'The Morning Show' saw Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson be a pawn between Alex and the network like she’s been all her life
Spoilers ahead for 'The Morning Show' Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Bradley Jackson, a reporter for a local network in West Virginia has always faced flak for voicing her opinions. She is termed too difficult because of this and is even overlooked when it comes to being promoted as a host because everyone feels she is unpredictable, especially on live TV.
Especially after an incident where she swore on live broadcasts twice, things have not gone too well for her in her career. She has had to change jobs often and her coworkers are sick of her trying to represent herself constantly.
Reese Witherspoon breathes life into this character in Apple TV+ 'The Morning Show', with her brilliant performance with exactly the right amount of disdain for the system, and an unapologetic expression of her truth. And in a show that centers on portraying the struggles on staying on the right side of the MeToo conversation, she serves as a reminder that self-aware women are still ostracized for being "too something."
Her life changes overnight after a video of her confrontation with an unruly protestor goes viral. She is called in to be a guest of 'The Morning Show' a day after news about Mitch broke and the next day, she is offered the job of principal correspondent.
That night, unexpectedly, the country is told Bradley will be the next co-host on 'The Morning Show' with Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston). She has become a pawn in the big bad game of corporate politics.
In 2015, Witherspoon gave a speech as Glamour magazine's Women of the Year honoree and said she believes "ambition is not a dirty word." In the same speech, she addressed how women were being understated in movies, especially with the use of dialogues such as, "What do we do now?" addressed to male characters in a crisis situation.
Before that, in 2014 on Oprah's show, she spoke about how "it's not cute to pretend to be dumb" as a woman. She was speaking of blonde women being stereotyped as dumb, and how this would affect the next generation of girls.
The disbelief that we saw in Witherspoon, the concern and worry for how all of this would affect women in the future is all manifested into Bradley's character. One monologue in the third episode titled 'Chaos is the new Cocaine', especially, hit out of the ballpark the essence of this character.
The scene is set when Bradley is doing a wardrobe test as the newly appointed co-host on UBA's morning show. The man who brought her on board (with unexpected help from Alex), Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), is witness to this monologue which begins with an equally fascinating dialogue where Cory tells Bradley he understands she is not a "typical woman" (Yes! He did that). Bradley is in no mood to try out different clothes and pretends to enjoy it all. Why?
She explains, "I don't want to sound ungrateful. New clothes are fun. You know what's even more fun? Having your image workshopped by a focus group. I cannot wait to hear how I am going to alienate Americans. I am only contending with the misogynistic world of journalism for 15 years. I have only been told a thousand different ways about how I am too liberal, too conservative, too in-between, too much chin, you are not smiling enough, you're too brunette. Do you want to go blonde? Where are your boobs? Put your b**bs out... wait, put your b**bs away. You are attracting men. You are scaring women. Try not to be so confrontational, men don't want to f*** you. Don't be so angry, women feel criticized. But here, no no, here I am going to transform into the aspirational dream girl. Here I am going to become the Mother Teresa of the morning news."
Doesn't all of this sound familiar? At some point, you have heard at least one of these judgements being called out by people around you and here, Bradley has to live with it day in and day out as she gets ready to debut as Alex's co-host.
But what is worse is Bradley's position at 'The Morning Show' was not something she gained because of her talent. She was merely an interesting asset according to Cory who is turned into a hostage by Alex when she announced to all of New York's press that Bradley would be her partner.
Why? Because Alex, just minutes before collecting a prestigious award for leadership in journalism, is told by Cory the network bought her award for her. Cory also had the gall to seat a newbie next to Alex on the UBA table at the same award ceremony. Irked by this, Alex pulls out all the stops to make sure she takes control back from Cory.
In all of this, Bradley had no say. She hasn't hosted a live show. She doesn't believe in the kind of news 'The Morning Show' churns out everyday and she definitely doesn't agree with the principal producer on what is news.
She is a deer staring at the headlights, transfixed with nowhere to go. The end of episode 3, however, threw a punch when Alex comes in for their first broadcast and shows actual support. Will Bradley turn from a pawn into a piece of the puzzle that would change how morning shows work?
'The Morning Show' premiered with three episodes November 1 on Apple TV+.