The Morning Show – Season 1: as it is said, one doesn’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The main characters (most of the characters, as a matter of fact) of Kerry Ehrin and Jay Carson’s television drama start off as unengaging: they are not likable, and not in a particularly interesting way. So that leaves how they evolve as the season moves along, but character development is erratic and unconvincing. That said, the universe the show takes place in is generally very rich in stories, and while the focus is more about sex politics (politics in general, really) than about the nitty-gritty of a television morning show, the plot turns out to be powerful and captivating.
It’s a great cast, on paper, but the three headliners, usually known for lighter roles, don’t fare memorably: Jennifer Aniston is too shrill, Reese Witherspoon can’t deal with all the emotional zig-zag her character is subjected to, and Steve Carell, as the disgraced anchor, is sort of dull. This is not to say the series doesn’t have great performances: Karen Pittman and Gugu Mbatha-Raw give emotionally hard, touching performances, and Mark Duplass is quite good as the overworked producer. In any case, the true standout is Billy Crudup: his character, a chaos-loving executive, reminds of a certain Batman villain, and this informs his colorful performance.
The series looks great. The houses, apartments, offices, and studios are all richly designed and decorated (by production designer John Paino), which helps set the universe the characters work and live in. It is very well shot, most notably in a few lovely walk-and-talks, directed by Mimi Leder with the collaboration of cinematographer Michael Grady. The series could, however, have been less keen on using such heavy make-up, to the point of distraction. Kudos for the opening titles, designed by Hazel Baird; abstract and fun, playing over a nice opening theme by Benjamin Clementine, it can be interpreted in many different ways.