Apple TV Plus released “The Morning Show” on Nov. 1. The 10-episode series starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell ended its first season Dec. 20. It’s the one where Aniston and Witherspoon reunite to star as co-anchors on a popular New York City-based morning news show called The Morning Show, which is also the series’ name. Priorly playing sisters on NBC’s hit sitcom “Friends,” Aniston and Witherspoon allow for their chemistry to be viewed in their new show, despite their characters’ tendencies to not exactly get along.
In the first episode of the series, Aniston’s character Alex Levy, a head news anchor on The Morning Show, takes on the pressure of leading the show on her own as Carell’s character Mitch Kessler is fired from being Levy’s co-anchor for sexual misconduct in the workplace. Information about Kessler’s inappropriate behavior was leaked to The New York Times by an unknown source which prompted the network, UBA, to fire Kessler. Disrupting a 15-year working partnership, Levy is left alone to carry the news show.
Witherspoon plays Bradley Jackson, a field reporter working for a West Virginia news company, who enters the show by boldly telling off an ignorant protester while covering a protest segment for her show. Caught on camera by a witness, Jackson begins to receive media attention from Twitter and other social media platforms. From the media attention, Jackson reaches The Morning Show to be interviewed by Levy amid the aftermath of Kessler’s firing from the show.
From the moment Levy met Jackson, their relationship was nothing compared to Aniston’s and Witherspoon’s sisterly bond in Friends. Levy despises Jackson’s more raw and edgy inclination to deliver the hard truths. After Jackson’s interview, Cory Ellison, the head of the news division of UBA played by Billy Crudup, keeps Jackson around for his own personal plan to implement Jackson as a field reporter for The Morning Show.
In episode two, a bombshell is dropped during Levy’s acceptance speech for a Leadership in Journalism award. As the network is dragging its feet in renegotiating Levy’s contract, Levy shocks everyone by announcing her new co-anchor during her acceptance speech — Bradley Jackson. Levy’s announcement was unknown to all but her, as she selected Jackson purely to receive the co-anchor approval she desired in her contract. Surprises like Levy’s selection of a co-anchor, without the consent from her superiors, and an individual with minimal anchor experience kept the show intriguing.
The next few episodes explore the ramifications of Levy’s choice in co-host. Additionally, Levy and Jackson’s conflicts in personalities and work habits are paired with a further investigation into the victims and coverups of Kessler during his reign of power on the show. As the series progresses, Kessler attempts to clear his name and reputation by seeking the corroboration of prior victims and coworkers to prove his innocence. Carell’s Kessler is almost comparable to a more cruel Michael Scott, Carell’s character on “The Office,” as Kessler is oblivious to how his actions affect his subordinates.
“The Morning Show” provides a behind the scenes look to the filming of a broadcast news show and network. Viewers are able to watch the multiple parts and jobs that go into making and producing a news show. Charlie “Chip” Black (Mark Duplass) fulfilled the role as the new show’s producer. Running the production of the show, Black provides comedic relief contrasting the dark content of sexual abuse and harrassment of the show.
“The Morning Show,” although fictional, confronts issues present in today’s society. With Kessler being taken down by claims of sexual misconduct, “The Morning Show” provides an eye-opening perception about interactions that may be occurring behind the camera in the real-life and familiar broadcast shows we often rely on for news.
Including both positive and negative comments about the #MeToo movement throughout the show, “The Morning Show” serves as an adequate accomplice to further the movement’s goals by educating viewers on how easy it is for individuals in power to cover up instances of sexual misconduct in the workplace. The head of the network covered for Kessler’s sexual harassment and abuse in order to keep the show’s ratings that favored Kessler over Levy.
While “The Morning Show” provides a bold inside look of a modern news show, character inconsistencies distract from the show’s important content. For example, Witherspoon’s Jackson began the series as a rage-fueled journalist seeking to deliver the truth at any cost. Yet, as the series progresses, Jackson appears to lose her initiative until her team-up with Black and Ellison to expose the network’s coverups of Kessler’s actions. As a result, Jackson’s character consistency was sometimes hard to follow. Yet, Witherspoon did play her fiery character well as a contrast to Aniston’s more traditional acting character.
However, Aniston did stand out with her performance. As the show followed her personal life in addition to her working life, Aniston shined as the breakout star despite her current fame. Aniston’s display of complex emotions with a single look captivated each episode as her character development made sense alongside her learning of Kessler’s behavior.
Furthermore, Ellison, in the first episode, appears creepy and manipulative toward the show’s cast to further his self-serving agenda to possibly becoming the head of the network. But Ellison, sneaky as he is, at the same time becomes one of the more likable characters of the show with his confident “everything will work out” demeanor.
Carell played his role of a self-pitying predator well, despite the lacking significance his character held. Viewers were forced to watch a sexual predator’s feeble attempts to exonerate himself. As the series opened with Kessler’s firing, viewers weren’t able to see his direct interactions in the show’s environment until episode eight, which consists of a flashback.
The future of Apple TV’s “The Morning Show” holds promise as Aniston and Witherspoon have both received 2020 Golden Globe nominations for their performances. The show itself received a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series, Drama.
I rate the first season of “The Morning Show” four out of five stars.