The Morning Show is an American drama web television series starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, that premiered on Apple TV+ on November 1, 2019. The series is inspired by Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.
The Morning Show, a popular news and talk morning television show, is thrown into chaos when co-anchor Mitch Kessler is fired amid allegations of sexual harassment. Fellow anchor Alex Levy [female] grows furious at Mitch and the network for keeping her in the dark and later meets with Mitch, who reveals the network plans on replacing her. An investigation is launched by human resources into Mitch’s conduct, with most of the crew offering their support to Mitch and denying knowledge of his sexual misconduct.
The Morning Show braces itself for a story from The New York Times on Mitch’s behavior leading him to crash the studio and beg his former coworkers to speak on the record in his defense.
What Carell does with Mitch is really interesting in that, as much as his character conjures up Matt Lauer, there are times when you can really see the Michael Scott “Office” character in him: Like Michael, Mitch has no sense of what proper workplace behavior looks like, but in Mitch, that cluelessness is damaging, he’s inviting us to see the toxic male connective tissue between a rube of a paper-company boss and a powerful media man abusing his authority for selfish reasons.
Matthew Lauer for those of you who do not remember is a former American television news anchor. He was the co-host of NBC’s Today show from 1997 to 2017, and a contributor for Dateline NBC. Following allegations of his inappropriate sexual behavior, Lauer’s contract was terminated by NBC in November 2017 after NBC reported receiving “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace” and added that the network had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident”.
On June 22, 2020, Aniston revealed in a Variety interview with Lisa Kudrow that the show’s development began before the “MeToo” movement, but was ultimately reworked to include and partially focus on it.
There is a scene when one of his victims after Mitch’s termination goes into his now empty office and pushes the hidden desk button that closes the front door locking victims in, reliving the trauma of her own abuse. That was alleged to be real from Lauer’s office.
There were two pieces of the Morning Show that I want to shine a light on. While in seclusion, licking his wounds and looking for redemption and an ally he invites Martin Short who played Dick Lundry, [a disgraced Hollywood celebrity who he himself was taken down by “MeToo”], over for tennis and comradery. During an alcohol filled conversation Mitch presents this theory that the men taken out in the first wave of “Me Too” like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey were really bad guys but those like himself taken down in the next wave were actually, victims of the “Me Too” movement. All he could say was that he was a bad husband but that all the sex was consensual. His personal victim’s stance otherwise known as denial stayed with him during the show. It was extremely hard to watch. To say the least, he was knee deep in his own bullshit!
The second piece was just how many people on the show and in management turned a blind eye to what was really going on for fifteen years. Money, power, and sex make for strange bedfellows. Mitch was a predator with a lot of charisma and charm. He used niceness as a ploy. Here are classic signs of a perpetrator: control, domination, passive/aggressive, restricting, minimizing, blaming, intimidation, denigration, male privilege, isolation, withholding and coercion and threats. This show portrayed them all. What he never displayed was empathy, remorse, or humility. His character was the personification of the classic Alcoholics Anonymous expression of “self will run riot”. And we must not forget that none of his behavior was against the law. If left untreated it will always get worse.
CCOVID19 has thrown a monkey wrench into season two, so we all must wait. More collateral wreckage from this pandemic. As life remains upside down and inside out, we can take a moment to review are own past behaviors. If your self-assessment comes up short to your own ideals you might want to try something new. I am here to talk, no judgement, just talk and remember misery is optional.