'The Morning Show' review: The #MeToo flagbearer's extraordinary cast salvages an otherwise ordinary story
The show premiered on Friday, November 1 on Apple TV and offers commentary on the fine line separating news and entertainment
This article contains spoilers for first three episodes of 'The Morning Show'
Ever since its inception following the New York Times article accusing Harvey Weinstein of being a sexual predator, the #MeToo movement has managed to seep its way—and rightfully so—in every sphere of the entertainment industry. From comedy to thriller, and even within the exclusive knit of the independent genre, TV shows managed to give the movement its due spotlight, dedicating an episode or a subplot or something and somehow to courageous women and the battles they have overcome on heir way to success. And then comes Apple TV's 'The Morning Show'—a show based purely on the movement, the way it shook up the entire industry, and most importantly, the response the industry offered in the wake of one of the most powerful men within its realms getting outed. But any mention of 'The Morning Show' wouldn't be complete without acknowledging the layered intensity and undaunted vulnerability Jennifer Anniston brings to the screen through her character Alex Levy.
The story revolves around America's 'it' news couple, Alex and Mitch Kessler, who host the eponymous show within the show. The plot kicks off when Mitch gets fired under charges of sexual misconduct slammed by not one, not two, but several coworkers. With the network vultures looking to replace Alex either way, especially now that Mitch is out of the way, Alex isn't undergoing the torments of just one part of the story. Within the first thirty minutes of the first episode, it is established what most of the narrative will be about: "How does Alex Levy deal with the crisis?" And the next two episodes work on building up and deconstructing the same coping under crisis which Alex does so effortlessly and quietly, in her own loneliness.
If the plot in itself wasn't a stand apart feather on the show's bonnet, it also features Aniston stepping outside the fashionably comfortable shoes of Rachel Greene from 'FRIENDS' - an iconic role that is still unmatched if you ask pop culture connoisseurs. The only person who could've outdone Aniston as Greene was perhaps Elle Woods from the 2000s rom-com 'Legally Blonde' which is funny, considering the person rivaling Alex on 'The Morning Show' is our beloved and forever adored face of Elle, Reese Witherspoon.
Witherspoon plays the spitfire reporter from a small town whose passionate video from a protest goes viral, even though she claims she never knew she was being filmed. There's a certain righteousness about Witherspoon's Bradley Jackson; having a dysfunctional mother blind to her addict son's needs influences that need to be honest, perhaps. But that honestly doesn't come without its fair share of dubiousness. In that, Bradley is a character you automatically want to root for and protect, even though you know damn well she can hold her fort all by herself.
That leaves us with the man of the hour - Mitch Kessler himself. Steve Carell fits into the role just the way Michael Scott from 'The Office' fit into the persona of his alter-ego, Michael Scarn. Mitch if your everyday 'nice guy' who is somehow baffled and absolutely incapable to see where he went wrong. In the wake of the tragedy, when Mitch has his worst outburst, he breaks into a ballad of how woes citing how the "couple of PAs and assistants" liked having sex with him, bragging about how some of them confessed that he was the one who taught them how to have great sex. And through his 'The Morning Show' also manages to highlight the not so deliberate, at the same time hard to believe confusion of nice guys when dealing with accusations of this kind.
Aniston's Alex - through all her breakdowns and raging - steps in just the right way, at the right time. As someone who has spent the last two decades beside a man who has just been outed as a sexual predator, Alex feels sorry for the Mitch she knew, but never for once lets him forget the gravity of what he has done. She accuses him of leaving her alone, and when Mitch's ego calls that a personal attack at him out of jealousy, Alex isn't afraid to straighten him up with a reality check - thereby saving an otherwise mundane show from becoming a narrative on sympathizing with the accused. And while the show often opens a commentary on the fine line separating news from entertainment, and this is exactly something the novelty streaming network could use.
'The Morning Show' premiered with its first three episodes on Friday, November 1 on Apple TV+.