The Morning Show
Without a doubt, the first ten minutes of “That Woman” are the best ten minutes of The Morning Show so far. I mean, long live Alex Levy Getting Fed Up in Her Red Coat, but what goes down from the point when Alex introduces Bradley to The Morning Show audience until Bradley lies facedown on the floor of her dressing room is perfection.
If you’ve been reading along, you know I’ve taken issue with the time spent on Bradley’s backstory. Today, I’m happy to announce that we are handsomely rewarded for that meandering subplot with a glorious payoff. Everything about Bradley’s TMS start is so artificial, from her entrance to Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” to the 100 percent scripted banter between Bradley and Alex, to the co-anchors’ cheery and bright demeanors — everything is dripping in morning show fakeness. Like, can you even imagine the restraint these two need to apply to avoid using profanity? They use so much profanity!
Still, the most hilariously fake moment comes when they cut to none other than Bradley’s mom, Sandy, who is apparently a pro at both lying through her teeth and reading cue cards. The former we already knew, the latter was a surprise! But there’s Sandy, reading a script about how she just knew was going to grow up to be someone special. While Sandy’s chatting about Bradley’s happy childhood, Bradley’s remembering that special time when Sandy grabbed her teen daughter and yelled, “Get your shit together girl, or you’re gonna end up sucking dicks under the promenade.” Ah, memories.
It’s this bit with her mother that is the last straw for Bradley. She needs to course-correct this message. She starts out TMS-friendly enough, making sure young women watching know their childhood doesn’t have to be perfect in order for them to be successful. That’s a great message to put out there. But then she starts listing less than perfect parts of her own childhood, which starts with getting suspended and ends with the abortion she had at 15 years old. Honestly, I’m surprised someone didn’t faint, that is the level of chaos that ensues after Bradley tosses a hot-button issue right onto the anchor desk of what is supposed to be a very non-political show. Alex and Bradley — who knows she’s in some deep shit and can’t tell if she did that on purpose or simply slipped — try to recover, but there’s not really a great segue out of that. Chip’s eyes might pop out of his head. Fred is freaking out in his office about the advertisers he’s sure he’ll lose. The only person super into it is, you guessed it, Cory. He was waiting for something exciting to happen!
Exciting is definitely one word for it. Watching the team scramble to cover is, well, let’s be honest, it is a legit joy. They decide to throw to Yanko with the weather, who proceeds to color his forecast with notes about how you should put some sunscreen and hats on your kids and babies, until someone gets in his ear to tell him to quit it with all the references to kids, and so he follows up with something about how even if you don’t have kids, you should wear sunscreen. It is a disaster. It is awful. But holy hell, it is entertaining.
Alex has a lot to lose in this mess. As she likes to remind anyone who will listen, she chose Bradley. She is the Dr. Frankenstein to whatever kind of monster Bradley ends up becoming. But more than anything, she doesn’t want to let Fred and the higher-ups think that they were right about how this would turn out. “I would die first,” she tells Bradley. And guys, I don’t think she’s exaggerating.
So Alex is the one who tells Bradley to put on her big girl panties and get back out there the next morning. Bradley apologizes — not for having an abortion, but for speaking so casually about an issue that is deeply personal to many people — and endures some truly heinous Twitter harassment from the anti-abortion crowd. But then something kind of wonderful happens: 50 percent of the audience may hate Bradley, but the other 50 love her. High-school girls are walking out of school in Mississippi in support of Bradley and reproductive rights. She’s given a voice to so many women. She’s refreshing and relatable. The ratings in the 18-to-34 demo are higher than ever before. Even Kelly Clarkson pulls Bradley up onstage with her during a TMS appearance to tell her that she’s “a truth-teller” and that she stands with Bradley. As Cory puts it, in less than a week, Bradley Jackson has completely “rebranded” morning television as something relevant.
If you’re thinking, Hm, Alex might not enjoy that, oh, friend, you really understand this show! Because yes, Alex needs Bradley to succeed, but she in no way wants Bradley’s star to shine brighter than hers. She doesn’t want to be grooming her own replacement. It’s Chip, the guy who’s known Alex for 15 years, who broaches that subject. It’s surprisingly sweet? Alex insists she’s fine. Bradley resonating with people is good for the show. And hey, it has also led the conversation away from Mitch’s scandal. Alex puts up a good front, but after Chip tells her that New York Magazine is going to do a feature on Bradley, you can see her almost break. That one stings. Alex may not be here for Chip attempting to be sincere, but she definitely needed that lovely little kiss on the forehead before he leaves her alone in her dressing room. When Alex plucked Bradley from the audience of that awards ceremony, this is certainly not what she had in mind.
But wait! Bradley’s first week on the job isn’t over. Everything is building up to her interview with Ashley, the Mitch accuser Hannah stole from YDA. It’s very clear, even before Cory visits Bradley and harmlessly wonders who else at UBA knew about what Mitch was doing (just kidding, Cory always has an agenda), that Bradley won’t be sticking to the script here. The prepped interview feels too safe to Bradley, it’s clearly protecting UBA from having to admit they played a part in Mitch’s actions, and Ashley’s story — that there was a lot of flirting that never crossed the line, but she felt pressured and like she couldn’t do her job, so she left — doesn’t completely add up to Bradley.
Bradley goes ahead with her scripted interview, but knows Ashley wants to say more. She pushes her — not screaming-in-her-face-about-being-exhausted pushes, but concerned-morning-news-show-host concerned — and Ashley tells the full story, much to the horror of, well, everyone else who has any stake in TMS. Ashley would go to Mitch’s room and give him oral sex. She was never forced, but she also had no way to say no to him. She felt like she was drowning, and everyone at TMS knew, but no one did anything. So, yeah, people like Fred, Chip, and Alex, who are worried about the show being taken down with Mitch, are freaking out.
The story Ashley tells about how much Mitch stole from her is as awful as you’d expect. And it also puts the entire show at risk. When the interview is over, that’s what Alex decides to confront Bradley about. But Bradley doesn’t care. I mean, did you see her take her earpiece out when Alex got on the mic and tried to get her to stop the interview? Bradley only has one question for Alex when she’s confronted about how reckless she was: “Did you know? About what was going on in his dressing room?” Oh yeah, that one hits Alex where it hurts.
This Just In!
• The investigator UBA hired to look into the Mitch allegations and see what’s going on at The Morning Show arrives and it becomes clear she’s mainly on a fact-finding mission for Fred, who’s trying to figure out where the network might be vulnerable. So her whole speech about creating a safe, confidential space for people to speak is basically bullshit. What isn’t at UBA?
• Mia’s time with the investigator is enlightening: She and Mitch had an affair for a year, after developing a close working relationship. She ended things when it got “too complicated” but is adamant there were no repercussions. And although she did file an HR complaint the week before everything leaked to the Times, it was done with the intent to get Mitch away from reporting on Me Too stories, not to get him fired. She was not the one who leaked the allegations. Can’t wait to find out who did!
• Oh, Yanko, Yanko, Yanko. He’s growing increasingly spooked about his secret relationship with Claire the PA, but she insists there’s no power imbalance here. In fact, her family is insanely rich and with just one phone call her father could have Yanko fired. I’m still 100 percent sure this relationship is going to blow up.
• Cory saying “Woke Twitter will NEVAH forgive us” forever and ever. I cannot wait for the impending Cory-Fred showdown. You know it’s coming!
• Maybe I’m an easy laugh, but Bradley pronouncing Y.A. as “Ya” and the proceeding saccharine banter between her and Alex made me laugh so hard. Those two are so good at being so fake. This is the content I’m living for!