Of all the new Apple TV shows that have arrived the one I was looking forward to most was this one.
I enjoyed The Newsroom which had far more legs than it’s paltry three seasons were allowed to show, Broadcast News was a decent film, we don’t talk about The Post, though, that was poop. Then there is the daddy of all news-based films, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Steve Carrell just happens to be in Anchorman and The Morning Show and plays Mitch Kessler, the Ron Burgundy of this show, but is quickly deposed and I’m not sure there is a fun comeback story for him anywhere in this series. I’ll come to this shortly.
I never really cared for Friends, which I know is sacrilege to some folk, but Jennifer Aniston has turned into a very solid actress and in The Morning Show, she gets to really let fly at times. She plays the ageing star very well and the scenes where she takes control are breath taking to watch, even though you know that she isn’t quite in charge of her own destiny because the masterful Billy Crudup, playing the station manager or some such role, is orchestrating everything from just out of sight.
Now let’s get to the divisive bit. This show, at least so far, is a riff on the whole #Metoo movement. You may be sick of it, you may not. You should have your own thoughts on how it behaved as a platform, or what it achieved. My instinct is that The Morning Show isn’t telling you what you should think, though at times it does put things in front of you and say ‘Well?’
So the plot is that Mitch Kessller (Steve Carrell has been having sex with co-workers for years and someone came out and accused him of raping them. He gets publicly flogged and fired leaving a power vacuum at the Network, one which the powers that be are determined to fill with someone who isn’t Aniston’s character as they’ve decided that she is too long in the tooth but have neglected to tell her, instead dragging out her contract negotiations and vetoing her requests. The whole show is veined with gender politics and its better for it, there’s an obvious feminist agenda, but down worry, this isn’t Batwomen,in this instance it makes for compelling viewing, which at the end of the day is all I care about. You don’t hate Carrell’s character, which is a testament to both the writing and his performance, and there is a brilliant scene between Carrell’s Kessler and Martin Short’s horribly slimly and consent disagreeist, The Director (not Weinstein in disguise honest), where Kessler has a moment of realisation about his situation and the whole waves of the #Metoo movement. I wish I could remember it word for word but it’s along the lines of ‘I know the difference between you and me, you’re first wave and I’m second, also you’re a fucking predator.’
I’ve omitted to mention Reece Witherspoons character. She plays Bradley Jackson, a woman full of Southern charm, reporter who has been passed over her whole career, mainly because she has a short fuse and a modicum of integrity. She is kind of the narrative glue which holds the show together rand pushes it into its most interesting places. She has a ‘moment’ at a coal mining protest and loses her shit with a protester after he pushes her camera man to the floor. Of course, someone recorded this and posted it onto You Tube where she went viral. This attracts the attention of a talent booker from The Morning Show and before you know it, she’s a guest, then a co-anchor of the Morning Show. It’s not as trite as I’m making it sound, but there is the classic heroes quest trope here with Witherspoon denying her call to action until she has no other choice. To be honest I like to see those type of things in TV and film, it’s just a familiarity that you know is happening and makes the whole viewing experience somewhat reassuring.
I need to put in a quick mention to Mark Duplass, formerly of the brilliant The League and I think I last saw him in Goliath (worth watching) as a rather twisted character indeed. In this is he plays the guy who is in day to day charge of the shop floor, and is both beleaguered and an asshole in equal measures but is a pleasure to watch whenever he is onscreen.
I really liked the first three episodes of The Morning Show, it’s entertaining, compelling at times and gives the viewers space to think. It is very well acted and so it should be with such a talented cast. It might even be my TV show of the year so far. Though I did really enjoy Pennyworth. It seems we are getting at least two seasons of The Morning Show, but again as with See, I guess that is dependent on how well it is received.
Occasional Michael Scott
Time for my close up
The bloke who was the mayor in The Dark Night wears eyeliner?
Martin Shorts skin crawling performance
The PA’s eyebrows!