Episode 4 of The Morning Show, “That Woman,” reveals that the worst thing to happen to the broadcast show wasn’t Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell). It was the toxic system that enabled him, allowing him to thrive and prosper as an untouchable God-like figure for so many years. Mitch is a creep, but, as is hinted throughout the episode, the real monsters live upstairs, on the tippy-top floor of UBA.
The first half of the episode is an unironic intro to Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) as Alex Levy’s (Jennifer Aniston) co-host, and as her unfiltered self. She plays along with the producer’s shtick — I guess Alex’s tender moment at the end of episode 3 worked — and even lets them interview her mom. But then something comes over Bradley; that “two fucks” energy is too much for her to deny and she blurts out that she’s really not as perfect as this segment is making her seem. She lists off a string of moments that she finds relatable, including the very personal and private truth that she had an abortion at the age of 15. Her mother didn’t know about, and we later learn that Bradley had never really told anyone that fact. As a network with many close-minded pro-life viewers, and certain types of (right wing) advertisers, network executive Frank Mickland (Tom Irwin) is pissed about the financial reparations the show will face because of Bradley sharing her life experience. Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), however, looks pleased. He wants Bradley to shake up the newsroom, although Bradley herself doesn’t have an answer as to why she revealed that information when Alex demands, through gritted teeth, why she just said that to all of America. She just...blurted it out.
The response, beyond Chip (Mark Duplass) and Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman) freaking out with the show’s other producers, ignites a nationwide response. Mississippi high schoolers stage a walk-out in support of Bradley, and other networks use her story to highlight the staggering amount of anti-abortion laws, legislation, and regulations made against women’s bodies. Her moment of vulnerability came from a place of frustration — she only wants to be truthful to the millions of viewers watching their TV at breakfast — but it ends in a place of enlightenment. She realizes how much she wants this job, and how impactful, both positively and negatively, her words can be.
High off surviving her first “scandal,” woke Twitter and all, Bradley is given the coveted interview with Ashley Brown, one of Mitch’s accusers. Originally, you’ll remember from episode 2, Ashley was going to go to a competitor to tell her story until Hannah Shoenfeld (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) convinced her to reclaim her time and name at The Morning Show with Alex. But now, it’s Bradley who’s in charge. And after an (leading) off-hand remark from Cory about how much Alex “knew” about Mitch, she goes off-script during her conversation with Ashley.
Ashley says she felt her entire career was in his hands as the flirtation escalated. She worked in the mic department, behind-the-scenes, and the show’s camera pans around the room to reveal that many other people in a role similar to her mirror that sentiment, especially with Mitch.
Bradley probes: There’s more to the story, isn’t there? Ashley tenses up and says she felt that she had no choice but to be sexual with him. Ashley felt isolated after her peers entirely lost respect for her, implying that everyone at The Morning Show knew about the relationship and how inappropriate it was. What she describes is an environment specifically designed to not believe her, or support; she says no one asked if she was okay, ever, or had anyone offer to be a friend. “He branded me,” she tells Bradley, who at this point has taken her headpiece out of her ear. “He stole my confidence. My self-worth. And then I was drowning, and there was no one to throw me a lifeline. No one.”
So this claim that the staff of the show had "no idea!” is just a ruse. People knew. And they turned a blind eye. This is a grey area of the #MeToo movement that permeates more than just entertainment, and it’s important that the show is highlighting it. Ashley felt that the only way for her to succeed was to accept Mitch’s sexual misconduct, because that’s just the way things were. This is confirmed when the audience learns that Mia had a yearlong affair with Mitch, and that she was the one who filed the initial report against him because she couldn’t stand to watch his pompous ass report on the #MeToo movement day-in and day-out. She didn’t want him to get fired, she said, but she did want him to get a warning — to feel her warning.
Mia reveals this information to Vicky, a representative from Stern and Young sent to investigate the allegations against Mitch to “protect the show.” The investigator, Vicky, asks Mia if she is the one who leaked the story to the New York Times, but she says she isn’t. I still think that, based on Mia and Chip’s exchanged knowing glances, that he was the one who leaked in. I think he’s observant enough to know about Mia and Mitch, and Alex and Mitch’s tryst, and all the other young women and Mitch, and his guilt finally got to him.
What I don’t think he and Mia know is that Vicky is really a mole for Frank, who is freaking out about the possibility of him being #MeTooed next.
It goes all the way to the top, which is much scarier than Mitch wielded a fire poker in his living room.
Water Cooler Gossip:
-Alex is starting to get resentful of Bradley’s rising star, and she’s itching to remind everyone who thought to put her in that seat in the first place. To quote Regina George: “I created you!”
-Our “Veruca Salt” couple is still going strong, despite Yanko Flores’ (Nestor Carbonell) fears there is a power imbalance in their relationship. When he brings up his trepidations in bed with Claire (Bel Powley), who works as a social media person for the show, but she laughs them off. She reminds him that her dad could fire him with the snap of his fingers and that her family could buy the whole show if they pleased. Hello, we stan.
-That moment when Chip congrats Alex on not being a petty bitch about Bradley and then kisses her softly on the forehead is really sweet.