'The Morning Show' Rips From the Headlines: All the Real-Life Events That Inspired Season 3

From a visit to space to a devastating hack, many of 'The Morning Show's biggest moments are based on actual events.

Spoiler Alert: Do not proceed if you haven't watched the first two episodes of The Morning Show season 3.

The Morning Show takes some inspiration from reality in its third season. The Apple TV+ drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston premiered its first two episodes of season 3 on Wednesday, and it was quickly clear that real-life events inspired much of the plot of the show.

The real world has certainly been dramatic enough to be included in a TV drama, with Witherspoon telling ET in September 2022 that The Morning Show's third season would be "really juicy and good."

"It was such a whirlwind. It was incredible," series star Billy Crudup told ET in February. "They took on everything. Imagine the past two years in this world, the number of things that have gone on in the news, and they hit on all of them. I hope the audience is ready for a ride."

Keep reading to see what real-life news stories made their way to The Morning Show season 3.

Jon Hamm's Paul Marks

Apple TV+

The Mad Men alum joins the show as a new character, corporate titan Paul Marks. Witherspoon previously teased to ET that Hamm was set to play "this amazing character that I can't wait for people to see, because it's sort of pulled from real life a little bit."

One real-life inspiration Witherspoon was referring to seems to be Elon Musk, the tech magnate behind X (formerly Twitter), Tesla and SpaceX. While Musk entered the media sphere with his purchase of the social media site, Paul tries to do so by purchasing UBA.

Paul's character also seems to draw inspiration from Jeff Bezos, the Amazon billionaire and Washington Post owner who founded aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin, and Richard Branson, the British billionaire space flight company Virgin Galactic, both of whom have traveled to space, just as Paul does on the show.

The Trip to Space

Courtesy of Apple

The Morning Show season 3 begins with Aniston's Alex Levy approving her own obituary in preparation for her trip to space with Paul and Cory (Crudup), one that may have drawn inspiration from Good Morning America host Michael Strahan's 2021 trip to space with Bezos' Blue Origin.

The Texas Situation 

Courtesy of Apple

Bradley's quest to tell a story about access to abortion care in Texas is a main plot point in the first two episodes of season 3. In real life, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, allowing states to ban and restrict abortion access.

Texas quickly did just that, and abortion is now banned in the state. On the show, Bradley connects with a woman who travels from Texas to Mexico to get abortion pills for those who need them. That storyline is based off a real-life network of activists.

Later, Alex reads an article about abortion clinics in Texas that give women false information, something that has been reported in real life.

January 6

Courtesy of Apple

When Bradley is honored with an award for journalistic excellence, Alex introduces her at the ceremony. In her speech, Alex reveals that Bradley's award is a result of her coverage of the January 6 insurrection, something that played out in real life. Through this speech, viewers learn that Bradley found herself in the Capitol building on that fateful day.

"On January 6, 2021, our democracy hung in the balance. We watched on television as violence broke out at our most revered institution," Alex says. "But Bradley Jackson didn't watch -- Bradley was there inside the Capitol. Separated from her crew in the chaos, armed with nothing more than her cell phone, Bradley captured some of the most indelible images we have of that day."

The Hack

Courtesy of Apple

In the second episode of The Morning Show's third season, UBA gets hacked. As part of the attack, an intimate video that Bradley recorded amid her relationship with Laura (Julianna Margulies) is unearthed. Stars including Madison Beer, Vanessa Hudgens and Jennifer Lawrence have been the target of nude photo leaks in real life.

The hack storyline also draws inspiration from real life in that it addresses the ongoing debate related to fake news and mentions the continued threats against journalists. This is especially true when the network decides not to pay the $50 million ransom that the hackers demand, which Bradley announces live on-air.

"In this era of misinformation, where journalists are intimidated on a daily basis, where truth is increasingly politicized, UBA will not give in to blackmail just to save face because once we lose your trust, there's no going back," Bradley says.

Newsworthy Mentions

Courtesy of Apple

It's not just in the main storylines that The Morning Show mirrors real life. Throughout the episodes, brief mentions of various real events make it clear that the series takes place in a world very much like our own.

For one, throughout the season, which begins in March 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in the forefront of everyone's minds. In fact, Alex is shown interviewing an expert on her show about how people are struggling to adjust after years in lockdown.

The Eastern Australia floods, which took place between February and April 2022, also get a mention in the season.

Russia's war on Ukraine is brought up several times throughout the episodes, making it clear the former country's February 2022 invasion took place in the world of The Morning Show.

The staff at UBA initially doesn't know what's going on when the lights start flickering, the doors look, and the cameras cut out during the hack. While they're trying to figure out the cause, Bradley speculates that there could be a pipe bomb in the building, as one was sent to their competitor's headquarters after the election. This happened in real life, when a pipe bomb was sent to CNN's headquarters.

Pop Culture References

Courtesy of Apple

There are several pop culture references scattered throughout The Morning Show. First, annoyed with Cory pushing back on her request for more power at UBA, Alex tells the network head, "Don't f**k me on this, Cory. I will kick your a** out of that shuttle so fast you'll be like Clooney in Gravity, just poof, gone!" George Clooney starred in the 2013 film alongside Sandra Bullock.

Then, amid the UBA hack, Stella (Greta Lee) tells Cory, "It'll probably come out in my emails, I was dating Blake Griffin last year." Griffin, an NBA player, is known as Kendall Jenner's ex-boyfriend.

The first two episodes of The Morning Show season 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+. Subsequent episodes will be released every Wednesday through Nov. 8.