Roush Review: On ‘The Morning Show,’ Dirty Laundry Never Looked So Good
“We should do the news, not be the news,” declares Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), the CEO and Machiavellian master of damage control at the fictional UBA network. Does he even know what show he’s on?
So many scandalous shoes drop in the blistering third season of The Morning Show, the slick drama about a TV fishbowl that helped launch Apple TV+, you may wonder why they don’t just read the headlines barefoot.
Evening anchor Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) harbors a designer’s closet full of personal and ethical secrets with the ability to wreck several careers. Her former morning-show partner Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) has moved on from her rivalry with her costar and is now the glamorous face of the network and its streaming division. She has the power to decide UBA’s fate in her dealings, possibly amorous, with the Elon Musk–like billionaire Paul Marks (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm at his most dashingly duplicitous), who seems interested in buying the drowning-in-debt company. But for what purpose?
The new season takes a two-year time jump from the COVID-19 crisis that ended Season 2, opening with a ride into suborbital space on live TV, courtesy of one of Marks’ more elaborate toys. But the embattled network is soon grounded by the fallout from a cyberattack that threatens to expose UBA’s most embarrassing corporate practices and missteps.
Dirty laundry has rarely looked so good. The Morning Show puts on quite the show of high drama, with its gorgeous A-list cast, ridiculously sumptuous settings and explosive plot twists that play out in boardrooms, control rooms, and bedrooms amid a trove of leaked emails.
“When the storm comes for us all, let’s hope we’re both on high ground,” snarks a fellow journalist to Alex as speculation soars about the very future of legacy media like the 80-year-old UBA. This show takes great delight, of course, in knocking people off of their pedestals of privilege — including fearsome board chair Cybil Richards (the great Holland Taylor), whose grandfather founded the network and who, when colliding with today’s cancel culture, says she knows “what it’s like when a bunch of men decide a woman’s sell-by date.”
Sexism, institutional racism, pay inequity: You name the hot-button issue, The Morning Show pokes it. With Sleepy Hollow’s terrific Nicole Beharie as UBA’s latest high-profile hire, a Black former Olympian who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, the stakes couldn’t be higher or the fireworks more satisfying.
This may be Network lite, but I loved it when Cory responds to a whistleblower’s profane meltdown on camera by remarking, “A little Howard Beale [Network’s mad anchor] goes a long way.”
The Morning Show, Season 3 Premiere (two episodes), Wednesday, September 13, Apple TV+