Over the weekend, I finished binge-watching Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and had two immediate reactions.
First off, OMG these people are not social-distancing. The workplace is so crowded! WHERE ARE THEIR MASKS?
But after that, I was impressed that the show presented a fairly complicated (at least for a drama) presentation of the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment.
It seems like it was years ago that Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for various sex crimes. Yet it was just last month.
But because this pandemic is so all-consuming that news quickly became a footnote.
In fact, since then, there’s been very little discussion about the #MeToo movement.
Which got me thinking: What does happen to #MeToo as this pandemic rages on?
I think the answer is far more nuanced than any clickbait headline could suggest. Certainly, the lack of in-person interactions — business travel, restaurant meetings, general workplace gatherings — will have some impact on claims for the foreseeable future.
But after that?
And here’s where my watching of The Morning Show suggests a further path forward.
If you haven’t yet watched it, I’d highly recommend it. It has it’s minor flaws, but the casting is utterly superb and like a lot of good shows (Breaking Bad comes to mind), it gets better as it goes along.
What it gets right in several (but not all) places is its depiction of relationships in the workplace. It shows workplace relationships in all their different forms. Friends? Workmates? True lovers? It’s got it all.
It shows how interactons can be viewed from different perspectives, without letting anyone entirely off the hook.
That invite to the hotel room. Did you really think it was just to watch a movie? And do you really think that a female subordinate seeking advice is actually attracted to you?
To be sure, it’s still a fictional television show. And yet, Steve Carrell’s character — very loosely drawn from Matt Lauer — is done particularly well. Is he the victim of an unfair smear of sexual harassment? Or is he just utterly clueless about his interactions? Or is it something more nefarious and awful? Or even something else?
I won’t spoil it but let’s just say that the show doesn’t take the easy way out. The show, however, clearly tells us where it believes the line should be. In one gripping scene, a target of harassment declares:
We are all just people who want to do our jobs, do good work. So that’s what I’m gonna focus on… because I’d like to be known in this world for something other than f—ing ______, and I think I deserve that opportunity.
What happens next? Well, the show ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger and that’s where the #MeToo movement is now. A bit of a hiatus. Where do we go from here?
That script is yet to be written. And there are several paths possible. Here are two:
- This pandemic serves to strengthen the #MeToo movement in time. Employers will — more than ever — have every incentive to making sure the workplace is free from distractions and harassment.
- Human Resources departments will be gutted in reductions in force and there won’t be as many people left to police the workplace. The #MeToo movement stalls as workplace safety is deemed more important than “trivial” harassment claims.
Season 2 of The Morning Show — and the #MeToo movement — will be making an appearance later this year.