I have to believe that one of the names in contention for the title of this here program had to be People Are Spiraling because while The Morning Show is fine, People Are Spiraling really gets to the heart of what’s happening. People are always spiraling! All at once! And many times, one person’s spiral collides with another person’s spiral, and that’s called “drama,” folks. Even Chip, who somehow just now realizes that some people may not want him back at UBA even though he hasn’t been a complete idiot up to this point, spends this entire episode spiraling, and he’s barely in it. No one on this show seems in control of or satisfied with their current situation. It is chaos, constantly.
Let’s talk about Bradley Jackson. On this show, she is a real beacon of chaos since her choices and motivations change based on what is convenient narratively rather than some well-earned, soundly constructed character development. She’s put her exhausted, truth-teller, I’m coming for what I deserve blazer away and instead donned her repressed, I come from a southern conservative background, willing to play games leather jacket. That kiss to stop Laura Peterson from digging into how Bradley Jackson came to win the coveted Morning Show chair next to Alex Levy turns out to be more than that. Bradley is super into Laura. They have sex meetups — in Laura’s gorgeous apartment, by the way — as soon as Bradley wraps the show. They seem quite happy with one another, although Bradley is adamant that she’s “not in the closet, [she’s] just not actually a lesbian.” Laura lets that go without further discussion, although you can tell she is dying to unpack it. There’s no time: Bradley is on a mission.
The Democratic debate in Las Vegas is coming up, and there’s still a spot left for one more moderator. Everybody’s gunning for it, Bradley especially. She tells Laura that she’s going to visit her ex-pal Cory Ellison and demand the gig. Laura’s dubious that could work with someone like Cory, the CEO of the entire network, but Bradley explains that their relationship is different. She’s hinted that she’s the reason Cory was promoted after everything went down, but now we finally learn the full story, or, at least, Bradley’s side of it: After everything blew up, Fred was put on leave, Cory was fired, and Bradley suspended. She says that the two of them became close during that period, and although it’s hard to believe, Cory was really vulnerable in those moments. After some time, she went directly to the board “and unloaded.” She told them that Fred needed to be fired and Cory should be the one to replace him. She fought hard for him, and then days later, all of that came to pass. Laura doesn’t have to say it, but it’s clear she’s thinking what we’re all thinking: There’s no way Bradley Jackson has that kind of power over the UBA board. It’s so cute that she thinks she does, though. Laura advises Bradley to maybe slow her roll just a tad and try to make nice with Cory rather than demanding things from him. He’s the CEO of the network — although maybe not for long, Laura warns — she needs him and the network as allies.
Bradley takes this advice, and when she sees Cory — who tells her that he doesn’t know who is “fucking moderating,” so drop it — she isn’t combative. She’s the opposite. She gives him a phony and very sanitized half-apology for the way she’s treated him and wants him to know she cares about their friendship. It isn’t until Cory cuts through the bullshit of it all that they have a conversation that resembles how human friends might speak to one another. Or, at least, how Cory and Bradley might actually speak to one another. She’s mad at him for the evening news debacle and for bringing Alex back, but she also understands he’s the CEO, and he has a lot more going than tending to her every need. How self-aware! And, finally, Cory acknowledges how much he has taken care of her in the past and how that will never change. This relationship already felt like it was crossing some weird boundaries, and then when Cory says, “I am on your side. Always.” This line, paired with that smitten way Cory stares at Bradley while she’s dancing to the Foo Fighters (Dave Grohl and Alex Levy are BFFs), seems like all signs are pointing to Cory making some declaration of love for Bradley Jackson and, like, are we going to get a Bradley, Laura, Cory love triangle now? The Morning Show is wild. The sky is blue. Reese Witherspoon’s season-one wig was offensive to all hair. I know, I know.
Everything around him seems to be less and less in Cory’s control — remember, he is a main character on People Are Spiraling. He’s trying to keep Bradley pleased while trying to keep his network from not tanking ahead of the UBA+ streaming-service launch. Meanwhile, the president of his news division can’t seem to make the one tiny thing he wants happen. He wants Alex Levy to moderate the debate, and Stella, who has made it clear that she wants very little to do with their star talent, really seems half-hearted in her first pitch to get Alex on board (lots of talk about Alex’s juice). But after a heated phone call with Cory — in which he makes clear that she should do her fucking job, and she makes clear that it’s really looking as if he only hired her so he could say he made an Asian woman head of news instead of valuing what she brings to the table — and word that advertising revenue has shot way up since Alex’s return, Stella digs deep to win Alex over. This time, her pitch has a little more edge and hits hard on the fact that the moment Alex called out the network on-air she became a leader and a feminister and that whatever reason she’s been avoiding owning that, she needs to get over it and take this on. We, of course, know that Stella’s reading her correctly — Alex is terrified of that title because of her true relationship with Mitch; she believes she’s a fraud and, say it with me, she is spiraling. Stella tells her that she made a connection with women at that moment, and that’s why she needs to do this debate. Stella’s speech works, and Alex agrees to moderate.
That’ll be good news for Cory, who has an even bigger problem on his plate at the moment: Fred Micklen. Cory gets a call from Mitch of all people, who has learned that Fred is planting stories about Hannah to smear her name, and he wants Cory to do something about it. Cory wipes the gall coming from the other end of the phone and makes a plan. He has his guy Earl, some deep-throated dude into shady shit, look into getting rid of these stories in any way that isn’t “extrajudicial” but it’s too late; Earl says the stories have spread too much. Cory needs to talk to Fred. He’s still avoiding any contact with him and so decides to go to Cybil for help. Cybil doesn’t just laugh and walk out of the room, but she sort of does. We learn for a fact what we already suspected: That Bradley has it all wrong about her saving Cory’s job. It’s clear from this conversation that Cory and Fred helped each other out — Cory got Fred his hefty $119.2 million payout to go away. In return, Fred convinced the board that Cory was the only suitable replacement. “Two shitty peas in one shitty pod,” Cybil concludes. She has nothing and wants nothing to do with Fred. Cory can deal with him on his own. More Cybil reigning from on high and cutting down people with feisty words, please.
Speaking of Bradley, she feels pretty great about how her conversation with Cory went. She bounces into Laura’s living room talking about how they made up, and it’s such a good thing, and no, she probably won’t be moderating, but he did provide context that makes a lot of sense — Alex just came back, and they need her there, and there really is no way they could have “two straight white women” up there. At the word “straight,” it’s like a record scratches, and Laura and Bradley get into it. Bradley doesn’t think she should have to define herself for anyone — Bradley trying to explain that she’s sexually fluid because she’s also had a three-way with two men is certainly something — but Laura’s hurt. Laura had to keep her identity a secret for so long, and then as it started to get out, she got booted from her job at YDA. She’s spent years paving the way for other women not to have to go through that. “You have it so easy,” she tells Bradley. “You being different can work to your advantage now,” she says, and yet Bradley is ashamed to come out. She thinks Bradley’s repressed because of the community she grew up in. Bradley takes that in, processes it thoughtfully, and wants to calmly discuss it further. Just kidding. She yells, “I’m not fucking repressed!!!” and smashes a vase on the ground.
Bradley thinks she can both prove Laura wrong and nab that moderating spot by letting Stella know that she’s not just another straight white woman, and she would be able to offer a different perspective to the moderating panel. But when Bradley tries to come out to Stella, she balks. She can’t say the words and instead tells her that her conservative southern background would make her a refreshing addition to the debate. Bradley ends up on Laura’s doorstep with a $300 gift card to Crate & Barrel, begging for a hug because Bradley is confused and upset and is going through it. I just hope that Laura doesn’t spend $300 on a new vase — what a waste!
In Other News
• Stella and Mia have a sit-down with Yanko about him apologizing on-air for using the term “spirit animal” after the clip goes viral. He’s pissed but agrees to do it. It doesn’t go well. He uses language like “might be considered insensitive,” and it’s more about how he would never intentionally be racially insensitive rather than just saying he gets why it was wrong. “You’re done going easy on your weatherman,” Stella tells Mia. She is not pleased.
• Daniel’s in a mess, too. After telling Mia that she should be pushing for him, a Black journalist, to be a moderator at the Las Vegas debate, she does, but only to find out that Stella thinks Daniel doesn’t have the “It” factor and has basically gone as far as he can. Daniel is pissed, and in a last-ditch effort to prove Stella wrong, the man decides to serenade Alex Levy live on-air with his rendition of Neil Diamond’s “America.” He makes a complete fool of himself. Mia, furious, calls him “Bojangles.” And from the looks of it, Stella does finally have a sit down with Daniel, but not the good kind.
• Okay, but Yanko’s “we should take him out for a drink later” while watching Daniel just go all in during his performance was perfect.
• Over in Italy, Mitch accompanies Paola as she interviews a law professor for her documentary, and then things get weird after she kisses him on the cheek, and he yells at her not to do that. He doesn’t hear from her again until she calls him up to inform him that the law professor she spent several hours with before spending several hours with him in a car has COVID, and they should quarantine. It sounds like COVID-19 is coming for Mitch Kessler.
• The continued discourse about the oversaturation of streaming services taking place on an Apple TV+ show continues to make me giggle. “You could just not subscribe,” advises Bradley Jackson.
• “Where the fuck does she get off? I have sweaters older than her!”