The Morning Show ponders a post-Mitch world [Apple TV+ review] | Cult of Mac

The Morning Show ponders a post-Mitch world [Apple TV+ review]

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Review: When The Morning Show gets down to the business of journalism, it's a lot less annoying.
When The Morning Show gets down to the business of journalism, it's a lot less annoying.
Photo: Apple TV+

Mitch is dead — long live Mitch. This week on The Morning Show, everyone must deal with the death of their network’s former sex pest lead anchor — and things could go much better than they do. Alex is missing. Chip is throwing up. Cory is elated. And Mia’s beside herself. Can they clean themselves up in time to break the news?

It’s borderline impossible to take the Apple TV+ drama about a morning news show seriously now. But there are still three episodes of plot left this season. Can The Morning Show manage anything worthwhile before the curtain falls?

The Morning Show review: ‘Confirmations’

In this week’s episode, titled “Confirmations,” Laura Peterson (played by Julianna Margulies) is pissed at Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) for being embarrassed about their relationship going public. Which is a perfect start for their new roles as co-anchors while Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) is out of town.

No one knows that Alex went to Italy to go get a bogus denial from disgraced former Morning Show anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) about their sex life. But they all learn that Mitch probably died in a car accident mid-broadcast. Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) and Stella (Greta Lee) are doing damage control about the sexuality reveal and the allegations in Maggie Brener (Marcia Gay Harden)’s book when he gets a call from an Italian newspaper saying Mitch died and the news team springs into action. Cory wants Alex on the air to talk about it, but of course no one, not even Chip (Mark Duplass), knows where she is.

The executives are all ravenous to cover the story. But Mia (Karen Pittman), who worked with and at the mercy of Mitch, is taking it hard. She can’t afford to let anyone know she’s been shaken by the news. She keeps almost texting Mitch to ask if he’s alive but can’t quite pull the trigger.

She’s very upset about him dying, which is an infuriating turn of events. The show keeps bending over backward to remind us that Mitch was a human being and that he was more than just the rape allegations. Grim stuff!

Assumptions and confirmations

Chip, meanwhile, does some sleuthing and discovers that Alex was in Italy. But he incorrectly assumes that she was in the car with Mitch when he crashed and needs Stella to confirm it.

On top of all of this, Bradley’s brother Hal (Joe Tippett) gets high and visits her workplace rather than leaving town like she asked. He creates a huge scene, one of the very worst sequences in the history of this frequently very embarrassing show. He starts singing Simon and Garfunkel and then the song appears on the soundtrack.

It’s baaaaad. Every week this show takes one step forward, two steps back, and then falls on its ass down an escalator onto a perambulator, which rolls into traffic and in front of a bus.

More journalism, less apologia for a sex pest

The Morning Show is at its most exciting doing when the TV crew does this kind of high-stakes investigation and preparation, so this week it gets very close to great. But of course it keeps stopping to recognize what a great guy Mitch is, and how sad everyone is about his fate. It’s a chore to watch people get worked up about Mitch’s death like the whole show wasn’t predicated on his criminal sexual behavior. I really don’t get the series’ writers sometimes.

When they can stop with the dreadful apologia, this week’s episode does get a head full of steam going about the speed of information, which as a show about a news network really ought to be a more frequent occurrence. Anytime The Morning Show focuses on confirming and fact-checking a story (almost never?), it stops being a huge drag.

Enough with the weepy arguments!

Anyway, Alex lands and immediately goes to tell Mitch’s family about his death. But first, she must go through another long, drawn-out, weepy argument with Chip. The Morning Show’s writers must think this is good television, because they keep doing it, but uhh … it’s not.

I don’t mind Aniston and Duplass, but they kind of bring out the worst in each other on this show. However, there’s a pretty great reversal when Alex tells Paige (Embeth Davidtz) about Mitch’s death and Paige immediately turns on her. Paige knew Mitch and Alex had been sleeping together, and kicks the anchor out of her house. That is the attitude the show should adopt about this stuff. Better late than never, I guess, but damn … two episodes where people cry about what a great guy Mitch was, after a season of him moping around Italy, was two too many.

The moment where Bradley delivers his eulogy on screen ought to be a showstopper but it’s pretty limp stuff (reminds one of Halle Berry giving Patrick Stewart’s eulogy in X3). That segment needed to really tie the whole show together but it’s a crushing reminder that for all the real-world difference The Morning Show hopes to make, it has to be filtered through the hopelessly prosaic medium of morning show puff journalism.

This week in bad current events

Thankfully not much on the bad current events front to report this week. Putting the show in business mode keeps it from flailing around for references and relevance. I’d like to hope The Morning Show writers learn that lesson if the series gets a third season, but I’m almost never right about this stuff. Also … I really hope this show doesn’t have a third season.

Watch The Morning Show on Apple TV+

New episodes of The Morning Show arrive on Apple TV+ on Fridays.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.