Friday, November 1, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Morning Show' - Alex and Bradley Navigate Scandals in 'In the Dark Night of the Soul It's Always 3:30 in the Morning'

AppleTV+'s The Morning Show - Episode 1.01 "In the Dark Night of the Soul It's Always 3:30 in the Morning"

America's favorite morning news show is thrown into crisis when it becomes the news.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of AppleTV+'s The Morning Show.

"In the Dark Night of the Soul It's Always 3:30 in the Morning" was written by Kerry Ehrin & Jay Carson and directed by Mimi Leder

What do people want from their entertainment? This drama is essentially having that extremely meta conversation. When the president of the news division has his first sit-down conversation with The Morning Show's executive producer, he talks about the broadcast business model being bought out by giant tech companies. People can get their news in a second that caters to their precise interests. All of this comes as this show is one of the first to launch on Apple's new streaming service. It too represents a giant tech company trying to compete in the current media landscape in a new way. It already dominates so much. Hopefully, it can find something interesting to say about the news and politics as well. This premiere poses a couple of existential questions. Why is the public so divided over politics? Why can't we just accept some concrete facts? That's basically the energy that Bradley brings to the proceedings. She is boisterous and reckless. And yet, that is a very desirable energy. It makes it seem as if she is the only one speaking truth to power. She can't simply cover all sides of a local protest over a coal mine reopening. Nor can she read off the politicized scripts her local television station asks her to do. She has her own opinions and will express them when she experiences push back. She impulsively quits when people start questioning the legitimacy and purpose of her temper. People challenge her seemingly because she is a strong and powerful woman. She mostly exists as someone who doesn't buy into the narratives the media is trying to sell. She believes that all studios essentially run the same. As such, she doesn't completely believe Alex's address to the nation after her co-anchor Mitch Kessler is fired for sexual misconduct. That represents a timely story that addresses what is currently going on in the daytime television landscape. Charlie sees the power of journalism and the news. Meanwhile, Cory wants to create entertainment that could make a broad audience collectively feel something. Those feel-good stories may be completely false. The world can be a grim and dire place. That's perhaps why Bradley's clip goes viral so fast. She is rushed to The Morning Show studio. That creates a scenario where Alex and Bradley go toe-to-toe with one another. That shows how independent an operator Alex is in this specific environment. She has the freedom to go off script even though it produces a wildly different segment than her producers created. That causes a lot of headaches in the control room. However, Bradley fights back by pointing out Alex's own shortcomings and how some people may not see Alex as all that trustworthy either. It functions essentially as two powerful women facing off with each other. That narrative can have merit with the right execution. They don't trust the instincts the other brings to the profession. But again, the news is changing. Some people have success for awhile. What worked in the past may no longer guarantee success. Alex is distraught because her partnership with Mitch is what always gave her a place in entertainment. She saw them as a partnership that could never be broken up. What they had together was special. That easily could have blinded her from seeing the abuse happening right in front of her. She may be complicit as well. Mitch happens to be the man singled out and caught. A story is written about the internal investigation and the network needing to fire him. He doesn't believe he did anything wrong. He too feels the desire to fight back to maintain his public image. It is destroyed in an instant. That is devastating. But he comes across as a man who has no clue how his power warps and intimidates the world around him. Alex features some of that as well. Bradley has it to a certain extent to. It's a hunger that comes from chasing the highs of this profession despite the grueling and agonizing work. And in the end, it may still lead to an uncomfortable meeting in a hotel lobby. That's the position Bradley finds herself in with Cory calling her. That may not be the image the brand needs right now. But it shows just how prominent this behavior truly is and that it doesn't really challenge the people within the business to change their ways in the immediate aftermath of seeing the extreme consequences for someone like Mitch Kessler. It mostly just creates a power vacuum for control. One that sees Bradley's stock rising as everyone has doubts about Alex's lingering ability to do the job. She just has to get through the week of shows. That's her barometer for coping. Bradley may lash out but her ambition may strike much higher than that and she knows how to be on her best behavior when a camera is clearly on her.