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Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Morning Show car crash: how the most expensive drama on TV drove off a cliff

The first series of The Morning Show – one of the most expensive television dramas ever made – ended in 2019 with a dramatic finale. Hannah (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a producer on The Morning Show who had been pressured into sex with the disgraced Mitch (Steve Carell), died by suicide. Alex (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) then announce, live on the show that they co-anchor, that the network has been covering up a toxic work culture. 

Nothing about the finale was especially shocking or unexpected – if you make a television show set on a live news programme it’s sort of inevitable that someone will start telling the truth to the audience at some point. But, it was punchy and satisfying and rounded the final episode out with all the tick boxes you expect from a prestige TV drama.

Presumably the first issue in making a second season of The Morning Show was that it couldn’t just be everyone fighting over who gets what job for another 10 episodes because that would be incredibly boring. It’s not an uncommon problem. Unless you’re Succession, which is everyone’s favourite show despite being about the horrid rich people having the same squabble week after week. 

Unfortunately, season 2 of The Morning Show might have had the same glossy camera style and panoramic views of Manhattan but that’s where the similarities end. For one thing, it arrived on AppleTV+ in September with little of the fanfare that greeted the first season (the thrill of seeing Rachel from Friends back on our screens having faded somewhat). For another, the only conversation its reported $15 million per episode budget managed to generate revolved entirely around what a train wreck the show had become.

The writing wasn’t as good and the characters aren’t as grimly fascinating. Instead we’ve had utterly demented plotting, with ideas seemingly pulled out of a hat by the writers. We’ve got tarot card readings informing major career choices, Bradley disowning her alcoholic brother after he stumbles into into her place of work (the security guard kindly brings him in) and the line “show me your big f______ balls”. Buckle up.

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