The Morning Show 2×02 “It’s Like the Flu” was yet more proof that this series is just going to keep getting better and better (and cruelly destroying us with memories of 2020). With that being said, there was one thing that just didn’t play well. Then again, maybe it wasn’t supposed to. So, let’s try to figure out the excellent, the god-tier…and the not so great.
A note on the god-tier aspect of it all before we get down to the nitty gritty: You might get sick of me saying this by the end of the season—and you well and truly ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as they say—but the performances on this series, especially from Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon (we’re gonna add another name to that list here soon) are impossible to praise enough. These women are just unapologetically lights out. And it’s what they deserve. Now that the painfully obvious is out of the way, let’s dive in.
Nobody was prepared for Alex Levy to come back to the fictional morning show inside The Morning Show, much less Alex herself. And yet, regardless of what she had to know would be an uphill battle, she jumped right back in with both feet, dropping by the UBA offices unannounced to see where her new executive suite would be and even taking a trip down to the studio when she was specifically asked not to.
It was there, more than anywhere else, that we saw just how much she was still not ready for all the fame and scrutiny to come back to her. Everything about the way the audio and visual for this scene was just stellar, crafted to make viewers feel like they were right in the middle of the panic attack with Alex.
But the show must go on! And so it did.
With so many people not feeling quite as warm and fuzzy about Alex’s return as Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) and his particular method of snake oil sales wanted to say they were, the plan was an “intimate” dinner to bring Alex and Bradley back together. Bradley, of course, was so upset about being snubbed for the evening news that, after parading herself around in front of the cameras and holding down the fort for months, was claiming she was too sick to work…and a potential no-show for the occasion.
If the theme of “It’s Like the Flu” was anything at all, it was “Bradley’s not taking your shit anymore.” As she told Alex in their insanely powerful argument at the end of the episode, she’s not the baby she was when she first started working at UBA. She’s a big girl now, has been thrown into the deep end and been forced to learn how to play the game far too quickly, and when we first see her in The Morning Show 2×02 “It’s Like the Flu,” she’s using every bit of leverage imaginable to make sure the network knows she’s not going to be pushed around by anyone, ever again.
All tense negotiations aside, it was Bradley’s decision to show up to the “intimate” dinner party in question, which got completely out of control in terms of the size of the guest list, that really showed she was one of “them” now. It was all fake smiles and cold hugs, but nothing prepared anyone for the completely awkward moment of putting Alex and Bradley in the same room together after everything that went down.
These two women, forced to play the Hollywood game—and play it better than anyone—were both trying to outdo each other in the false pleasantries department. And it created an air of unease that even Cory Ellison couldn’t quite smooth over. But, of course, everyone found a way to go back to their “nice” dinner after the first meeting, to play the game long enough to look “professional.”
And just…my God, this show really does know how to tackle the rot beneath the surface, doesn’t it? All that glitz and glamor, even in a morning “news” show, comes at a price. And all those privileged people, lying to themselves about how everything was going to be ok? What a moment.
Even under the plastered on smiles, negotiations were being made; alliances were being declared. Mia, who wasn’t terribly interested in covering coronavirus when Daniel discussed it with her one-on-one, was suddenly all about the importance of that story when Stella blew it off. Score one for anyone not on Team Stella. (And really, score one for anyone who actually needed real, honest coverage of the virus before it was too late. If only.)
And when it all came tumbling down, with Alex’s very loudly announced departure (love the dog excuse) and Bradley following her out the door to finally fight it out, it truly looked like Cory’s “master” plan to once again revive The Morning Show by branding it as “The Alex and Bradley Show” was in ruins.
By the end of the episode, everyone just…showed up and did their jobs, pretending to enjoy them as usual, though. Because the show really must go on.
The Morning Show’s 2×02 “It’s Like the Flu” only downside? Mitch and Paola.
And now, let’s discuss. Mitch Kessler: Trash? Or Trash. (Big Trash.)
I just honestly don’t understand what the point was here, in terms of having the “young feminist” be loud, obnoxious, and just doing a stunt for social media or whatever. I really don’t. The build-up to the scene in question was all, “poor Mitch, all alone with that gorgeous view and massive property in Italy. He’s by himself! Only hears from Fellow Trash Male, Fred Micklen!” Like??? Insert world’s smallest violin here!
But then, in a move that reminded me quite a lot of the very public confrontations of certain politicians that we’d all applauded at the time—and should have—we saw Mitch “attacked” by a young woman when he was out in public, just trying to enjoy some gelato. And the thing is, The Morning Show could very well have done some great things with this character in terms of asking if and when we can forgive people who have done these terrible things…But it…didn’t? Instead, the person who was a mean ol’ meanie to him was painted as unfair, immature, and not even coming after him for genuine reasons.
Paola made a really interesting comment about thow, maybe nothing Mitch does (or doesn’t do) would ever make people forgive him. That…is true. But then again, should his behavior ever deserve forgiveness? It’s a very nuanced and difficult question…but that gelato scene was not it.
If Paola was the real OG feminist that she claimed, she absolutely wouldn’t have belittled that young woman for speaking up. She might have, perhaps, told her that there were more impactful ways to get the message across…but not like that. Not running to a predator’s rescue and tearing down another woman, even using her youth against her.
It’s a bizarre beginning of…something. That’s all I’m going to say about that. But just. There was something that was weirdly both a misstep and right on target here. If you’re uncomfortable, you should be. The Morning Show definitely did its job there.
Stray thoughts and tidbits from The Morning Show 2×02 “It’s Like the Flu”…
- I have not mentioned this enough (and basically never will): That argument outside the elevator…Just. Aniston and Witherspoon are too good for us. We do not deserve. (And they will just continue to get better over the course of The Morning Show season 2. A warning!)
- “You know, it’s funny. Life just turns out to be a series of disappointments with just enough time in between them for the next one to catch you by surprise.” Bradley Jackson, spiller of boiling hot tea.
- “I was broken, Doug.” “Well, at least it paid off.” Like???? No. Why are men.
- There is such a fascinating reversal going on here, in terms of the Alex/Bradley dynamic. In the series’ first season, Bradley was coming into Alex’s kingdom. Now, it’s the other way around. And Bradley does not want anyone to forget it. (As it should be.)
- “Oh, no, no, no. You don’t get to do the whole condescending, paternal, ‘you’re out of control’ move. Let’s not forget who pays who in this room. Please have a seat.” Sis, go off!
- Really, everything about Bradley in that “negotiation” scene was fire, and we do not deserve her.
- An interesting note on Cory: We’re not quite a fan, yet not really not a fan either? He…definitely did the right thing in terms of dragging Bradley to that dinner to avoid having her fired…
- “I get it: The whole world is sick. Some people are just worse off than others.” “The information is out there for anyone who cares to look.” Uh. About that.
- “I guess there’s no place that’s a safe space from safe spaces.” No, really, The Morning Show: Come have words with me. WTF was this?!
- “Sorry’s what people say when they want permission to stop feeling bad.” So. Many. Good. Quotes. In. This. Episode.
- …and then, this mess: “Watching a disease spread isn’t exactly exciting TV.”
- No, but like. Give Reese Witherspoon 18 Emmys, just for the lobby scene. “I’m sorry. Not all of us get to run out to a fucking country house just when the going gets tough. Some of us have to sit in the shit and deal with it! And by the way, miss feminist fucking hero, I was the one who was exposing the network, and I decided to include you. Meanwhile, you were just trying to get me fucking fired behind my back!”
- Bradley flopping facedown on the bed and screaming? Now, there’s the mood.
- Ok. Shutting up about it now. (Never shutting up about it.)
- Something, something…”media blitz” with Laura Peterson. Just a warning, friends: You are so not ready for her. That’s that on that…until next time.