The Morning Show S2 Review: Second time's a 'bingeable' charm for Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon's show

Updated on Sep 18, 2021 06:53 AM IST  |  124K
   
The Morning Show premiered today, i.e. September 17
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are back as fiery journalists, Alex Levy and Bradley Jackson, in The Morning Show Season 2.
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The Morning Show

The Morning Show Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon

The Morning Show Creator: Jay Carson

Streaming Platform: Apple TV+

The Morning Show Stars: 3.5/5

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*MINOR SPOILERS ALERT* The cataclysmic "cliffhanger" ending of The Morning Show Season 1, which saw Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) raise fiery "live, on-air" hell by exposing UBA's corrupt, toxic work culture and outing the corrupt UBA President Frek Micklen's (Tom Irwin) misdeeds, elevated The Morning Show's status as groundbreaking television of binge-worthy proportions. Tackling the #MeToo movement with considerable finesse, albeit, with several glitches along the way, TMS created just the right anticipation amongst viewers for an explosive Season 2 in the making.

While the first part had a clear sense of focus on the #MeToo movement with the firing of The Morning Show host Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), The Morning Show Season 2 has a "too many cooks" narrative style. With the time stamp set between December 2019 up until March 2020, COVID-19 is a key plot point while cancel culture, sexism, race issues, etc. are all at the borderline, simmering but never making their way past the boiling point. This time, the emotional instability of the major characters is dealt with in high intensity.

When it comes to our favourite journalists, in The Morning Show Season 2, Alex and Bradley are both going through their respective existential crises. For Alex, the aftermath of her explosive rant leads to her quitting The Morning Show and exiling herself, guilt-ridden with her conflicting emotions for Mitch. What doesn't help is an exposé-style book being written on UBA's toxicity, with her as a key character, and the inside "controversial" content not being made available to her before the release. As I can't give major spoilers, all I can tell you is we see a swift downward spiral of a confident woman in nasty circumstances. On the other hand, Bradley battles at the crossroads; between always "staying true" in mind and in the news whilst fighting her inner demons and making her way to the top, even if it means doing puff pieces.

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In who I believe was the best part of The Morning Show Season 1, Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) is all guns blazing this time too, with his OTT metaphorical monologues in place, even at a time when UBA is steeping downhill at excruciating speed. It's Cory's brilliant idea to save the network from the mess it made, has made and will continue to make, by bringing back Alex and riding on the "feminist heroes" momentum. The other key player, Mitch, is indulging in luxurious isolation in Italy while Charlie Black aka Chip (Mark Duplass) tries to move on from the UBA mess, which he was an active part of. With new faces added to the mix in The Morning Show Season 2, UBA news anchor Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies) plays an integral part later on in the season while another face, who I won't spoil for you, maybe more twisted than even Mitch, himself. Stella Bak (Greta Lee) UBA News' only female President adds some much-needed calm semblance into the chaos while oldies Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman), Daniel Henderson (Desean Terry) and Yanko Flores (Néstor Carbonell) have their own negative trysts in their professional lives.

When it comes to the performances, Jennifer continues to leave us baffled as she's so in-tune with Alex's disorderly personality. To see Alex at the brink of losing it, then losing it and eventually getting her shit back together, on repeat mode, if it were someone else, we'd be so done with it. However, especially in the later episodes, Aniston brings an emotional gravitas to Alex's mayhem-filled breakdowns, though her choices when it comes to Mitch are extremely questionable. On the other hand, Reese tries her best to add a deeper depth into Bradley, who is filled with limitless potential as witnessed in the first season. Alas, putting all the blame on the convenient writing, Bradley somehow gets faded in the mix, in spite of getting two strong story arcs towards the very end, besides the tussle of talents with Alex. Nevertheless, the "fireworks" dynamic between Alex and Bradley, who oscillate between their admiration and competitiveness for the other is still as spicy as you'd expect and that's thanks to Jennifer and Reese's easy chemistry.

To be noted, I still believe Billy Crudup is the best part of The Morning Show as this time around, a lot more is riding on his broad shoulders, especially when his "company comes first" mindset is hit headfirst with a moral compass. The messier it gets for UBA, the more cards Cory has up his sleeves which gives plenty to play with for Crudup. Cory is also a facet in shedding light on gender, race and age barriers as he's the perfect foil to Stella, who works under him. Greta is like a breath of fresh air amid the rotten vibes surrounding her. Mark, as Chip, perfectly embodies the teetering nature of the character who is openly expressive about his guilt and even questions it when everyone else is so hell-bent on secrecy. Karen and Desean, as Mia and Daniel, two journalists of colour, are given the race prejudice storyline and instead of running with it, we're given a few hops, skip and jumps. Almost like filler scenes that aren't justified in the least to what could have been quality storytelling.

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Throughout the 10 episodes, we see several characters facing cancel culture, including Yanko, but just like Mia and Daniel, Nestor's weatherman act doesn't get his duration due when tackling ethnicity issues. Just when you think they're going to focus, they hinder and pull back. Julianna, as Laura, is truly delightful to watch as it's more like witnessing a mature adult amidst immature adults. Hasan Minhaj as Bradley's new The Morning Show co-host, Eric Normani, and Marcia Gay Harden as Maggie Brener, the author writing the UBA exposé book, don't overstay their welcome and are instead the trigger characters for Alex and Bradley's respective "overdue" melting points.

While the talented ensemble is spot on, as expected, The Morning Show Season 2's storyline comes into question between entertaining and offensive. Case in point, the insensitive treatment of Mitch Kessler. The loveable Steve Carell did such a phenomenal job in making us loathe Mitch in the previous season that in The Morning Show Season 2, seeing him as the subject of moral ambiguity doesn't stay true to TMS' no-holds-barred "tell it like it is" narrative. The way they handle this sensitive issue will not be unanimously loved or hated because Mitch, at the end of the day, is a monster. Period.

ALSO READ: The Morning Show S2: Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon on how COVID-19 challenges impacted their characters

Moreover, many additional storylines aren't given the weightage they so sorely deserve. However, the harsh truth behind the COVID-19 pandemic with the oblivious nature surrounding its much-needed but severely neglected coverage, especially from the ones delivering the news, is commendably approached. Seeing an empty New York, which used to be hustled and bustled with so many busy lives, and the ambulance sounds and the crowded hospitals, will never not traumatise you. In retrospect, The Morning Show Season 2 flounders between being bold and overtly cautious!

Nevertheless, the binge-able quality of The Morning Show is at its peak in Season 2, especially with the constant, gripping twists and turns in each episode, some of which are truly shocking. While I was lucky enough to binge-watch all 10 episodes of The Morning Show Season 2, at one go, I can only imagine how high the curiosity levels will hit within viewers, every week, as they'd be eager to know; How much more f**ked up can it get? Answer: A lot!

 

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