The Morning Show 2×04 “Kill the Fatted Calf” really spent a lot of time asking an important question: What, exactly, is the right thing to do? Then, as kind of a second part of that overall discussion, the episode left viewers wondering whether or not simply trying, or appearing, to do that right thing would really be enough.
Maybe we’ll all take a different approach to answering those questions, and maybe we’ll see even more varied views on how to make a difference. One way or another, it’s certain to provoke some thought.
When it came to picking a debate moderator, the UBA leadership had a lot to consider. Which of their many talented personalities should get the big gig? The choice wound up boiling down to the same argument of “talent vs. diversity” or “it factor” that comes up a lot, and it all kicked off with Daniel Henderson (Desean Terry) telling Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman) that he wanted to be “the topic of conversation—for once.”
And honestly? We’re kind of guilty of leaving Daniel and his storylines, even when they’re about important things like evacuating Wuhan during the COVID-19 crisis, to the background ourselves. Is it his supposed lack of “it”? Or are our biases leaning toward The Morning Show‘s other, white woman, talents? Is it because we are conditioned to care about certain characters more than others because they are the “main” ones? Or is it just that they happen to remind us more of ourselves than other folks do?
And would it be right to turn around and make the whole story about Daniel merely out of guilt? Do we make an effort to do better, yet recognize that it looks worse if we try to force it? It’s honestly a struggle to figure it all out, and that seems to be the point this episode was making.
But here’s one thing that was for certain: Daniel made sure he was front and center when given the opportunity, regardless of whether it gave him good or bad press. Turning Alex Levy’s “welcome back” to The Morning Show into his own, somewhat awkward, song and dance number certainly forced the people in charge to notice him…yet possibly not so much in a good way.
Regardless, he was right about something vital: That presidential debate, and honestly everything out there, needed a visible gay, Black man. Not just to try to check some “diversity” box, but because everyone deserves to be seen—especially on such a fundamentally consequential stage.
To out, or not to out…Honestly no idea how to answer the question
Somewhere in all of this, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) had a huge decision to make: Should she take advantage of her identity, which she was still sort of trying to figure out, as a way to try to snag that debate moderator position? Would it at all be a right, or fair, way of getting the opportunity?
With everyone trying to force Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) to take a moderator position she clearly wanted no part of, that left the problematic combination of two straight white women in charge, should Bradley get what she wanted so desperately.
But…Bradley…is not exactly in the most hetero of relationships in The Morning Show season 2—which her girl, Laura, pointed out. You could tell, for the briefest of moments, Laura was kind of disgusted to hear Bradley even refer to herself that way while she was going through her whole rundown of her conversation with Cory, and it was with good reason. As the very out lesbian, other half, of this relationship, it basically erased her from the equation.
“Isn’t it sort of antiquated to try to nail this thing down so firmly? Isn’t sexually fluid a thing?”
But Bradley was clearly not ready or willing to put a label on “this thing” about herself, which nearly ended Braura before the ship truly got to sail. Laura was actually kind of envious of Bradley for working in TV during a time when she could actually use her supposed “otherness” to her advantage, but she couldn’t even admit to herself that she was…whatever it was that she was.
“Because I am amused that you have it so easy, and you make it so hard…We’re talking about a situation where you being different could work to your advantage now. I kept my private life to myself because I had to. It was 1997, and it was painful. And it sucked. But I slowly, quietly, tried to live a life that was more truthful—not with the world but with my inner circle. But people talk. They’re fascinated by who’s gay and who’s not, for some fucking reason. Next thing I know, YDA’s handing me my walking papers.”
Honestly, after being so impressed by how unbothered Laura was when we first met her, it was a special kind of whiplash to see her so obviously, well, bothered.
“There is something inside me that wants to resent you for not being grateful for this. I see someone who is walking the same path—honestly? A path that I helped lay. And it’s…a little annoying. And I’m envious—that’s it! I lost a job for being gay. You should embrace it. I mean, it’s not like you would be lying.”
And yet…at the same time, would have been right for Bradley to have come out to Stella, only to use it as a way to climb that ever-present political ladder? She obviously couldn’t do it, in the end, so maybe the answer lies in what ultimately took place.
“I’m just…not interested in using my identity like that. I’m just not.”
Between Laura’s very different experience of being fired, yet not explicitly, simply for happening to be attracted to women and Daniel’s insistence that he belonged at the debate because it needed his voice—or one similar—though…The Morning Show 2×04 “Kill the Fatted Calf” really took the fundamental truth that representation matters and asked how, exactly, the right way to make sure we get it should look.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t even have to ask. What we see on the screen would look a lot like what we see in real life. Our world, however, is far from perfect. And the people making these kinds of decisions are, thanks to fame and fortune making them lose touch with reality and what matters, about the most imperfect of us all.
The non-apology apology
So, when Yanko used the phrase “spirit animal,” it hurt people. Cultural appropriation is wrong. Full stop. So—and this is often far more difficult advice to take than it is to give, even after lots of education—the right thing to do is to learn something, make a sincere apology, and move on.
That…wasn’t the journey “Kill the Fatted Calf” took viewers on. At all. Yanko did pretty much the opposite of what he should have done, but it was what people of a certain level of celebrity privilege almost always do.
Rather than listening to what fans (or, at the very least, viewers) tell them on social media, they play as if they’ve been victimized and choose to double, triple, sometimes even quadruple down on trying to rewrite the narrative. Often, when television shows tackle the idea of fans and social media, they jump right to demonizing the “little” people making all the social commentary.
Luckily, despite having had Paola yell at a young feminist earlier in the season, The Morning Show did not go there. Instead of portraying the folks on Twitter as some kind of irrational and hateful mob, leading folks with no real knowledge of the situation to jump in with insults, it went a healthier route: There was just a frank message about how Yanko didn’t understand and wasn’t opening to learning.
Was initial comment intended to be harmful? No. But the issue, the part that made him really, truly a problem here, was his inability to do the right thing: Shut up, listen, and learn.
Whether or not that weak, insincere apology was enough for anyone else…I’m not the person to judge, especially since I’m not in the group that would be harmed by using that phrase.
I’ve gotta say, though: With certain celebrities that have done things that have made me feel like shit at various times in my fangirl life, even fake would feel better than nothing at all. At least it would mean someone was empathetic enough to convince these folks to say…something.
Big, fat random thoughts on The Morning Show 2×04
- Ok but Desean Terry can sing. Was Daniel’s whole song-and-dance takeover kind of messy? Sure. But is this the place where we admire the initiative and also stan? Yep.
- “There is a pattern of behavior around here that, to put it kindly, often excuses the bad behavior of white folks. And disadvantages the people of color.”
- Some of these lines really need no extra commentary, huh?
- Ok but “a meeting” is what the kids are calling it these days? We love us some Braura nooners, especially when they mean all that skepticism from Laura, commanding the room even when she’s not wearing a stitch.
- Julianna Margulies’ mocking southern accent when Laura called out Bradley’s hypocrisy on the “not using my identity” thing? If you think I haven’t replayed that clip a billion times, you’ve obviously not been paying attention.
- Stella did not come to play: “Why did you bring me on? What was the point if you weren’t going to listen to anything that I say? Just so you can parade an Asian woman around and get the social capital from pretending you cared? Don’t pay lip service to empowering me. Either do it, or let me walk.”
- Pretending to care is probably worse than not caring at all, for the record. Most people can see right through it, and all it does is further marginalize the people you’re using for your “image.” Just saying.
- Ok but Mitch’s little song and dance would’ve been cute if it wasn’t…Mitch?
- “What do I expect you to do? The right thing.” “Can you say that again? It’s amazing coming out of your mouth.” And we kind of wanted to cheer for Mitch when he told Cory to do the right thing…except…Mitch?
- “Look: I don’t know who I am. I don’t…I know I’m a total pain in the ass. But I just…I want to tell you that because I want you to know that I know that I am.” Can relate.
- That “please” killed me. All the Braura feels.
- “…beautiful little anger prison that lives in your heart.” Next time, would appreciate an @.
- “Anger wasn’t really what I was feeling. Anger’s just what I know what to do with. It hurt…And you didn’t really do anything specifically. It just hurt because it was you.” If folks would ever, just once, try to understand how all the “rage” from people is sometimes, actually…this…
- …and also, this show should really @ me next time.
- Everyone’s after Alex to do the debate, but she clearly isn’t comfortable with it. Then, there’s the whole issue of her clearly not feeing this whole “connection to the women of this country” justification. How much pressure and discomfort can one person take?
- “Two shitty peas in one shitty pod. I guess it’s time to face the fact that actions have consequences.” I literally feel like this could be a Suits quote. (I miss them, OK?)
- But also..truth.
- “She hasn’t gone through enough shit, you know? She hasn’t been through enough pain to be bossing all of us around who have been through it.” I just want to throw this at all the out-of-touch celebrities who constantly come out here, attacking fandom.