“Sometimes women can’t ask for control, so they have to take it. Ok? I want you to remember that,” says Alex Levy, a character on Apple TV’s star-studded new drama The Morning Show. Levy, played by Jennifer Aniston, is in the middle of a career crisis, while her co-host (played by Steve Carrell) has been kicked off the programme because of a sexual misconduct scandal. She hangs up a phone call in utter frustration and turns to her daughter to deliver the line that summarises the collective rage of women overlooked for generations.
It’s fitting that The Morning Show, which centres on the shifting power dynamics between the sexes, is driven by women behind the scenes. Mimi Leder was one of three female directors on the programme and directed half of the first series. Aniston and co-star Reese Witherspoon were executive producers. With women in leadership roles, there came a ripple effect of equal representation throughout the production. Leder told The Hollywood Reporter: “The Morning Show is 50% women and people of colour and 50% male. There’s gender parity on our show.”
The Morning Show initiative isn’t a one-off. Research from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows that movies with a female director “employed greater percentages of women writers, editors, cinematographers, and composers than films with exclusively male directors.” Actress and director Eva Longoria, who is set to direct two feature films in 2020, is an example of this trend. “I always start filling up slots with women and people of colour first, then if anything’s left, we will look elsewhere… So instead of unconsciously ignoring women or people of colour, I’m consciously hiring them,” she told The Guardian.