As they tumble out of bed and stumble towards the kitchen the average American worker has a morning routine that includes watching the news while they sip their cup of ambition. Morning news shows are useful because they tell the worker about their commute and what weather conditions they may be facing. They are also entertaining and comforting. The puppy segment was just so darn cute. The anchors over the years become a de facto friend. Apple TVs The Morning Show tells the behind the scenes story of this morning ritual. It is based on the book Top of the Morning Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter. Here are 7 reasons to add this show to your streaming routine.
All Star Cast
When reviewing the cast listing for The Morning Show one might get confused and think they are getting a blockbuster movie. It is absolutely packed with stars. Jennifer Aniston plays Morning Show anchor veteran Alex Levy. Reese Witherspoon plays southern Morning Show anchor newcomer Bradley Jackson. Steve Carell plays disgraced Morning Show anchor Mitch Kessler. Billy Crudup plays the rising and ambitious network executive Cory Ellison. This is just scratching the surface of the amazing names in this cast.
Showrunner Kerry Ehrin turned down taking over The Morning Show from fired Jay Carson twice before finally agreeing to take it on. Ehrin and her team of writers create complex characters amid a high stakes morning television show production backdrop. They do not shy away from tackling complex and messy issues such as the #MeToo Movement, sexism in the workplace, and white male mediocrity to name a few. This is especially impressive when one takes into account Ehrin wrote the pilot episode of The Morning Show by herself in just three weeks.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Performance
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a British actor who you might not yet know. She studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and has an extensive West End Theatre resume. She starred on Broadway as Ophelia opposite of Jude Law in Hamlet. Past television and movie credits include the series Doctor Who and movie A Wrinkle in Time. In The Morning Show she plays Hannah Shoenfeld, the head booker with a heavy secret. Hannah was assaulted by Mitch and accepted a promotion as a bribe instead of reporting the assault. Mbatha-Raw’s performance is nuanced, raw, and vulnerable. She makes the audience simultaneously question her character’s choices, feel her pain, and root for her. Her performance is the heart of season one. In an interview with Variety Mbatha-Raw muses: “I always looked at it as sort of a morality tale for Hannah in terms of what she went through. In a sense, consciously or not, she sold her soul in accepting that promotion after that incident with Mitch. And really the consequences for her are very tragic, but I really hope audiences will look at it as examples of what not to do — how not to end up like Hannah — by sharing these experiences and really talking about it and trying to heal from it before it eats you up,”
Mimi Leder’s Direction
Mimi Leder is a American television and film producer and director. She has been nominated for an Emmy Award ten times. Her directing resume is impressive, extensive, and includes ER, The West Wing, and Deep Impact. Her work on The Morning Show is impressive. She crafts beautiful shots that are not normally seen in television. She wasn’t afraid to push in and hold uncomfortable moments on camera like Hannah accepting a new job offer. Leder had this to say about that moment: “You don’t normally do that in television, [but] I tried to do this a lot on this show because I wanted to get into the complexities of what the characters were feeling. She felt like this was going to make her feel good, but it didn’t. It made her turn numb. It made her feel nothing.”
John Paino’s Production Design
Emmy nominated production designer John Paino‘s resume includes shows such as Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies. His challenge in designing The Morning Show came from creating a show within a show. He did this by emphasizing the role of LED screens. He muses: “Realism was the key, but then also to design a set that shows the influence of electronic media—how you can have a set that’s just all LEDs, and how that technology of seeing things on screens affects everything. So, to me, that was a very good symbol for the way the set should go, always having that screen glow in everything.” He also got to create the by comparison drab real world New York places these characters inhabit like Alex’s mansion home. He had her “in a kind of glass tower, with this sense of screens and translucency, hiding behind the glass wall, and make it feel like it was actually vertical.” His work makes The Morning Show come to life.
The Morning Show Tackles Important Issues. . .
The Morning Show does not shy away from the current complex social issues of the day. Instead it tackles them head on. The character of Mitch is a great example of this. In the first episode of the show the audience learns that Mitch has been accused of sexual misconduct but the whole extent is not revealed right away. Showrunner Kerry Ehrin admits “a lot of these guys are very charming and do elicit sympathy.” This allows the audience to feel like Mitch does however misguided his feelings may be. Ehrin goes on to say the following about his character: “He really did not have a sense that he was doing something wrong. In his head, it was consensual and all the people around him supported him. He lived in this bubble of being protected. It’s like a spoiled child. Which isn’t to say he wasn’t responsible. He’s an adult man and he should have been. But it’s part of how corporate cultures protect talent.”
. . .But The Lets the Audience Decide
The #MeToo and Times Up movements have drastically altered the conversations we as a society are having about men in power. Women are no longer accepting and forgiving bad behavior because “boys will be boys.” As society makes this shift, it will have growing pains. Things are not always simple. The Morning Show does a great job at portraying the variations of perspectives and letting the audiences make its own judgments. Actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays one of Mitch’s victims, explains it this way: “I think to be able to show the nuances of actually how a situation like that could unfold, there are moments, there are thought processes, not everything is black and white — not everything is predator/victim. It’s not always that cut and dry. And I was interested in exploring something that had all of that complexity, which I think is what real life is; sometimes those situations are. And really to understand how that might play out from Hannah’s point of view, and then how somebody like Mitch in their bubble of power and influence and celebrity just might completely misread a situation, I think we were all just keen to make it as nuanced as possible and as human as possible.” The Morning Show offers no clear cut answers but presents the facts and lets the audience decide. It’s worth a watch to have these tough issues be presented in a nuanced fashion that fosters meaningful conversations.
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