The Morning Show Continues to be an Outrageously Addictive Mess in Soapy Third SeasonPhoto Courtesy of Apple TV+ TV Reviews Apple TV Plus
For a show that started as a MeToo-inspired statement piece about the sexual harassment and abuse of power that is all too common in the entertainment industry (and acted as a play on the real-life Today Show scandal), the persistent thought I kept coming back to throughout this season of The Morning Show was: “How did we get here?”
Here, of course, being Season 3, which further removes itself from its original premise to tackle tech billionaires, the downward spiral of traditional media, and any other ripped-from-the-headlines events they can manage to squeeze into just 10 episodes (all of which were available for review). In short, it’s a bit of a mess. But honestly? It’s a wild ride worth taking.
Picking up two years after the events of Season 2, The Morning Show returns to a changed world once again, now post-COVID and solidly within the streaming age. Cory (Billy Crudup) is still the CEO at a floundering UBA, where its streaming platform—and the network’s various scandals—are causing the company to bleed money. Alex (Jennifer Anniston) is still hosting The Morning Show alongside Yanko (Néstor Carbonell) and Olympian-turned-anchor Chris (Nicole Beharie), all while keeping UBA+ afloat with her smash hit Alex Unfiltered. Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) has been promoted to evening news anchor, and is now estranged from Laura (Juliana Margulies), who is now an anchor on rival show Your Day America. Alongside control room mainstays Mia (Karen Pittman) and Stella (Greta Lee), everyone at UBA is forced to fall in-line behind Paul Marks (Jon Hamm), a tech billionaire poised to be the savior of the company with his promised buy-out. All our favorite anchors, reporters, producers, and more must band together as the future of UBA (and traditional media as we know it) hangs in the balance.
If the first two seasons were about fighting tooth and nail to make UBA (and, largely, the world) a better place, this season questions if it’s even worth saving. Can these people actually make tangible differences within their workplace? And if they can’t do that, is there even hope for improving the rest of the world? Are our institutions so laden with inequality and issues that they should be torn down to start anew? It’s enthralling to see each facet of this series (from the anchors that ground it to the CEOs that thrive on chaos to all those that become collateral damage) wrestle with that qualm, and it’s interesting to see where each individual character lands as the season comes to a close. Additionally, Season 3 takes some pretty broad swings at big tech that feel extremely relevant and sometimes even prophetic. While some of its political commentary falls flat, its examination of big tech, the billionaires that run it, and the influence of power in media is undeniably moving.
However, that isn’t to say that The Morning Show is more grounded this season. In fact, it’s actually soapier than ever—for the better. The tension throughout remains palpable and heart pounding, all elevated by a type of storytelling that moves away from its more prestige aims and into juicy, unhinged drama that could rival even the wildest soap operas. The Morning Show loosens up this season, taking itself a little less seriously, and it gains a playful tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that bodes much better than its striking severity ever did, especially in comparison to last season’s attempt to tackle cancel culture. In many ways, this season is The Morning Show at its most enjoyable—its removal from almost any kind of tangible reality allows the drama to unfold in a way that is addicting and engaging. By this third outing, the series understands that we are truly here for the shocking twists and its characters that we have grown to both love and hate. This season also leans further into the ridiculousness in a number of its overarching storylines—if I could tell you how this run ends, I honestly don’t think anyone would actually believe me.
Even amidst all the career-threatening gossip and constant alliance-shifting, The Morning Show is absolutely radiant when it focuses on its characters and their humanity above all else. For a significant portion of the season, a reinvigorated Alex attempts to find leverage and power at UBA. It’s extremely satisfying to see a less-childish version of Alex as she makes power moves and plays corporate chess with the likes of Cory and Paul. For Bradley, her storyline is… challenging, to say the least. Without getting into spoilers, it’s difficult to imagine how this will continue into Season 4 (which has already been confirmed by Apple), as her Season 3 arc is unpleasant at best and tone-deaf at worst. The series attempts to engage with a significant political event but ends up falling short of its intended messaging through the ultimately half-baked storyline, all despite Witherspoon’s powerful performance.
Beyond the series’ leading ladies, the supporting cast of characters continues to be just as engaging; The Morning Show’s character work and incredible performances balance out its messier storylines and moments. Pittman’s Mia remains the heart of the show in this third season, anchoring the more unhinged wiles of characters like Bradley, Alex, Stella, and Cory to her heartfelt commitment to the network, the titular Morning Show, and the people that work alongside her. Stella also charts an extremely compelling arc this season, questioning whether or not it’s worth it to sell her soul just to get ahead in this industry; Past Lives stand-out Lee is a force here as well. Newcomer Beharie is a wonderful addition, and she truly steals every scene she’s in. And Margulies as Laura remains criminally underutilized (seriously, how do you have Julianna Margulies at your disposal and not make the most of it?!). When she isn’t busy progressing various plot points, she’s a magnetic, truly captivating force. In a series where everyone struggles to balance their unimaginable secrets and lies, Laura is refreshingly real and is always a breath of fresh air whenever she makes a welcome appearance. More than anything, The Morning Show’s complex, nuanced female characters remain its strongest element.
While the characters and performances keep things afloat, there is an unshakable struggle The Morning Show faces to justify its continued existence. The first season of this show feels so distant from the version we see in Season 3, and its attempts to stay engaged with our current time end up falling flat more often than not. Over the course of its 10-episode season, The Morning Show tackles everything from online privacy to Roe v Wade as moments and messages fly by at a breakneck pace—and while everything hits the wall, only some of it sticks.
But even in all its messiness and political flailing, The Morning Show remains an addicting series absolutely worth watching. If you have been with it since the very beginning, then Season 3 is not one to miss. Through its twists and turns, and its ups and downs, The Morning Show raises the stakes to bring its most dramatic season yet, and, like a car crash in slow motion, it’s impossible to look away.
The Morning Show Season 3 debuts with two episodes on Wednesday, September 13th; new episodes air weekly on Apple TV+.
Anna Govert is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and her unshakable love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you can follow her @annagovert.
For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.