Updated: Oct 29, 2020
With Apple TV+’s entrance into the show making business, The Morning Show offers an in-depth look into the inner workings of a morning news show plagued by scandal. Tied to the relevant events of today’s Me Too movement, The Morning Show is able to dramatize yet tastefully represent a fictional news show whose anchor is accused of sexual misconduct. When Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is fired over such accusations, the long-running news show is forced into uncharted territory, with new players entering the program and old players finding their positions and statuses in danger.
Something that the morning show really drives home, which is both a blessing and a curse, is that the characters are so complex that there are little to no characters that you are left definitely loving or definitively hating. Alex Levy (Jennifer Anniston) is a sympathetic force to be reckoned with, but often has no clue what to do or if her actions will even benefit her in the end (often culminating in over-dramatic fits of yelling or mental breakdowns). Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) is an unapologetic reporter devoted to getting to the bottom of stories, but can often be frustrating to watch when she is ignoring everyone around her just to shatter the status quo. Chip Black (Mark Duplass) is a seemingly good-natured show-runner, but is also somewhat creepy and cringey in his pursuit to contend with the network big-guns. Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) is a chaos-loving network executive that audiences love to watch contend with the characters around him, but have trouble wrapping their heads around whether he’s one of the good-guys or a villain.
Perhaps the most notable character to exemplify this duality is Steve Carell’s character, Mitch Kessler. It is a very interesting and bold choice for The Morning Show to tell part of its story from the perspective of a character who is accused of sexual misconduct. Early on in the season, it is difficult to watch Mitch’s life ripped away from him over what he claims was all consensual sexual interactions. You begin to sympathize with the character as you watch him being “cancelled” by the entirety of society, going from a beloved household name to another disgraced celebrity. At other points in the show, while Mitch is trying to redeem his legacy, it becomes more clear the repercussions Mitch’s actions had on those around him, and his little regard for those who were affected. Watching Mitch’s struggles is perhaps the most difficult to watch yet very real part of The Morning Show, which exemplifies the show’s ability to tackle very sensitive issues in a meaningful, realistic, and multi-dimensional way.
Though it leaves you with confusion over who you’re rooting for, having characters with this two-sided & complex nature is a great way to adapt a show that is attempting to mirror real life so closely. Where The Morning Show truly excels is showing how each of the complex characters interacts and builds relationships with their co-workers around them. The show also emphasizes the importance of each of these relationships in the characters’ lives, as they are all forced to wake up at 3:30am in order to fulfill their duties on the show. Showing each character waking up at this time throughout the season is a great way to drive home the secluded existence of someone who works on a morning news show, making each workplace relationship all the more important and stressful to these characters.
Jennifer Anniston’s character, Alex Levy, when she is left as the sole anchor after her co-anchor is fired, is the character that is able to most accurately show the complications of this secluded lifestyle and the repercussions of stressful workplace situations on relationships. Staying loyal to old friends & co-workers while also building relationships with new-blood surely puts insurmountable stress on the character, which makes her fits of frustration and anxiety all the more understandable and relatable. Her relationship with her oldest friend and disgraced co-worker, Mitch Kessler, is one of confusion, as she struggles to stay close to him in private while separating herself from him in the public eye. Her relationship with Reese Witherspoon’s character, Bradley Jackson, is a tumultuous one of both admiration and frustration, as they both work for what they believe in but are often forced to turn to each other in order to weather the incoming storm. The character's focus on maintaining her position also puts stress on her relationship with her old friend and former personal producer, Chip Black, who is attempting to keep the show afloat and prove himself as The Morning Show’s current head-producer.
From a plot standpoint, The Morning Show does a great job at keeping its viewers engaged on what is happening in each episode, while not forgetting the overarching plot points and themes that we know are coming later on. Each episode, especially early on in the season, does a great job in ending with a hook to reel in viewers, whether it be a huge pay-off or a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. Either way, it leaves the audience wanting to know what the repercussions will be in the coming episodes, which are often shown soon into the following episode rather than dragged out for long periods of time.
Ultimately, The Morning Show is able to create a very realistic (however sometimes overly-dramatic) scenario of what happens when things go haywire on a morning news show. It connects to current events in a way that captures different perspectives but does not violate the very real repercussions such events have on people, and captures tumultuous and changing workplace relationships and characters under immense stress when careers are in jeopardy.
Written by Nick Mandala
Edited by Jake Zall