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The Morning Show
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Morning Show is a drama about a morning television talk show that's shaken up when one of the hosts is accused of sexual misconduct and fired, leaving his former co-host to sink or swim. We don't see the sexual misconduct, but we do hear about it, with the accused defending his actions as simple extramarital affairs with consenting adults, and others characterizing his actions as coercion and abuse of power. The issue is explored in a nuanced way, with sympathetic characters on each side. Characters also flirt, kiss, and talk about sex, sometimes in a vulgar way. They also drink during or after difficult situations, clearly using alcohol to cope, and get sloppy and clumsy after imbibing. One character smokes a cigarette. Language is frequent: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and "hell." Characters are complex and imperfect, and the subject matter is mature, with storylines taking on sexism, politics, fame, the obligations of a public position, and the nature of journalism in general and televised journalism in particular. Characters show courage and perseverance, but messages can be mixed, like when a strong woman is discounted because of her age.
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What's the story?
A generation of TV watchers has grown up watching Alex Levy (Jennifer Anniston) and Mitch Kessler (Steve Carrell) on THE MORNING SHOW. So when news breaks that multiple women have accused Mitch of sexual misconduct, he's fired from the show, leaving Alex devastated and without a co-host (and Mitch ready to fight the charges). At the same time, Alex learns that network executives, led by Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), have been trying to replace her for years, and a strong contender for her job is her new co-host, bold conservative TV journalist Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon).
Is it any good?
With its propulsive energy and a ripped-from-the-headlines premise that gives viewers the sense that they're getting a peek behind closed doors, this glossy drama demands attention. Though The Morning Show insiders are on the record as saying the show is not the Matt Lauer story, it's hard not to read into the storyline and wonder just what parts are inspired by real-life situations. It certainly doesn't hurt to have such five-star talent both in front of the camera. Jennifer Anniston is steely and relatable as a venerable anchor who feels her crown starting to slip, Reese Witherspoon is fiery as a colleague on the rise, and perhaps only an actor as lovable as Steve Carrell could make the errant Mitch appealing and sympathetic. These characters click, with us and with each other, and they make you care about the people who are caught in a maelstrom of competing interests.
The Morning Show also has interesting things to say about the changing nature of network news and journalism in a time and place when, as duplicitous network chief Cory Ellison (a shark-eyed Crudup) has it, "People get their horrible news in the palm of their hands, colored the way they like it." What people need, Ellison goes on to say, is not news, it's entertainment. And they want it delivered by a host with a sexual frisson, something Ellison and the network has started to think Aniston's Alex is too old to attract. Watching Alex twist and maneuver in an effort to turn the situation to her favor is fascinating -- and great, meaty television.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how realistic The Morning Show is. Does the show seem to mirror real morning shows and dramas about their hosts? Do women over 40 have a harder time finding roles in entertainment? How believable is it for a male celebrity to be accused of misconduct and lose his job?
How do Alex and Bradley measure up as role models? What qualities help them to succeed? How does the show suggest to viewers how hard they work and how talented they are? How is the cost of their work depicted?
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