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Commentary: Yes, 'The Morning Show' has a #MeToo problem. That's the best thing about it

Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

In an early episode, executive producer Chip Black (Mark Duplass) confronts Mitch, who is angry and defensive, insistent that he's being persecuted because he's a straight white man. Chip wearily expresses agreement: "The whole #MeToo movement is probably an overcorrection for centuries of bad behavior that more enlightened men like you and me had nothing to do with."

It's all a little "yikes." (Duplass recently told The Times he "really bristled" at saying the line.)

But what "The Morning Show" does effectively is show how it is possible to abuse your power and privilege and act in a sexually entitled way even without making explicit threats -- and how a workplace like a morning news show, where an air of faux intimacy and long, irregular hours are the norm, are particularly conducive to bad behavior.

It's an obvious lesson, maybe, but it's one that bears repeating. You don't have to look very hard to find men who think that simply not being Harvey Weinstein means they ought to be exempt from criticism.

Mitch doesn't seem to understand this. Early in the series, his distraught former co-anchor Alex Levy (played by Jennifer Aniston) pays a surprise visit to his home in an affluent suburb to confront him for his reckless behavior. "You know that I didn't coerce anybody," he says. "This is Weinstein's fault." The point being that he's unfairly caught up in a tempest brought about by Weinstein's truly egregious alleged behavior.

Real-world examples of this at-least-I'm-not-Weinstein mentality abound.

 

Louis C.K. -- who admitted to masturbating in front of multiple women without their consent -- just announced a stand-up tour. In a move that reeks of defensiveness, the comedian is banning attendees from bringing phones, taking notes or reproducing any of his material verbatim.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last week, David Simon defended his decision to continue working with James Franco on the HBO series "The Deuce" after allegations of sexual misconduct were reported by The Times. The actor-director was accused of pressuring women to appear nude in his films and of removing the plastic guard used to cover women's vaginas while simulating oral sex.

Simon defended Franco's ongoing involvement in the series, which happens to depict the exploitation of women in the sex work and pornography trades of the '70s and '80s. His central argument? Franco's behavior was forgivable because he "didn't seek to use his position to have sex with anyone."

"Then," he said, "It would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein."

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