*Mild spoiler warning for anyone that has not seen The Morning Show*
Apple TV+’s flagship streaming property was announced with a shout and faded out just as quickly.
Now that the dust has settled its time to examine what happened to the star studded streaming show and where Apple TV+ goes from here.
To be fair calling a reexamination of The Morning Show a post mortem implies that the show is dead, which it is not. The show has at least one more season with Apple TV+ from it’s initial two season deal.
But for all intensive purposes the show did fail to accomplish what it set out to do, create a cultural splash.
After spending more than Game of Thrones per episode, The Morning Show never entered the same ballpark as the HBO Original in terms of social impact.
What went wrong?
Apple’s roll out strategy didn’t help their premiere show. Offering the first three episodes to stream during a free week trial, viewers were able to try out an appetizer before deciding if they wanted to order the main dish.
Unfortunately the first three episodes of The Morning Show lacked any real punch. They held the same emotional note throughout and without any rise or fall in the tension, the show wasn’t able to build to any memorable moments for fans to hold onto or tweet about or tell their friends about.
The pacing did improve in later episodes but overall The Morning Show bore the burden of lofty expectations Apple’s marketing team bestowed on them.
While I’m not entirely sure what the star studded drama set out to create, in reality the show netted out as a big budget morning tv show version of Grey’s Anatomy.
A workplace drama.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Grey’s Anatomy is a very successful television show that has made a lot of people quite a lot of money. But you don’t spend Game of Thrones money for a new Grey’s Anatomy. You spend all that money to win awards, drive signups, start conversations, and convince more people to work with your studios.
Then again it’s easy to get people to work with you when you offer them Game of Thrones money.
The nuts and bolts
For brief flashes The Morning Show is a very modern show with the promise of potential. The rest of the time the strain of attempting to be relevant and to tackle the me too movement is too much for the show to bear without breaking.
It’s hard to detract Reese Witherspoon from her character, Bradley Jackson. This makes Bradley’s rags to riches rises from reporter to morning show anchor come across as unbelievable for all the wrong reasons.
While Jennifer Aniston brings the heat in her performance as co-anchor Alex Levy, it is one dimensional. We are blessed as a viewing public to get to see Aniston take the mound and hurl 100mph fast balls again and again but that strategy is used to close out games, not get you to the postseason. After a few episodes the lack of range highlights the larger storytelling issues in The Morning Show.
Of the big three stars associated with The Morning Show it is surprisingly Steve Carell who provides the most grounded performance as the disgraced former co-anchor. Unfortunately he has the least screen time of the big three.
The Real Stars
What kept me coming back episode after episode to The Morning Show wasn’t the three starters but their deep bench who managed to steal the show the entire season. Chief among them was the chaos inducing, monologue per episode news director Cory Ellison played by Billy Crudup.
The 52 year old actor has been around the block a time or two but has found the perfect role as a cocky over the top executive who keeps you glued to the screen. Although I could do without his duet with Jennifer Aniston, Billy’s character is the spark the show desperately needed more of.
The peripherals of The Morning Show is filled with engaging and interesting characters played by both familiar and new faces. Mark Duplass from The League plays the perpetually exhausted executive producer and former mayor of Gotham Nestor Carbonell plays the overly excited weather man while newcomer Bel Powley is an Apple TV+ star waiting to happen.
The dichotomy of The Morning Shows successes and failures with casting is a perfect encapsulation of the show overall. Afraid to take risks or go out on a limb The Morning Show created a big budget version of every workplace drama that has come before it.
In The Morning Show‘s defense the show was already underway when the Matt Lauer news broke causing the development team to pivot quickly and adjust their show accordingly. This was obviously no small feat but doesn’t detract from the shows larger failures.
Thankfully the people are Apple are smart. They know everything that went right and wrong with season one and will adjust for season two and beyond. There is still time to right the ship and for The Morning Show to reach the heights it deserves.