Watch the trailer for Jason Momoa’s Apple TV+ series See below:The Morning Show’s biggest crime is it has no idea what it’s trying to say. The scripts feel rushed and muddled, and the cast is wasted on what seems like a half-baked idea which more often than not appears to be either supporting all men accused of harassment or not saying much of anything about the subject it’s tackling. If you had any doubts about how dated and on the nose the show is, the second episode actually opens with a scene where a nighttime meeting at a hotel takes place with someone performing a lounge jazz cover of Creep by Radiohead in the background.
On paper, you would assume Mitch had been designed to represent the worst embodiment of entitlement and victim-blaming when he rails against the unfairness of his treatment, but The Morning Show doesn’t adequately interrogate this. In the first three episodes, the subplot centers on Mitch and the collateral damage he creates, especially in Alex’s life, with more time spent seeing how Mitch’s own actions affect his life negatively versus dedicating any time to exploring the ripple effects on the women who were abused or harassed by him. The script gives him incredibly incendiary and clumsy lines regarding his behavior like “this is McCarthyism” and — most unbelievably — a bastardization of Martin Niemoller’s famous words on oppression, “First they came for…” but rewritten here as “first they came for the rapists.” (Yikes.)
Alex’s immediate concern over her professional future (and her grief about losing her on-screen partner) instead of the wellbeing of Mitch’s victims could’ve been an interesting exploration of how compromised people can become when those they love are accused of heinous acts. But as Aniston descends into drinking and crying, she just comes off as self-pitying and selfish, especially when it comes to her relationship with Mitch, who’s mistakenly played in the episodes given to critics as a lovable and possibly wrongly-accused man, despite having enough credible allegations from multiple women to get him fired (which is still not a guaranteed outcome even in today’s climate). At one point Alex even makes a playful #MeToo joke with Mitch, which is as tone-deaf as it sounds. But Alex isn’t played to be a villain complicit in the horrors Mitch created, and instead we leave the first three episodes not really knowing much about where she stands at all, other than the fact that she probably has a drinking problem.Ultimately it all feels a little “too soon,” especially as the framing for almost every narrative decision feels a bit off. The so-called #MeToo movement is alive and well, as exemplified by Harvey Weinstein’s recent return to the public eye and the conflicting reactions it apparently elicited in the room. The show fails at trying to synthesize real-life issues that aren’t even close to being resolved, without actually adding anything worthwhile to the conversation. Case in point: the fact that Martin Short appears in the show as a character who is clearly an analog of Weinstein (with a little Woody Allen thrown in), whose only narrative function is to talk about how terrible his life is since he’s been “canceled” and to illustrate that Mitch “isn’t really a predator” compared to him.
On the other end of the spectrum, Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson is easily the highlight of the show, adding righteous anger to a morally compromised reporter who truly believes in the old adage of “both sides” – even though that fence-sitting approach feels somewhat disingenuous in today’s charged media landscape, which blunts the character’s overall impact. But even a high point like Bradley comes with the same clunky execution that’s threaded through Morning Show, as she swerves between being the most interesting character on the show and a distractingly tropey stereotype with “strong, sassy woman” dialogue that starts to creep in during episode two.
Maybe the point of the show is that nobody is likable. Even the secondary cast of characters – like Billy Crudup’s ambitious and awful network head, Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s manipulative talent booker, and Bel Powley’s sex-mad assistant who definitely does consent to her relationship with her older, more powerful boss (yet another example of the show inexplicably muddying its waters for the sake of drama) – are all just as unlikeable as the core cast, but not in a snarky, smartly-written, enjoyable way. Except, inexplicably, for Mitch, who for the most part is given plenty of cranky yet endearing moments – he’s basically playing Michael Scott but with more scenes spent crying whilst looking disheveled and rugged.
Watch the trailer for Apple TV Plus’ Dickinson below:In fact, one of the sillier issues plaguing The Morning Show is that a lot of the scenes of Mitch being overly outraged about being fired end up inadvertently feeling like a gritty Office reboot where Michael actually faces the consequences of his endless inappropriate actions. This is compounded by the addition of Mindy Kaling, who makes many knowing remarks about how glad she is that she never worked with Carell’s Mitch (wink wink nudge nudge).
There are sparks of a more interesting show hidden in the three episodes sent to press, all three of which will be released on November 1. As the second episode progresses, we see Aniston’s Alex use her platform to take back power from the men who have tried to control her with a shocking move that will change her and Bradley’s lives forever. It’s the first and only truly electric moment in the opening three episodes, and it teases a different path than what the show otherwise seems set on, one centered on women surviving and trying to thrive in an industry that has used and abused them, by any means necessary.
But Morning Show doesn’t bring the incisive writing of Succession, which does a much better job dissecting arguably “bad” people’s motivations or experiences beyond a surface level. Although Morning Show excites momentarily, the show doesn’t deliver on that promise, falling back into its tone-deaf focus on abusive men defending themselves and justifying their actions, holding up Mitch as an example of the not-so bad version of the #MeToo movement, regardless of how many lives and careers he’s derailed. Maybe The Morning Show will turn it around; maybe there’s some big twist we can’t see coming. But based on the first three episodes, this seems like a misjudged and rushed attempt to make some kind of statement without being clear what exactly that statement was supposed to be.
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