If nothing else, The Morning Show 3×04 is a damning look at the lengths people will go to in order to get funding for network programming. For some, it’s schmoozing it up at parties that probably cost more than the average worker’s salary — many times over. And for others, it’s sitting idly by while some of the worst people on the planet exploit others, simply because they can. Having too much money to know what to do with is bad, actually!
(Which, to that end, mazel tov to the WGA for refusing to back down and for getting themselves a very good, hard-earned deal. Next, the corrupt corporations should take care of the actors. Like, yesterday. Anyway. Back to the review.)
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Because, if nothing else, “The Green Light” does give us some good BradleyLaura…until it doesn’t. Because Cory. Are we seriously doing that again? Apparently so.
The easy highlight: BradleyLaura
If we could cut literally every part out of The Morning Show 3×04 that doesn’t see Laura Peterson and Bradley Jackson texting, talking, and teasing, it would easily be the best episode of the season so far. And it would be just plain fun. Which, quite frankly, we could use some more fun in our lives…but ok. We do realize this is a drama series. Fine. Whatever.
It’s worth pointing out that, at this point in the season, we still don’t completely know what broke these two characters up. But there are some clues in “The Green Light” as to how things have been going since the big UBA leak. Laura has obviously been checking in (Exhibit A: Bradley’s text message history), and she’s also obviously been…insecure about the whole thing, we’ll say. (Exhibits B and C: The gap in the aforementioned text history where conversation kind of died off. And the surprised delight on Julianna Margulies’ face when Bradley chooses to call her back, rather than continue texting. Exhibit D: The near heart attack after the party invite.) They’re also able to joke about what’s happened now, in the form of ripping apart NBN’s Upfronts roast on their relationship.
What’s really nice in all of this is getting to see Margulies purposely over act to play up Laura’s sense of giving less than zero fucks about the whole business of Upfronts — presentations, parties, and every other detail included. The condescension every time she speaks about the whole ordeal is fantastic. Then, there’s the extra bit of mockery for Cory’s overly-lavish home, the way she lays it on extra thick when she mentions the “grand suite,” both in an all-new tone of voice and the physical comedy. The way she sneaks into that bedroom is truly a blast to watch. Just delightful stuff. The best, even.
But ok. We can’t talk about the comedy only. Again, drama series. Whatever.
Throughout their conversations in The Morning Show 3×04, Bradley and Laura do still have an underlying sense of…not quite there. It’s not the awkward tension of the season premiere, but it’s not the ease they formerly had either. At times, Laura even seems like she might be trying too hard. That’s not a condemnation of character, just a statement of the general sense of where she maybe feels like she stands. Like there’s some insecurity there that, in the past, didn’t exist. Obviously, Laura wants to show Bradley the fun they used to have. But because she’s making so much effort, she maybe misses some cues until it’s too late.
That moment in Cory’s bedroom is awkward. It’s obvious Bradley, in another great performance from Reese Witherspoon, is feeling some kind of way about Laura mentioning sex and that bed. And it pours ice water over an otherwise cute little adventure for the two of them. Then, they start to get back on track, and…Cory shows up. Yeah, he’s taking his encounter with Fred out on Bradley at that point. But he’s also jealous of Laura, weird about Bradley, and…again, it’s time to ask: Are we really doing this?
Can we not ruin a good thing? All that fun, the quiet, tentative conversation about how “confusing” thinking about BradleyLaura is? Come on. Cut Cory out, and this is the stuff of shipper dreams.
Speaking of ruining a good thing: Stella Bak
In the race to save a dying legacy media company, we have slime like Cory Ellison doing slimy Cory Ellison things with just about zero effect on his conscience. (Does he have one?) Nothing new there. But seeing Stella rendered basically powerless by a couple of men with too much money on their hands is absolutely sickening. And it’s easy, as a viewer, to condemn her for not doing more, to sit back and say you would’ve stood up for Erica the server.
But being in that desperate position — which “Drew, I think?” and “Beard Guy” (literally didn’t care to learn names, even after multiple viewings) knew — can cause a person to freeze. It’s not just Stella’s career on the line — it’s so many other people’s. So, that pressure has to weigh on her. Add the alcohol, which Stella admitted she couldn’t keep up with when she asked for water. Mix that with the way these two people basically mocked her, were amused at best, when she gave them real, capable and confident, pitches…and it’s just hard to know how you’d react until you’re in that space.
Regardless, it’s awful to watch. Worse still when “Beard Menace” forces Erica to lick up a spilled drink, tossing a $20,000 tip at her (on Stella’s card!) as if that will fix her dignity after the fact. And even more terrible when you realize, based on the way that woman is clearly uncomfortable, yet does what she’s told anyway when she realizes no one — not even Stella — is going to save her, that these things probably happen all the time. Stella protests but is easily silenced; she’s obviously rioting inside but not able to show it. Because, again, these wealthy men have all the power — and they know it. And we just…have to watch.
Greta Lee hits all the right emotional beats here. And the scene where we really get to sit with how Stella actually feels about what just went down is stunning. But wow, is there nothing at all about this part of The Morning Show 3×04 that any part of me ever wants to witness again. And the icing on the cake: The deal, though it goes through, needs to be dropped anyway because keeping the money would put everyone back under Fred Fucking Micklen’s thumb. (So, that whole “cancel culture” continues to be so real, huh?)
It’s no surprise that Stella deals with Mia’s hesitation around those photos from Ukraine the way she does. There, in Lee’s performance, is Stella’s need to convince herself that she did what she had to do, thus forcing her to be extra harsh on Mia in telling her she has to now do what must be done to get the network ahead. It’s so awful. Like, as a viewer, it feels like selling one’s own soul for absolutely nothing.
Alex, don’t make me tap the sign again
When Cory admits he doesn’t know what he’s going to do about Alex’s show and (incorrectly) blames her for blowing his deal with a billionaire, she’s suddenly interested in wooing Paul Marks. So, while Stella takes on two monsters in The Morning Show 3×04, Alex…sets off to steal Cory’s billionaire boyfriend, basically. This is some on brand “Alex is out for Alex” stuff, but it’s also an affirmation of “wow, she has the worst taste ever.”
There’s a fun sort of chemistry between Jennifer Aniston and Jon Hamm. And it even builds in a sweet sort of way, as they’re off basically getting to have some adulting-free fun. Admittedly, it’s kind of impossible not to root for Alex and Paul against that asshole at the funnel cake stand. Which, to be clear: Good for Paul, stepping in like that! But…no, we can’t — won’t — ship it. Even if everything in us is yearning to.
Why? There is no such thing as a “good” billionaire. No such thing. Period.
So, for The Morning Show to spend so much time on this courtship — and, let’s be clear, that’s what it is. And not just for money reasons — is…not the compelling “gray area” we expect from this series. Furthermore, hearing Alex and Paul compare notes about being rich and not buying their own groceries is, frankly, disgusting. Especially when you consider Alex’s net worth, even if she’s of millionaire status, is a drop in the bucket compared to this guy’s. And, probably, neither of them pays their fair share in taxes while kids starve because of cuts to programs like WIC. So, no thanks.
But hey! At least Alex and her new buddy/boyfriend/whatever save the day. Good for them!
More on The Morning Show 3×04
- Ok but full offense: If you don’t lose your mind seeing Julianna Margulies in that shade of pink, I can’t trust you. Not after being raised by a pink-scrubs-clad Carol Hathaway on ER.
- This entire opening sequence with Cory is only useful because of 1) the musical choice and 2) the dog he briefly passes. Cut the rest.
- “God, I miss COVID. Can’t we just do all of this on Zoom?” Got news for you, Stella: You can’t “miss” something that’s not gone. And yes, you could still do things on Zoom…but the billionaire class decided “normal” was too important.
- “This is all, like, a…necessary evil. Right?” And then the way her story goes in this episode. Oof.
- Loved having Retta here, however briefly.
- “…and believe me when I tell you the male ego is fragile.” Fuck Cory’s “cucked” line forever, but at least he’s right here. Broken clock or whatever.
- Tag yourself. I’m screaming about “hey you.”
- “Who would’ve ever thought we were aspirational?” Tell me you’ve never seen online fandom without telling me.
- “From the looks of it, we’re in for a Sound of Music lesbian reboot.” Sign me up.
- “I know. We should design a line of bonnets.” “I’d be willing to open an Etsy store with you.” Sign me up for this, too.
- “It’s gonna be fun. We’ll get tipsy, talk shit about everybody.” “We can just do that here.” (A WHOLE MOOD)
- “…seemed really excited about the dog with superpowers show? Meanwhile, there’s zero interest in our Texas abortion documentary.” Karen Pittman’s disgusted laugh and “yikes” are everything here.
- I need to know more about the “long story” and the Russian.
- Meanwhile, everything you need to know about Mia and Andre is there in Pittman’s voice and demeanor. No more story needed. (Wanted? Yes.)
- “…of all the antisemitic clubs, that one’s my favorite.” “Well. Some older members…belong. Mayflower Jews.” What the actual and complete fuck. Antisemitism isn’t funny, actually.
- “I will swim back to Manhattan if I have to.” “You’re not leaving me alone in this…palace of sadness.” Chris and Mia forever, actually. And Chris’ constant “get me out of here” with the party, from even before it even started, is so very much me.
- “My father said if he’d known he was raising a cocktail waitress, he would’ve never bothered to teach me to read.” I might vomit.
- “Aw! Already burned out from your first Upfronts. I’ve had to endure this for the past 25 years. Although, at least in the 90s you could smoke. And cocaine couldn’t kill you.” Ok but WTF was happening at NBC Upfronts in the ER years??? (Don’t answer that.)
- “You know, I wasn’t always this boring.” When has she ever.
- “It’s a joke. She’ll be fine.” No, she will not.
- Christina Hunter is not taking Leonard’s bullshit lines, and I’m here for it. Nicole Beharie continues to be a priceless addition to this series.
- “…but I’m talking about people who don’t have lawyers. Like Layla, my producer. Julie, our stage manager. People like them.” Solidarity!
- “Extra — extra firm! Not a lot of sex happening here.” Help.
- “I don’t want to see you get dragged into the culture wars.” Can someone please get Yanko to STFU forever.
- The way Beharie makes it a point to look away on the “guess we’ll see” line!
- “…which means 22,000 employees get to keep their jobs, their health insurance, the roof over their heads…” But the cost.
- “Strangers take a lot of shit out on me. Whatever they can’t say to their girlfriends or their wives, I’m the punching bag. It’s ok…it’s part of the job.” Can we stop doing this to famous people, especially women? Hold them accountable for the actual terrible things they do, sure. But…not this shit.
- “And part of me just wants to…run away with you. Leave all of this behind. And part of me remembers how miserable I was.” “But it’s not the same. We’re not the same. And you were going through so much. I wanted to be…close to you.” Angst intensifies.
- Also: Imagine being “miserable” with
Julianna MarguliesLaura Peterson. Won’t relate.
- “…considering everything i’ve done for you.” Can Cory….not.
- Fabulous moment from Pittman showing that obvious regret, or at least conflict, after giving the green light to push the photos out.
- “Unfuckingbelievable. Alex Levy brought home the kill.” Is it really that unbelievable, though? Oh, right. Cory’s an “only I can fix this” dude.
Thoughts on The Morning Show 3×04? Leave us a comment!
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