The Morning Show has finally realized its greatest strength is its soapiness. And maybe that’s a good thing.
Where The Morning Show has tripped up in the past is hoping its star power will bear the story’s quality on its shoulders. The cast is genuinely great, its sets certainly look expensive, but the series wants to be Succession when it’s, well, not that. (Then again, what else could be?) But Season 2’s third episode, “Laura,” takes The Morning Show from a show that wants to be your favorite prestige drama to your favorite soapy drama, and fully leans into that notion.
Still inching towards the March 2020 shutdowns, “Laura” opens in Wuhan at the end of January, where Daniel (Desean Terry) is quarantined for several weeks and reporting on the pandemic from there. Back in New York City, UBA executive Cory (Billy Crudup) acquiesces to a request from one of the network’s darlings, primetime journalism icon Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies, the newest addition to the series’ wealth of famous actors).
And what of the most famous people on the show themselves? Alex (Jennifer Aniston) is at the center of Laura’s big request: extra time interviewing Alex in the lead to her return to The Morning Show. Cory’s determined for Laura’s interviews with The Morning Show‘s anchors to be a hit for the network in the wake of the misconduct scandal (more on Laura’s interview with Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley later).
Bradley, meanwhile, meets with Alex to prepare for their impending reunion on the show. Alex apologizes for leaving Bradley to anchor the show on her own, but has a message for her colleague: journalist Maggie (Marcia Gay Harden) is about to publish a tell-all about misconduct at The Morning Show, and Alex wants to control the narrative first. “We need to decide what the truth is,” Alex says. Bradley is appalled: “Did you hear what you just said?”
Storylines that were minimally addressed last week continue to be shoved aside in “Laura”: Mitch (Steve Carell) is still in Italy and is noncommittally remorseful for his behavior at UBA, the grieving family of a deceased employee continues to be offscreen and used as a pawn in Cory’s desire for UBA to save face, and Daniel’s concerns about COVID-19 are yet again bumped off the air for more puff pieces.
The show does move forward in “Laura,” though: Laura’s time interviewing Bradley occurs during the latter’s coverage of the Iowa caucus. Their topics of discussion are decidedly more personal than those during Alex’s interview. The culmination of Laura and Bradley’s time in Iowa drives the show home into an exclusively soapy territory, though that’s not a bad thing. The Morning Show embraces that soapiness so fully that it instills more confidence in the idea that the show does have a strong sense of self. If it’s so decisively moving into “primetime soap” territory, then there’s much more promise on the horizon after all.
The Morning Show drops Fridays on AppleTV+.