Apple TV+'s The Morning Show has received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, who are unimpressed by its take on the world of morning TV. The show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, was Apple's most anticipated show and the supposed crown jewel of its new streaming service. So far, it is Apple's most expensive show, and a second season has already been ordered.
The Morning Show follows a morning talk show that is rocked to its core when one of its co-anchors, Mitch Kessler (Carell), is fired abruptly following allegations of sexual misconduct. His working partner, Alex Levy (Aniston), must pick up the pieces left behind by the scandal and hold onto her own position while the executives behind the show work to shake things up, partially through the arrival of Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon). Apple clearly expected this one to be a major hit, but the critical consensus has been less than ideal.
Currently sporting a 59% score on Rotten Tomatoes, even the more positive reviews have complaints about the show. The performances seem to be the high point, particularly Aniston's and Billy Crudup as the network's news head. However, the biggest and most frequent criticism leveled at the show is its lack of identity: it does not know whether it wants to be a soap opera or a serious show with an important message. The reason for this could be attributed to its shifting showrunners. The Morning Show was initially created by House of Cards' Jay Carson, who based the show on the book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter.
The scope of the show changed when the showrunner became Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel). It is important to mention that the real-life scandal involving The Today Show's Matt Lauer and his sexual assault allegations came after The Morning Show went into development. Anyone who watches the trailer for the show can see the similarities between Mitch and Lauer, and it would be easy to think the show was inspired by him. However, the #MeToo inspired storyline came after. Many critics have said The Morning Show has nothing new to offer the #MeToo movement, which is partially a result of the show not having a firm grasp on its identity.
This is also shown through the handling of Mitch. Several reviews have mentioned the show refuses to fully paint Mitch as the bad guy, despite his past transgressions. There is a chance it could be priming him for a redemption arc, which many do not feel is wholly appropriate based on the current social climate regarding the #MeToo movement. The reviews could only comment on the first three episodes, so it is not clear what direction the show will actually go in.
Apple TV+ must have hoped for a smoother opening than this. It is normal for shows to experience growing pains during their first few episodes, but when a show is as highly anticipated as this one, it can ruin a series' reputation before it gets off the ground. Add in the fact that this has been touted as the show to bring A-listers Aniston (in her first television role since Friends) and Witherspoon together, and The Morning Show is a clear mess. With another season already ordered, there's a chance the creators have already begun to course-correct. The question is: will people stick around long enough to see it happen? The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a far-nicer 88%, so perhaps The Morning Show's flaws don't bother them the same way they do critics.