As far as functioning as a season premiere goes, The Morning Show 3×01 “The Kármán Line” does its job. For the most part, at least. The episode tells us where we are, while only hinting at how we got here—and that hinting part works much, much better in some places than others. And sure, there’s plenty of setup for what’s to come. Nicole Beharie’s Christina Hunter is an almost instant new favorite, and Jon Hamm is…Jon Hamm. Normally, that’s a good thing. Here, it is not. He plays a billionaire, and—make no mistake—there is no ethical way to amass that kind of wealth, much less to take a vanity trip into space with it. So, for Hamm to appear with that usual charm…doesn’t work.
Overall, something simply seems to be missing here. Sure, a premiere is for setup. But the second season premiere had a certain power to it that this one…doesn’t. Instead of feeling like we’re on a journey that’s going to examine how media handles stories, it just feels like we’re going along with all the network’s bad decisions now. Two years after the beginning of the pandemic, where the series left off, our main characters seem frustratingly unchanged. There’s nothing to mark the passage of so much time, other than a new job here or there and—oh, yeah—a breakup.
Is this just what the plan was always going to be all along, or did something change? As viewers, we’ll probably never know. So, the best we can do is just…try to offer as fair and honest of an opinion as possible. Apologies in advance that it’s not the glowing review we were hoping to give here.
No, that’s not a heartwarming trip to space
Honestly, where do we even begin with the whole “billionaire space explorer” plot in The Morning Show 3×01? Should it be the part where Alex Levy, rightly, tells Chip that Cory’s using her to make a deal? “He’s using me as his honey trap. This fucker, who couldn’t wait to get rid of me three years ago.” Whether she wants to go on this (ill-conceived, potentially deadly if recent billionaire trips to the Titanic are any indication) trip or not, she’s been used as a bargaining chip—truly showing nobody at this network has learned from the Mitch scandal. Because, obviously, the way to show you’ve worked on changing the culture is to take away women’s agency. They’re just property, right?
Perhaps, instead, we should approach from an angle of “wow. Why is this getting a whole sequence of people being ‘awed in space’ toward the end of the episode, when, no, this isn’t a heartwarming story at all?” Cory promised Paul one woman to be used as publicity as a way to sweeten up his money deal to save the network (or whatever). And, when he didn’t get that woman, he had two other women try to convince yet another to go up in space instead. When that failed, he used yet another woman “owing” him to get his way. Forget the fact that the woman in question, Bradley, had far bigger stories to tell and was given a slap on the wrist for trying to cover real news because “bias.” That’s a whole other issue, friends.
But everyone’s all “yay! OMG! Remarkable!” as they watch the launch…and there’s zero discussion of moral good (lack thereof) to give us any real substance to discuss here. In the past, the series would have done exactly that—give us the story, yet raise some questions for us to take a deeper dive. That doesn’t happen here. At all. See also: Look how terrified Alex was on that abominable ride to go look at Paul’s hoarded property. It’s all fun and games to him, and since it’s Jon Hamm, there’s still that…well. “Fun and games” feel to it. Even when Alex makes some appropriately biting comments, the framing is sort of “aw, that’s just Alex! Teehee! She’s difficult.” When, no. All of this is wrong.
…while we’re at it. Let’s not even begin to think about how any substance here, whatsoever, falls flat when you consider both Alex and Bradley’s struggles with corporate leadership are eerily reflective of what’s going on in entertainment industry at large right now. The stars want “too much,” according to Cory and Stella. And Alex is “so tired of being managed. You ask for things politely, like a grownup, and you just get nothing.” So, Alex wants to know why she has to “set things on fire to get someone to listen.” That’s a very good question indeed, as we watch what’s happening in the real world with the history-making WGA and SAG-AFTRA dual strike.
…but two of the major stars of this series have yet to so much as post a graphic on social media while they’re certainly otherwise active enough to have the opportunity to do so. So, forgive us if even the good stuff is…something else entirely. And, yes, real life shouldn’t interfere with the fiction—but it kind of can’t help but do so here. Especially when, again, we’re trying to do a “friendly billionaire” schtick. (Julianna Margulies, I don’t mean you, my picket line icon. Keep doing what you’re doing.)
Tell the truth. No, not like that.
So, our Bradley is out here, winning awards for her coverage from inside the Capitol on January 6. And she finally got that evening news gig she’s always wanted…but can she do the type of reporting she wants to? Of course not! After all, we can’t have a woman covering abortion rights, especially not if that woman is known to have a “personal” attachment to that type of story. She has to be able to appeal to both sides of the country, even if the facts show most of the country supports abortion rights.
Honestly, if The Morning Show 3×01 had used a cocky, slimy Cory—or even a clueless Chip. Seriously, what was that on the plane?—to deliver the news to Bradley that she had to take a step back from Luna’s story, this plot point could’ve had potential. But making it an interaction between Bradley and Stella just…so awful. Again, it doesn’t work, primarily because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And it doesn’t raise the desire to think it through so much as it raises ire.
Then, as soon as Bradley finds out her source has been arrested, she makes a trip down to Texas…just for Cory to head her off at the pass and rope her into his space billionaire adventure instead. Which, to drive point home yet again, is this at all what we need to see right now? Especially for Bradley to be, like, “ooooh, ahhh” up there in space while her source is in trouble? While pregnant people no longer have the same rights she once had, the very same rights that saved her life?
Going to go with no, especially when you think about how much good could be done with the money wasted on such a private visit to space. (Let’s not even get into the wasted fossil fuels and their impact on this planet.)
On the plus side, though, Bradley’s non-speech of an acceptance speech for her award hits all the right notes. So, too, does her phone call to Luna to apologize for not being there and to thank her for what she does. But then…this. Who even is this Bradley Jackson?
One thing we know for sure: The current Bradley Jackson is not dating Laura Peterson. Which, ok. Rude, yet makes for some moments?
So, the tense moment between Bradley and Laura is one of the highlights of The Morning Show 3×01, which really is about what we expected. We learn a lot from very little interaction here. Namely, everyone’s hurting and feeling burned, and neither one of these two characters is telling themselves the full truth about what led to their obvious (ugh) breakup. Additionally, whatever may have happened with that ignored call in last season’s finale, they did still spend some time together in Montana while the world was shut down. (Which kind of begs the question, again, of whether or not that skipped call was supposed to warn us…or if plans changed.)
Margulies and Witherspoon have this great back and forth, and both really play up their characters’ reactions to…well, everything, really. Even when they’re not directly confronting one another, we get that brief glimpse of Laura’s reaction to all the things Alex has to say about Bradley. It’s fleeting, but it’s there. Everything from pride to…well, more pain.
As of now, and let’s really emphasize the first three words here—as of now—while this isn’t exactly what we were rooting for, it’s possible to give the story the benefit of the doubt. No relationship is easy, and even the best can end. Some even do end at one point, only to have the romance rekindled at a later date. Case in point: Not that anyone should ever expect this level of greatness ever again, but Margulies herself was one half of the ultimate TV ship. And to say that one had its tension and its “off again” periods would be a gross understatement.
So, we can proceed with caution here and try to be along for the ride. But…we’d be lying if we said we weren’t worried at this point.
More on The Morning Show 3×01
- This fake In Memoriam would be an interesting, if cruel, redirect to start the season premiere…if we didn’t all know Jennifer Aniston was definitely back this season.
- “I look too perky. Don’t you think I look too perky? Like, oh, my God! She’s dead!” Same old Alex. Yay (derogatory).
- “Guys, this obituary shit is morbid. And it is unnecessary.” Chip is me. I am Chip.
- …but then, he does the whole “the guy who built the thing” attempt at reassurance…which. El oh el, no. See also: Submersible. (Which, to be fair, hadn’t happened by the time of filming.)
- Actual cruel redirect: Dark-haired random in Bradley’s bed.
- She’s so real for saying she only had “Advil” when asked if there was anything in the apartment to eat, though. Who can keep track of groceries?
- I feel like this lady Alex is interviewing is attacking me, personally, with the whole “feel alive with other people” vibe. I don’t want to. (Work does not make me feel alive, though, Alex. It should not do that for you either. Look at how these people—mostly men—treat you!)
- “She’s going to make space as safe and appealing as a warm Cinnabon and a cup of Folgers.” Folgers is disgusting, though. So, mission accomplished because space is not safe, actually. And billionaire vanity trips are the opposite of appealing.
- “…in this shitshow of a so-called democracy…” Every so often, Cory says something smart.
- Tiny Laura Peterson sighting! Sorry, not sorry, to Mia: I can possibly like her that much.
- “I have this machine. You push a button. And a cappuccino comes out.” “I have one of those.” “You do?” “Yes. I call it Chip.” Maybe relationships are a good idea after all.
- “Do I sense a little bromance with Mr. Billionaire?” “Well. He likes me! What can I tell you? Some people do.” Do they?
- “People don’t know what they want until we puree it, spoon it up, and…make airplane sounds.” Perhaps this is why you should tell people the truth, rather than minimizing really dangerous shit.
- Alex pointing out she’s made the network roughly $2 billion over the years, while continuing to have no input. Yes. See also the strikes. But also, see also folks who are eerily silent.
- “Hey! Nerd! Correct.”
- That’s at least twice with “during the pandemic” snippets of dialogue, set in in March 2022. COVID was “still a leading cause of death” that whole year. Oops.
- “…and now look at us. Three years later, we’re just..status quo.”
- “Why would you be? If you’d stayed in Montana, none of this would be happening tonight. I don’t know, I feel partially responsible for your meteoric success.” So deliciously bitchy. Not at all fair, kinda awful…yet the delivery is delicious.
- “Smile. People are watching.” So good. Imagine the clowns in the AMPTP thinking this can at all be recreated for cheap and with AI. Unbelievable.
- Great, biting shit-slinging from Witherspoon in that Bradley/Cory bit at the bar, too.
- “There will always, always be someone who tries to silence you. Don’t let them.” Frame it. Put it on my grave. Both. Great use of the awkward silence in the room and everyone’s reactions, too.
- “I just want other women to know that there are people like you out there. And that they don’t have to feel alone.”
- “I mean, it’s really horrifying, yeah, but…where is this coming from right now?” No buts, Chip. And where is it coming from? Ahhh, the cis male privilege, to even think about asking that.
- “Brisket roasted over the ashes of women’s autonomy. Mmmmm…” Every so often, we stan Alex.
- Also: Pay your writers. They are irreplaceable with lines line that.
- “What is it with you rich boys and your toys?”
- “Yeah. All those other billionaires really fucked it up for me.” NO. ALL. BILLIONAIRES. ARE. BAD. THERE. IS. NO. MORALLY. CORRECT. WAY. TO. BE. A. BILLIONAIRE.
- “I’m out of my lane? Fuck my lane.” Exactly. And we should believe Cory’s promises because…?
- “Fuck them, fuck their rocket.” Same.
- “You want me to get into a metal tube, full of thousands of gallons of rocket fuel, on its first manned flight.” New lady said, “I have no desire to find out. Therefore, I will not be fucking around today.”
- “I’m going to pass on being your guinea pig.” SMART LADY. I LOVE.
- “Because y’all have been so supportive.” Get him.
- “It’s incredible to look down and see how connected we all are…” Giant eyeroll, actually.
Thoughts on The Morning Show 3×01? Leave us a comment!
New episodes of The Morning Show premiere Wednesdays on Apple TV+.