‘The Morning Show’ EP Unpacks Season 3’s Look at ‘Systemic Racism’ in Media (Video)

Mimi Leder praises Nicole Beharie and Holland Taylor’s performances during their on-air showdown in Episode 3

The latest episode of “The Morning Show” packed a topical conversation about systemic racism in media into one of its classic showdowns. In the aftermath of a companywide data leak, the Apple TV+ drama saw UBA Board President Cybil Richards (Holland Taylor) and “Morning Show” anchor Christina Hunter (Nicole Beharie) go on air together to discuss disparaging comments the media executive made during the former Olympian’s hiring process in a now-public email.

Executive producer Mimi Leder — who directed the first two episodes, the sixth and the finale of the most recent season — said Season 3 examines the layers of racism, ageism and politics impacting the legacy media business through UBA’s struggles. These pressure points reach a peak when the value of diversity in the UBA newsroom and network come into question following the cyber attack into the system in Episode 3.

“We introduced a new character, Chris Hunter. She’s an Olympic gold medalist. She comes in á la Michael Strahan,” Leder told TheWrap. “She’s wonderful on camera, but is also thrown into world of UBA’s systemic racism, racism in the workplace.” 

The hack unearthed an old email chain from 2020, when UBA first offered to hire Chris. Cybil referred to Chris as “Aunt Jemima” in the emails, which Chris later points out is ironic in addition to racist, because Aunt Jemima’s likeness was used to sell a product just as Chris’ hiring was supposed to help boost UBA sales.

Leder said Chris’ past as a track and field Olympian shapes how she approaches her work as an anchor on “The Morning Show.” Her experience with discrimination serves to remind her this new role is not as simple as running beyond the start time of the clock and the end of a news segment.

“There’s all these politics and racism, ageism. Holland Taylor, for God’s sakes, is brilliant and [her performance of Cybil] facing that [controversy], brilliant,” Leder said.

Cybil, who doesn’t want her legacy at UBA reduced to one “boneheaded” email she wrote without much thought, first confronts Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) to ask that she get an interview on “Alex Unfiltered,” which won an Emmy after Alex battled COVID live on air for the inaugural special.

Nicole Beharie as Christina Hunter in Season 3 of “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+)

Alex then approached Chris to suggest she be the one to interview Cybil. Thus the epic and tense conversation between old guard and new became an in-house UBA ratings grab. Cybil did not waste the chance to “fire shots” at Cory (Billy Crudup) by suggesting failures in network leadership forced her to step into the conversations surrounding Chris’ hiring.

Viewers later find out that Cory instigated the whole scandal when he gave Earl (Jack Conley) the go-ahead to leak the racist email in the first place.

“We deal with a lot of topical subjects. We’re a news show, but we do it through our characters… I think that’s really important,” Leder said. “It’s mind-boggling sometimes… but it’s entertaining. I don’t think it’s preachy, [the show] really reflects a lot of how people are. People are very flawed. People tell themselves lies. Do they live in their truth? What is their truth? [Episode 3 is] an examination of this, the way we live our lives”

The first three episodes of ‘The Morning Show’ Season 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+.