Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Morning Show' - A Major Tragedy in the Country Leads to Personal Devastation for Hannah in 'Lonely at the Top'

AppleTV+'s The Morning Show - Episode 1.08 "Lonely at the Top"

The people of The Morning Show celebrate the birthday of one of their own as the country struggles with a tragic event.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AppleTV+'s The Morning Show.

"Lonely at the Top" was written by J.C. Lee and directed by Michelle MacLaren

A central mystery at the heart of this season has been trying to figure out who all was complicit in Mitch's criminal behavior. When Bradley operates in this environment now, she is trying to forge her own relationships with people who have worked on the show for years. So many of them understand how to produce this show on a daily basis. It's a functional environment. But that also allowed misconduct to fester and grow. Mitch was preserved in a position of power. He was only fired seemingly because the official complaints against him were going to be made public. The show has articulated some of that behavior. It's grown more widespread with news articles being written about him and former staffers being interviewed on the show. It's a mystery that Bradley needs to solve. As such, it's understandable why the show produces an episode set entirely in 2017. It showcases what this workplace was like in a pre-#MeToo era. Yes, this behavior never should have been tolerated in the first place. But the Harvey Weinstein bombshell reporting that closes this hour signals the beginning of a new era in the hopes of creating something better. It still took two years for Mitch's behavior to come to light and for him to face the consequences of his actions. He remained protected even in a business that understood it had to discipline itself more responsibly. It wasn't too long ago when these accusations were simply swept under the rug. It was a major revelation when Mitch went to Hannah hoping she could share her story with Bradley. He views her as the star witness who can corroborate everything that he now claims about the network. But this story needs to be a personal one for Hannah. All season long it's been curious why the show hired someone of Gugu Mbatha-Raw's stature for a role that existed mostly in the background. And now, this hour helps justify that hire. She is tremendous. The innocence on display in the early going is palpable. Her need to exert confidence and strength is respectable. She feels like she has to project as a certain person in order to succeed even in the face of a horrifying tragedy. This show mirroring real life events can possibly doom it to the same problems that plagued HBO's The Newsroom. However, it's not trying to say something profound about the way the 2017 Las Vegas shooting was covered. It was simply a news story that demanded attention because of the brutality on display. People were distraught and disturbed. It's a story that needed to command attention. The show doesn't go too deep in trying to deliver a message about meaningful gun reform. Instead, it keeps its focus solely on how Mitch may present as a charming man but everyone fundamentally understood just how awful and abusive he was. He may enjoy the epic performance during his 50th birthday party at the studio. However, the crowd of people have expressions that showcase they are here out of obligation. It's a requirement for the job. They want to spend as little time with him as possible. The show started with many people being stunned that Mitch was fired. And yet, he always made inappropriate comments. It was public knowledge that he and Mia had an affair. Everyone wants to hold that relationship to a different standard. Mia may stand out as a successful producer in 2019. However, she still feels confined by what she once did with Mitch. Meanwhile, Mitch did something terrible to Hannah. He comforted her when she was vulnerable and then took advantage of her. Her expressions as she realizes what's happening are so tragic and depressing. It's the way that this experience may play out for so many people. There may be some excitement and pleasure from it all. But it's a horrifying abuse of power that is all about him taking something from her. The show can no longer just try to gloss over Mitch's actions as mere speculation. This hour delves into it fully and showcases it for all to see. Hannah going to the head of the network may be a little on-the-nose to highlight how Fred was directly involved with covering up the crime. But it's an empowering moment for her because she feels the urgency to tell someone about it. Her being promoted may be enough to silence her because she has always been career driven. And yet, it's clear that this night with Mitch has harmed her in significant ways that she can't process. Things may be different for Claire and Yanko. However, this workplace is increasingly disastrous. It was always dysfunctional and abusive. Bradley may change some things. But sweeping changes need to occur in order to create a better work environment for everyone. That should be the biggest lesson from this overall story. But the stable functions may hide up all the serious issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. People can't just let things continue operating in the same way. Then, even more tragedy will occur.