Thursday, November 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Morning Show' - Bradley Contemplates a New Story While Alex Tries to Win Over Her Daughter in 'Open Waters'

AppleTV+'s The Morning Show - Episode 1.07 "Open Waters"

When Bradley is presented with an intriguing opportunity, she must decide whether to risk her tenuous, newfound bond with Alex.

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 next episode of AppleTV+'s The Morning Show.

"Open Waters" was written by Jeff Augustin and directed by Roxann Dawson

This episode is seemingly designed around explosive moments. And yet, the effectiveness of those moments depends entirely on how invested the audience is with those individual characters. At times, it seems like the show holds the viewer at arm's length. It doesn't want us to be inside the true depths of some of these characters because there are these big twists coming later on. For some of them, they are defined by one thing. For someone like Mitch, that isn't the wrong impulse because he is a monstrous and manipulative person. He is teasing Bradley with a potential story even though it indulges her self-destructive tendencies. That's the only way this really makes sense. The audience has to buy into that being her chief characteristic and what may fuel her into jeopardizing the new national career that has just presented itself to her. No, that doesn't mean she should just be grateful for this opportunity and go along with the company line. She has a voice and deserves to use it to speak up for what's right. It just feels like the narrative is shifting her around so that she is more about the ongoing mystery instead of being a compassionate and genuine human being. Those moments shine brightest when she is now interacting with Alex. In fact, everything that Jennifer Aniston does in this show continues to be stellar. Alex is a woman full of rage and confusion. She is proud of the career she has fought to achieve. She doesn't want anyone to be critical of what she has done. That just puts her in opposition with her actual family. She wants to embrace them. And yet, she's devastated to learn that she actually doesn't have any true control at all. She can frame her divorce in the media. She gets to dictate how it is discussed on the show. However, she doesn't quite know how to navigate the emotional minefield without simply erupting at her daughter for having no idea who she is as a person. That may be a fundamental flaw of her parenting. That may be a biting criticism of her. But it also makes her powerful and present. She exists in that moment desperate for this relationship to remain solid even though she understands that it slips further away with each word that comes out of her mouth. She may have new emotional support from Bradley. Lizzy believes that her mother requires that kind of bond and that it inevitably turns toxic. That paints a reality in which Alex could be completely complicit in Mitch's crimes. That's what Bradley remains unsure of at the moment. She wants to be close and befriend her co-anchor. But there is also the impulse to investigate the story that may come from a compromised source simply to do as much damage as possible. But again, it's the explosive interactions that matter in this hour. That's what fuels the final twist with Hannah being revealed as Mitch's potential source for his claim that women were silenced through promotions at the show. That's information the audience didn't have at this point. It may better fuel her motivation when it comes to witnessing Yanko and Claire's affair. But again, it feels like selfish people demanding toxic things from each other and no one knows how to treat others like actual people. Daniel simply wants to tell the news. He wants to be boring. That makes Audra's offer incredibly tempting. He should escape the circus that is The Morning Show. Everyone is seemingly self-sabotaging their own best interests. That's what's fueling the narrative. It just makes it hard for the audience to grapple with what's real and what's not. Anything can be true or nothing could matter in the end. That confusion makes it hard to gravitate towards fighting for something to be true. Aniston and Billy Crudup remain engaged by the material and are a blast to watch. Karen Pittman is excellent here as well. But that's about it when it comes to making sense of the larger picture and ramifications of the story. Everyone is at a loss for how to feel and react. That may be a genuine observation of the social media world where everything feels so artificial. But it doesn't make for entertaining television where the audience feels confidence in the craftsmanship on display.