The Morning Show Season 2 Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

We said goodbye to the first season of The Morning Show at the moment when UBA’s The Morning Show hosts Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) nationwide accused the channel’s management and its president, Fred Micklin, of covering up for the UBA sexual harassment.

After that, a year passed. After the scandal, Alex immediately quit, broke off any contacts with the press and went to live in her country house, standing in some wilderness. There she runs the household, walks the dog and works on a book of memoirs in which she wants to show her point of view on everything that happened. However, her publisher, who has read the manuscript, asks Alex to add pepper, because, in her opinion, the memoirs are too toothless and in this form will not arouse interest.

At the same time, a book by journalist Maggie Brener (Marsha Gay Harden) is being prepared for publication, which tells about the scandal that happened, and this worries Alex terribly: she is afraid that she will be presented in Maggie’s book in a very unsightly form.

Bradley stayed on The Morning Show, where she was given a young co-host, Eric Nomani (Hasan Minhaj). Bradley is no longer rebellious, but is trying to make a career at UBA: she dreams of being trusted with the evening news. But no one is in a hurry to transfer her from The Morning Show, whose ratings are gradually falling, which is extremely worrying to the authorities.

Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), the head of the news service, under whom this whole scandal happened, was almost fired, but Bradley, who Cory brought to UBA, stood up for him, and Corey again rules the news service, while preparing the launch of a new UBA streaming service: he makes a big bet on it.

Corey sadly looks at the falling ratings of The Morning Show and gradually comes to the conclusion that he must, by any means, return Alex, who has now become a fem-icon, there – he can’t do it without her.

Well, the culprit of all this scandal, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), fled from everyone to Italy, where, as he believes, no one knows about him. He lives all alone in a luxurious mansion built on the shores of Lake Como, drinks, tries to understand himself and only occasionally makes trips to the nearest town to drink coffee in a cafe. At some point, an American feminist tourist recognizes him, makes a scandal, but the Italian Paola (Valeria Golino) stands up for Mitch. Paola is an obscure documentary journalist, and Mitch, either out of boredom or gratitude, begins to help Paola work on interviews and reports. And he even agrees to have Paola interview him himself.

Meanwhile, this is all happening in the spring of 2020. At the end of the previous year in Wuhan, China, people began to fall ill from a new unknown virus. The news broadcasts do not pay much attention to the virus, but it is gradually becoming clear that this is a threat to the whole world.

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The Morning Show is an ambitious new streaming service for Apple TV+: the company has decided to compete with the biggest players in the market like Netflix, Amazon and others. Really huge money was pumped into this series: each episode of the first season cost as much as each episode of the final, eighth, season of Game of Thrones cost.

However, investing huge amounts of money is no guarantee that the project will be very successful. But, fortunately, in this case, Apple succeeded: “The Morning Show” turned out just great. It touched upon rather complex and painful issues of the so-called “cancellation era” and the #meetoo movement, it showed the inner workings of creating such programs, and it also had many interesting lines with characteristic and complex characters.

The season ended in a kind of catharsis, and I was very interested in where everything will turn out in the second season.

By the second season, the team working on the series has changed somewhat. Showrunner Jay Carson (one of the creators of “House of Cards”), who worked on the first season, dropped out of the project due to creative differences. Second showrunner Kerry Erin continued to work on the second season, and she is listed as one of the writers for all episodes for this season. Most of the episodes were directed by Mimi Leder, who has worked on many well-known series, including The West Wing and Shameless.

The second season had just started filming (it was supposed to be released in 2020), when the coronavirus madhouse broke out, and in March 2020, filming was stopped. They continued in October of the same year, while the theme of the coronavirus, which is quite natural, was included in the plot of the series.

The tone of the story has changed markedly. Bradley here is no longer the truth-teller that she was in the first season: she has clearly got used to the smooth and sleek world of the morning news, she reads toothless jokes from the teleprompter without hesitation, smiles at the guests of the show, with pleasure shows dogs, cats and parrots from the screen, she is also preoccupied with her career at UBA: it is obvious that working on the morning show is not at all a dream of her life.

This season, we get to know more about Bradley’s inner world. She is given as co-hosts the famous TV journalist Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulis), who came out some time ago, after which she had to endure many unpleasant moments, and these two women begin to have a romantic relationship, which is very interesting to watch, because psychologically it is shown quite subtly.

I never liked the actress Julianna Margulis – mainly because of the amazingly bitchy expression on her face – but I liked her here: the character is not easy, she has experienced a lot, and here she does not look like a bitch, although Laura is a very strong-willed and determined person who has passed through a lot.

There is also a dramatic line with Bradley’s brother Hal (Joe Tippett) – a complete drug addict, an unhappy, in general, person who has experienced various childhood traumas. Bradley pities him and tries to support him, but she herself has a lot of problems in her life, and she feels that Hal is actively spoiling her life, so Bradley will have to take some decisive steps.

Reese Witherspoon plays Bradley quite well: her character is noticeably more emotional here compared to the first season, and Reese does a good job of showing what a complex and often dramatic personal life is hidden behind the back of a charming and smiling TV presenter, who seems completely carefree.

However, interestingly, from the point of view of violent experiences, the character of Jennifer Aniston is not only not inferior to the character of Reese Witherspoon, but also noticeably surpasses her. Here we see a completely different Alex, not the same as in the first season. She is broken, she is depressed, she suffers mentally and physically. The whole story, of which she voluntarily or involuntarily was a part, delivers moral suffering to her, she is very afraid of the release of the book of this damn Maggie Brener, where it is not clear what information will be presented to the public, she is also tormented by almost constant back pain – all this leads Alex to a nervous disruption.

And, being in such a state, she nevertheless accepts Corey’s invitation to return to the morning show, although it is clear that nothing good awaits her there: maybe, in terms of format, this is the same morning show that she hosted for fifteen years, but she already Alex Levy is completely different, and the environment of the show is not the same, and the world is already completely different – the world is on the verge of huge changes.

Jennifer Aniston played Alex perfectly: I wrote in the review for the first season that I didn’t understand the claims that, they say, Aniston is the same Rachel from Friends: nothing like that! Jennifer has repeatedly taken on roles that had absolutely nothing to do with Rachel, and Alex is a completely new character for her. And if in the first season Alex is a kind of TV personality, a prima, a superstar around whom absolutely everything revolves, but who had to face the most serious accusations against her “TV husband”, then here she is a woman on the verge of despair, and Jennifer played it wonderfully!

There are several emotionally and psychologically vivid and strong episodes with her: when she asks her producer Chip, with whom she has a very difficult relationship, to return to the show with her; when Alex, being in a state of obvious nervous breakdown, for some reason comes to Maggie Brener, although it is clear that she will not achieve anything by this; when she, being in complete despair and thinking little already, goes to Mitch in Italy; well, when she returns and Chip meets her.

Steve Carell doesn’t have much screen time here. Mitch is a goner and he knows it. He is trying to understand himself, he is trying to somehow reconcile himself with the surrounding reality, he is trying to understand how this happened in general: just that he was a super-popular TV presenter, and now he has become a despised renegade, such that even in Italy someone can start insulting right on the street.

His friendship with Paola (with great surprise I recognized in Paola the actress Valeria Golino – Ramada from “Hot Heads”), his indifference, his despair and, as an apotheosis, the arrival of Alex, who does not understand much from pain and overwhelming emotions and who looks like such furious fury.

That episode is probably the best of the entire second season: it is emotionally insanely intense, while very subtle, amazingly sensual and romantic, and Jennifer and Steve, in my opinion, here reached the heights of the acting duet of Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac in a modern arrangement of “Scenes from married life” by Bergman, it was really well choreographed and acted. For the sake of this one series, I did not regret that I watched the second season, and there were many good episodes without it.

Corey Ellison, the character of Billy Crudup, who was a discovery for me in the first season, has also changed a lot here. He seems to hold the same position as head of the news department, but his powers are noticeably expanded, and he is already much less experimental, as in the first season, where Corey did not seem at all afraid of losing his place. Here, he rather acts as a leader who sees the whole picture well, engages in strategic planning and builds a complex system of checks and balances.

At first, I didn’t really like the transformation of this character, but, on reflection, I realized that it was quite natural (otherwise we didn’t see such transformations in real life – just remember, for example, Dobrodeev, and Corey’s transformation was not at all so radical), and besides, Billy Crudup played him perfectly well (albeit in a slightly different way), and at the same time did not lose a certain element of easy madness, characteristic of Corey in the first season.

Of the participants in the first season, producer Mia Jordan, played by Karen Pittman, and personal producer Alex Chip Black, played by Mark Duplass, are still very good.

Of the completely new characters – the already mentioned Laura Peterson played by Julianna Margulis and the new assistant (she is also a producer and PR person) of the news department Stella Buck – she was played by Greta Lee (“Matryoshka Lives”, “Wonderworkers”). Stella is somewhat of a foreign body in UBA, she knows her business well, but she constantly encounters all sorts of internal corporate restrictions and intrigues, and her constantly surprised and indignant expression is very eloquent. An interesting character, well played, Greta really liked.

What is the result? Quite worthy of viewing, in my opinion, is a season where, firstly, the set level was not lowered, secondly, they found a new interesting approach to the development of the topic, thirdly, the old characters were shown in development and in completely new situations, well and fourthly, the theme of the coronavirus madhouse was also shown without any excesses in one direction or another. It’s just that the world has found itself in a new reality, this reality has made serious adjustments to our existence (completely regardless of whether there was such a terrible threat from the coronavirus itself or we were more threatened by an epidemic of panic and fear created by the ruling elites of many countries of the world), and we all need had to somehow adapt to this new reality.

I liked it, I watched it with pleasure, a couple of episodes (first of all, Alex’s visit to Italy to Mitch) were directly hooked. It’s always nice when the series, the first season of which really impressed, remained at the level.

The Morning Show. Second Season review

Producer:

Jay Carson, Carrie Erin

Cast:

Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Julianna Margulis, Valeria Golino, Nestor Carbonell, Karen Pittman, DeSean Terry, Victoria Tate, Shari Belafonte, Marcia Gay Harden, Hasan Minhaj, Joe Tippett

Series,
USA,
2021,
60 min. 2 seasons with 10 episodes

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