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  • Writer's picturecasey

The Morning Show episode 3.10 "The Overview Effect"

The season of Alex Levy! It’s been awhile since I really felt proud of a character the way I feel proud of her. It’s also not too often in shows that you get to see a character grow and actually implement that growth. Typically, a character ‘learning their lesson’ marks the end of the story, but The Morning Show has a really unique pacing that does wonders for character development. They all contain multitudes and nuance and flaws and strengths, and that complexity of every individual is the exact thing that fuels the chaos behind this show.

I also think this show is slept on for some reason? I never hear anyone talk about it which confuses me with this kind of cast. From what I gather, it does too good a job capturing all the problems in our society and that’s a downer. I’ve always been impressed by that quality about it, the whole thing would feel silly if it didn’t feel authentic. But for anyone who feels that The Morning Show is just a stressful and sad reminder of the state of US capitalism and media- this season surprised me by building to an incredibly hopeful and empowering conclusion. One all about growth and accountability. I honestly feel like I have a better understanding of what the phrase “doing the work” actually looks like in the context of social justice and power after watching this.

Jennifer Aniston in "The Overview Effect". Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

Before this season’s finale, my opinion was leaning the complete other way. Bradley, who I’ve always identified with and loved, covered up her brother’s involvement January 6th. Hal wasn’t just there; he attacked a cop- and people were looking for him. Bradley didn’t just discretely ignore it, she doctored him out of footage, lied to the FBI, and continued reporting on the event. To me, she lost all her ethical standing with this, and she continued doing the news for a long time before anyone found out. As Laura Peterson told her, “It’s obscene”.

But then again, Laura only found out about it by scouring all of Bradley’s leaked emails and texts in search of evidence of Bradley sleeping with Cory. Before Alex got involved during “The Overview Effect”, I was rolling my eyes at the both of them. It was screaming ‘liberals who can’t get off their high horse but also aren’t ethical in their own lives when it really comes down to it’. Laura being so insecure about Bradley sleeping with someone when they weren’t even together to the point that she would violate her privacy like that felt incredibly low for Laura. Almost out of character. Her finding out about the Hal situation and her subsequent breakup with Bradley is what catalyzed the climax of this season, but I really wish she had found out some other way.

Nonetheless, I saw a glimmer of hope for Bradley when she resigned on-air. It was dramatic, as she and Alex both often are, but it was a step towards accountability. Losing her girlfriend, her job, and potentially the rest of her career made me feel like she is, indeed, paying the price for her choices.

Something else also happens here that manages to put Bradley’s transgressions in perspective. Paul Marks stops by Bradley’s green room right before what would be her final broadcast, blackmailing her with his knowledge of how the January 6th cover up could blowback on Laura, and telling Bradley to stop digging into Hyperion. “The Overview Effect” opens with Paul blatantly (to us) lying to Alex about that conversation, telling her instead about the support he offered Bradley in that moment.

Paul Marks was a great character addition this season. They planted the seed well that he was ‘not what he seemed’ and had something going on with Hyperion, his independent space company that was working with NASA. Stella had an old friend who tried to blow the whistle, but Stella really straddles the line between empowering from the top down, as she claims to do, and simply playing the game. She scared the friend away, and so enlisted Bradley and Chip to help her get to the bottom of whatever it was that she now regretted ignoring. All we knew for most of this season was that he didn’t assault anyone- he was “too smart” for that- but he sure did something, and absolutely no one would come forward.

Jon Hamm and Jennifer Aniston in "The Overview Effect". Image courtesy of TV Line.

The chemistry between Jon Hamm and Jennifer Aniston is really the thing that made him- and her- compelling. It was so genuine, and his affection for Alex is the one thing about him that I do still believe to be true. I’ll say it, he had great charisma and calming DILF energy. Without knowing what exactly he had done, the smitten part of me wanted to believe that it was nothing. Seeing that side of him, understanding what Alex saw in him, makes what she does in this episode all the more impressive.

Ever since her live resignation, Alex has been texting and calling Bradley to no avail. After her conversation with Paul, the one where he lies through his teeth, Alex decides to go check on her. When she shows up at her apartment, Bradley looks unhinged. Disheveled and manic, Bradley tells Alex she can come in if she leaves her purse and phone in the hall. Alex obliges, and when Bradley gets talking, it all makes horrifying sense.

Bradley admits to everything about January 6th, but then says something else- Paul knew about it too, and in their conversation, he referenced things he could only know if he had been listening to her fight with Laura. Alex is shocked, but, to her immense credit, not disbelieving. Bradley says she’s going home to West Virginia for awhile to take care of things with her family. Alex leaves, wrapping her head around the possibility that Paul is surveilling Bradley- and who knows who else. On the way home, she texts Bradley that getting away for a bit is a good idea, and that she should go back to West Virginia. After a moment of thought, she changes West Virginia to Hanover, a place they didn’t discuss, and hits send.

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in "The Overview Effect". Image courtesy of IMDb.

Alex’s little experiment proves fruitful. She gets back to her apartment and tells Paul that she went to visit Bradley. They chat about it, Paul playing a supportive boyfriend. So supportive that he wraps Alex in a hug and says Alex is right, Bradley should get away for a bit, go back to Hanover and recoup. Alex freezes. She doesn’t give herself away though. She agrees, hugs him back, and spends the night sharing a bed with someone that we and she now all know is very scary.

Then she pays a visit to Laura. A plan is formed, but we don’t find out about until the Hyperion-UBA deal is minutes away from going through. Right about as people are ready to start pouring champagne, Alex says there’s just enough time to put a counteroffer on the table. Laura has worked some magic at her network, NBN, and she and Alex are proposing a merger. They will share resources to save costs and form a true journalistic partnership.

Paul is caught completely off guard. He asks to speak to Alex in private, where they round a corner to come face to face with Stella and Kate- the original Hyperion whistleblower. They give Paul an ultimatum- walk away from the deal and come clean to NASA about sending them falsified reports on his rockets- or they will report on everything. Oh also- the transmission break when Bradley and Cory went to space? Not a broadcast issue, Paul cut the feed because the ship’s navigation system malfunctioned. Alex was absolutely right not to get on that thing. Also did this plot line remind anyone else of a certain submersible?

Paul, of course, accepts these terms because the alternative is life-ending, but he’s still flabbergasted at Alex’s turning on him. It’s a little sad, he really did love her and didn’t see it coming whatsoever, but not that sad because he was doing some fucked up shit.

For all of Cory’s heart attack-inducing running around this season, it was Alex single-handedly saving UBA multiple times over. She brought Paul Marks to the table, and she kicked him back away from it. And none of it was selfish. She was so thoughtful this season it blows me away. While Paul and Cory were both leaking scandals like chess pieces, Alex was processing them all with poise.

Billy Crudup in "The Overview Effect". Image courtesy of IMDb.

The idea that all the things that consume a news cycle, that prompt a notes app apology on Instagram and cost people their careers, are, at their source, a meaningless power play by executives with zero genuine interest, is the saddest thought posed this season. It was demoralizing to see Cory drop a bombshell and pretend to care about it when really all it meant to him was a successful board meeting. Knowing that origin of all these scandals, watching Alex, Chris, Mia, and Yanko put so much heart into thinking through these issues of race and pay inequality is just sad in some ways. The people at the top were preying on these ethics, on the outrage, on the news cycles, and people’s careful attempts to do the right thing were the very things executing Cory’s delicately laid plans.

Cory’s last-ditch attempt to reconcile with Cybil to save UBA really cements that all these issues of inequity meant nothing to him. He’ll go whichever way the wind blows. Alex, meanwhile, rejected Cybil’s pleas for allyship and engaged with her just enough to hold her accountable (“It isn’t just an email. You paid a black person less than a white person for the same job.”) She also knew when to take action and when to step back. She interviewed Paul on her own show and I truly don’t think their relationship ever clouded her work, but when Cybil was going to be interviewed, she was the one who arranged for it to be Chris doing the interviewing.

And in the end, Alex didn’t let a trail of injustices cloud her perspective. She was able to put what Bradley had done on the backburner for a moment, and get Laura to do the same, to tackle the wrongdoing of all wrongdoings. She did what Paul was relying on our society not being able to do- seeing through a scandal to its source. And she didn’t do it to save her own job- she was about to get the rebrand of a lifetime- she did it simply because it was the right thing to do.

But she didn’t forget about everything else. Before the credits rolled, Alex was holding Bradley’s hand as she and Hal stood outside an FBI office. Alex tells her it’s going to be okay, that she’ll be there for her, but that she has to do this. Bradley knows she does. This is what friendship should look like. Both unconditional support and accountability. I love this example proving that you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. That someone can have room for growth, and they can do it by your side, with your support. That’s how we all get better.

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in "The Overview Effect". Image courtesy of IMDb.

I’m just so thrilled to see The Morning Show go this way. If you know me, you know I love a happy ending, and this may not be that, but it is hopeful, empowering, and motivating. And that’s what it’s all about, I think.

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