Sunday, June 16, 2024

Apple TV+ “Morning Show” Off the Rails: Spoilers Sent to Press Before Show Is Seen, Final Episode Jumps Several Sharks


(WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS, EVEN THE SLIGHTEST S0 BE PREPARED) What is going on at Apple TV+, which launches today?

Last evening they sent out an email to press–who’d presumably seen just the first three episodes of “The Morning Show” with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. The balance of the season also arrived in a separate notice.

But the email asked reviewing press not to reveal any spoilers when we watched the shows. Then it LISTED all the spoilers, many of which no one had actually seen yet. I sure hadn’t.

Well, that kind of ruined the deal. I read the spoilers and said, “Whaaaaa?” to no one, not even the chair. So I skipped to the final episode to see what the heck was going on.

Episode 10 of “The Morning Show” is set just three weeks after the pilot, in which Aniston and Witherspoon are thrown together to host a “Today Show” type program. Aniston’s former co-host, played by Steve Carell, has just been fired after being accused of sexual harassment. There’s a massive cover up at the network, called UBA, to protect the people who covered for Carell’s Mitch.

I was a little surprised that not much had happened in the intervening 6 episodes since part 3. Whatever had happened didn’t really matter. Jumping back in, you could figure it all out without much help. The ladies were each secretly working against each other. Aniston’s Alex wanted to get rid of Reese, whom she’d handpicked; Reese’s Bradley was working in cahoots with others to do something that didn’t quite make sense.

Anyway, all of it backfires. There’s a terrible, unnecessary tragedy mid way through, and that would have been enough. The denouement from that point should have been stirring and pointing toward the 2nd batch of this thing. But no, crazy, ridiculous stuff occurs, many sharks suddenly jump out of the water, it’s a Sharknado at “The Morning Show.” I can’t believe the writer, Kerry Ehrin, thought this was the way a $150 million set of 10 episodes should end. The finale turns into a crazy screed that could not possibly happen in real broadcasting, just in bad big studio movies. Any attempt at realism or a serious dramatic ending becomes the kind of train wreck Amtrak stays up at night worrying about.

What a shame. All the actors are excellent. Aniston made me laugh out loud a couple of times. But something went really wrong here. It’s hard to believe that Steve Carell took the unpleasant role of Mitch, or that he would continue with it into a second season. He’s too good to take more of this abuse. The others, they’ve signed on. Ok. But this is like “Vinyl” and so many other series that seemed like a good idea until they did it. Stop it.

And publicists: please, all you have to do is send a notice asking not to reveal spoilers. Don’t actually delineate them. We’re not stupid.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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