‘The Morning Show’: The sunny rise of Apple TV+’s original content

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Grade: 4.5/5.0

In the #MeToo era, stories of sexual misconduct have been revealed rapidly over the past few years, providing needed justice to survivors and punishment to those to whom it is due. “The Morning Show,” the flagship show from new streaming platform Apple TV+, capitalizes on this recent phenomenon. The show examines the impact of a sexual misconduct scandal on the inner workings of “The Morning Show,” a fictional generic network morning news program with visible similarities to real network shows. The scandal wreaks havoc on the network and those who work for it, making the behind-the-scenes drama delightfully fun to watch. 

The series begins directly after news leaks of a sexual misconduct scandal involving Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), one of the beloved anchors of “The Morning Show” — a scandal eerily similar to earlier allegations that broke out against Matt Lauer, the former host of “The Today Show.” The series follows the subsequent events that both the television network and Kessler’s co-anchor, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) face after the scandal breaks. Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), a tremendously bold reporter from a local news station in West Virginia, soon becomes Levy’s new co-anchor, creating tensions between the hosts and among crew members and network executives, dramatically altering the way “The Morning Show” operates. 

The fact that the show’s plotline is grounded in stories of alleged sexual misconduct that have shaped society makes it an especially meaningful watch. As the story unravels, it becomes abundantly clear that the workplace sexual misconduct evident on “The Morning Show” is not simply the result of the actions of a single person, but is instead seemingly perpetuated by hostile environments. This is a subject that “The Morning Show” explores while still being a riveting drama that is enjoyable to watch. The topic of sexual misconduct is handled with grace in the early episodes of the season while still showcasing the dangers of a network that doesn’t portray these stories in an accurate way. 

While it is difficult to stay engaged for the full 51 minutes of the pilot episode, once the viewer is past the necessary exposition, the plot of “The Morning Show” is deeply enthralling, making it a supremely binge-able show. The series gets better with every episode, hitting its stride in episode four as the relationships between characters become more clearly established. This is especially true between Levy and Jackson. Aniston’s fiery portrayal of Levy is captivating. The actress conveys her character’s emotions with ease, whether it be anger, deviousness or the delightful news anchor persona she uses for the camera. Throughout the first few episodes, Levy is tired of being underestimated by her male coworkers and workplace superiors, and this show is a testament to the fact that Aniston’s acting skills shouldn’t be underestimated either. 

Whereas Levy is heavily produced and calculated in her long-time broadcast journalism role, Jackson is a firecracker waiting to explode, being honest and dedicated to delivering “real journalism” no matter the consequences at every moment. Witherspoon’s performance here is delightful to watch, especially since Jackson’s actions continue to puzzle the network executives and seem to be creating conflict and potential consequences for the network and for Levy in later episodes. Furthermore, the show’s moments with Carell as Kessler are equally as dynamic and fascinating, making the former host a character viewers love to hate. 

The most confusing part of the show, however, is its title sequence, which consists of one and a half minutes of animated bouncing dots set to the song “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine. While this would be appropriate for an iPhone game, it makes no sense for a title sequence of a television show and is particularly jarring considering the darker themes of “The Morning Show.” 

While “The Morning Show” starts out by centering on the dangerous actions of a man, the show transforms into a delightful showcase of the power of women in media and in society as a whole in the era of the #MeToo movement, led by two stellar leading actresses. In what seems to be a time of many budding streaming services, Apple TV+ introduces itself with a bold play with its original content as it races to compete with existing streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. If all of the Apple TV+ originals are as unique and riveting as “The Morning Show,” the streaming service seems to have quite a few successes in store.

Contact Caitlin Keller at [email protected].