If there’s one thing Apple TV+‘s drama The Morning Show is really, really good at, it’s giving the best actors working the meatiest material possible to tear into. And if there’s one thing The Morning Show is really, really bad at, it’s knowing how to tactfully handle hot button issues. So it’s an astonishing delight to find that The Morning Show Season 3 Episode 3 “White Noise” doesn’t just give the exquisite Nicole Beharie the spotlight she deserves, but that it also lets Beharie tear down the institutional racism rotting at the core of the media in the process.

**Spoilers for The Morning Show Season 3 Episode 3 “White Noise,” now streaming on Apple TV+**

The Morning Show Season 3 Episode 3 “White Noise” deals with the fallout of UBA’s recent cyber hack. Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) and his fixer privately let a damning email from Cory’s main rival, Cybil Richards (Holland Taylor), leak to the public. What’s so damning? Well, when discussing how UBA is lowballing their new Morning Show anchor, Chris Hunter (Nicole Beharie), Cybil makes a racist joke comparing the Black Olympian to Aunt Jemima.

What follows is, yes, an awkward office summit about racism at the network, which is handled with The Morning Show‘s usual bonkers level of gusto. However, as we follow Chris’s reaction to the email, vicious racist comments about her, and the rest of her colleagues’ initially ineffectual responses, the storyline becomes moving. That’s solely thanks to the way the Juilliard-trained Beharie walks the line between Chris’s public poise and private devastation.

Later in the episode, we learn that Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) has approached Chris with the idea that Chris take over Alex’s impending interview with Cybil on the topic. Cybil reluctantly accepts and arrives at The Morning Show with PR-approved talking points on flashcards. Chris, on the other hand, prepares for the interview like a track meet. She confides her worries to her sports agent husband, goes through her game day routine, and struts to the studio with a hype song blasting in her Airpods.

What follows is a scene where Chris is able to pin Cybil on the part of the email that really matters. Yes, the Aunt Jemima jab was in poor taste, but the real cancerous rot is the fact that Cybil was so blithe about paying a Black woman less than her white counterpart. (And before you suggest that Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson deserved a better paycheck, remember that Bradley was equally, if not more so, inexperienced than Chris was before getting The Morning Show.) Cybil’s disgusting joke was a feature, not a bug of the institutional rot at UBA.

Again, none of this feels quite so rich or realistic without Nicole Beharie’s sheer genius driving the scenes. Beharie has the cunning skill to project grace even when she’s tearing down her character’s emotional barriers for the audience to see. There’s a reason why the incendiary scene where she confronts her cyber-philandering husband in Black Mirror “Striking Vipers” goes viral every year or so.

Nicole Beharie is an incredible actress and The Morning Show takes full advantage of it in Season 3 Episode 3 “White Noise.”

Ironically, the same cannot be said for the first major series to give Beharie a starring role. Nicole Beharie started off as the lead on FOX’s supernatural mystery series Sleepy Hollow, but fans soon noticed that her character was routinely sidelined in favor of her white male co-star, Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane. Her character was eventually killed off the show and it was an open secret that something fishy had transpired. Beharie later explained that her exit was partially because of an autoimmune illness, but that there was also a gulf between how the production treated her and her white co-star.

“My costar and I were both sick at the same time but I don’t believe that we were treated equally,” Beharie told The Los Angeles Times while promoting her film Miss Juneteeth in 2020. “He was allowed to go back to England for a month [to recover while] I was given Episode 9 to shoot on my own. So I pushed through it and then by the end of that episode I was in urgent care.”

In The Morning Show Season 3 Episode 3, Chris admits that she is worried that in holding Cybil accountable on live TV, the audience might see her as an angry Black woman going after an old white woman, and not a wronged employee confronting her powerful and rich boss’s racism. Beharie expressed similar concerns in that same Los Angeles Times piece.

“I feel like it’s taken me the last few years to really see clearly that it wasn’t personal, it’s about the way that these structures are set up. It was very difficult to talk about at the time because I wanted to get back to work. But I was labeled as problematic and blacklisted by some people,” Beharie said.

“I probably could have been more diplomatic about things in some way. Since then, I’ve been making sure that I’m working with the right folks. It’s something that we’ve seen with #MeToo and Time’s Up, where people who’ve asked questions have been discarded. It’s not a new story [but] I never thought it would be my story.”

Now it seems that Beharie’s story has come full circle, with a TV gig giving her nuanced material about the harm structural racism causes in the workplace. It’s material that only really soars because of the remarkable genius of Nicole Beharie. Lesser actors might have struggled to thread the needle on Chris’s emotional journey, but Beharie is a titan when it comes to projecting nuance. That’s why fans of The Morning Show and television, in general, should be giving Beharie her flowers already. (And maybe another lead TV role?)