‘The Morning Show’ Season 3: Hilariously Outrageous and Chasing After Headlines
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and some sharp laughs keep pumping oxygen into “The Morning Show.” This remains one of the best original series on Apple TV. In a streamer that specializes in despair, Aniston and Witherspoon’s team up is still edgy but also genuinely funny. This is crucial because the show is now entering a third season where it really makes the effort to redefine itself. When it premiered in 2019, “The Morning Show” was a bold commentary on the news world in the wake of #MeToo. Its main plot revolved around a disgraced host clearly modeled on Matt Lauer and his sexual misconduct scandals. The dust has kind of settled and now the writers attempt to keep the material relevant with parallel explorations of corporate greed, female agency and how networks are adapting to the ongoing digital revolution.
We’re back in the studios of UBA, where veteran news host Alex Levy (Aniston) and rising star Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon) seem to be on stable footing. Yet the world around them is not that firm. CEO Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) is sweating because the company is losing financial strength. It all seems to be an aftershock of last season’s founding a streamer, UBA+, which was meant to launch the company into the future. Cory’s solution is one tailored for our times. He plans to sell the network to a billionaire named Paul Marks (Jon Hamm), a mogul clearly modeled on real ones who don’t even need to be named. Consider that he’s obsessed with space tourism, to the point of prepping a special broadcast where he’ll join Alex and Cory on a rocket into the heavens. But when Alex gets cold feet she opens up about feeling underappreciated at UBA, demanding to be made partner.
Future viewers will discover “The Morning Show” and find many of its in-jokes to be so particular to a time and place. The writing staff is obviously grabbing inspiration from every new headline. Jon Hamm is a great satirical addition as Marks, whose background is modeled on Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other famous billionaires dominating the news. In the second episode of the season UBA is hit by a hacking attack that results in sensitive information being leaked to the delight of conservative network Eagle News. Convinced she’s just being used as a celebrity pawn to seal the UBA sale to Marks, Alex ditches the space launch to go cover the story of a 19-year-old arrested in Texas for smuggling abortion pills from Mexico. Since the season announces itself as taking place in 2022, it should come as no surprise that Bradley has been awarded the First Amendment Award at the American Alliance of Journalists Awards for covering the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The overturn of Roe v. Wade and the ongoing struggle for gender equality are clearly the running themes of the season. Alex discovers she’s made over $2 billion in profits for UBA, so now she demands more power. Mia (Karen Pittman) starts feeling the pressure to demand more respect for her and the working staff, especially after finding herself sleeping in the office of news division chief Stella (Greta Lee), just to keep everything running during the hacker attack. The show has intelligent fun when facing the whole “woke” debate consuming America as well. When racist texts are revealed in the post-hack leaks (which are also connected to a cutthroat move by a particular character), it prompts a staff meeting when Black team members voice their outrage. It turns into a hilarious debate where anchor Yanko (Nestor Carbonell) argues for race being a fiction used to divide people. After all, he’s a third-generation Cuban confused for everything from Sephardic Jew to Armenian.
“The Morning Show” wants to touch so many bases before even the half-way point of a 10-episode season that it barely updates us on all the love triangles, including Bradley’s with Cory and anchor Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies). Alex also catches a certain pair in the office, but these days both parties just need to confirm it was consensual. There’s also a new anchor on the set, Christine (Nicole Beharie), a former track-and-field Olympian. Beharie is a vivacious addition to the cast’s spirit of camaraderie that always keeps this show enjoyable. Stephen Fry is also a new addition as Leonard, a cutthroat board member. It’s refreshing to see Cybil (Holland Taylor) still around. She has to cool down Cory’s ego by reminding him he’s CEO because of a coup last season. All of these personal connections meld well with the bigger plot twists, like the hacking incident which results in a big ransom demand. If the leaks continue, the world might find out about the tryst between Alex and Cory last season. She’s already walking around with the reputation of having slept with Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), the disgraced Morning Show host from the first two seasons.
The writers haven’t forgotten the war in Ukraine and while dealing with the hack, the UBA board worries it could be a Russian plot to get money to fund the ongoing invasion. Such details are not just funny. They help “The Morning Show” stay engaging as a comedy that comments on the world of its viewers. There was never any doubt that Alex and Marks would start locking calculating eyes. Two such great stars need to eventually set sparks off in a show like this, yet it’s still a way of using comedy to comment on the relationship between money and the news. The information we receive is being bought more often than not by people like Marks. Meanwhile women and people of color need to fight ever harder for recognition and equal pay. Alex and Bradley started as rivals, and while the competitiveness and a few clashes remain, their characters work as friends facing a shifting world. In one blunt conversation, Cory tells Alex the digital revolution of streaming, AI and even virtual reality will soon wipe out their business as they know it. That’s the real new theme here. How do we keep going and adapt? “The Morning Show” goes many places, always staying on its toes and never losing its relevance.
“The Morning Show” season three begins streaming Sept. 13 with new episodes premiering Wednesdays on Apple TV+.