It’s funny that after the ugliness of UBA’s history got out, Cory wanted to refocus on doing the news, not being the news.
On The Morning Show Season 3 Episode 1, being the news was right up there on his list, as they had an entire media blitz surrounding sending someone into orbit on a formerly untested manned rocket.
As they say, be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.
What happened on the aptly titled “White Noise” was different, though.
After UBA’s data was breached and the studio was effectively held hostage for a short time, revelations began circling amongst the staff. It was only a matter of time before it got outside of UBA.
These weren’t just any accusations, either. It was highly probable, if perhaps not provable by legal definitions, that decisions were made based on race, and the results weren’t pretty.
To make matters even worse, the harshest commentary came from Cybil Richards (or Reynolds… it seemed her name changed during this episode after two seasons of being Richards), UBA’s board chairman.
Having these matters unfurling within your own ranks can be deadly. They’re deadlier when a rival network shares them with heinous intentions.
Eagle News was putting themselves above UBA by delightfully sharing the atrocious behavior exhibited at UBA, but they did so with as much disregard for those UBA had slighted as UBA themselves.
I’ll never understand how that makes anything better, but that’s the world we live in now. Insidious ugliness pervades the news we receive from all directions.
Cory Ellison saw an opportunity to disregard the board’s opinion on a potential takeover by Paul Marks. He was practically gleeful at what had been uncovered by his henchman, and he set everything into motion to achieve his desired results.
His “funny” line about veal wasn’t about marsala at all but about taking the gentlest of creatures and skewering them for his own objectives, enjoying every minute of the process, cruel as it was, if he got what he wanted.
Mmm. Veal marsala! Amazing. I do feel bad for the baby cows spending their all-too-short lives cages up, never knowing the hellscape that awaits them. It tugs at the heartstrings really, but here, the veal marsala tests limit of my sympathy.
Even calling Chris up to his office for the first time was in stark contrast to the consideration former newbie Bradley Jackson received upon her arrival at The Morning Show.
She was with Cory so often that he fell in love with her. By contrast, Chris, a very capable and charismatic anchor, had relatively little interaction with Cory. It’s hard not to imagine some inherent bias wasn’t at play.
Cory: Thank you for, uh, stoppin’ by. I just wanted you to know how valuable you are.
Chris: I think I’m learning how much.
Cybil is, as the official episode description suggests, of the old guard. No matter how much we wish that time healed all wounds and that as times change, people change with them, it’s not that simple.
Cybil’s father may have founded the network, but her actions, as uncovered on The Morning Show Season 3 Episode 3, suggest that it’s time she disentangle herself from his legacy before she destroys it.
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Cybil.
After Alex Levy confided in her concerns about Cory’s potential partnership with Paul Marks, Cybil tossed Alex under the bus, censuring her for insubordination, forcing her to work on TMS five days a week despite having worked her way into other equally fruitful endeavors.
Alex: It’s time for you to stop behaving like some fragile white woman.
Cybil: I’m fragile? Could you have survived the ‘70s?
How quickly you can come to regret a decision. But the story reeks of Cybil’s history of using her standing to do what she wants with little regard for those who continue to bring her father’s dream to life.
Whether she’s choosing the lowest rung of the ladder to cling to air her thoughts on hiring Chris for the anchor position or turning on Alex, she’s no friend to those working at UBA.
So it was funny when she turned to Alex, hoping that together they could paint Cybil in a better light. Alex called her out on it and ultimately brought Chris, who was the most harmed from the incident, in to set the record straight.
Cybil: I made a joke, a tasteless joke, and now that joke is my legacy? My family’s legacy? Eighty years of all that we built is just wiped out by a thoughtless email?
Alex: It’s so much more than one email. You paid a Black woman less than a White woman for the exact same job. And I understand that you don’t think that this is reflective of who you are, but this is your chance to own it, and you can redefine it.
It’s not a surprise that Cybil’s attempts to explain away her offensive behavior failed so miserably, but damn, Holland Taylor beautifully captured the pain of a woman of a different time digging herself deeper into a hole of her own creation.
Nicole Beharie was equally as impressive as Chris went from enjoying her time on TMS to carrying a burden known all too well to the world and her bosslike command of the interview once it went live.
Both actors portrayed their characters’ respective anxiety so well that I was manifesting all of the physical signs of their discomfort from the coziness of my couch.
The changing of the old guard to the new can be a slow and painful process. While many embrace change and welcome an end to old prejudices, many others find it hard to break bad habits. This powerful story shows the damage everyone suffers as a result.
The Morning Show only has two full seasons under its belt, but the series has tackled instances such as this with a keen awareness for everyone involved.
Here, we have Cybil flailing like a fish out of water, so far beyond her element she will never recover, and it is a journey that Mitch Kessler took, beginning with The Morning Show Season 1, as his misogyny came to the fore.
What’s interesting about this new layer of trouble at UBA and The Morning Show’s depiction of it is that it’s once again mostly women who are taking the brunt of the bad behavior.
Mia and Stella were left carrying the ball to bring the team back together, but they had their own doubts about how UBA brass felt about them, too.
Cory’s excitement over using this debacle to his advantage fell flat when Paul shut the door in his face.
I have options. UBA? No longer one of ‘em.
It was the one-two punch of Alex ditching the highly-publicized rocket stunt and UBA looking like it’s run by racist cronies that set him off, and rightfully so.
But Jon Hamm isn’t going anywhere, so that story isn’t over. A white savior story in the wake of this well-produced episode doesn’t seem ideal, but it’s still on the horizon if Paul comes to UBA’s rescue with a much-needed financial infusion.
Who knows, the new blood could be good for UBA. But given Stella’s history and warning to the contrary, Marks might get his hands on UBA and infuse it with a whole new host of mistakes, just like some other billionaire we all know.
“White Noise” was a tour de force that showcased the deep bench of talent on this series, from the writing staff to the actors bringing the stories to life.
It’s a perfect reminder for the studios to reward those creators handsomely for their wonderful work. It’s time to make some deals and get these talented folks back to work.
But enough from me. Share your thoughts below about this fantastic episode and what it could mean as the season progresses.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.