Review: ‘The Morning Show,’ dangers of girlboss mentality

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

By Emma Weidmann | Intern

“Sometimes, women can’t ask for control, so they have to take it,” Jennifer Aniston said in the Apple TV+ drama “The Morning Show.” She plays a highly empowered star of morning television, Alex Levy, the epitome of an icy, calculating woman in power. As the show dives deep into the ways in which women are pitted against each other in a male-dominated workforce, its most interesting story isn’t in the wrongdoing of powerful men or the sheer force of the #MeToo movement. Although written for a post-Weinstein world, the show’s real narrative is found in Aniston’s girlboss, a woman equally ruthless as her male colleagues, and twice as smart.

Levy didn’t have her job handed to her like the powerful executives at the top of her company. As an anchorwoman, she was forced to fight tooth and expertly-polished nail to gain any say in her career and make decisions. Despite all the power and sway she supposedly has amassed, she is shut out time and time again from the room where those lucrative deals are made, underestimated and resented.

“The Morning Show” is a textbook example of how the pressures to compete in such a toxic environment turn women against each other, and encourages staying silent about misconduct in the interest of keeping a hard-won job secure.

This insecurity is embodied perfectly when Levy pleads, “I just need to control the narrative so that I’m not written out of it.” It speaks to the fear that many women might have, that no matter what levels of success they might attain, their life and career are not in their hands.

The question the show asks on many occasions is, “To what end?” For what prize do people tear each other down to win? What measure of success can make cunning and manipulation worthwhile? In a day and age where the business of self-interest is ever alive, it’s an important question to ask, especially when the rise of the girlboss urges women to play that cutthroat game.

However, the show does include the solution to the issue in rising star Bradley Jackson, played by Reese Witherspoon.

“You are a truth-teller, Bradley Jackson,” Kelly Clarkson said, gushing in a cameo as a musical guest on the program. Jackson is a spitfire, principled journalist in search of real stories, ones that matter. Her ideals can be applied outside of the world of journalism, whereas the alternative is the self-interested attitudes of Levy. Jackson’s core belief is that it is better to go out on a limb and maintain a code of ethics rather than build a foundation on hush money, or as the show said, “optics,” meaning doing something for the look of it.

Through the idea of the girlboss and her less predatory counterpart, “The Morning Show” takes a good look at workplace ethics, especially those in the world of journalism. The show opens a conversation about the state of today’s media along with the complacency in which many people play a part.