Red sky in the morning
Published December 31, 2019
The flagship offering of Apple TV+’s launch was The Morning Show, a complicated drama set in a network television morning show and featuring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as sparring and unwilling co-anchors. The show came in for a lot of early criticism, being a bit corny, full of tropes and stereotypes and generally not telling the story well.
I didn’t get any of that. There were a few cliches, sure, and it did take a while to fully warm to some of the characters, but as with the other Apple TV shows, a couple of episodes in and I was hooked.
It took us a while to get through the full series because it was very, very stressful. The story centres around the aftermath of sexual harassment revelations, so that previous host Mitch (played by Steve Carrell) was ousted from his position and replaced by Reese Witherspoon. I liked that initially the story was nuanced - not quite both sides of the story but we still had time to appreciate that Mitch was still a human if he had done bad things. Unfortunately, as the episodes ticked by, the full monster that he is was revealed, which in turn made those last few hours really as tense as could be.
It wasn’t all about the #metoo storyline, although that did take centre stage. But it was also about how that affected those around it - those trying to carry on normal relationships or deal sensitively with people moving on from the past. And then the slightly more regular drama storylines like corporate espionage, manipulating each other for power and promotions, and generally trying to keep a show on track when everything around you is falling apart.
I loved that even the sympathetic characters weren’t beyond reproach. Jennifer Aniston’s lead anchor Alex had to wrestle with what she did and didn’t know about her colleague’s actions. Executive Producer Chip seemed to deal with pressures on top of pressures like a pro but also had to deal with a guilty conscience for several reasons. I did enjoy Billy Crudup’s Corey. His wilful optimism, uncaring manner (even though he obviously did care) and the refreshing attitude that all of this doesn’t really matter - he could lose his job in a minute and carry on regardless. It was a breath of fresh air in a very dense and tense situation.
Particularly the final episode. An hour of trauma and tension culminating in our main duo teaming up to tell the truth once and for all. I was disappointed that the series ended on a shot of Mitch, beaten up and alone as he was. This was a story about the women he left in his wake and I felt like they should have been allowed the final shot. It’s not the final word, though, because we know another series is coming, so we’ll be back to see the repercussions of this particular rebellion hopefully sooner rather than later.