The new streaming service, which launched on November 1st, promises a different kind of conversation.
Apple entered the streaming wars with a bang. A company that makes devices you very well might be reading this on, Apple has attempted to get into TV before. Reality TV like the Carpool Karaoke show came first, but now with Apple TV+ there is a new game in town. Their first set of offerings has something for everyone. A post-apocalyptic series starring Jason Mamoa called See. A revisionist take on Emily Dickinson. An alternate history about the space program titled For All Mankind. And the cream of the crop, the blockbuster TV event that is The Morning Show.
The Morning Show, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, is the crown jewel of Apple. It promises things that aren’t delivered on any other TV network, with a remarkable budget, some great casts, and more to promise. With Disney+ due later this month and major streaming services coming from NBC and HBO in 2020, it is hard to deny that there are things happening in the world of TV. Apple TV+ hopes to be a disruptor, and it’s relying on The Morning Show.
The series had its world premiere on October 28th, taking up the whole of Lincoln Center before debuting in the David Geffen Hall. The cast of the show attended, with Mark Duplass and Billy Crudup making appearances. Guest stars on the show, including Mindy Kailing and more, also appeared. Celebrities, including real morning show personalities like Gayle King, also made appearances, turning the carpet into a must-attend event in New York. There were also appearances from Apple TV+ actors from For All Mankind and Dickinson, as well as a rare carpet appearance for Apple CEO Tim Cook. In any other context, Cook would launch a product and some new technology available to the public. And that was kind of the case here, as well.
The Morning Show tells the story of a fictional morning show in the #MeToo era. When anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is implicated in a sexual harassment scandal, his fellow host Alex Levy is forced to start the show over again. Overcoming a network that wants to see her gone (chaired by a devilish Crudup), producers who have motives of their own (Duplass, along with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Karen Pittman) and others behind the scenes, Alex attempts to figure out who she is and what she wants. And eventually, she realizes that she wants to remain in power. To do that, she hires a one-time on-screen sparring partner named Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon). Bradley proves to be a complete opposite of Alex, but also the change that the morning show needs.
The series itself is complex. At times too light for its own good, it also manages to touch on some very important issues. Speaking to showrunner Kerry Ehrin on the red carpet, Ehrin said that “it really is just about taking all of the things you hear in life, the conversations you eavesdrop on in life… it’s really assimilating all of those conversations. You just have to stay on top of it.” Ehrin clearly listened while writing the show. However, it does at times feel like the series favors getting all voices heard instead of making any unique claims.
The highest marks of the show go to Jennifer Aniston, who plays Alex so perfectly that it is hard to discount what the show is accomplishing. For all the faults of The Morning Show, from the tonal imbalance to the overstuffed casting and the mediocre visuals, Aniston always shines. Humbly, she spoke to us on the carpet about getting back to TV. “I grew up watching morning shows, it’s comforting. And now… we know so much more about the behind-the-scenes.”
When The Morning Show has finished the ordered two seasons of the series in a few years, it will be interesting to look back to that moment at Lincoln Center. Maybe this will be the next big series, and everyone will have and be talking about Apple TV+. Maybe it ends up as an odd curiosity that was watched by only a handful of die-hard fans. Or, maybe not. Only time will tell this story of the streaming wars, but in Manhattan on that grey Monday night, you could tell one thing and one thing only — The Morning Show promised to be something no one had seen before.
The first three episodes of The Morning Show are now available on Apple TV+.