This week’s episode of ‘The Morning Show’ was distinguished by not one, not two, but three musical performances – albeit, only one of them was professional. In a way, each deserves a deep dive on what it brings to episode 4 of the series.
We open on a live performance from The Foo Fighters to welcome Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) back to The Morning Show. The presenters make shocked faces, smiling and dancing along in their professionally performative ways, putting on a big show, after which Alex thanks the band (turns out Dave Grohl is a good friend).
Unlike what’s come before, it’s not an episode particularly dominated by Alex, but she does get a good telling off from Stella Bak (Greta Lee) – who is out for blood in this episode, and it’s great to see. After having it out at Corey (Billy Crudup) for being a tokenistic hire, furious that her suggestions are ignored, she confronts Alex about refusing to moderate the Presidential debate. She reminds Alex firmly that women like her and viewers at home are counting on the talk show host to step up to the bench and lead and inspire them, as she promised to.
Steve Carell is back as Mitch and goddamn, he continues to be ridiculously charming, in spite of his past actions proving him an absolute sleaze ball. He makes a great car companion for Paola (Valeria Golino), prepping her and helping to ease her nerves as they drive to a university where Paola will conduct an interview for her documentary. In the second musical rendition of the episode, Mitch even sings a silly “Italian” song to make her laugh.
We get a very interesting moment for Mitch later in the episode which suggests a character development that has only been hinted at before. After they cook pasta together, Paola kisses his cheek. He firmly tells her “Don’t”, and she turns away. There’s clearly a fear of intimacy here but even more remarkable, a guilt, his past actions having caught up with him as he resists any affection or what could be flirtation.
On the topic of flirtation, Laura (Juliana Margulies) and Bradley are now sleeping together, and the former continues to be a propelling force, getting Bradley to open up about her past (filling the viewer in on what they missed between seasons 1 and 2 of ‘The Morning Show’) and challenging her to step up as a reporter. In a pointed commentary on representation, Laura encourages Bradley to use her sexuality to her advantage, and opens up about the difficult journey she took being a reporter coming out in the ‘90s. (Another moment where Bradley is just such a child, as this reviewer has noted previously, arises when she immaturely breaks a vase of Laura’s during a tantrum)
In another instance of ‘The Morning Show’ commentating on representation, as wellas on “PC culture”, meteorologist on the show Yanko (Néstor Carbonell) gets in trouble for referring to Punxatawney Phil as his "spirit animal" on Groundhog Day. It is apparently cultural appropriation of Native Americans, and he defends himself saying that he is Cuban and not racist.
A final point of note in this week’s episode is our third musical moment. Daniel (Desean Terry) also wants to moderate the Presidential Debate and, frustrated at not getting his share of the spotlight, sort of loses his mind. In a live segment, and without anyone’s prior knowledge (except for the Morning Show piano player, it seems) he sings Neil Diamond's “America”. While under the pretence that the song is to hail Alex’s return, the politically loaded meaning will be lost on few. One wonders how gobsmacked it would’ve been to see such a moment live on our own screens.
‘The Morning Show’ is streaming on Apple TV+ now.