The Morning Show: Season 1 Review

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A strong insight into a real life incident expressed through fictional characters. Apple TV+ launches several weeks ago with only a few pieces of original content available at launch. It may have been overshadowed by the release of Disney+ only a short time later, but Apple has been slowly developing some quality projects including what I believe to be the staple of the streaming service, The Morning Show. Boasting an incredible cast like Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon as its two leads, it certainly stands out more from the other new shows. It also has an incredible supporting cast with the likes of Steve Carell, Mark Duplass, Billy Crudup, and many others. In case you aren’t aware of what the show is about. It tackles the #MeToo movement that was brought about by many victims of sexual assault. One notable incident was the reveal of the Today’s Show anchor Matt Lauer being involved in sexual assault against a co-worker. I’m not here to go into that whole investigation and what may or may not be true, but it is important to note this incident because The Morning Show takes that angle and gives an in depth insight into what the aftermath may look like. Carell plays the Matt Lauer type of character while Reese Witherspoon is brought on to replace him opposite Anniston and there is an investigation into who knew what at the studio. This was a show that I remember hearing about when it began production, but I never watched the trailers and decided to give it a shot when it first dropped. It was at least good enough for me to stay on through the whole season, but how good was it?

At its core, The Morning Show is driven by the actors and the characters involved, most notably the Bradley Jackson character played by Witherspoon. You could argue that there are two main leads between her and Anniston, but I feel the real lead of the show is the Bradley character who is brought on from obscurity by Alex Levy (Jennifer Anniston) to join the show as Mitch Kessler’s (Steve Carell) replacement. I did feel that it seemed a little unlikely that Bradley would have ever been brought on the way she was to a big show like that, but you have to suspend disbelief for that moment. If you can get past the whole situation as to how she actually goes from local field reporter to top billed news anchor, than you’ll be okay. The show really hits its stride and intrigue in the first episode before she is brought onto the show in an interview she has with Alex regarding a moment of her freaking out that got caught on camera. The back and forth here not only highlights the acting chops of both, but really gives a dynamic to the different views they have and how exactly they will further interact with each other.

Anniston pulls out one of her best roles that she’s ever put on the screen in a turn that gives her a likeable but at the same time unlikeable feel that makes you question whether you like her or not. She goes through many highs and lows through the show while she tries to get more empowerment in the studio. She is sometimes hard to cheer for because of how she doesn’t really want Bradley on the show, but it’s the moments where she really breaks down about her feelings that you really get a chance to understand who she is as a person and how hard her life can be. With that though, it’s still sometimes hard to cheer for her because it almost comes off like she’s trying to make people feel sorry for her, but it does work without feeling that way in many instances. She’s a deep character that has a real love for her work and ultimately everything she does comes down to protecting her job. By the end of the series, realization hits and she finally comes around to being the character that she needed to be, but I still have skepticism about her intentions.

Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson is a fish out of water take. She pulls of the role incredibly and I believe that she gives the better performance between her and Anniston, but it seems most people feel the other way about it. While she was working in the reporting field prior to her massive break, she was a fish out of water due to the fact that she’s the only real new person being brought in after Mitch’s firing. She gives us a look at the situation from what seems to be the viewers point of view, a more skeptic and honest look at what’s going on and who all knew about the problems going on between Mitch and some of the other co-workers. She’s someone that doesn’t care about giving her opinion to millions of Americans on the show which makes me like her even more and fortunately enough for her boosts the ratings of the show. She’s really our guide through this whole mess of a situation and is the most dynamic aspect of the show for me personally.

The rest of the cast really rounds out the show by giving some great support to our leads. Carell plays a smaller role than anticipated but is vital through the whole season. The real standout for me is the hot shot up and coming executive Cory Ellison (Billy Cruddup). I had seen Cruddup in only one thing before this being Alien: Covenant which he was ok in but it was never a role where he could sink his teeth into it. He was easily the biggest standout out of the whole cast for me because of how well he pulls off this multi layered character who you know not to trust but gives such a devilish charm, you can’t help but like him. I absolutely can’t get enough of him in the show and absolutely love every moment we have with him on screen. I also feel that he’s being overlooked and I’m not exactly sure why since it seems that he gives the best performance and shows how well he can fluctuate between good and bad. In any other show or movie, he would be a perfect villain.

Overall, the show has its moments of shine and covers a topic that is highly controversial. There are moments when the show leans into the controversy a little too much, but it’s a tough thing to balance out. I don’t think it takes away from the show at all, but there are people that watch it who may not agree with how they interpret a situation the same way they did, but of course you need to just take it how it’s presented to you without having your own thoughts or feelings overcome the story that’s being told. My biggest question for the show is whether or not it was a smart choice to end the season the way they did. Without getting into what exactly happens, I think that it was a bold decision to do that to a certain character, but a decision that makes me think for a moment. I have mixed feelings about it because I don’t think it was necessary for that to happen for us to get to the endgame of the episode, but I don’t necessarily agree with the original way they planned on getting to the endgame either. It was a no win situation that was decided by taking a character and their emotional feelings and escalating them in a way that effects everyone’s decisions, but in the end it really doesn’t have enough time after it’s revealed for the characters and story to really breather. It may work in its favor by forcing our characters to make sudden decisions, some of which we didn’t see coming, but those decisions do feel a little off. I think it really comes down to the choice of waiting so late to make that turn with that specific character, but it really is hard to say until we see the aftermath in season two. All in all, I wasn’t sure about the show and whether I would like it at first, but it turned out to be one of my most surprisingly good shows of the year so far. It also had a great advantage of being a week to week show rather than dropping all at once. It’s a model that has slowly started to develop back from cable on some of the new streaming services that I think will prove to be more beneficial for the services. It gives you more time to digest each episode and to think about them, because of that, I had a lot more time to really enjoy this show that I would highly recommend.

Grade: A-

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