In the modern movement of “wokeness,” it’s easy to forget all the issues and movements phasing in and out of social media. If you already forgot about the #MeToo movement, it found its way back into relevancy in “The Morning Show.” News anchorman Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell, “Welcome to Marwen”) gets fired from popular news show “The Morning Show” for sexual misconduct, and he has to learn to deal with his tarnished reputation while the cast and crew are left to pick up the pieces. He leaves behind his co-star of 15 years in Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston, “Murder Mystery”) to take on the responsibilities of hosting the show, as the network threatens to replace her with someone newer and fresher. The show dives deep into the broader implications of these issues and smoothy diverts becoming preachy and self-righteous.
The way the show portrays the cold, bureaucratic side of the news industry is the most entertaining aspect of the show. It’s often a backdrop against the very human consequences that sexual misconduct cases cause, but nonetheless revealing in how disgustingly frigid and unsympathetic industry can be. The network executive, Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”), is clearly unfazed by Kessler’s incident and speaks in terms of show ratings and how the network can spin the incident in their favor. Against Aniston’s hard-hitting and soulful performance, Crudup performs an almost opposite performance, perfectly embodying the robotic, heartless businessman he portrays. They resonate off each other as two sides of the same coin — both willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to achieve their goals, but emotionally affected by Kessler’s crime in different ways.
Aniston and Ellison weren’t the only ones who stood out in a cast of Hollywood icons. Reese Witherspoon (“Big Little Lies”), who plays field journalist Bradley Jackson, proves herself (yet again) as one of the most versatile actresses of our generation in a scene where she melts down while reporting for a protest. Apart from the money grab, there’s a reason why producers try to string along as many stars as they can, and this series certainly proved that these stars have something more than good publicity to offer.
“The Morning Show” also gets into the longevity of sexual misconduct cases, and how they don’t just disappear after the news cycle forgets about it. Alex Levy grapples with being left in the dark about the issue for so long, then immediately having to address it in public. She is constantly addressed in terms of the incident, asked if she’s okay and slowly being phased out by the network as they try to find another female face for the show. At the same time, Mitch Kessler, fueled by his own ego, wonders if he should set out to prove his self-proclaimed innocence as he continuously screams, “I didn’t rape anybody” and “they liked it.” He broods around his house and stews in his own anger as the truth about the details of his sexual misconduct case is slowly revealed to us.
The perspective of the perpetrator and the periphery is one we are hardly given when it comes to sexual misconduct cases, and “The Morning Show” goes into realistic depth with it. It shows us exactly how far-reaching these issues can get, particularly in the entertainment industry where everything is easily publicized. For one of the first shows of the new Apple TV+ streaming service, it does an impressive job, which isn’t all that surprising given the amount of stars attached. If they pump out some juicy content adjacent to this, they could have the potential to play ball in the big leagues and make Apple an even bigger empire than it already is.