October 20, 2021
In its second season, the star-studded Apple TV drama is a chaotic, uneven and ham-fisted yet compulsively watchable rumination on workplace ethics amid the pandemic
How did The Morning Show become the messiest show on TV?
Watching The Morning Show, Apple TV+’s messy, star-studded morning news drama whose second season premiered this fall, is for me a very vocal experience – the road from concept to execution so bumpy and the choices so chaotic as to provoke several guffaws an episode. The biggest “NO” comes in the beginning of the second season’s third episode: Daniel Henderson, co-anchor of the fictional Morning Show on the fictional UBA network, is quarantining in Beijing after exposure to a novel Coronavirus in January 2020. On-air, he explains the concept of “social distancing” to the fake-cheery anchor Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon, now sans bad first-season brown wig), who cracks: “What? I feel like my family’s been ‘social distancing’ for a long time.”
I rolled my eyes so hard my head hurt. The Morning Show has, since its release in September 2019, been an intriguing misfire, bolstered and blunted by its interest in recent events. In the first season, its handling of the cascading #MeToo movement at what seemed to be a lightly fictionalized NBC was bumbling, opaque, and perhaps unforgivable – in the season finale, the suicide of the producer Hannah (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), struggling years after she was pressured into sex by the star anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), was at best mishandled, at worst exploited for shock. But watching a show even attempt to wrestle with the bramble of workplace ethics and cultures of complicity was baseline compelling. As in real life, none of the characters handled those conversations well, but at least they were trying.
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