With its polished and prestigious tone, “The Morning Show” delivers a unique blend of entertainment and profound insights into the world of news. This drama series fearlessly delves into real-life events, and in its upcoming Season Three, it introduces a captivating twist: the show adopts a last-of-its-kind billionaire “don’t care” attitude, personified by the character Paul Marks, brilliantly portrayed by Jon Hamm. Marks, a rocket-flying mogul, becomes the central focus of network honcho Cory Ellison’s ambitious efforts, portrayed with razor-sharp wit by Billy Crudup. Ellison desperately aims to persuade Marks to become a buyer for UBA, leveraging his high-powered anchors, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston), and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), to advance this campaign.
The negotiation surrounding the acquisition deal emerges as the most inventive and gratifying plotline in a season that plunges into the high-stakes realm of corporate maneuvering. This includes the fallout from an email hack, echoing the events at Sony in 2014, and presents a plausible fictionalized version of the chaos that unfolds behind the scenes during a public-relations disaster.
Regrettably, the series grapples with maintaining such remarkable moments. Instead, the writing frequently veers into controversial storylines, encompassing the Jan. 6 insurrection, where Bradley becomes entangled in those events, as well as delving into flashbacks to the early days of the Covid pandemic and exploring the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
While these events offer rich potential for dramatic storytelling, the series often addresses them in an overly exaggerated manner. For instance, the handling of the topic of abortion strains credibility when one of the anchors naively shares provocative political content about the Supreme Court publicly, only to act surprised when it sparks a contentious issue.
The show also continues to spotlight numerous intricate workplace relationships, filled with larger-than-life personalities and even more substantial emotions. This includes Bradley’s romantic entanglement with Laura Peterson, portrayed by Julianna Margulies, and the introduction of a potentially intricate romantic involvement for Alex.
In a way, “The Morning Show” initially accomplished its mission by attracting Aniston and Witherspoon, who also serve as producers, showcasing that Apple’s burgeoning streaming service could attract A-list talent.
Nonetheless, the series results in a visually appealing show, boasting an exceptional cast that occasionally falls short of fully realizing its potential in providing profound insights into the world of TV news and the corporate structures overseeing it. Although this setting has yielded memorable films like “Network” and “Broadcast News” in the past, it has proven to be a challenging terrain for serialized television. For example, Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” demonstrated a keen understanding of news mechanics but became mired in relationship drama, a situation remedied by the outstanding “Succession.”
At one juncture, Alex astutely observes, “We can’t fight every battle,” which holds irony since the show’s allure largely stems from its simultaneous engagement in myriad conflicts across various fronts.
The issue doesn’t necessarily revolve around the choice of battles that “The Morning Show” opts to explore, but rather, it necessitates a more sophisticated approach to these conflicts if it aspires to ascend to the upper echelons of television dramas, rather than merely offering light-hearted entertainment.