Apple TV Plus’ The morning show, a seemingly prestigious drama, has always been out of step with reality. The debut season struggled with its extensive narrative of the #MeToo movement before finding its foothold in the second half. However, the Sophomore race goes off track almost immediately, as the show chooses to portray the pandemic through the lens of the characters’ relentless self-interest.
ETC.‘uneven execution does not reflect the seriousness with which the show and its protagonists stick. This persistent vanity problem is best embodied by morning news anchor Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston). She gets the COVID-19 virus in the unreleased season two finale titled “Fever” (released November 19). As she deals with physical and emotional distress, Alex is courted for the network’s recently launched but already failed streaming service appearing in a special on how to deal with the diagnosis. And where is is she doing well? In her lavish and spacious skyscraper apartment, of course.
The script is so tactless that Alex is hailed as a related woman, the kind who can guide viewers to come to terms with a global lockdown, by her producer Chip Black (Mark Duplass). Yes, let’s rely on the judgment of a man who has just lied about being tested positive, to be in the same room as Alex when she goes live.
Alex’s million salary and easy access to health care make her the opposite of the general public, who do not have the same resources to fight a deadly disease. Of course, Alex and everyone in her circle refuse to admit it. To make matters worse, her streaming debut turns into an angry rant as she prefers viewers who might want to cancel her, assuming it takes precedence over the American people instead of worrying about job losses, medical costs and you know, overall survival during a pandemic. Alex’s self-centeredness would be comical if it was self-conscious at all and not just shocking.
Season one was bumpy but compelling, leading to a finale in which Alex and new on-air partner Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) reveal their network for being complicit in covering up Mitch Kesslers (Steve Carell), Alex’s former co-host crimes. sexually assaulted several women during his tenure on their show. Still, season two obviously goes back to this seemingly progressive story by focusing on Mitch, who strives to be a good human being while quarantining in a lavish Italian villa. Who would have thought we needed a redemption bow for this Matt Lauer-inspired character?
Throughout season two, Alex is hailed as a feminist hero, however ETC. undermines this development as she mourns her doomed relationship with Mitch. She spends much of season two worrying that the public will turn to her when she hears about an upcoming book revealing her consensual affair with Mitch. She even travels all the way to Italy in episode seven, “La Amara Vita,” to make sure he signs a letter mistakenly claiming the two never had sex, though it’s hard to believe anyone would take his words. But later in the episode, Alex and Mitch get emotionally charged with remembering their bond. She then goes on to defend his character after his death. Her inconsistent bow is the show that torpedoes any comment it tried to deliver in its first season.
ETC. never painted Alex as a saint; she has always been a complex woman with her own demons. But the writing to her this time is shockingly stupid and involves her saying the word “cancel” several times per. episode. Make it a drinking game, maybe it makes the show bearable.
Alex’s vanity is endemic to the wider show; almost every other character treads an equally pompous path. Network CEO Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup, who delivers the only valuable achievement) believes he is in “a battle for the soul of the universe” when all he does is run a greedy company. By the end of “Fever,” he is entangled in a muddy love triangle with Bradley, whom he deliberately sent out to the tabloids a few episodes earlier, and her boyfriend, Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies). Chip has clearly lost his mind as he voluntarily puts himself in danger by lying to Alex about getting COVID just to be close to her and further support her ego.
TV shows about rich and selfish characters who think they are the center of the universe can be entertaining and cursed: Succession, Veep, and Arrested development are good examples. Sorry for ETC., the writers and artists have not figured out whether the show is a weighty drama about the industry it portrays, or a satirical takeover. By aimlessly wavering between the two, the Apple TV + series has become an eerie farce.