and insecure about her position of power at the station almost works when he tells her that the network paid for her to receive her leadership in journalism award. He’s so smug and full of himself that he reminds me of a nerdier version of his Almost Famous character, with the same overly-confident bravado of a man who has stepped on other people’s necks to get to the top. That is, until Alex leans the fuck in and screws him over.
In a twist that viewers probably saw from a mile away (I love all these actors, and appreciate how much fun filming this show must have been, but it is far from nail-biting), Alex announces that Bradley will be joining her as her esteemed co-host on the show, effective immediately. She’s using Cory’s pawn against him, and preserving her seat at the table — for the time being.
Alex adds one more angry white man to her list of frenemies, right next to the ostracized Mitch, who toys with the idea of crashing the black-tie event. He goes so far as to drive to the entrance before deciding to pull away. It’s a moment that I wouldn’t exactly describe as mature (please…), but an indication that Mitch is in fact capable of brief consideration for someone other than himself. I think he and Alex really did love and support each other, as colleagues and friends. I also think that Mitch sees himself as a victim. He compares his swift removal from his job, and state of financial despair, to McCarthyism in the ‘50s.
“I am as innocent as any straight middle-aged white man there is. The only problem is that seems to be illegal these days,” Mitch tells Chip. The “run-of-the-mill” creeps are next to be #MeToo-ed, he says, implying that Chip has something to worry about in that regard.
In response, Chip wisely advises Mitch to “stop talking and start fucking listening.” That might be the advice ringing in Mitch’s ear when his driver pulls away from the event, but I think it’s because he doesn’t want to make Alex’s life any more difficult. He knows that the network wants her out, and he never wanted to hurt her. He is just morally and ethically corrupt and deeply unapologetic for his alleged sexual misconduct.
The bond he and Alex shared is almost entirely broken, but will the bond between her and Bradley shape up to be half as strong? So far, the “women supporting women” line has been used almost sarcastically. There’s been little respect paid to the actual idea of these two qualified, compelling, and talented women working together to bring news into the homes of millions. Hopefully Alex is just duping me like she’s duping the rest of the guys at the top of her morning show food chain.
Can Bradley “two fucks” Jackson provide the much-needed image and moral rehaul The Morning Show needs? More importantly: Will she, too, get a pair of black thick-rimmed glasses?
Water Cooler Gossip:
-There’s some Veruca Salt role play happening between one-time co-host hopeful Yanko Flores (Nester Carbonell) and his assistant Claire Conway (Bel Powley). Their safe word is “climate change.” What a woke workplace affair.
-The show's booker Hannah Shoenfeld (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is our Shiv Roy with training wheels. She goes to the home of one of Mitch’s accusers to convince her to tell her story to TMS to help ramp up their falling ratings. It works (again).
-The best part of the episode is Mindy Kaling showing up as Alex’s competition (we spot her character earlier on a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it magazine cover). During a red carpet interview at the leadership event, she says, “I can’t imagine working with that man,” which is a funny nod to the fact that in an alternate universe, Kaling’s Kelly worked for Carell’s Michael in The Office.