The Morning Show, Cancel Culture, and Broadcast Television

By: Eli Levi  |  December 17, 2021

By Eli Levi, Business Editor

One topic that has always interested me is cancel culture. Canceling, according to the Merriam-Webster definition is “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” 

After completing the most recent season of The Morning Show, I was impressed by the way that they dealt with cancel culture within the context of the show. I found it to be an honest exploration of cancel culture and its place in the world, specifically when it comes to sexual abuse in the workplace.

The show began in season one with Mitch Kessler, played by Steve Carell, being fired and ‘canceled’ following a series of sexual misconduct allegations. The show begins with the aftermath of Kessler’s firing, but instead of sidelining the character and demonizing him, The Morning Show brings Kessler right to the forefront and focuses on him and the terrible things he had done. Later in the second season, viewers see that Kessler regrets his actions and truly only wants to make things right even though for some people that might be too late. 

To be honest, this is something I was not expecting. Normally when it comes to cancel culture, the person who is being canceled is demonized and never seen by society again. I found it particularly fascinating that throughout the show we see how many different characters perceive Kessler both as good and as bad. There is such a range of emotions and feelings about the matter within the show. 

I think the messiness of the show reflects the messiness of these situations in real life. These situations are more complicated than just eradicating someone based on past actions that they may regret and want to rectify. In a world with no forgiveness, what chance do any of us have in learning from our mistakes and trying again? I think in most scenarios there should be room for second chances. Ultimately, every situation is unique and requires a tailored response, and cancel culture is the opposite of considering each situation because once someone is canceled, there is no more room for a conversation.

Not only did the show reveal the often underrepresented side of someone who has been canceled, but it also gave a behind-the-scenes look into broadcast television and what a newsroom looks like. It was fascinating to see how scripted television is. A seemingly spontaneous song that the on-air characters appear to be slowly making up is really on the teleprompter. What is real and what is fake becomes revealed through The Morning Show. The irony is that the way I am learning about broadcast television is through another television series, nevertheless, it seems like an accurate portrayal.

If you are interested in the conversation around cancel culture, broadcast television, and/or looking for a great show to watch I recommend The Morning Show.