Reese Witherspoon Felt ‘Inspired’ by Bradley’s Season 3 Secret, ‘The Morning Show’ EP Says

Michael Ellenberg and producers Brian Stelter and Mimi Leder take us behind the scenes of how the Apple drama tackled the Jan. 6 insurrection

Reese Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson in "The Morning Show" (Apple TV+)

Note: This story contains spoilers from “The Morning Show” Season 3, Episode 5.

The fifth episode of “The Morning Show” Season 3 finally revealed what Bradley has fought to keep buried after a cyber attack on UBA, and she had good reason to cover it up.

Earlier in the season, Bradley received a prestigious award for her coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in 2021.Turns out, her brother Hal (Joe Tippett) was also at the Capitol that day, and heavily challenged Bradley’s journalistic integrity with his actions. As she filmed masked insurrectionists attacking police officers trying to quell the riot, she realized she had caught Hal participating in the assault.

“Reese was immediately inspired when she heard this pitch. She was like, ‘We must do this.’ These are brave women on this show and they like to tackle tough subjects,” Media Res CEO and Executive Producer Michael Ellenberg told TheWrap. “For a lot of families in America, and around the world, the political tension of the last decade has caused a lot of tension in a lot of homes, and we hadn’t seen that explored much. [Showrunner] Charlotte [Stoudt] really had a vision for how to take Hal and Bradley’s story to another level. While the situation they face is extreme and unique, the underlying thing that we’re exploring between them — which is [that] families end up divided by the politics of our era — is quite universal and relatable. We wanted to explore that in a novel fashion.”

Bradley confronts Hal in a hotel room following their fateful encounter. He tells Bradley that he got his partner pregnant, and that he will soon be a father. Bradley tells him to leave, but the realization puts her in a moral quandary. She decides to edit Hal’s presence from the footage, and the video of the riot that she submits to Stella (Greta Lee) contains no trace of her brother.

“Bradley faces some incredibly unique choices to make between her professional principles and purpose and her personal life,” Ellenberg said. “We try to tackle these subjects also from a very personal lens as well. Regardless of your political background, the aim is to see the humanity in the situation.”

The insurrection was filmed in downtown Los Angeles at City Hall. The major news event, with a very specific atmosphere, follows another major undertaking for Bradley, Cory Ellison (Billy Cruddup) and Paul Marks (Jon Hamm), who went to space on Marks’ rocket, the Hyperion One, in the Season 3 premiere. 

“We took a very big swing and went to space. When you look at the world from up there, the world looks very different than then what it is. It’s very interesting actually watching (Episodes 1-5) and then realizing, ‘Whoa, everybody has a secret,’” EP Mimi Leder told TheWrap. And ‘What was Bradley really feeling up there?’ when we realize what she did in Episode 5. We realize what she is holding, what secrets she is living with.”

The fifth episode transports the show back through the COVID pandemic, starting in March 2020 and stretching through the insurrection. 

“There’s a lingering sense of uncertainty, will we ever get back to normal coming out of the pandemic and the before times? I think the answer is no, we won’t… Emotionally, everyone is floating this season, trying to find home, trying to find out who they are,” Leder said. “One of the big things we wanted to talk about this season was the truth, the state of the truth in journalism and the state of the truth in our characters because everyone’s walking around with a secret.”

Reese Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson in Episode 1 of Season 3 in “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+)

Journalist Brian Stelter — who was elevated from consulting producer to producer on “The Morning Show” Season 3 — clarified that while some of the events in the show get approached out of believability, in comparison to reality, the Jan. 6 plot point might not fit that framework.

“The show is a drama. It is purporting to be even a docu-drama, right? It’s a drama and it’s a piece of scripted entertainment about the world of morning news. It’s not intended to be a documentary or a factual depiction of real life,” Stelter told TheWrap. “That said, I thought it was really interesting to see that perspective of Jan. 6 and Bradley’s character caught between her professional and personal lives.””

“It’s only one of the topics in Episode 5, but it was a way to think about some of the real life news stories that the shows have had to tackle,” Stelter added. “With regards to the video, there’s all sorts of journalistic ethics questions that this show raises, and to me, the interesting part is not the answer so much as the questions it raises.”

The first five episodes of “The Morning Show” Season 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+.


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