‘The Morning Show’ Premiere: A New Team Emerges in the Wake of a Scandal (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the series premiere of The Morning Show, “In the Dark Night of the Soul it’s Always 3:30 in the Morning.”]
The wait is finally over and the curtain has been pulled back on Apple TV+’s highly-protected flagship drama The Morning Show. Described as exploring the “cutthroat world of morning news and the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning,” the streaming drama’s characters shape the previously vague story into something relevant from the minute the show begins.
The action kicks off in a darkened room as the camera pans up on the body of Morning Show executive producer Chip Black (Mark Duplass), who lays with his eyes gaping at the ceiling until his phone buzzes. “We’re f***ed,” he exclaims as a voice alerts him to life altering news — the New York Times is running a piece about the show’s co-anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) and multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
Next, Chip is seen calling anchor Mitch and as viewers watch the bad news spread like an uncontainable disease, we’re introduced to Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) — Mitch’s co-anchor who begins her day at 3:30 am.
While we follow her through her morning routine — working out, beauty regimen — we eventually see her take her wedding ring off of the table and put it on. The move clues us into the fact that Alex is a bit of a phony for the morning time audience. When she heads down to the car awaiting her, she’s greeted by her team who run through her plans for the day. Throughout this entire process she ignores calls from Chip. Once Alex arrives at the studio, she greets the executive producer on the curb and asks him “who died?”
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) is on assignment for her conservative news station, reporting on a coal mining protest. She jokes with her cameraman as they tease the producer tagging along for the report from the field.
Back in New York, once Alex is clued into the fact that her co-anchor of the last 15 years has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, she’s determined to take control of the situation. With the phone ringing off the hook, she debates their next move with Chip. Network head Fred, along with Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) — president of the network’s news division — talk strategy and their conference call goes about as good as you could expect.
Alex declares that she’ll be addressing America about the situation directly in a true and honest manner. While she preps for the camera, Alex’s underlying anger shines through as she receives a call from Mitch and instead of answering she hits ignore and forcefully throws the device into a drawer, taking a second to breathe along the way.
Later, when Bradley and her team arrive on the scene, she receives a call from a number referred to as “That Woman,” and when she answers and addresses the woman as “mom,” we know there’s something not quite right with that relationship. Mention of a brother returning home gets strong reaction, but we don’t find out the reason behind that until later on.
When Bradley and her crew attempt to set up, her cameraman is knocked over by a man opposing the protesters. This sets off the hot-tempered reporter and she begins questioning the man responsible, testing his knowledge of the situation he’s counter-protesting against. The moment quickly turns into a meltdown that is captured on many bystanders’ phones, causing the moment to go viral.
Next, Alex is seen presenting America with the news of Mitch’s firing and we watch her go through a spectrum of emotions throughout the ordeal.
After returning back to her station’s home base, Bradley’s approached by her boss who reprimands her behavior. She complains about a more junior coworker she heard is getting a promotion. The boss then brings up her spotty past as “Two F***s Jackson” though — a nickname born from her using the curse word twice while on live television — but the callback leads to her quitting the station rather than backing down from being confrontational.
As The Morning Show carries on, Alex sits beside weatherman Janko (Nestor Carbonell) as they discuss the topic of sexual harassment. Behind the scenes production assistant Claire (Bel Powley) and head booker Hannah (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) come across Bradley’s video, and they suddenly know who they want to fill their strong women segment the next day.
After presenting America with the news of Mitch’s firing from the network, following the allegations that surfaced against him, we’re given another glimpse at the man being put on blast. He whines that he’s been destroyed for a few consensual affairs and doesn’t understand how it could be possible that everything he’s worked for is essentially gone. The tirade doesn’t go unnoticed by his wife who declares she’s leaving him and asks for a divorce.
Back in the newsroom, Alex and Chip attempt to regain their footing and she’s determined that she’ll pick who is sitting next to her in the long run, regardless of what the network wants. Cory has made his way to The Morning Show offices earlier than expected and he tells Chip that he’s staying as long as it takes to clean up this mess — he even likens it to an oil spill in an interesting analogy.
That evening, Alex is dealing with her PR teams when her daughter Lizzy (Oona Roche) enters the apartment, grabbing the attention of her stressed mother. Not far behind Lizzy is her father and Alex’s husband (Jack Davenport). They offer their support but she pushes them away and suggests they enjoy their plans for the evening without worrying about her.
Meanwhile, Bradley returns to her mother’s house where her brother — who was supposedly in rehab for drug addiction and mental illness —is helping prepare dinner. It turns into a heated exchange as Bradley tries to get her mother and brother to understand the pressure and hardships she’s gone through in order to do what’s best for their family, including getting her brother into rehab in the first place which her mother clearly ignored.
Just as it’s about to get uglier, there’s a knock at the door, and Bradley greets Hannah who introduces herself as The Morning Show‘s head booker. Confused, Bradley asks why she’d be seeking her out, but the young woman explains that they want to feature Bradley to discuss the viral video and her inspiring words.
Later on, we meet more members of the news program as reporters Daniel (Desean Terry) and Alison (Janina Gavankar) — who host a segment titled The Twist — attend a fictional production of Gilmore Girls the Musical. We learn through their conversation that Daniel’s hoping to land Mitch’s seat on the desk next to Alex, but things are beginning to set the show’s path on a new course as Chip and Cory discuss the future of the news show. Cory is blunt when he tells the executive producer that Alex’s time with the show is nearing its end.
That night, Bradley arrives in New York and Alex tries to numb her pain with alcohol, but when sleep doesn’t come, she heads into the office early, sneaking into Mitch’s dressing room and breaking down. That next morning, the crew is swirling about as Alex prepares to interview Bradley. When the women meet before going live, Bradley offers her condolences regarding the Mitch situation, but Alex brushes it off and acts like she’s barely been affected by the situation.
That sets the tone for their entire exchange on air as they discuss integrity and what it means to be a journalist. Each of them has an answer for the other no matter how harshly stated it might be, and it’s clear that from the beginning this pair has the type of chemistry that had been a key ingredient to Alex and Mitch’s on-air success. Beyond impressed, Cory’s clearly enthused that Bradley has crossed paths with The Morning Show.
Meanwhile, Alex decides to pay Mitch a visit at his home by means of trekking through the woods to avoid being seen. He’s glad to see her, but she gives him an earful, telling him how angry she is that he ruined both of their careers with his actions. But when she gives him a hug in the end and says “sorry you’re such an a**hole,” it’s easy to see that their friendship will continue to be explored in subsequent episodes.
Later, as Bradley’s packed up and heading out of her hotel she receives a call from Cory who wants to discuss her career. She asks if he’s offering her a job, but says it’s up to her if she decides to come meet him to talk. We’re willing to bet it’s a role we’ll see Bradley take in the following episodes, but that’s just our journalistic hunch.
The Morning Show, New Episodes, Streaming Fridays, Apple TV+