Somehow it got me to the third episode of the second season of The Morning Show to fully understand what’s going on with this prestigious Apple TV Plus drama. Oh sure, from the outside in, “what’s going on” is pretty easily summed up: It’s a behind-the-scenes look at a nationally televised morning show from the perspective of its hosts, producers, and network executives. Along the same lines as The news room and other dramas in the style of Aaron Sorkin, The Morning Show is intended to offer a glimpse of how news is packaged and created to the masses, while also telling stories of frustrated personalities, contentious backbiting, and more. On the surface, yes, that is what is happening here.
But no, there is a stealth satire buried beneath the surface, so stealthy that even people The Morning Show I do not realize. “Laura”, the third episode of the new season, makes it clear: The Morning Show it’s about the worst, the most incompetent, the most self-righteous and stupid idiots and the terrible television network they have all created. That may be the only explanation for the falsely deep and conceited nonsense that messes up not just this episode but much of the series to date. As always, this show is incredibly compelling, filled with so many impressive actors working overtime to genuinely sell material, but its charms are completely accidental.
As was the case in the first two episodes of the season, there are two parallel story tracks in “Laura.” In the first, we follow Daniel (Desean K. Terry), the only UBA journalist sent to Wuhan, China, to cover the story of the new coronavirus epidemic that threatens to spread far beyond Asia. The episode begins with Daniel being informed that he has to get out of his Wuhan hotel and out of China entirely because the city is being closed. Although he and his team are lucky enough to take the last literal train out of Wuhan, not identifying himself as UBA workers, but lying about one of his parents being ill in Beijing, Daniel is forced to remain in quarantine for 14 days online.
Throughout the episode, we return to him as he presents satellite reports for “The Morning Show,” whose hosts Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) and outgoing Eric Nomani (Hasan Minhaj) laugh at this crazy phrase Daniel keeps using … called again? Social distancing? What is social distancing? Oh, we’re laughing right? (Trick question, because we are not, in the real world).
Daniel tries in vain to convince producer Mia (Karen Pittman) that, hey, this whole COVID-19 could be a little, kind of, a little serious. She, in turn, yells at him on the phone and tells him to be more of a man. Good tone! (This is where the writing really serves to emphasize how utterly idiotic the people running this morning show are, because, well, in hindsight, being 20/20, Daniel is clearly the smartest man in the room.)
The other clue within “Laura” refers to the main character, Laura Peterson, a highly respected UBA presenter who started on “The Morning Show” before becoming the network’s resident Barbara Walters, in terms of being a journalist. respected in primetime. Laura is played by the ever charming and enigmatic Julianna Margulies, bringing her necessary fierce and tough nature to a character that seems instantly unknowable because returning star Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) presumes Laura is looking for her during a lengthy interview on her apartment. designed to help facilitate your return to “The Morning Show.” Meanwhile, UBA executive Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) quietly asks Laura to mentor Bradley as he visits her during coverage of the 2020 Democratic caucuses in Iowa.
Bradley’s demeanor is a little less obnoxious in this episode, which really only serves to emphasize how inconsistently the character is written and portrayed from week to week, but after she berates Cory in full view of the rest of the staff of ” Morning Show “, he feels Laura is the best to guide Bradley through his rude demeanor.
If Laura’s interview with Alex is a bit nervous, the opposite is true with her interactions with Bradley. She soon opens up to Bradley about Cory’s request, but says she thinks Bradley is ready to go like her. But that is not all! On a car trip after returning from Iowa, Laura asks Bradley point blank, but not on camera, if she was tested for work, a question Bradley answers … by kissing Laura, who will gladly ask her. return the hug. Now, let’s be fair, this romantic couple is hinted at when Cory says, and not at all awkward, that Laura puts “the L in LGBTQIA”, and my hand to God, that’s a direct quote.
Who can say what will happen to these two characters? (Ads have teased that Margulies will be a major part of the season overall, and is now included among the regular cast members, albeit inexplicably billed fifth. This is Alicia Florrick, folks!) But the randomness of This hug is hilariously jarring, almost like a reverse of the weirdest and wackiest scene from Law story, when a female ADA was fired and her deadpan response was “Is this because I’m a lesbian?”, a character trait that was revealed to the audience literally when she asked the question and then disappeared without context.
That someone is attracted to Laura is perfectly believable, but Bradley herself is such an enigma that it is difficult to know how much of her attraction is genuine compared to simply being pleased that someone with more experience seems impressed by his own talent. It’s also worth noting that the show has carefully avoided showing the time lag between when Alex and Bradley struggled to create a united front after revealing everything on live TV and when season two resumes, and much of the animus. between Bradley and Cory hinted at earlier. into a possible romantic flirtation. (Which could still be true, of course! But it talks about how little we really know about these idiotic characters.)
Alex, for his part, has a much more predictable point of frustration against Laura. Her assumption that the veteran presenter is after her is based on her asking something that was not previously examined, about the nature of her relationship with Kessler (Steve Carell). Alex assumes this is meant to make the viewer think she and Mitch were hooking up, and reverts to her old ways of trying to over-control everything when she later rages at her producer Chip (Mark Duplass). And yet, as much as Alex is angry about the implication, it is an implication that she either only gets or is a question misdirected by Margulies. The assumption that Alex and Mitch were together simply does not exist (or does not appear to be).
Meanwhile, Mitch still lives in Italy (poor Mitch!), Trying to avoid the clutches of both his fallen UBA partner Fred Micklen (Tom Irwin) and the overly friendly Paola (Valeria Golino). Fred is as dismissive as ever with the dead woman at the center of much of this season’s drama, Hannah (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), trying to get Mitch on her side to fight her family’s demand that the chain simply wants to make it disappear. On the other hand, Paola is trying to get Mitch to work with her on a documentary about an accusation of rape in Italy, and only after seeing the edited interview between Alex and Laura does she tell him that she is inside (random guessing time: Could be Completely wrong, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Paola has an ulterior motive or is working with someone on the UBA side, or heck, even Fred, to bring Mitch up to speed on his past.)
As I said at the top: I have convinced myself that The Morning Show It is not only the worst television network (albeit fictitious) in the US media, but its writers and creators are aware of how bad the UBA and its inhabitants are, and that is the satirical point. That has to be the point.
Take, for example, an early moment when Alex, Cory, and a few others see an early ad promoting Alex’s return to “The Morning Show,” featuring Malickian images of purple-mounted majesties, wide plains, and hills and pure American culture. along with an outrageously deep and sonorous narrator who talks about how everyone is waiting for the big announcement. It’s a terrible advertisement, but UBA viewers think it looks amazing. And everything is at the service … of a morning talk show. These people may not know how far away their own behinds are, but the people doing this drama do. Right? That has to be it. Right?