A drone swoops through the deserted streets of New York City in the opening scene of the second season of The Morning Show (Apple TV+). It’s clearly a pandemic-related lockdown. And then the show dials back to December 2019.
Season one of the show, created by Jay Carson and Kerry Ehrin, focussed on the Me-Too allegations that disrupted operations at the television network UBA. The incident resulted in the dismissal of, among others, The Morning Show’s star anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell).
The hosts of The Morning Show now include Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) and Eric Nomani (Hasan Minhaj). A publishing house has commissioned a tell-all book by Maggie Brener (Marcia Gay Harden) about the sexual harassment allegations. Bradley’s co-anchor Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) is finishing a book manuscript.
The new season, which has multiple directors, is less about the workings of the morning show and more about the people and their emotions. The spotlight is on remorse, redemption, reinvention and untold truths. There’s also a burgeoning pandemic.
There is way too much going on in the world for the employees and decision makers of UBA to be anything but affected. Through returning characters Mitch, Alex, Daniel (Desean Terry), Mia (Karen Pittman) and Yanko (Nestor Carbonell) and new additions Stella Bak (Greta Lee) and Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies), this season tackles several issues including cancel culture, racial discrimination, diversity, sexuality, prejudice and family values. In an attempt to check all the boxes, the show is often bogged down by its own righteousness.
Season two hits its stride by episode six. By shifting Covid-19 news to the top of the headlines, the creators pull out a few sharply written and performed scenes that comment on the complexities of the show’s predominant themes.
Billy Crudup is back as Cory Ellison, the CEO of UBA, and he’s coming out guns blazing. Ellison is not just a suit with a smirk who has several tricks up his sleeve (one of these is getting Alex back on the show). Cory reveals his vulnerable and humane side. Crudup’s performance is among the show’s best.
Every other burnt and bruised character comes out punching, including Alex’s long-suffering producer Chip (Mark Duplass). Most of the punches land on Alex. Jennifer Aniston lives the passive-aggressive character with all her cracks and flaws unmasked.
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