(This story contains spoilers from The Morning Show season three, episode seven, “Strict Scrutiny.”)
A lot of The Morning ShowThe seventh episode of the series centers on network news anchor Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) who, along with her boss Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), makes a tense visit to his mother’s home outside of town. Cory’s mother, played by Lindsay Duncan, is a troublemaker in her own right, and Cory pays her a rare personal visit in hopes of limiting her political influence at the DOJ in his favor amid the possible sale of their network, UBA, to billionaire tech . titan Paul Marks (Jon Hamm).
“It was a proud moment for women everywhere when you told the world on live TV that you had an abortion,” Martha Ellison (Duncan) tells Bradley. And the compliment is twofold for the Apple series audience: it reminds us that Bradley is a pioneer in women’s rights; she fearlessly caused a media storm when she revealed her teenage abortion during her first day as the new co-host of The Morning Show in season one. The line also foreshadows the real news that is about to hit the series’ timeline, which is set somewhat in the past.
The most of The Morning Show news team is having a big fashion night out when the headlines hit Roe v. Wade will be destroyed. Anchors Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Chris Hunter (Nicole Beharie) and their teams are in full glam and gowns, as UBA partners with Valentino to support the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) scholarship program, when their phones start pinging about the Supreme Court leaks around the Dobbs vs. Jackson decision.
“I don’t understand this,” says Alex, as the women on the news team wrap their minds around this groundbreaking decision. “They quote medieval laws to justify this nonsense,” Chris adds. Bradley, who is heading back to town with Cory when the news comes in, and Alex go to the office to report on the leak. “It’s back to coat hangers and dark alleys, my friend, can you fucking believe this?” Alex tells her producer Chip Black (Mark Duplass). “Maybe we’ll change your name to Ofchip,” he says, referring The Handmaid’s Tale.
Chris, meanwhile, visits the bathroom on her way out and is confronted by a group of supermodels who have no idea about the news.
“Women will die from ectopic pregnancies, while doctors are sued trying to save lives,” she explains passionately. “Rape victims will be forced to carry their attacker’s child and the maternal mortality rate will skyrocket, especially for women of color, because that’s how it goes in this country!”
The prescient warning is completely shrugged off by the models who leave the bathroom. Chris then makes a move that will resonate: she signs on the mirror with red lipstick: ‘Abort the Court.’ She then takes a photo of herself giving the message the middle finger and posts it to her social media.
The episode ends with Bradley reporting on the leak. In the background of all this, UBA President Stella Bak (Greta Lee) signals to Cory that Paul plans to replace Cory with Stella as CEO once the deal is completed. And Alex and Paul’s steamy relationship is about to go public, when Chip walks in on them kissing and a leading gossip site threatens to publish a similar photo.
If The Hollywood Reporter Previously reported, The Morning Show Once again, read the tea leaves to plan for the likely collapse of Rooand crashed into the storyline when the leak was made public in May 2022. New showrunner Charlotte Stoudt and her writers revisited the script as they prepared to shoot it Roe’s overthrow (which was made official on June 24, 2022). The season then began filming in August.
“The most surreal moment for me was having a script that already had aspects of (Roe’s fall over) into it and then the headline hits us in real time in our real lives,” shared Kristin Hahn, Aniston’s producing partner at Echo Films. THR in an interview earlier this season. “I just remember the shock and the pain of it, and we were working on notes for the script. It felt very, very surreal. We were living art that much imitated life. It was very messy, especially for that episode.
The episode leaves many of the women in the series on the brink of action: some fighting for a seat at the table, and all raising their voices to be heard. But perhaps what stings most is the message left by Martha Ellison, who kicked her son out of the house, in a scene of verbal abuse, when she realized the reason for his visit.
“It’s so interesting what happens as women get older,” she says, furiously scrubbing a cooking dish after their disastrous dinner. ‘You carry this wisdom with you. Nobody cares. We’ve survived the death cult of capitalism, but really you just want us to get out of the way, don’t you? You want us to keep quiet. Silent as the grave.”
The Morning Show releases new episodes on Apple TV+.