Directors: Mimi Leder
Writers: Kerry Ehrin
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Mark Duplass, Billy Crudup
Episode 01×01: “In the Dark Night of the Soul It’s Always 3:30 in the Morning”
Air Date: 01/11/2019
The Morning Show is currently available to stream on Apple TV+, with the first three episodes available.
With the launch of Apple TV+ comes several original programs and leading them is The Morning Show, or as it’s titled in Australia because of the existence of our own morning network show, Morning Wars. Jennifer Aniston returns to TV for the first time since Friends and stars alongside Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Duplass, Billy Crudup and I assume, other big names as Apple merrily chucks millions of dollars are star power. But it’s not just the attraction of stars that make this series stand-out, it’s the subject matter. Apple isn’t playing in safe territory with its flagship title as The Morning Show focuses on and deals with a Me Too scandal surrounding Carell’s character, Mitch Kessler and how that affects the network and his co-host, Jennifer Aniston’s Alex Levy.
The pilot episode is heavy-handed with very obvious aspirations to not only feature characters as strong and seen in Aaron Sorkin material, but also feature as witty and choppy dialogue, but it fails to meet the mark most of the time. There are several scenes of back-forth fast-paced dialogue as characters move around the newsroom (reference-intended) but the drama and emotion that this first episode is trying to give you aren’t ever earned. We don’t know these characters and the show assumes you do too fast.
After the initial set-up and we see Kessler fired and Alex have to deal with the emotional loss of her on-screen work partner she finds her way into his dressing room where the scene drags out Aniston crying and looking over Alex’s items. It’s an odd scene and I felt nothing. I definitely don’t like Kessler as a character at this point as he’s been accused of sexual misconduct and also shown to be an angry bastard, but Aniston’s Alex is also a boring, seemingly self-obsessed ego. The loss of Mitch at The Morning Show means that Alex could potentially lose her job as well if things go bad and that’s, as far as the pilot goes; why Alex is so upset. Mitch is having his world fall apart in his two-story mansion with tennis court and swimming pool and Alex is laying about in her lavish house with a full team devoted to making sure her image isn’t tarnished by what he’s done. The silent violin played for both of them.
What exactly Mitch has done isn’t answered here either. Sexual misconduct is as far as it goes although he swears that it’s all lies, of course, blaming the whole situation on Weinstein. He’s in denial of his behaviour it seems, a play we see time and time again in real-life when celebrities are accused credibly of similar things to Mitch. Carell is loud for and yelling for the majority of his scenes and one beats his TV in anger which I laughed-out-loud at even if it was meant to be serious.
Billy Crudup as the studio executive Cory Ellison chews up the scene’s he’s in and as Cory is shown to be ruthless at his job as Crudup gets the only successful monologue to breathe any fire into the script as he sits across the table from Mark Duplass and lays out his plans. Duplass plays The Morning Show’s executive producer Chip Black, who is perfectly fine in this episode, but as a Duplass fan, I’m willing to admit I was just happy to see him.