The Morning Show: Now Jennifer Aniston does a Ryan Tubridy

Television: Season three of the show works thanks to the star power of its leads — Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon

The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Photograph: Apple TV Plus.

A struggling broadcaster is drawn into an ugly pay disagreement with its biggest talent. The consequences for both could be ruinous. Tempers fray, ultimatums are issued. But the show goes on.

This sounds like a rerun of the tub-thumping saga that has paralysed RTÉ over the summer. In fact, it’s a rough outline of season three of The Morning Show (Apple TV +, from Wednesday, September 9th), where Jennifer Aniston is the big-wig presenter who has a sharp exchange of views with her employer regarding the hows and whys of her remuneration. The other difference is that her bosses plan to shoot her into space via experimental rocket. RTÉ must be kicking themselves that they never thought of that.

When the Morning Show debuted on Apple four years ago, it was sold as a dramatisation of Brian Stelter’s non-fiction best-seller, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV. But series by series, the show has turned ever more unhinged to the point that any pretence of realism has long since vanished. What remains is a brassy, bonkers soap opera, where Aniston’s Alex Levy and Reese Witherspoon’s news anchor Bradley Jackson are thrown together as frenemies negotiating the treacherous world of top-level TV. The dynamic is similar to that between Ryan Tubridy and the bottle of Fanta that sprayed all over him during his Toy Show f-bomb incident.

The Morning Show works, but only thanks to the star power of its leads. Aniston and Witherspoon are two of the most charismatic actors of their generation. So, while The Morning Show lurches about in varying registers of absurdity, Aniston and Witherspoon are never less than gripping. They also seem oblivious to the insanity raging all around. Very much in on the joke is Billy Crudup, playing Cory Ellison, the slick executive trying to keep the circus together (a sort of starry Kevin Bakhurst).


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Crudup is fully aware he’s trapped in a world of pure hokum and, in contrast to Aniston and Witherspoon, brings a wonderfully barmy quality. It’s there in the manic glimmer of his eyes and the wild set of his jaw. However, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm pushes him all the way this season. Hiding behind floppy hair and a leer, he has great fun as an Elon Musk-esque space exploration bro whose company has agreed to the PR stunt of sending Aniston’s Alex to space.

It’s a sign of how wacky the Morning Show has become that the Jennifer Aniston-in-space plot vanishes into the background when a data breach rocks fictional broadcaster UBA. Compromising emails are hacked, along with intimate video footage, with the potential to ruin at least one career. It’s as ludicrous as anything. Still, with Aniston and Witherspoon giving it their all, the Morning Show’s silliness is revealed not to be a weakness but the best reason for giving it your time.