When Jennifer Aniston’s established TV anchor Alex Levy informs a boardroom oversaturated with antiquated white men that they are not the rightful owners of power in Apple TV+‘s anticipated The Morning Show, it’s delivered with so much conviction and strength, it’ll make your hairs stand up on end.
While it’s a wonderfully potent scene which only skims the surface of what women have been thinking for centuries, in real life, Aniston isn’t so sure that these men are ready to accept that they aren’t the arbiters of power, let alone listen to women, relinquish, or even share their positions of authority.
And, beyond that, the actress is horrified by the outright denial of many high-profile men who have abused their power and are still refusing to recognise their own predatory behaviour.
The 10-part series – which marks the first time Aniston has worked with Reese Witherspoon since they played sisters on Friends in 2000 – pulls back the curtain of the cutthroat machinations of early morning TV, while exposing misogyny and accusations of sexual misconduct against Alex Levy’s co-host Mitch Kessler (played excellently by Steve Carell).
“I think men that are growing up are listening to women, and accepting that [power doesn’t belong solely to them],” Aniston told Harper’s Bazaar UK. “I don’t think those old, white, powerful men are going to be easily… Sometimes I think, ‘old dog, new tricks’ is not possible, it’s not possible to change a lifestyle of a belief that is so ingrained in who you are, sadly.
“Like, some of the anchors who have been accused of sexual misconduct that have been released, and it’s been proven, are in complete denial that they’ve done anything wrong. Still. After incredible evidence…”
The Morning Show‘s show-runner Kerry Ehrin has previously confirmed that the series was influenced by ousted US news anchors Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, who have been dethroned by the impact of the MeToo era. It also invokes disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, both by name and with a reference to one of the many accusations against him.
“Boy, it’s really complex,” Witherspoon added.
The scene Aniston is referring to is a thought-provoking conversation between Carell’s Mitch, who believes his indiscretions with co-workers were consensual, and Short’s skin-crawling director, who readily admits he’s had sex with an underage girl, but apportions the blame onto her, before proclaiming that “consent isn’t sexy”.
It was also crucial to show “a whole spectrum of behaviour of men” – from loyal and loving, to pernicious and predatory – so that the show wasn’t one-sided, but inclusive of and appealing to everyone.
“You see loyal and devoted and generous men helping women get ahead in our show as well, and we really wanted to reflect the real world in there because the conversation doesn’t really grow or expand if you’re only having it with one gender,” Witherspoon explained.
The Oscar-winning actress affirmed that gender disparity and discrimination can only be dismantled by starting this conversation and exposing the problem, which propelled her TV reunion with Aniston after 19 years. They both serve as executive producers on the production.
“When Brian Stelter [US reporter and novelist] brought us his book Top of the Morning, it really pulled back the curtain of morning shows and how women are treated in the media world, and it was sort of another representation of how women are treated all over the world,” she said.
Stelter’s non-fiction book is based on several US daytime television shows and celebrated hosts he oversaw while working as a media reporter for The New York Times.
“It was a revelation to me when I read that book that my most beloved news anchors are being judged by their age, by their looks, by their outfits,” added Witherspoon. “We really wanted to show that men and women are treated differently in that world….”
“And still are… We still have a way to go,” Aniston concluded.
The Morning Show is available to stream on Apple TV+.
From: BAZAAR UK