Star Rating:

The Morning Show 15

Streaming On: Watch The Morning Show on Apple TV+

Season: 3

Episode: 10

Actors: Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jon Hamm, Billy Crudup, Greta Lee

Release Date: Wednesday 13th September 2023

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 600 minutes

When 'The Morning Show' first debuted on Apple TV+ way back in the pre-pandemic, halcyon days of streaming, there was even a sense then that the concept of streaming was running into exhaustion. A starry spectacle that looked expensive, was expensive, received middling reviews and failed to make an impact on the general discourse - despite it being very much ripped from the headlines. There was a sense that 'The Morning Show' was decidedly shallow in its engagement with heavy topics like workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, consolidation of media ownership, and all that came with it. In truth, 'Succession' was doing a lot of this already and doing it far better.

Now that we live in a post-'Succession' world and the glare of attention is off 'The Morning Show', what's become of it? Now in its third season, the show is adding a new cast member in Jon Hamm as an Elon Musk-adjacent billionaire who's toying with the idea of buying UBA and adding it to his collection of trinkets. Jon Hamm is always a good addition to any show, but considering how he was the central focal point of one of the great soaps of our time - 'Mad Men' - it speaks to the direction of where 'The Morning Show' is headed, or at least, continuing onwards.

While the show does have its moments pulled from the headlines, including the Dobbs decision that ended Roe V. Wade and an entire episode devoted to how everyone spent the pandemic, 'The Morning Show' is at its best when it's dealing with the sniping and the backstabbing world of media like it's an elevated soap alá 'Mad Men'. Billy Crudup's slick-ass CEO walks around in a constant state of panic about the financial health of UBA, telling anyone and everyone who will listen that legacy media has about maybe five years of life left before it's all gone and the advertisers stop buying up the slots. There's a particularly gruesome scene with Greta Lee and two advertising bros in a shitty, upscale restaurant involving a twenty-grand tip that feels like it was written just to underline how rotten the business is. There's also a steady hum of worker discontent in UBA, with many of the production staff run ragged and underpaid and that's not even before it delves into the institutional racism that plagues media companies in the US.

Yet, through it all, 'The Morning Show' does as it has done before - it brushes off them like it's an episode of 'Law & Order', taking the frame and structure of whatever the topic of the moment is and then funnelling a pretty soapy storyline into it somewhere so that it can check a box and say that it's relevant and speaking to the moment. It's not to say that the show isn't entertaining at all. Jennifer Aniston continues to be one of the most effective female comedic actors working in showbusiness, bouncing off Jon Hamm in particular with aplomb. Reese Witherspoon's character goes through some family and relationship drama that culminates later in the season with a big reveal that you could probably guess if you've been paying attention.

If 'The Morning Show' makes it to a fourth season, and there's nothing here to suggest it won't, it would probably benefit from leaving out the trite observations about the news and the world around us. Sure, it's set in the world of news and media, but anyone who works in that world will tell you that the best drama usually happens the minute the cameras are turned off.