'The Morning Show' Review for Apple TV+: A slow and dull start, but there is future potential

The Morning Show
(Image: © Apple)

When Apple first announced Apple TV+, The Morning Show was clearly put front and center as its premiere drama, and how could it not be? It's a star-studded cast with huge A-list celebs such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell — each of which is enough name recognition alone to pique the interest of TV watching masses — and its timely subject matter made it seem like it could be lightning in a bottle. Unfortunately, The Morning Show is off to a really rough start.

The first three episodes are available to watch right now, and I wouldn't blame you if you turned it off after the first episode; however, if you stick with it, by the end of episode three, the show starts to show its potential.

Spoiler Warning: Beyond this point, I will provide some details of the show's first three episodes. Although I will attempt to avoid any significant spoilers as best as I can, there will be certain plot points and surprises that I talk about. Tread forward with that in mind.

The timely premise places a solid foundation

Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) wakes up one morning to find that her co-anchor for the past 15 years, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), has been fired due to allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Alex, blindsided by the news, is now left with the difficult task of keeping The Morning Show alive against its competition, all while the network executives and she are in tense negotiations for a contract renewal.

Meanwhile, a fierce female reporter for a small local station, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), makes news by getting into a wild argument with a protester at a coal mine that goes viral on social media. This prompts The Morning Show to have her on as a guest when she catches the eye of network executive Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), who wants her to join the show.

Obviously, The Morning Show has set the stage for some real good drama to take place, and by tying the inciting moment of the plot to today's awareness of sexual misconduct in the workplace, gives it great potential to explore a deeply important issue that's definitely at the forefront of today's culture. The excellent premise sets the stage for The Morning Show to really hit the ground running, unfortunately, it shows up late to the race.

Slow and dull — the first two episodes are tough to get through

Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show (Image credit: Apple)

Although the show is set up to come blazing out of the gates, it gets off to an incredibly dull start. The first episode, in particular, is filled with needless exposition, which seems to be intended to implant the idea that Bradley and Alex are completely opposites. The show is constantly telling you what is going on instead of showing you what's happening, and it's exhausting. The most frustrating part about this is the show has talented actors and when the script gets out of the way the preformances from the leading ladies — Aniston and Witherspoon — are great!

I feel it's important to point out that there was a bit of a change up in the writing staff during the production. Originally, Jay Carson — a former supervising producer and political consultant for Netflix's House of Cards was the showrunner and head writer; however, due to creative differences, he parted with the show during production. Taking over was Kerry Ehrin (known for her work on Friday Night Lights and Bates Motel), who now serves as showrunner. This is specifically worth a mention because the first two episodes still have Jay Carson getting a writing credit, so perhaps the problems with the script in the first two episodes have something to do with that.

"The show has talented actors and actresses and when the script gets out of the way the performances are great."

I can actually see some similarities between House of Cards and The Morning Show, in how they handle their leads. Frank Underwood was always distant and unnervingly emotionally conservative, and while Alex Levy isn't as emotionally conservative as Underwood, she comes across as very distant and disingenuous. Unfortunately, I don't think that persona lets Aniston shine. The scenes where Aniston lets her character's tough exterior break are the most compelling and asking her to hold back seems like a missed opportunity.

The story shows promise by the third episode

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon on The Morning Show (Image credit: Apple)

Luckily, there is a glimmer of hope for The Morning Show going forward, and everything starts to come together by the third episode. The writing eases up on the exposition, the dynamic between Alex and Bradley really starts to grow into something quite compelling (even though they have limited screen time together), and the interconnected relationships between different secondary characters make the workplace envirmoment really come alive.

I'm also hopeful that the show will have an interesting take on women's stuggles in dealing with sexual misconduct.

I think the story has been intentionally vague about what's behind the alligations in the beginning crop of episodes. Steve Carell's character is accused of sexual misconduct and the show seems to lean really heavy into the idea that it was consensual, though certainly unprofessional behavior. This leads me to believe that Mitch's arc could be set up for a redemption story, or perhaps a big future scandal that comes to light. One thing for certain about the message in The Morning Show is that the women take front and center, while Mitch's story takes more of a backseat. It's interesting to see what happens to these other women affected by Mitch's behaviour.

"The interconnected relationships between different secondary characters make the workplace envirmoment really come alive.

While the political nature of some of the show's themes definitely invoke memories of HBO's The Newsroom, I do think the show shines best when the characters come together and have real moments with each other, rather than focusing on running a network news show. Aaron Sorkin (creator of The Newsroom) managed to do both, but The Morning Show should likely stick with its strong suit.

Final thoughts on the season so far

There's no beating around the bush, The Morning Show starts off slow and dull. With a ton of exposition in the script and its somewhat aimless story off the top, it can be a slog just to get anything that's worth watching. It seems to me that part of the issues stem from a change of the showrunner in midst of production, and hopefully the show has gotten over that hurdle now.

The good news is that the third episode is much better and if the rest of the show's episodes continue to follow that trend, I believe Apple will have a pretty compelling drama series on AppleTV+. Still, I don't blame you for giving this a pass, for now, time will tell if the season can redeem itself from the slow start.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.