Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Morning Show

Go To

The Morning Show (alternatively Morning Wars in some regions) is a drama series created for Apple TV+ created by Jay Carson (House of Cards) and loosely based on the non-fiction book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter.

Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) is the face of The Morning Show, a popular and influential morning news show on the fictional UBA network. When her longtime co-anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is ousted in a sexual misconduct scandal, she finds herself struggling to cope with the scrutiny on the show as well as herself, while rising reporter Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) threatens her lofty position in journalism.

Boasting an All-Star Cast, The Morning Show also features Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Nestor Carbonell, and Jack Davenport in major supporting roles. The series premiered as a launch title with Apple TV+ on November 1st 2019, alongside See, Dickinson, and For All Mankind.


Not to be confused with Morning Glory, a 2010 romcom similarly set behind the scenes of a morning show, nor the Elvis Duran Morning Show, a long-running syndicated radio program.

The Morning Show contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Bradley sarcastically asks if she should dye her hair blonde to be more attractive to viewers. Reese Witherspoon is of course actually blonde.
    • Steve Carell as a high-ranking (or at least formerly high-ranking!) white collar whose wall-mounted, plasma screen television gets destroyed? Sounds familiar.
  • Alphabet News Network: The fictional UBA. Also Bradley's former employer, SENN (South East News Network).
  • And Starring: The final acting credit in the season one opening credits reads as follows: "And Steve Carell".
  • As You Know: At the end of Episode 6, Alex's daughter goes into exposition while describing her father's (Alex's estranged husband's) accomplishments.
  • Advertisement:
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Alex, Mitch and Hannah - whose last names are Levy, Kessler and Shoenfeld respectively.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played with in the season 1 finale. When Hannah is found dead in her apartment, there is vomit on her shirt - but yet her face and mouth are completely clean. Not to mention the fact that she looks remarkably good for someone who had been struggling with PTSD, sleep deprivation and alcohol and drug abuse for quite some time.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Probably one of the few times this trope is justified. Lizzy's relationship with her mother Alex is strained, due to the latter's workaholic tendencies and treatment of her now-estranged husband, Lizzy's father (whom Lizzy is very close to) - including the fact that she cheated on him with Mitch. Lizzie confronts her mother about her actions in episode 7. It doesn't go well. Alex angrily lashes out at her daughter, giving her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Birthday Episode: The first half of season one's flashback episode, episode 8 ( "Lonely at the Top"), focuses primarily on Mitch's 50th birthday - culminating in the entire crew of TMS throwing him a Surprise Party.
  • Call-Back: In "A Seat at the Table", a newly single Mitch breaks down in tears when he can't get his Nespresso machine to work. Six episodes later, in the flashback "Lonely at the Top", we find out why he struggled - his wife had always fixed his morning coffee for him.
  • Cassandra Truth: Alex doesn't believe Mitch when he says that the network is planning on firing her. It turns out he's right.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Going by how much virtually everyone on the show does this, you'd think swearing was a requirement for being in the Journalism industry.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Essentially what the entire series is about.
  • Diagonal Billing: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in the credits.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Bradley's parents split up when she was young, after which her father disappeared for several years.
    • It's heavily implied that Hannah's father was not a part of her upbringing.
    • Mitch becomes this (at least temporarily) when his wife leaves him after his sexual misconduct comes to light and takes their two sons with her.
  • Downfall by Sex: Mitch Kessler had it at all - until his sexual misconduct came to light.
  • Driven to Suicide: Possibly in the season 1 finale, when Hannah kills herself with pills after having revisited the night Mitch raped her. The show leaves it ambiguous as to whether the overdose was intentional or accidental - and Gugu Mbatha-Raw has stated that she believes it was the latter.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Bradley is known as "Two Fucks Jackson" among the Journalism community, because of the time she let two F-bombs slip - on live TV.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Mitch Kessler is a sexual predator who sees nothing wrong with "seducing" his female subordinates. However, when his director friend Dick Lundy says he doesn't find anything "sexy" about consent and all but admits to raping underaged girls, he is clearly horrified and immediately tries to distance himself from the guy.
  • Fox News Liberal: Bradley is ostensibly conservative, but always demurs actually giving a solid opinion and insists "the truth" is all that matters.
  • Gambit Pileup: Just about everyone at the network is looking to get rid of someone else, and Mitch’s firing sends all their plans into overdrive trying to be the first one to make their move.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Bradley is usually a masculine name, but given to a woman here. To a certain extent, Alex too.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Nearly everybody has this trait in the show. Almost any interaction in the show feels like it could lead to a screaming match at any moment.
    • Mitch is perhaps the most notable example of this. You'd be hard pressed to find a time when he isn't going off on somebody (heck, even inanimate objects aren't safe from his fury - in the very first episode he smashes his TV with a fire iron after watching Alex announce his firing live on TMS).
  • Heroic BSoD: Hannah essentially shuts down when Mitch rapes her. The camera makes this even more dramatic by locking in on a close-up of her frozen, terrified face - it's heartbreaking to watch.
  • The Hypocrite: Season 1 episode 8 focuses heavily on Mitch Kessler's predatory behavior, including the night he raped Hannah in his hotel room. At the end of the episode, the crew of TMS is watching with the rest of the country as the Harvey Weinstein scandal breaks. Mitch's immediate reaction? "What a creep!" Yeah.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Not a literal example, but it definitely still qualifies. After watching Alex announce his firing to the entire nation live on TMS, Mitch goes off on a rant to his agent and other "people" about how unfair UBA is being to him. He insists that he is innocent, he did engage in multiple affairs but those aren't illegal; everything was consensual, the women enjoyed it - with one even going so far as to tell him he taught her "how to have good sex", most of them came on to him, etc (99 percent of which, of course, is complete hogwash). All while his wife is standing approximately five feet away from him. Mr. Kessler finds himself single in a hurry.
  • Indy Ploy: Alex admits she's completely winging it by entrapping the network into bringing Bradley on board, and the execs indeed quickly start spinning it to another way to get rid of her. Bradley pays her back by going off-script in her first appearance, telling the ugly truth about her past the network is trying to cover up and perhaps sarcastically telling Alex she has no idea why she did it.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Bradley is reckless and not afraid to insert herself into the stories she covers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cory initially comes off as a cross between a Cloud Cuckoo Lander and an asshole, but through Season 1, it becomes increasingly clear that he is willing to do the right thing, though it is sometimes to his benefit (such as the plan to take down Fred.)
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Dick Lundy (Mitch's director friend, played by Martin Short) does this in season 1, episode 8 at Mitch's surprise 50th birthday party. He then immediately proceeds to lead a group of suggestively-clad dancers in a very raunchy song and dance number about TMS's top anchor (keep in mind this is a flashback episode) and his, er, hobbies.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: During the finale, Chip punches Mitch in the face and then reveals that he was the one who leaked the Mitch story to The New York Times, all in the name of saving Alex’s job.
  • Lonely at the Top: The eighth episode of Season 1 is named after - and themed around - this Trope.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Since the show's main focus is power dynamics and abuse of power in the workplace (especially by men), there are quite a few instances of this. Mitch is perhaps the worst offender - among other things, this is how he convinces Hannah to go with him to his hotel room so he can rape her. Ironically, Hannah is shown to be quite manipulative herself at times, particularly in how she goes after potential TMS guests.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Mitch is friends with a Hollywood director (played by Martin Short) - who turns out to be an Expy of numerous real-life directors (such as Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein) who have been involved in major sexual assault scandals (the crimes the guy is accused of are so heinous that even Mitch ends up having a hard time stomaching him!). The director's name? Dick Lundy.
    • Though it was most likely completely unintentional on the part of the showrunners, "Mitch" is a shortened form of "Mitchell", which means "who is like God". Pretty fitting for a guy with an ego the size of Texas!
  • Men Get Old, Women Get Replaced: In-universe. Before finding themselves embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal, the higher-ups at UBA fully intended to fire the 40-somethingish Alex in favor of a younger female co-anchor (which Alex later calls them out for). The approximately 52-year-old Mitch (he marks the big five-oh in the flashback episode "Lonely at the Top", which takes place around two years before the rest of the series), on the other hand, is treated like a king and allowed to get away with pretty much anything (until his carnal misdeeds get leaked to the New York Times, that is!).
  • Missing Mom: Hannah's mother died when Hannah was ten.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Bradley has one after revealing- on live TV and on her first day- that she had an abortion when she was fifteen. Her face clearly shows that she's regretting what she had just said, despite continuing and throwing the station into disarray.
    • Alex also has one after the above incident, regretting hiring Bradley as co-anchor.
    • Mitch, of all people, has a minor one in the season one finale. He is clearly horrified when Chip informs him that Hannah fatally overdosed - and seems to finally at least start to grasp that his actions were not harmless.
  • Nausea Fuel: Bradley's interview with Mitch accuser Ashley (particularly the unscripted portion!) is clearly this for Hannah. Several episodes later, we learn that this is because she herself was one of Mitch's victims, having been raped by him in his hotel room when they were covering the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. invoked
  • Never My Fault: Like many sexual predators, Mitch does his best to blame his behavior on everyone (including UBA and his victims) but himself (he even has the audacity to claim that the sex he had with Hannah was not only consensual, but that she used him to get a promotion.). The scariest part of all this is that it quickly becomes clear he genuinely doesn't believe he's done anything wrong. It finally comes crashing down when Hannah fatally overdoses when those feelings are dredged back up, leaving him with a horrified Thousand-Yard Stare as he can no longer lie to himself about his actions.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the season 1 finale, Bradley interviews Hannah for her, Chip and Cory's plot to expose the corrupt and misogynist CEO of UBA. Her reliving the traumatic event of Mitch raping her ends up driving her to fatally overdose with pills .
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Though the series was reportedly in development before the real life sexual misconduct scandals that resulted in the firings of Matt Lauer from Today and Charlie Rose from CBS This Morning, it's hard to ignore the parallels, although Mitch Kessler is presented much more sympathetically than either of his counterparts. Two especially obvious references to Lauer are Mitch's desk having a button that closes and locks his door and Mitch's rape of a subordinate in a hotel room while covering a major news event.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Alex when she learns that her best friend and co-host of 15 years has just been fired amid sexual misconduct allegations and it's up to her to break the news to the nation.
    • Pretty much everyone at UBA whenever Bradley goes off script.
    • Poor Chip seems to be a magnet for these sorts of situations.
    • Alex when Bradley informs her that she intends to interview Mitch on TMS.
    • Fred when Alex and Bradley hijack TMS and expose him and UBA at the end of the season one finale.
  • Pet the Dog: In perhaps one of the most literal examples of this Trope, Mitch is seen cuddling with his Rhodesian Ridgeback a few times.
  • Post-Stress Overeating: This is Chip's go-to method for easing the stress that comes with being the executive producer of a wildly popular morning news show that is now caught up in a major scandal.
  • Product Placement: Unsurprisingly everyone has the latest Apple everything - from phones to watches to even the Apple News app.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: A realistic example. After being raped by Mitch, Hannah spirals into drug use and alcoholism to cope, and it ultimately leads to what is either her suicide or accidental overdose.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Alex delivers a scathing one to her daughter Lizzy.
    • Several people give one to Mitch, including Alex, Chip, and Hannah.
    • Mitch also gives one of his own - to all of his former colleagues when they refuse to back him up.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: In-universe example. Mitch is fired from The Morning Show after being accused of sexual misconduct.
  • Safe Word: Claire and Yanko's is "climate change".
  • Serial Rapist: Mitch is heavily implied to be this (we only see one actual instance - when he rapes Hannah in his hotel room - the exact nature of the rest of his sexual misconduct is never definitively shown or stated).
  • Shoot the Television: After watching Alex announce to the nation - live on TMS - that he has been fired (along with the reason why), an enraged Mitch attempts to yank his TV off the wall - and then smashes it with a fire iron.
  • Show Within a Show: The Morning Show is a morning show.
  • Spiritual Successor: To HBO's Aaron Sorkin drama The Newsroom.
  • Stress Vomit: In "The Pendulum Swings". Alex has an emotional breakdown over her impending divorce (and having to break the news to her daughter - whom she knows is going to blame her), which culminates in her vomiting into the toilet in her trailer. A mixture of Vomit Discretion Shot and Vomit Indiscretion Shot - the toilet obscures most of it, but we DO get a VERY brief (about two second) glimpse of Alex's stomach contents as she hurries to lean over the bowl.
  • Throwing Out the Script: Bradley's modus operandi. She and Alex also do this in a HUGE way in the season one finale when they hijack TMS and expose the unhealthy workplace atmosphere and how UBA covered it up live on national TV.
  • Too Much Information: Most of the TMS staff are clearly horrified when Bradley goes off script and reveals, live on the air, that she had an abortion at 15. They're so frantic to shut her up that they toss to Yanko for the weather early (so early, in fact, that the poor guy was still in the make-up chair when they called him!).
  • Troubled, but Cute: Hannah. She lost her mother when she was just ten years old, she's struggling with being so far from her family and with balancing her career with her personal life - and then, to top it all off, Mitch rapes her in his hotel room. Things get so bad that she turns to drugs and alcohol to numb her pain and ultimately fatally overdoses with pills.
  • Two First Names: Bradley Jackson and Jason Craig.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Not the actual act, but the aftermath: Towards the end of "The Interview", we see that Hannah vomited on herself just before she died (with choking on said vomit almost certainly being a contributing factor in her death).
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Rather than going to prepared footage the broadcast goes directly to a test pattern to cut off Alex and Bradley's on air rant at the end of season one. This is probably because the staff lock the door to the control room to allow them to continue
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Season 1, episode 8, "Lonely at the Top", gives us a look at what things were like at TMS before the shit hit the fan. Mitch celebrates his 50th birthday (and makes inappropriate sexual jokes about his female colleagues), the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting happens (and Mitch, Alex and co. are quickly dispatched to report on it), and, most disturbingly Mitch rapes Hannah in his hotel room.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: