At a certain point, mid-way through Season 3 of The Morning Show, UBA exec Stella Bak (Greta Lee) tells an ad buyer that his wife back home might be dismayed by all the drama that surrounds her network. But really, says Stella, “I think she likes the mess.”
It’s a moment that feels like the show’s writers speaking directly to the critics — and this critic, at least, has come to agree with the sentiment. The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Billy Crudup, has been a bonkers series since the beginning, a trend that continues as Season 3 explores a world still recovering from lockdown and all too aware of the political tempest that raged on January 6th.
Season 3 doesn’t just move the story forward, though; it cements the show’s status as high-brow soap, indulging in outlandish plot twists as well as sumptuous, aspirational aesthetics. Finally, an answer to the question: “What would And Just Like That be like if its characters really cared about the news?” It is a messy show, one where its beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes make terrible decision after terrible decision, and Season 3 leans into that like a lady exec who’s read too much Sheryl Sandberg.
When the first season of The Morning Show premiered, it did so as the flagship series for the launch of Apple TV+, with buckets of expectation heaped upon it. It wasn’t the only show launched on November 1st, 2019 — also premiering that day were Dickinson, See, and For All Mankind — but it had the biggest stars, the biggest buzz, and its own behind-the-scenes drama, with credited creator Jay Carson leaving the series and Kerry Ehrin taking the showrunning reigns prior to premiere to retool the show. (The third season has a new showrunner in Charlotte Stoudt of Homeland and Fosse/Verdon.)
For initial reviews, critics were given screeners for the first three episodes, critical response to which was notably underwhelming. “The pilot is an ungainly mishmash,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg wrote in 2019, continuing on to note that “the third episode then steers into the desired soapy goodness and gives both Aniston and Witherspoon the sort of juicy monologues you sense attracted the two stars.”
While The Morning Show Season 1 failed to deliver a nuanced prestige TV take on the #MeToo movement (or moment), a major flashback episode late in the season, featuring Steve Carell’s predatory Mitch Kessler seducing a fragile staffer, set a chain of events into motion that led to a genuinely intense and dramatic finale, one befitting any primetime soap — a vibe which continues strong into Season 3.