Mass media is changing, and not just in the technology we use to consume it. The way we receive our news and react to it is vastly dissimilar to how we did 10 years ago. Journalist Brian Stelter’s book “Top of the Morning: Inside the World of Cutthroat TV” details the politics and economics of daytime television shows, including the replacing of Meredith Viera with Ann Curry on The Today Show. The real-life events that Stelter divulged in his 2013 confessional have culminated into the diamond in the rough that is “The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, respectively.
With its star-studded cast and a sweeps week-ready guest list, including the likes of Martin Short and Mindy Kaling, “The Morning Show” is the inaugural drama program from AppleTV+, Apple’s attempt to enter the streaming wars. The web series follows daytime television anchor Alex Levy (Aniston) after her co-anchor of 15 years, Mitch Kessler (Carell), is accused of sexual misconduct, costing him his job at the successful morning show. Kessler’s firing prompts the “TMS” team to evaluate its assets to figure out where the show is headed. Levy soon realizes her career is also at stake and fights to keep her job while also starting a beef with Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon), a contentious small-town reporter who is unwillingly catapulted to stardom after landing “the most coveted anchor job in the world.”
On the larger scale, “TMS” creates a dialogue on the influence of social media on the news as well as the unspoken bylaws today’s celebrity has to endure in the wake of the Me Too movement. The problem with this over-budgeted program is that it never gets its big ideas off the ground. The majority of this show’s airtime is full of deep sighs, radical outbursts and emotional monologuing, making for soapy propaganda that often forgets the scripture it’s preaching. Not to mention the over-saturated product placement by Apple distracting us from what matters.
While the journalistic message of “TMS” is missing in action, there’s a lot to be said about Kessler’s sex scandal. In a scene with Short, the two men discuss the thin line between promiscuity and predatory behavior. What makes this scene so effective is its subjects Two white men are able to have a realization on the mission of the Me Too movement while being active targets. One of the more thought-provoking scenes of the three-episode season, it actually opens the door for dialogue about if the Me Too movement really is doing what the original founders set out to do.
Moreover, “TMS” also features some great performances from its cast. The leading ladies, Levy, Jackson and producer Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman), win over fans of strong women with their “Hot Girl” demeanors by keeping it classy. While the Alex-Bradley rivalry could potentially thwart their second-hand unity over a male-led industry, they are able to be just caddy enough to get the point across.
The irony that plagues “TMS” is its timeliness. The show seems to address issues of an old world that never saw the age of Twitter. However, “TMS” has potential and it’s foundation is solid for the most part. However, this is a show that has yet to find its footing, and could possibly benefit from venturing into a discussion on digital media. Until then, “TMS” will continue to be an empty message in a bottle.
Rating: 3 out of 5