‘The Morning Show:’ Reviews Are Mixed After the Series Premiere
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon recently launched their highly anticipated Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. The two actresses both serve as stars and executive producers of the show, which also features Steve Carell, Billy Crudup, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Mark Duplass.
Critics have weighed in on the much-hyped series, with varying opinions on the star-studded show. When delivering good news/bad news, let’s get the unpleasantness out of the way first.
The show is centered around Aniston, who plays seasoned anchor Alex Levy, and Witherspoon who portrays newcomer Bradley Jackson. Witherspoon’s character takes the place of Mitch Kessler, played by Steve Carell, who was fired due to allegations of sexual misconduct. The two exec producers have openly shared that they rewrote their initial script of the series when the #MeToo movement began.
Some critics felt the revamping was too obvious, leading to a sloppy script. “After three episodes, this tech company’s first venture into TV is good only at appearing to be good,” James Poniewozik of The New York Times wrote. It’s like something assembled in a cleanroom out of good-show parts from incompatible suppliers. Under the gleaming surface, as sleek and anodyne as an Apple Store, it is a kludge.”
Hank Stuever of The Washington Post calls the series “a conspicuous fender bender, in which ambition has been rear-ended by self-importance, causing it to bump into a dump truck full of cliches… As a show, it’s spread on as thick as it looked to be in all those teaser trailers, a promisingly salacious tale of conflict that gets bogged down by its need to also seem noble.”
Stuever goes on to question the reasoning in the expense of the show (a reported $15 million per episode) in what he says is “a #MeToo-inspired drama series that is somehow so implausibly overblown and poorly envisioned that the one character you wind up relating to — even sympathizing with — is the predatory creep.”
Middle of the road
On to better sentiments, Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe sees the reported clunky launch as a transition in working out the kinks. “Perhaps the mixed signals of the first three episodes will resolve as the season — and the second season, already ordered — proceed,” Gilbert wrote. “With a sharper point of view, The Morning Show could be more than a murky showcase for Aniston and Witherspoon, and it could be more than just OK.”
While Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall also notes the show’s exorbitant price tag, he also praises the acting. “The Morning Show isn’t terrible. It has several excellent performances beyond Crudup’s, including Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy,” he wrote. “But the series is a well-polished snore, a prime example of how throwing money at a problem — in this case, Apple’s need to dive into the streaming wars now that Netflix and company have killed off the revenue stream from buying individual TV episodes — isn’t inherently the best way to solve it.”
The high notes
“Aniston is flawless,” Mangan raved. “Everyone else — especially Billy Crudup as the network suit playing seven-dimensional chess with everyone — matches her point for point. The script has depth and endless torque and the whole thing is an exhilarating rush that makes room for nuance, thought and — though it’s definitely a drama — humour.”
Vulture’s Jen Chaney praised the show’s relevance in light of today’s headlines. “Plunging the audience directly into this crisis situation is one of the smartest decisions The Morning Show makes,” Chaney wrote. “This in medias res approach immediately draws us into what’s happening and naturally establishes the high-stress, fast-paced environment where much of the story will unfold.”
The cast seems to be a critical high note, with The AV Club’s Alex McLevyalso giving props to the high-profile stars. “Bringing together this level of talent (both in front of and behind the camera, with superlative director Mimi Leder helming the majority of the first season) must have cost Apple a bundle, but when it results in television this appealing, it sure feels worth it,” she wrote
As The Morning Show begins to drop more episodes, both critics and fans will have a more informed opinion on the show’s performance. For now, the Aniston-Witherspoon vehicle is still at the top of ones to watch on the new Apple platform.