This week’s episode of The Morning Show, titled “Kill the Fatted Calf,” proves exactly why the dynamic between Bradley Jackson and Laura Peters is so wonderful, and why telling these stories is still important in 2021.
When The Morning Show added Julianna Margulies as lesbian reporter Laura to the show’s second season, I was intrigued. The central storyline of the first season meant that queer representation wasn’t a pressing topic, especially when focusing on the important MeToo story they were telling. Daniel Henderson, a reporter on The Morning Show and host of The Twist, provides great representation as a Black gay man, but he still remained a side character for a majority of the first season; though his role seems to be expanding in season 2, thankfully.
This season, The Morning Show is bringing queer representation and LGBTQ issues front and center, and Laura is only half of the storyline, with the other half going to none other than Bradley Jackson, Reese Witherspoon’s fiery reporter-turned-host.
During episode 3, Bradley and Laura first hit it off during their interview for Laura’s UBA news program as they covered the Iowa caucus. One of the final scenes of the episode featured the two of them sharing a kiss in the back seat of a car, which kicked off the affair that continued into the next installment.
Their interactions during episode 4 started out steamy, with a post-coital scene early on, but during their second scene in the episode, Laura and Bradley fought about Bradley’s sexuality.
This argument, which started when Bradley called herself straight – since that’s how most of the world sees her – ended with her smashing a vase in Laura’s apartment and storming out. The Morning Show brings up two very different points during this fight between the two of them and starts a very nuanced conversation about sexuality in the modern day.
One, which comes from Laura’s point of view, is that the world is a much better place now to be queer than it was even five years ago. Laura tells Bradley that she was fired from YDA for being gay and that she’s angry that the younger woman won’t walk down the path she feels that she paved for her.
This argument is, honestly, very sound. Laura, knowing what it’s like to be ostracized for being different, is able to look at the world now and see that differences present opportunities rather than barriers, and it’s understandable that she’s frustrated by watching someone squander that potential. She even claims that Bradley is only making this hard on herself because she “has it so easy.”
However, despite Laura’s pushy approach to dealing with Bradley’s, as she puts it, repression, it’s important to note that she never gives her an ultimatum. She never says that she has to come out, and never says that it’s a requirement for them to continue their fling. She only becomes truly agitated when Bradley starts to act out, which is a normal response from any human being when confronted with their things being smashed on the ground.
The other point this argument brings up is that Laura, ultimately, is right about Bradley, but pointing out her repression isn’t going to fix it. The truth is, Bradley is the one making it hard on herself, but that’s what internalized homophobia does. Bradley’s hesitance to put a label on her sexuality, let alone tell the world what it is, is proof that, no matter how many external barriers come down, the hardest battles will always be fought within ourselves.
Later in the episode, Bradley tries to come out to The Morning Show’s producer, Stella, even if just to get herself the debate moderator position, but she’s unable to. In fact, she says that the other perspective she could offer is actually that of a conservative viewpoint rather than the queer one she couldn’t bring herself to claim. That conservative upbringing, and the assumedly homophobic beliefs imbedded in her as a child, caused her to hate the part of herself that’s queer, and she hasn’t come to terms with it just yet, especially not enough to come out on national television.
Showcasing these two viewpoints is so important, even still today. Some critics might claim that coming out stories are things of the past or that TV and film should commit to telling different queer stories, but that’s only the case if coming out is a thing of the past. Yes, we live in a much more accepting and open world than we did ten or twenty years ago, but violence against queer people still persists, homophobic remarks still get made, and people are still scared of what coming out will do to their lives.
Bradley’s fear is very real, and the persistence of it despite the career advantage it may give her is proof that we’re not beyond the coming out story, at least not yet. There are still people being inundated with homophobic beliefs from the time they’re young, and those feelings don’t just go away.
Showing Bradley deal with this deeply introspective struggle as a woman in her 40s feels so special and authentic. This storyline is able to showcase how deeply personal and internalized one’s journey with their sexuality is, and that there’s no right or wrong time in a person’s life to begin that journey.
While this storyline is just getting started, it’s clear that it’s something to keep an eye on, especially for queer viewers. And, if the end of the episode was indicative of what’s to come, Bradley’s complicated feelings with her sexuality are far from over, but she’s already willing to begin unpacking them. It’ll be interesting to see how the show portrays Laura as she becomes the audience for Bradley’s journey of self-discovery, especially because she’s so far from when she was forced to disclose her own sexuality.
This storyline from The Morning Show is refreshing and offers an interesting take about sexuality in an ever-changing world, and I can’t wait to watch how it unfolds.
For more Morning Show, new episodes premiere Fridays only on AppleTV+.