This just in: In “The Morning Show: Season 2,” on Apple TV+, the laughs aren’t as quick as they were in Season 1, but they’re sharper, as 10 new episodes tackle #MeToo at the UBA network, as well as racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, cancel culture, the Trump election, and a worldwide epidemic. Not exactly the kind of thing that makes you want to grin when you get up in the morning.
With eerie views of the near-deserted streets of Manhattan, blasted by an asteroid known as COVID-19, the Season 2 opening sets the tone. The narrative then jumps nearly two years back to a time when no one had heard of social distance and terror was the default setting.
Of course, you’re curious about what occurred when morning show host Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) resigned after exposing her predatory co-anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carrell), and her fellow whistleblower Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) took her place.
For starters, there’s chaos. Corporate murderer Corey Ellison (the sensationally heartless Billy Crudup) needs Alex back with the ratings flat. Whatever it costs Bradley, who is also turned over for a job on the evening news in favour of Eric (Hasan Minhaj), the new UBA beat reporter.
That’s the idea, and despite some clumsy takeoff manoeuvres, the second season gets up to speed quickly. But first, let’s complain about how Aniston should have won an Emmy but didn’t, how Crudup did win and should have (his toothy Corey smile would put a shark to shame), and how Witherspoon was stuck with a part that wasn’t up to standard.
Season 2 is in it to win it, with women leading the fight across the board, including showrunner Kerry Ehrin and producing director Mimi Leder. Aniston and Witherspoon are rumoured to receive $1.25 million each episode as actors and executive producers.
They also deliver on their promises. Alex despises herself for returning to a morning show now dominated by millennials who regard her as a last-century relic, and Aniston adds new layers of provocation to her. Bradley is tormented by network politics that perceive her as a lightweight, as well as a southern family that alternately ignores and abuses her, and Witherspoon nails it.
“The Morning Show” deserves credit for avoiding reducing Alex and Bradley to caricatures of catfighting. Aniston and Witherspoon, on the other hand, give their characters shadings that lead to a mutual understanding and loyalty, if not a permanent relationship. It’s a joy to see them.
Steve Carell reprises his role as the cancelled anchor, who now resides in a lakeside home in Italy in shame. Some people feel Carell is too charming to portray Mitch (have they seen “Foxcatcher”?) Carell’s portrayal is a quietly stinging accomplishment because of the way he skillfully mixes Mitch’s charm with his persistent reluctance to accept the magnitude of his wrongdoing.
Julianna Margulies shines as Laura Peterson, a competent on-camera interviewer with a vendetta against Alex and a romantic interest in Bradley that feels more personal than professional, mirroring the subject of how job compromise can infect a life.
To minimise spoilers, let’s just say that the action is sparked by a tell-all book written by dreaded journalist Maggie Brenner (Marcia Gay Harden). The epidemic, on the other hand, levels the playing field between news and who covers it. “The Morning Show” is suddenly a matter of life and death, stripped of its glossy splendour but not its exciting rush. Please bear with me.