Watching the team behind The Morning Show prepare for their shoots at the crack of dawn makes me feel so content. In the third episode of the ongoing third season, we get to see producer Mia’s (Karen Pittman) morning routine: She sleeps in her office, tosses on her Jimmy Choos, warms the tea kettle, and clomps her heels right onto the TMS stage. The morning set-up feels like watching a “Get Ready With Me” lifestyle video; it’s calming in a way that really doesn’t make sense.
That’s how The Morning Show started all the way back in 2019, after all. Before the bombshell allegations against host Mitch Kessler (Steve Carrell) dropped, we spent the morning getting ready with his co-host Alex (Jennifer Aniston) in her gorgeous Manhattan high rise apartment. The skincare routine, the steamed outfit, the thick duvet being tossed to the side at 3 a.m.—these luxuries were shown to us before all hell broke loose. Now, the same thing is happening in Season 3. After Mia starts her day, UBA erupts in flames.
Last week, we witnessed the implosion of UBA when everyone at the company realized they had been hacked. The world gained access to every email, text, online correspondence—even recordings of conversations were leaked! Although Cory (Billy Crudup) was stressed that Bradley’s (Reese Witherspoon) closeted relationship with Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies) would be a bombshell, the real shock comes from a racist email sent by network exec Cybil Reynolds (Holland Taylor).
Cybil called new anchor Chris Hunter (Nicole Beharie, who kills it in this episode) “Aunt Jemima.” Oof. Later, we get the full context: Around a year ago, the UBA execs had been emailing about Chris, a new hire for TMS, and Cybil was upset about how expensive she was—even though Bradley was a far pricier new hire. One exec claims that Chris’ contract is actually a bargain: “After all, Chris is popular enough to be on cereal boxes.”
Cybil’s reply is terrible and totally wonderful, because this is The Morning Show, where chaos is our best friend: “Aunt Jemima was on cereal boxes too, and no one’s buying her anymore.”
Cory panics. There go the Emmys. UBA’s stock was skyrocketing minutes ago, thanks to the rumored deal with billionaire Paul Marks (Jon Hamm), and now it’s probably tanking. Cory rushes Chris into his office to remind her she’s signed an NDA: “We should do the news, not be the news, right?” he tells her. Chris is on the verge of tears, but agrees. Beharie is too damn good; she never sobs in this episode but always looks like she’s about to break down and quit journalism forever. We’ve all been there! (Well, this is a lot worse than the average day-to-day pain of the media industry.)
Cybil calls on Alex for some assistance—what’s her strategy here, though? Alex has, like, no leverage at UBA at this point. Last week, she was punished with a month of The Morning Show duties. Now, Cybil wants to use Alex as a pawn to weather this racism scandal. Cybil begs Alex to interview her on Alex Unfiltered, UBA’s version of Oprah’s interviews, but Alex rejects the offer. All Cybil can do is remind Alex that her grandfather founded UBA—she believes her last name warrants staying power at UBA. Alex passes again. Cybil has no allies.
UBA releases some sort of statement about the leaked emails, but no one is satisfied with this response—well, Cory is, but that’s because he wrote it. Alex, Stella, and Chip (Mark Duplass) suggest that UBA ought to address this head on by interviewing Chris or Cybil on the network. They both have NDAs. Let them speak, but make it a UBA exclusive—good for ratings, good for the crisis, and good for us, the audience who get to watch the shitshow pan out. Cory finally agrees. Cybil will appear on Alex Unfiltered, but Alex isn’t going to go easy on her “pal.”
Meanwhile, in the newsroom, the producers start a bit of a protest when leaked salaries show that women of color are paid drastically less than their white and/or male counterparts. Mia and Stella—notably, two women of color—try to tame the conversation. This doesn’t work. They demand to complain to Cory. Then, Yanko (Nestor Carbonell)—who feels qualified to speak on the matter because he is third generation Cuban—scolds everyone for acting so “woke.” Yanko’s uninformed sentiments are a great “who invited this fool?” moment.
But all the fury has Mia wondering if she, even with a higher status in the company, belongs at the network. “Maybe UBA is a plantation with dental insurance,” she tells Stella. Stella tries to clean things up by taking Mia to get wasted. It kind of works. Stella and Mia drunkenly invite Chris, who shows up with a new idea: What if, instead of Alex, she interviewed Cybil? Chris could confront the exec about the nasty things she said behind her back. After a few drinks, Stella and Mia agree this is the best idea they’ve heard all week.
This night out is made even more important when Stella comes clean about her history with Paul Marks. She doesn’t reveal anything specific. But he’s not good, she says. “He’s ruthless.”
So this Cybil/Chris interview is really a double-edged sword: If the interview is spicy, ratings will go up and UBA will profit. If it’s too controversial, though, Cybil will be ousted from the board and, most likely, replaced by Paul. Cory meets with Leonard (Stephen Fry), who states that the board will most likely approve the deal with Paul should desperate times (i.e. Cybil’s departure) call for desperate measures.
Stella forces Cory to approve the Chris/Cybil interview. When the morning comes around, the two women stand on the set next to each other, not speaking to each other. When Cybil apologizes to Chris on air, we know she doesn’t mean it because she didn’t open her mouth around Chris before the cameras started rolling. It’s tense. It’s awkward. It’s wonderful. This interview is peak Morning Show: soapy and gripping while also echoing something that probably could’ve happened in the media industry.
Some highlights from the interview include: Cybil throwing Cory under the bus, blaming him for a lackluster statement following the email leaking. Chris asking Cybil, “Was I hired for the anchor position because I was Black?” Cybil admitting she didn’t think Chris was qualified for the anchor position because she was untested, followed by Chris telling Cybil she was tested more than any other anchor on TMS.
Chris is too good at her job. She makes Cybil look like a complete buffoon—which, to be fair, she is. Immediately after the interview, the UBA board takes a vote of no confidence, and Cybil is removed from her position at her grandfather’s legacy media company.
After the vote, Cory flies across Midtown to see Paul, who can now buy the company. But after today’s little stunt, Paul says he’s no longer interested in the UBA deal. The hack and the interview have made UBA an “unsafe” news corporation. Cory is screwed. But, hey—at least he’s got one of the most newsworthy anchors in the biz.