The Morning Show 2: more than cancel culture
ATTENTION: the article contains spoilers about The Morning Show season 2.
The Morning Show season 2 wrapped on Friday 19 November 2021 with the tenth episode of a never-so-dense ride at UBA, the fictional news television network where the series is set. Season 1 (2019) ended with anchors Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) and Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) publicly denouncing UBA’s toxic workplace and sexual misconduct, unsure of the consequences of their actions. The second season opens with Alex hiding in her shame while her producer Chip (Mark Duplass) is fired from UBA and replaced by Stella (Greta Lee). Bradley is left to save the sinking ship with Cory (Billy Crudup), just promoted to UBA’s CEO.
The second season of The Morning Show deals with cancel culture, conservative politics and the rise of streaming services. But, more than that, The Morning Show 2 talks about how the Covid outbreak immediately enhanced the chaos we all dive into.
Once part of an interconnected environment, characters are now left alone searching for their humanity. Mitch (Steve Carell), a serial sexual predator and Alex’s ex co-anchor, retires in Italy, where he tries to distance himself from his actions, only to find out that this is not possible – we have to own our sins. Chip finds a loving partner, but he soon falls back in his co-dependent relationship with Alex, who, in turn, travels to Italy and back in an absolute identity crisis. In the meantime, the upcoming book The Wrong Side Of The Bed by Meggie Brener (Marcia Gay Harden) is about to reveal the behind-the-scenes of the Alex-Mitch relationship at UBA. Bradley, now a professional anchor, has troubles accepting her feelings for Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies), an incredibly charming journalist fired by UBA years before because of her sexuality.
The Morning Show 2: the triumph of human messiness
The Morning Show season 2 is a celebration of human messiness. Chaos has been one of the shows’ crucial elements since its first season, with Cory’s mantra “Chaos is the new cocaine.” However, through the characters’ never-ending troubles, the series brings chaos to a deeper level – the human level. Mimi Lader, executive producer of The Morning Show and director of four out of ten episodes, comments:
I think the pandemic pushed us in that direction, to really explore who we are, what we want, what we need, you know, it, you know, self-discovery, certainly for all of our characters.
In The Morning Show 2, the pandemic allows UBA’s mess of the first season to sneak inside each character and leaves them (and us) alone, trying to find a sense for their lives.
Just like its characters, the series’ storytelling slips into weak choices as well, such as Cory’s unexpected compassion for Hannah’s (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) reputation and Daniel’s (Desean Terry) desperate attempts to get the network’s attention. Still, these choices become functional to the bigger narrative. They highlight the lack of certainties the characters experience as they are completely lost in their corporate, frustrated lives.
Is there a sense in Mitch’s story? Is there a sense in UBA’s mission? Is there a sense in our desperate search for success and recognition? Chaos has no meaning. It is only a quest. And, as Bradley knows very well, a quest for truth is The Morning Show’s ultimate promise to its audience.