Apple TV+’s show about a news network is experiencing the calm before the storm as its second season nears its conclusion.
The whole staff of The Morning Show is still reeling from Mitch Kessler’s death and everyone’s putting up a brave front. But with a tell-all book about the show’s sleazy inner workings on the way, the mood is panicked and stricken.
The Morning Show review: ‘Testimony’
In this week’s episode, titled “Testimony,” Alex Levy (played by Jennifer Aniston) must deal with the backlash now that her former Morning Show co-anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is dead. Her lawyer (Will Arnett) tries to protect her, but she drops a bomb on Stella (Greta Lee) and Cory (Billy Crudup). Alex announces that she will retire on March 16, the day before Maggie Brener’s (Marcia Gay Harden) book comes out. The tell-all will reveal that Alex slept with Mitch, potentially ruining her career. Of course, we all know COVID-19 will interrupt the news cycle on March 13.
Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) meanwhile drops her brother, Hal (Joe Tippett), at rehab after he made a scene at her office last week. That means that they have a big fight before she leaves him. She doesn’t really want anything to do with him anymore, because: A.) He’s a mess and B.) He reminds her of her past and how much she has to hide about herself.
Alex hosts the show with Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies) while Bradley’s out of town, which gives them an opportunity to clear the air about why they stopped being friends. Alex gossiped about Laura’s sexuality back in the day. Laura felt hurt, and Alex didn’t realize how much damage she did. After Alex apologizes, Laura leaves her Morning Show stint on better terms.
Rest in peace, Mitch
Elsewhere, Yanko (Néstor Carbonell) runs into Claire (Bel Powley), the one-time Morning Show production assistant and his ex-girlfriend. When it’s revealed that he’s going to Mitch’s memorial service, she explodes at him, justifiably. Claire then reveals that she‘s the one footing the bill for Hannah’s father (David Paymer)’s lawsuit against UBA. Claire blames herself for Hannah’s suicide, so she is suing The Morning Show‘s network to make amends — and to forgive herself for not being good enough to Hannah when she was still alive.
Chip (Mark Duplass) tries to dissuade Alex from going to Mitch’s memorial service, too, but she goes anyway because she can’t help herself. Martin Short returns as Dick Lundy to deliver an embittered eulogy and it’s … misjudged to say the least (“Cause of death: cancel culture!”). However, it’s always nice to have Short on TV.
Alex delivers a better and more conflicted eulogy than Bradley managed last week. The scene once again shows a glimmer of discipline and poise from the series’ writer’s room that I wish they’d take the time to reach more often.
Things don’t go as swimmingly when Bradley interviews Maggie and stands up for Alex. This part’s not written very well, but I know the show had to do it. Dramas like this shoot themselves in the foot quite often by having to show two smart people sparring. But they don’t know what that sounds like, so it comes off hopelessly one-sided and didactic. Bradley winds up mopping the floor with Maggie, but that just doesn’t seem realistic after everything we’ve been told about Maggie.
This week in bad current events
There’s a COVID hand-washing segment on The Morning Show. And one of the accidentally funniest things on this series happens this week. “I’m gonna be canceled,” says Alex somberly when explaining the revelations in Maggie Brener’s book.
The Morning Show once more mistakes Twitter discourse for real language. It’s extremely telling that after every single major story, we see scenes of people checking Twitter for their reactions. Clearly the writers do the same thing and are just as blinded to real-world reactions to stories as anyone else who spends all their time on Twitter. It’s a curated bubble — and it’s not really any representation of how more than any given 25 people feel.
The Morning Show on Apple TV+
New episodes of The Morning Show arrive on Apple TV+ on Fridays.
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.