The Morning Show 2×07, “La Amara Vita,” gave Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) something resembling closure for one of the most important relationships in her life. Highlighting excellent performances from both Aniston and Steve Carell, as Mitch Kessler, the episode reminded us that nothing is ever as black and white as we’d like it to be. People are complex, and they are never the same thing to everyone around them. But maybe, even knowing that, there are some who just don’t deserve to be redeemed, no matter how much the people who never saw that side of them may wish otherwise.
Alex and Mitch experienced two very different types of reunions, so to speak, in “La Amara Vita.” The only common thread was the ability to see, whether when fighting it out and throwing insults at one other, or when “pretending” before Alex’s flight home, that these were two people who were very close. After all, you don’t bicker like an old married couple unless you’ve experienced some kind of close partnership that is, in some way, similar to a marriage. You also don’t hop a nine-hour flight, directly into the hot zone, to yell at someone unless some part of you desperately wants to actually see the person you’re going to confront just one last time.
The Morning Show has done an interesting, if sometimes problematic, job of painting Mitch as the “better bad guy,” for lack of a good way of putting it. Fred Micklen is, after all, the one that’s desperately trying to weasel his way back in, no matter the cost to a dead girl, while Mitch is kind of just…living his “canceled” life in Italy. And it’s through his whole bittersweet goodbye with Alex that we are reminded that, no, he wasn’t a monster with everyone. With Alex, he’s the sweet guy who cracks a joke when she’s distraught and helps her clean up the dishes she’s broken. He’s dork dancing, and slow dancing, and memories of whatever happened in Chile.
“I loved you so much—not as a lover, you know, but as a parter. Two lost souls, you know? We found each other, and we just…blew everything the fuck up. I really…And I really…I really wanted—I really wanted to have it, you know?”
For Alex, it was always about Mitch and her as a team—the best team.
Mitch is—was—Alex’s best friend, the person she needed to see when she was at one of her lowest points. Because yeah, on the surface, there was her excuse about wanting him to give a statement so she wouldn’t be so-called “canceled” like him. (That term is trash that’s just used by powerful people, mostly men, who don’t want to face consequences for their actions, by the way…)
It’s an uncomfortable and problematic sort of heartbreaking watching this beautiful chemistry, in seeing Alex finally find a way to rest after she’s curled up with her head on Mitch’s shoulder, and knowing it’s not going to last. Because it simply can’t last. Not only does Alex need to get back to New York, after having skipped town when she’s only been back on The Morning Show for all of a week and a half, but the right thing to do is to walk away.
Because, at the end of the day, whether he’s working on himself or not, Mitch still did horrible things. He still doesn’t deserve to just have his life and his friends back. Alex’s association with him is bad for the image she’s always manipulating everyone, including herself, to build. No matter how much she misses Mitch or wants things to go back to the way before she knew what he’d done, that’s just impossible.
And reality comes crashing down on both of them just in time for Alex to head back home. When the international news talks about Maggie Brenner’s book and mentions the allegations about Mitch targeting Black women, Alex is just about due to leave anyway. The news report, together with Mitch’s response to it, spares her the ache of wanting to delay her goodbye. It’s her wake-up call, alarm bells screaming at her, telling her this is not the place where she should stay. Whether the friend she knew was real or not, whether his remorse for what he did to Hannah is genuine or not, he still is what he is—or at least has that inside of him.
It’s not on Alex to give him credit for whether or not he thinks he targeted Black women. He did all of it, whether he understands the full magnitude of his guilt or not. We can talk about the many, many problematic things about Alex Levy all we want, but choosing to walk away from someone who hurt other women so profoundly is not one of them.
Refusing to bear Mitch’s burdens, even if she went about it in the most bizarre way of all time, didn’t in any way make her a bad friend or dishonor what they once shared. She also, however, should not be held responsible for someone else’s actions either. Required to speak up and stand with survivors? Yes. Blamed for a man’s wrongdoing? No.
It’s certainly not the responsibility of women to explain to men why their behavior is wrong. You can tell it breaks Alex’s heart to refuse to help Mitch understand, thanks to Jennifer Aniston’s unbearably real and raw performance here, and yeah…It’s also very believable that Mitch just doesn’t get it. And it’s difficult for Alex to stand there, to see this person who isn’t all bad in her eyes and who seems to be trying to do better; it hurts them both to have to realize, all over again, that he’s not the good person he wants to be seen as. That is, however, just…what happens.
Mitch has to face consequences. Actions have consequences. That just is what it is.
And what does The Morning Show 2×07 honestly tell us about Mitch as a person? We learn that he genuinely cares for Alex and feels regret for…all of it. But, when he immediately invites himself over to Paola’s and doesn’t hold firm on his decision to not let sex be a part of their friendship, we also see that he’s nowhere near enough of a changed man. Then again, maybe seeing him push her away more than once should count for something?
It’s might be difficult to decide because, again, he was more than just the monster. He loved his kids and wanted to be with them as he saw the world coming to an end, but he also knew he just couldn’t go back. He couldn’t go home. There was some accountability, some responsibility, but just never really enough.
Because, at the end of the day, the firm line should be that there are some types of wrongdoing you can never really come back from. And even if forgiveness could have been a possibility, the person he hurt the most is dead. It is not for any of us to forgive on Hannah’s behalf, and since she was never going to be able to speak for herself in this situation, that meant Mitch was never going to earn forgiveness—no matter what he did.
And, of course, with the way the episode ended…No spoilers, but it should be pretty clear that growth and change end here. That’s a pretty firm statement. And honestly, it’s a little bit of wish fulfillment when it comes to tons of other supposedly canceled men who still manage to thrive in the business.
Random thoughts on The Morning Show 2×07
- Mourning the loss a friendship is one of the most painful things we ever have to experience in life. Jennifer Aniston absolutely nailed that type of grief and breaking down in The Morning Show 2×07.
- To be honest, Aniston basically nailed everything here, including some much-needed comedic relief in the form of Alex vs. the gate.
- “I’m bitter sometimes. I can go to some pretty dark places.” This show can @ me next time.
- Also, I don’t appreciate having to identify with this dude, for the record.
- …but, as Paola explained, people are three dimensional. So, here we are.
- “The world doesn’t want complex—they don’t want complicated. They want easily digestible.” A lot of people really seem to fit this. They seem to think you can’t both love someone and call out their flaws. Oh, to be so immature and lacking in critical thinking skills…
- Can y’all imagine being privileged enough to just hop a nine-hour flight out of the blue in the middle of a plague, though? Can’t relate.
- ”Does any of this seem like something that someone who’s ok would do?” No, it absolutely does not. Thanks for playing.
- “I guess nobody is ok, so you’re in good company.” This is also accurate, especially in COVID times.
- “So, you just stumbled into backstabbing people?” Pot. Kettle. Black.
- “I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing. And I just miss you.” The crying…I cried. They hugged? I maybe cried.
- If crying happened, there was definitely a feeling of ickiness immediately after…and also, I’m blaming the stellar performances for the undeserved empathy I gave these two. So there.
- The Morning Show should not make me feel this way for someone who did awful, awful things…But here we are.
- Real world parallel here: Alex’s whole “I’m a good person” thing on her way to the airport made me think about Vanessa James’ recent non-statement of a statement about her former figure skating partner, who (spoiler alert) is trash. But just like Alex should’ve stood up for Mitch’s victims instead of worrying about herself and her reputation all this time? Vanessa can keep her bullshit.
- Other people who can keep their bullshit: Literally everyone involved in the deafening silence over this.
- That feel when you’re Laura Peterson, so people can go all the way to Italy and have to stay pressed.
- “So, you come here, and you get me to tell the world that you’re someone you aren’t so you don’t get canceled like I did. And then, you will never tell anyone who you think I really am?” “Never is a long time.” It kinda hurts? Especially considering the ending?
- But anyway. Yeah…The feelings are super complicated here, but the facts are pretty simple: Mitch did everything he was accused of. And it wasn’t “canceling” him to force him out of the public eye and make him suffer a little bit—and seriously, it was a very little bit, based on where he was staying—for all of it.
- In these cases, the road to redemption doesn’t actually get you there.