The Morning Show
At the end of last week’s episode, Mitch Kessler arrived at the door of head booker Hannah Shoenfeld looking to cash in on a favor he thinks she owes him. Bradley Jackson will only agree to an interview on The Morning Show if Mitch has someone who can corroborate his claims that UBA knew exactly what he was doing and was covering it up — and Mitch believes Hannah is that someone. You see, as Mitch frames it, Hannah slept with him and got a promotion, and now he wants to get something out of it, too. Immediately, we know Mitch’s version of events is far from the truth thanks to (1) the fact that we know Mitch Kessler to be the Absolute Worst and (2) the terrified look on Hannah’s face when she sees who has come a-knockin’ so late at night.
The Morning Show wastes no time in proving our hunch right: “Lonely at the Top” shows us exactly what transpired between Mitch and Hannah in all of its terrible detail. It is most definitely not what I needed in this critical post-Thanksgiving/pre-holiday time. It is as awful as you imagine. Honestly, where is Cory Ellison with another hilarious and alarming speech born from the brain of a delightful psychopath when you need him?
Cory Ellison is nowhere to be found, because as we flash back to the fall of 2017, Cory Ellison is making a name for himself as the head of entertainment at UBA, ushering in the hit show about middle-aged lesbians, Late Bloomers. Bless this show for the quick scene in which Chip, Fred, and then-head of the news division, Reed, praise new guy Cory for his creative thinking and risk-taking. Oh, little do they know. Elsewhere in the fall of 2017, Claire has just started her job with TMS, Hannah is trying to make a name for herself as Junior Booker, Mia is navigating the true awkwardness she’s receiving in the TMS hallways now that she stopped things with Mitch, and we are just two days away from Mitch’s big 5-0.
All of this is to say: We’re getting a glimpse into TMS before it completely imploded and, well, even without people cursing out their children or yelling “we’re newspeople!” … it’s pretty grim. The misogyny is palpable, even if it is papered over with smiles and polite laughter. Yes, people love ol’ Mitch. They laugh when he makes jokes about Alex needing to wear sexier clothes or wanting to see Allison naked. Chip follows Mitch’s order to remove Mia from his producing team, knowing exactly why Mitch has asked him to do it. Chip even denies it when Alex calls out the UBA boys’ club after she gets pulled off of MLB Wild Card Game coverage when Mitch tests better with audiences. But Alex tells him she isn’t stupid, and neither are we. As surprised as everyone acted when the Mitch allegations came out, it’s clear there were lots of problems festering at UBA.
Speaking of festering, how about that conversation between Mitch and his pal Dick Lundy? You remember Dick, right? The disgraced film director Mitch wanted as an ally to defeat #MeToo until he realized the guy was too much of a monster even for him? Yeah, that guy. At the surprise party Alex throws for Mitch at the studio (because everyone wants to hang out at the office when they’re off for the weekend, Alex Levy), it’s Dick Lundy who jumps out of the cake and performs a little song and dance number in Mitch’s honor. Later, the two friends are getting deep about how Mitch feels like he’s ephemeral and that he isn’t able to leave his mark on society while doing the morning news, and Dick basically is there to remind him just how untouchable they are. Oh, the poetic justice, friends. We of course know that neither Mitch nor Dick are as untouchable as they think they are, and that Mitch will be remembered for a very, very long time. Anyway, those two dudes can go stuff it in Mitch’s cake.
But this journey to the past is not just to show us Mitch’s life before it all went to shit. This is also very much Hannah’s story. Mitch first takes notice of her when she is able to get a senator to appear on the show when her supervisor comes up short. “She’s a go-getter,” he notes. But there’s more than ambition to Hannah. When she calls in a favor to get that senator on the show, we learn that she pretty much bailed on friends and family to focus on her career. She admits to her angry friend on the phone that it’s hard being in New York City alone, that it can be scary. Hannah’s extremely vulnerable in this moment, so when Mitch praises her work at his surprise party it means a lot. And then when Mitch tells Chip he wants Hannah to travel with the team as they cover the Mandalay Bay shooting — which happens the same night as Mitch’s party — she can barely believe it. Chip congratulating Hannah on Mitch wanting her might make your skin crawl, reader beware!!!
Covering the shooting in Las Vegas is hard on everyone, but especially on Hannah, who is not only green to the process, but is the one talking to friends and family members of victims. It’s no wonder that Mitch finds her out on the strip, staring off at the scene at Mandalay Bay. She’s upset and Mitch is kind and empathetic and self-deprecating. He is disarming. So when he suggests they go up to his hotel room to watch Caddyshack, because that always makes him feel better when the world has gone to shit, of course she goes up. Not only is he comforting, but he’s an extremely powerful, intimidating superior of hers at work. She’s still upset when she goes to leave, and Mitch wraps her in a big hug, and then he starts kissing her, telling her how much he likes her, and then his hand is down her pants. Hannah is frozen in fear, in shock, in disbelief that this is happening to her. She’s unable to speak, and eventually, Mitch walks her over to his bed. The woman is scared.
And then she’s angry. Back in New York, Hannah passes Mitch in the hallway and he says hello and moves on, as if nothing has happened between them. As if he hardly knows her. Something breaks in Hannah and she immediately hops on the elevator and marches into Fred Mickland’s office. She tells him that she was in Las Vegas with TMS and Mitch Kessler … and then she stops, too afraid to say the words. And here is the real kick in the pants: She doesn’t need to say it. Fred knows exactly why she’s here, because clearly, this isn’t the first time. Without missing a beat, he tells her that he’s heard she’s doing good work and he thinks she should be promoted to head booker. Hannah breaks inside one more time, because she knows Fred is trying to buy her silence: “So this is how it happens?” she asks, in tears.
And because The Morning Show either hasn’t learned how to be subtle or doesn’t want to be, the episode ends with the Harvey Weinstein scandal breaking. Alex and Mitch watch the news reports come in, and all Mitch musters up is a “what a creep” before moving on with his day. In conclusion: Mitch Kessler sucks big time.
This Just In!
• Has a woman ever looked so longingly at a weatherman reporting live from a disaster zone as Claire does at Yanko while he’s doing a story on Hurricane Maria? When he returns from Puerto Rico and Claire runs into him, she tells Yanko how moving his piece was and that there’s “a great deal of depth” to him, which honestly is a weird thing to tell a person you’ve just met. Yanko really stood no chance here.
• Alex doesn’t come out of this flashback smelling like roses, either. When Chip tells her he’s moving Mia to her team, she is vehemently opposed. She doesn’t want “Mitch’s leftovers,” she tells him. Adds some new layers to her little chat with Mia earlier this season about not really knowing what was really going on between Mia and Mitch.
• Another conversation that is interesting for those of us who have seen the future to witness: In Las Vegas, Alex and Mitch talk about how hard it is to turn off their emotions in times like these and how strange it is that their job is to put themselves in the middle of people’s pain. Neither of them would want to do this without the other by their side, they say. They are a part of each other. Of course, Mitch’s kind words to his BFF might be just so that he can persuade her to get her drunk enough to sleep with him (she wants to go to bed instead), because who knows with this dude.
• I’m sorry, Mitch’s wife would bring him coffee at 3:30 a.m. each morning? She should’ve divorced for that alone. Let the woman sleep!