I mean, there’s long-awaited, and then there’s so long-awaited that you almost think you dreamed it up as a concept. I assume the latter is how the ten people still waiting on George RR Martin to finish the Game Of Thrones book series feel.
I was getting close with The Morning Show, the Apple TV+ production by way of Hello Sunshine, which had been announced in 2017. I wanted it badly, loved the idea of Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon as EPs and stars – but it was a long, long time coming, there was a showrunner change, and reports of Apple notes being… not charitable. I started to wonder if it would ever actually arrive.
Today, the trailer has. And it is sublime:
Tell me you’re not into this. I’m so into this!
Jennifer Aniston has done what I thought was just about impossible: she’s disappeared into the role in this trailer. There’s nary a half-mouthed smirk nor a patented hair flip – she looks as worried as she should that she’s about to be out of a job.
In fact, the unflinching look at her character overrides any skepticism I have about the Reese Witherspoon character – or actually, just the line about ‘I don’t fit the mold’. I get that the character probably isn’t supposed to fit in, but an alien who landed on earth for five minutes could see that Reese Witherspoon is indeed the prototype of what everyone would want on morning TV.
Then again ... who’s ‘everyone’? The trailer spends most of its time accurately pointing out that ‘everyone’ is actually ‘the decision-making white men who have historically been in charge of the women we look at’. I cheered when they used the sexist-af term ‘sell-by date’, because you know that’s what was (is?) really going on in the halls of The Today Show, CNN, or anywhere else that’s about to feel this show is way too close to home.
I like that we see Steve Carell pouting about his fate. I love that you can almost see Billy Crudup and Mark Duplass holding back screams of ‘shut up and do what I say’ only because they’re scared of more PR nightmares. I love that the Jennifer Aniston character is supposed to be extremely smart and obviously well-spoken, but chooses the word ‘bozos’ because it’s the right one, not because it’s TV-friendly.
I’m also excited because Kerry Ehrin is showrunner, and her last three shows are Bates Motel, Parenthood, and Friday Night Lights. I like where this is about to go.
But I found myself wondering about something. Historically, shows about TV production haven’t gone over that well – though TV professionals have always loved them, the conventional wisdom has been that they’re ‘too inside baseball’, as opposed to, say, medical and police shows, which theoretically are familiar to everyone.
But I wonder if it’s actually because shows like The Newsroom and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip were (not coincidentally, considering the source) trying to talk about the nobility of television, and how great it was.
The exception, 30 Rock, was delightful but truthfully could have been about a middle-manager in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. But maybe that’s not an accident. The Morning Show is overtly about (and created/run by) women at the centre of a mess created by men, who have to fight to come out of it triumphant. The time is right, and obviously we know the real-world application exists, as #MeToo in all its various forms has become not just a phrase associated with Hollywood, but with work and life in general.
I’m into this, and given that the trailer is this strong after the bumps I mentioned above, I’m not-cautiously optimistic. This may be the show that finally highlights how the utter coolness and abject nonsense of working in broadcasting go hand in hand, and why anyone could overlook the latter for the former, in spite of themselves.
And though I never would have predicted it, I think it’s because Jennifer Aniston is the person to carry us there.