'The Morning Show': Jennifer Aniston reinvents the raging Dragon Lady and humanizes her through Alex Levy
This article contains spoilers on 'The Morning Show'.
Three episodes in, Apple TV's newly launched 'The Morning Show' will have you questioning why Jennifer Aniston has been away from TV for almost two decades now. She appears on the newsroom slash #MeToo drama as the brilliant Alex Levy with a commandeering poise that could rival Meryl Streep's iconic Miranda Priestly from 'The Devil Wears Prada'.
There's also a certain vulnerability about the woman passionate about what she deserves in a profession she has given so much to. This humanizes her much more than Streep's Dragon Lady. This just in: Jennifer Aniston just made being the bossy bitch a lot more relatable and that just might be the absolute best thing about 'The Morning Show' and also her comeback to TV.
The plot is simple: Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) - TV personality and Alex's co-host on the eponymous show within a show - has just been fired over charges of sexual misconduct with those working under him. And while this is the perfect opportunity for Alex to swoop right in and snatch away the throne that is so rightfully hers, she also reels under the sensitivity of the relationship she shares with Mitch. The two have co-hosted for 15 years until crisis strikes, and in those years, moments of weakness leading to physical relationship between the two have been twice.
Perhaps the best way to put their complicated relationship in the wake of the crisis is how Alex's daughter addresses it - she has known him ever since she was conscious. That's how dear the Mitch the Alex has known all this while, has been to her and those related to her. The two climbed the stairs of a morning TV broadcast to become America's 'it' news couple, and suddenly she finds her place threatened with younger, sparkier replacements all because of his reckless stupidity.
Aniston brings those very nuanced emotions to the screen effortlessly, but that isn't something unexpected of her. She's gracious in her composure, giving Alex a tone of authority when needed, and just the smidge of spark needed to unleash an outburst. In an otherwise dull and slowly progressing story, Alex's rage at the men in her professional life is a fire much welcome - and perhaps the only thing keeping viewers from turning ice-cold, when Reese Witherspoon as Alex's rival, Bradley Jackson, or Carell as Mitch isn't there on the screen. Or perhaps it is the fact that this show was hyped up as Aniston's comeback project so hard that in certain moments, everybody else on the show seems bleak compared to Alex, who is pretty much a force to be reckoned with.
The highlight of Aniston's wor in the newsroom drama happens to be the way she molds and modulates the character with respect to those she is surrounded by. Alex has every right to be unapologetic this far in her career, and she is so, without being demeaning. Even when she visits Mitch at midnight, by almost breaking into his house because he is still very much a friend she has treasured for over a decade now, she doesn't allow him to escape the gravity of his reckless abandon. In that, Alex empathizes with her friend without turning those moments into a shoddy portrayal of rape apology and for that, we have the brilliance of Aniston to that for.
The truth is, Aniston knows when to bring Alex to the spotlight and when to use her silence as an aesthetic prop to keep things sublime. When Alex fights for her deal as a co-host on the network and gets bitten back, Aniston allows her to show off that hint of crazy for split seconds. And granted we have to thank the writers for that too, but in moments of Alex's vulnerability, Aniston allows her to reign the screen with silence - slowly blending into the comforts of Mitch's dressing room, holding dear all she did about him when she knows what he did was wrong. It's definitely something that a not a lot of people would have been able to pull off so subtly, yet so hard-hitting at the same time.
It's ironic how for a show that seems to enjoy picking 'Gilmore Girls' apart bit by bit to the last morsel, Alex is quite similar to Lorelai Gilmore when it comes to being a mother to a teenager. The only difference here is less yapping and more comforting hugs - in short, a character trait not at all overdone. Could there be a better comeback? We think not. Sorry Miranda Priestly, we are considering Alex Levy for president now.
'The Morning Show' premiered with three episodes on Friday, November 1, only on Apple TV.