The Morning Show is back, and bless this show — it’s still equal parts terrible and fun. Never has a cast been paid this much to put out a product so bad, but hell if I am not entertained. A season after Steve Carell’s Matt Lauer-inspired character drove to his death off a cliff, Jennifer Aniston’s character saved the entire news industry by reporting on her own COVID, and Reese Witherspoon’s character started sleeping with Julianna Marguiles’ character, the series returns by sending Reese’s Bradley Jackson into space! Sure, why not!
Let’s get into this, bullet-point style:
— In the first two hours of the series, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston shared the same screen for a total of 170 seconds. That’s less than 3 minutes. They are the co-leads. On The Morning Show, a series about a morning show where Reese’s Bradley Jackson isn’t even an anchor anymore. Tell me there isn’t something fishy about that. I don’t think it’s a Julianna Margulies/Archie Panjabi situation, but I do think that both want lead roles in their own storylines rather than sharing one storyline.
There are also three scenes in which the two have a conversation across from each other, so that we only see one face and one back of the head for the duration of the conversation. I’m sure those were shot with stand-ins. In fact, Bradley Jackson turns her head ever so briefly, and while it’s out of focus, I’m 73 percent certain this isn’t Reese.
— I see that Alex’s demands continue to be wildly unrealistic: She wants profit participation in the network and a seat on the board. She’s a morning show anchor. Walter Cronkite didn’t get that back when he was basically the face of an entire network. It’s 2023. No one watches morning news shows anymore. I think I can probably name two or three-morning news anchors (Savannah Guthrie, Robin Roberts, and … Michael Strahan(?), plus the two former morning anchors we found out about because they were having an affair).
— The A-plot in the first episode is about Alex’s trip into space, which she abruptly pulls out of when she finds out that Jon Hamm’s character — basically Elon Musk with much better hair and a better personality, even as an asshole — is trying to buy the network. A shame, too, because Alex and Hamm Musk have some decent chemistry, which is more than we can say for Alex and Bradley. Actually, the best part of both episodes is the exchanges between Hamm Musk and Billy Crudup’s Cory Ellison. They’ve got zing!
— Alex pulls out of the space trip to spit in Cory’s eye for not meeting her demands and threatening to sell the network to Hamm Musk, and to cover a nonsensical news story about a woman who travels across the Texas border to buy abortion pills, which she dispenses in Texas. Meanwhile, the show quickly replaces Alex with Bradley on the rocket to space, and there are no exams or physicals. It’s like they’re swapping out first-class seats on an airline instead of a rocket going to goddamn space!
— I love Crudup’s hyperbolic monologues! “We are officially in the Thunderdome! In 5 years, half the streaming services will be bought or gone. In 10 years, the Internet will be in 3D!” I love that The Morning Show writers know they can write anything they want for Crudup and he’s going to sell it.
— For abandoning the space flight, the network decides to punish Alex by making her appear on The Morning Show five days a week. How is the host of a morning show not already required to host that morning show every business day? How is making her do her job a punishment? And Alex is furious! That is bad Gen X’ing!
— The space storyline isn’t particularly interesting, but it does introduce the season-long arc involving Hamm Musk’s attempt to buy the network. Cory wants to sell, Alex doesn’t, and Holland Taylor’s Cybil seems to be both against the deal but maybe also against Alex? In either respect, by the end of the second episode, Cory has asked his people to leak deal points to see how the market reacts to Hamm Musk’s potential purchase.
— Tig Notaro makes a brief appearance as Hamm Musk’s assistant! Hopefully, there’s more of Tig!
— The more interesting storyline in the second episode — and another one likely to play out all season — is something akin to the Sony hack, where the network is hacked, and all their info is held for ransom. The network refuses to pay the $50 million, so the sordid details of their personal lives — and all the shady corporate maneuvers — are about to be leaked, including what is apparently a racy video that Bradley made for her ex, Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies).
What else will be released from the hack? Karen Pittman’s Mia seems concerned about what’s coming. Also, a Chris Pine thriller that’s expected to gross $240 million. Did Chris Pine ask for this? How did he get mixed up on The Morning Show?
— I love Nicole Beharie, but I think every project I’ve ever seen her in is serious and/or dramatic, so I actually didn’t immediately recognize her in the context of this series. She’s the new third anchor on The Morning Show. It’s a shame, however, that she’s not given much to do in the first two episodes.
— We discover that Mark Duplass’s Chip has been involved with Isabella for a year now. She is played by Hannah Leder, and I’m sorry, but I have no idea who this character is, but IMDb swears to me that she’s played by an actress named Hannah Leder and she’s been on the series since the beginning as Alex’s assistant. She’s been in 17 episodes. How is that true?
— For those asking, Stella (Greta Lee) expressed concerns that the hack may reveal that she used to date Blake Griffin. He is an NBA player, FYI. He was the rookie of the year in 2010-11, but has struggled with injuries since 2015.
— There are two big mysteries from the first two episodes. The first is who was behind the hack. We learn that Bradley has something to do with very important January 6th reporting, so it could be a Proud Boys type of organization. Mia’s boyfriend is in Kyiv, which means that the Russia/Ukraine conflict is going to factor into the season; it could be Russia behind the hack. Or it could be — as Cory insinuated — billionaire Hamm Musk behind the hack. Cory fleetingly thinks Hamm Musk is trying to sabotage the company so that he can get a lower price, but given that Stella and Hamm Musk used to be an item, it’s possible the two are in cahoots to take over the network and install her in Cory’s position. Stella has some real villainess vibes this season.
— Finally, what are Bradley and Cory hiding that involves — from what we can see in flashback glimpses — a hand and a bathtub and possibly a body? This mystery seems to have been given away in the “previously ons” when we are reminded of Bradley’s drug-abusing brother. I suspect that he takes his life (or at least attempts to), and Cory helps Bradley cover it up, which is far less exciting than Bradley murdering her lover after a sordid night of vice! But, it’s The Morning Show, so the latter is still a possibility!