The Morning Show 3×08 “DNF” has some really strong moments, but we’re still in a place where this season’s overall narrative and treatment of its characters is…what it is. That leaves us with the less-than-admirable task of trying to point out things that work (or don’t) within that context. Using that framework, we could probably argue that this is one of the stronger episodes. If nothing else, it’s plenty entertaining. And as usual, the hour includes some incredible performances — both in the explosive moments, like Alex and Chip’s argument, and the quieter ones like Chris and Yanko’s oddly sweet moment.
Before we jump in, this is just another demand for the studios to make a fair deal with SAG-AFTRA so these actors can get back to doing what they do best.
There are a lot of places in The Morning Show 3×08 where Alex says the right thing but, ultimately, fails to actually be coming from a genuine or correct place. Which, ok. That seems to be about spot on with the entire world or whatever, so maybe she deserves a little bit of slack here. Maybe, even, we can grant the storytelling a little bit of the benefit of the doubt on the point of Alex, too…or at least we’d like to. Unfortunately, that’s not possible.
The issue is one of framing, one of choices in how best to provide a point of view. As viewers, we’re made to feel like Alex Levy, great and genuine feminist that she is (yes, I had trouble keeping a straight face while writing that), really wants to focus on the Dobbs story. She’s really concerned about women losing their right to body autonomy. (Note that she’s not worried about, say, trans people or child rape victims. Just grown, cis women.) And everyone is just out to get her. The blogger she interviews, everyone who wants her to make a statement to get ahead of the story, coworkers who make the (admittedly shitty) decision to gossip about her on the job…They are all attacking her, while she’s just trying to report the news without becoming it.
Because Alex is a protagonist here, we’re meant to empathize with her. And, she does say things that are entirely accurate. There’s always some “story” that gets planted as a distraction. No argument there. And, really, it’s weird that so many people are so obsessed with the private lives of folks who happen to be on their TVs. But even with all that being said, the episode itself, combined with Alex’s characterization to date, doesn’t completely work.
There’s just something about the way “DNF” skews the narrative that doesn’t quite sit right. It comes out in the way Alex attempts to make a comparison between her own woes with being questioned about an inappropriate relationship and abortion rights. And she just outright refuses to hear people’s very valid concerns. Then, let’s not even begin to talk about how she treats Chip and, honestly, always has treated him. (Except for the part where that argument in her office is truly fine work from Mark Duplass and Jennifer Aniston. 100/10, could watch forever.)
It’s just…Alex is still, well, Alex. Which means her insistence that she’s avoiding the scrutiny out of purely good intent is more her trying to convince herself that that’s why she refuses to listen than anything else. And for her to actually want “in” on Paul’s plot to dismantle the company and sell it for parts — even for her to consider it — utterly erases any benefit of the doubt we’d be willing to give toward her really, in any way, being the one who’s being beaten up by everyone else’s judgement and/or demands.
“I don’t have anyone over there anymore. It just doesn’t feel like a home anymore. I don’t know…I just don’t think it’s worth saving”
This whole “poor me” statement toward the end of The Morning Show 3×08 is just…bad. We don’t have another way to describe it. Alex ruined many — if not all — of her relationships there; or, at least, she had a hand in ruining them. Not to mention, she suddenly doesn’t see the value in keeping UBA going anymore…because of personal shit? But we’re supposed to believe all her “I’m so concerned about the news” posturing. Big no from us.
If Alex is willing to destroy a legacy media company so quickly, at a time when we need real reporting more than ever — and not long after she had her initial concerns about this exact same thing potentially happening — then, no, she’s not the “good” person we’re supposed to feel for here. She’s not our hero. Therefore, the focus on her, in the way it all plays out, just feels wrong.
In Chris we trust
If anyone continues to be worth rooting for it’s Christina Hunter. She doesn’t let threats, or hate mail, or even assholes ruining her coat with their red paint stunts hold her down. Chris refuses to just go home — “you know Chris,” Stella says to Cory at one point. And, yeah. We do know, and we’re more than grateful for that — after being ambushed on her way to work. No. She wants to stay and do her job, as she’s always done. Chris simply doesn’t see “DNF” as an option, on the track or on the job.
Which is, of course, what makes Chris’ inability to finish her run toward the end of The Morning Show 3×08 that much more painful to watch. How did an Olympic athlete go from inspiring young people to follow in her footsteps to doing this job, and how does she feel about it? We don’t need a ton of dialogue or messy drama for the sake of drama. Instead, we just get these raw, human moments where Nicole Beharie breaks our hearts. First, we see that understated, yet heartbreaking, reaction to the fan mail. Then, she’s the pure embodiment of determination before going out for what we might, initially, see as just an attempt to clear her head. And notice the stronger reaction, with far more agony, in being unable to finish the race than to the physical pain that precedes it and puts the run to an end.
Later, when Chris responds to Yanko’s question about whether or not she misses her sport, Beharie’s wistful expression is utterly gutting to witness. She manages to bring forth this feeling of experiencing the ultimate form of defeat, so much sadness…but also just so much love for this thing at which she once excelled.
“But I do not belong on that track anymore. No matter how much I train, it’s not coming back. I dream of the final lap. The final turn…passing on the outside….never get caught.”
Sure, those lines tell us quite a lot. But it’s the way Beharie delivers them, and all the little responses to everything her character encounters in this episode, that really keeps us rooting for this character. Chris feels real because the actress brings such natural, relatable heart to her. And so we know so much about her, even with so much less time with her in comparison to others.
Chris doesn’t overreact to the threats around her; she’s calm in the face of so much chaos. But she’s not afraid to react to things that bother her either. And, underneath all of that — at her core — she longs for that feeling she used to get when she was living the dream. If all of that wasn’t enough to make us adore her, her refusal to be fake and play nice with Yanko, even after their sweet moment, definitely would be. Chris, we can trust to be honest with us. Everyone else, though…not so much.
Questions better left unanswered
We could make a joke here about how Cory Ellison destroys everything just by existing, but we won’t. Instead, let’s have a difficult conversation about how two wrongs don’t make a right. It doesn’t matter how adorable Bradley and Laura are together at the beginning of The Morning Show 3×08. Nor does the amount of love they have for each other really make much difference, in the end. Their relationship, at this time, is one that lacks both honesty and trust. And that just…can’t work.
Call it whatever you want. Paranoia, instinct, and some kind of supernatural sense that something’s off all come to mind. Regardless, Laura feels like Bradley isn’t telling her the truth, and the Cory of it all (see the reference to him ruining things by existing above) is an easy place to put those misgivings. By the end of “DNF,” Laura finds out she was right (ick) about that all along. But, of course, that’s not the real issue that makes Laura fake being sick and cancel date night. It is, as Laura puts it, “fucking Hal.”
We could bash Bradley a bit more. Or, we might discuss how she really has no room to talk about how she doesn’t even know what to say to Alex about her bad choices, considering. But unfortunately, it’s Laura’s turn now. Her disgusted, irritated reaction to Audra’s suggestion that she snoop on Bradley is the correct one. Regardless of what a supremely corrupt court may say, we all have a right to privacy. Certainly, anyone who loves us — and anyone in a relationship with us that they want to have any chance, whatsoever, of being considered healthy — ought to at least believe so. Therefore, looking into the leak website is just…wrong.
So much for any moral high ground. Laura may still have more points in her favor here. We could probably argue that point, but we don’t care to.
At the end of the day, being uneasy about Cory is…well. It’s smart, if nothing else. However. In no universe is it ok to know it’s wrong to go through your significant other’s phone…but then decide it’s ok to access the exact same messages through some means. No reasonable difference — between violating Bradley’s privacy via her actual, physical phone and doing the exact same thing through some website — exists. Especially when the website in question is a collection of stolen information through a hack that violated Bradley. Lest we forget, those are other people’s personal conversations, too. So, in some ways, Laura giving the site hits is even worse than “only” accessing her girl’s phone.
Simply put, this makes a bad storyline even worse. And of all the ways for Laura to find out about Bradley’s federal crimes, this has got to be one of the worst. Ok. We get it. Somewhere along the line, someone decided BradleyLaura either needed to come to a permanent end or have some serious struggles to keep it “interesting.” (Which, to be clear: We’re not of the outdated, uncreative mindset that says a healthy relationship with a normal amount of issues that the involved parties can actually work through isn’t interesting.) Like it, love it, or hate it…Pretty sure we could all agree that making it make sense — without doing real damage to how we see each character individually — might have been nice.
More on The Morning Show 3×08
- “I’m more interested in what’s happening under the table.” I think we can all agree with Alex on the “really, Joel” here. Except like…not in a “everyone’s mean to Alex” way so much as “wow, no. We’ve seen enough” way.
- “You know that’s why he offered you my job. He was worried you’re a problem. So, he took care of it.” He’s right, but he shouldn’t have said so. Hate it here, actually!
- The Cory/Stella standoff. Yes. Greta Lee and Billy Crudup did that. The way Lee has Stella just…narrow those eyes when Cory says what he has to say about her being the Stanford student and exude all that confidence, only to be basically dead inside when he’s not watching. So. Insanely. Good.
- “I get all my best snacks at work.” Most relatable thing Bradley has said in a while.
- “Alex is really crossing a line,” says the lady who later crosses a major line to her girlfriend, who has traveled so far over the line, she’s now in the Upside Down.
- “I don’t know how you function.” Same.
- If you pause immediately after the BradleyLaura scene, you’ll get some great side-eye from Layla and Mia.
- “So, I say what the majority of people are thinking and you’re punishing me for it.”
- “You’re not afraid to take down powerful men.” Someone please fill Stella in.
- “What happened to Hannah was terrible. Period. But in the end, you did the right thing. You held those men accountable.” No, seriously. Please fill Stella in. Or, better yet: Give us that Bradley back already.
- Insert something about Paul, his private jet, and how I’ve had it with this motherfucking snake on this motherfucking plane here.
- “You’ve been smiling a lot. It unnerves me.” Things people would probably say to me. Hell. Things el rabino has probably said to me more than once.
- Cory’s whole reaction to that interview video? Kinda golden.
- “This massive story breaks. And she makes it about her? What did Chris think was going to happen when she made that post?” I do not know Mia right now.
- Meanwhile, Team Layla: “I don’t think she was making it about her. She said what a lot of us are feeling.”
- Sometimes, major news stories happen. And when they affect human beings, those human beings have emotions based on how the things affect them. So, they express those feelings from that place of deep, personal connection that outsiders, without that context, might not get. Might be something to consider.
- “The fuck? What the fucking fuck?” Constant mood.
- “Because you are a middle-aged adrenaline junkie, who would rather bounce between wars than commit to a zip code.” I just think that…damn.
- “Alex Levy. Just who I was looking for.” “Oh! And you found me in my office! Way to go, Columbo.” Aniston and Crudup playing the “let’s one-up each other in the sarcastic and shitty department” game is so much fun to watch.
- Fuck it. If everyone has to have inappropriate relationships, might as well have them do enemies-to-lovers.
- “My mother has instilled in me the belief that, uh…what a woman chooses to do with her body, that is her business.” “Yeah. Which is exactly why gossip about my private life should be off the table.” Yes, but also…he’s buying the company you work for. And the network has a history of…some shit. It’s not just “who is Alex dating.” It’s who and what Paul is and the multiple problems that creates.
- “You are on the verge of getting everything you ever wanted out of this place: power in your right. And you choose instead to be the girlfriend. The plus one. And that’s not me talking. That is, sadly, the patriarchal cesspool that we live in. But now, I can promise you, every decision you make at UBA, it’ll be pulled apart and scrutinized by the public — not to mention, everybody in this building. Ain’t love grand?!” Hate that, somewhere in his bullying, there’s a grain of truth. But. Well.
- “Someone’s gotta tell the people about all the shitty things happening in the world.” Ok but it’s exhausting. Also, if this man actually believed this, he wouldn’t be planning to destroy UBA. Much less firing whistleblowers at Hyperion like Kate.
- “When we’re talking about minority rule, the real problem that we’re facing is from billionaires and dark money. I mean, in terms of social control, these people have this outsized influence in media that, frankly, scares the shit out of me.” Find the lie.
- “I’m sorry, but if a reporter hooks up with a billionaire who is buying her media company, people are going to ask questions. Like, is she actually capable of speaking truth to power.” Chip’s petty ass just hung out backstage and did nothing because he wanted answers, too. Oops.
- “The story is whatever you decide it is.”
- “Anything good that comes along, you just light it on fire and explode it right away.” Chip telling Alex about herself didn’t need to involve attacking me, though?
- Chip is done.
- “Fuck it” and the laptop stare-down…Laura is me before trying to write these shitty reviews.
- Her hair.
- Julianna Margulies takes us on such a journey in that big reveal sequence, we can practically see all the dots connecting themselves in Laura’s head.
- So many emotions there, too. Ouch.
- “I was way out of line.” “Yes. You were.” SHE IS FRANK AF AND I LOVE HER FOR NOT BEING FAKE.
- So. Many. Feelings. in that Andre/Mia scene. That heartbreak from Karen Pittman after Andre says maybe he deserved to get hit is everything.
- Now, give her some joy to portray!
- Paul’s offer to Alex, just like his offer to Stella…is taking care of a problem. He’s managing her. Period.
- Can Fred just, like, stop popping up out of nowhere? Even slasher flick villains stay dead eventually.
- Ok but that “Dancing in the Dark” cover is pretty.
- Chip is wrecked. (Same.)
- Rena can stuff her whining about not being able to do things in person. Talk to someone with long COVID or dead loved ones, bestie. Hell, go talk to someone who’s immunocompromised and therefore in perpetual isolation.
- …and this anniversary tribute feels out of place with all the other action anyway. It’s sweet, but it’s a weird place to put it.
Thoughts on The Morning Show 3×08? Feel free to share them.
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