Having exposed their own network’s toxic culture, Morning Show hosts Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) face an uncertain future, as they grapple with declining ratings, behind-the-scenes machinations, a tell-all book and the onset of a global pandemic.

Streaming on: Apple TV+

Season 1 of The Morning Show cleverly meshed a Broadcast News-style dissection of the hectic world of US breakfast television and its intense ego-driven rivalries with a torn-from-the-headlines #MeToo storyline to giddily entertaining effect. Its star power alone – Jennifer Aniston! Reese Witherspoon! Steve Carell! – would have been enough to make it the MVP of Apple’s streaming service originals, but it also turned out to be sharply written and thrillingly plotted, while giving Aniston one of the best roles of her career as Alex Levy, long-time morning TV lead anchor. She experienced the full gamut of emotions in the first season, culminating in a spectacular on-air meltdown. Now in this second series, Aniston and the writers boldly emphasise Levy’s utter self-absorption and the diva-ish neuroses behind her phony on-air persona. Her scatter-gun complacency affects everyone in her orbit, and it’s fascinating to watch Aniston dial down her innate likeability.

The Morning Show: Season 2

This second series also ratchets up the vaulting ambition of Witherspoon’s character, co-anchor Bradley Jackson, whose relationship with Levy goes through impressively nuanced ups and downs. Sparks fly in every confrontation between the two leads as they try to work out if they really like each other or not. The new episodes also give Billy Crudup every opportunity to flesh out his role as the creepily ruthless network big cheese who’s now even more powerful and manipulative, while Steve Carell as alleged sexual predator Mitch Kessler also has way more to do this time round, now that Mitch has escaped to a lavish villa on Lake Como, where he meets a bohemian documentary-maker (Valeria Golino).

Julianna Margulies is commanding in a role that disrupts the status quo and drives the character arcs of both the show’s leads.

This season’s MVP, however, is undoubtedly Julianna Margulies, who joins the show as veteran anchor Laura Peterson via a particularly icy on-air interview. It’s a commanding performance in a role that not only disrupts the status quo, but drives the character arcs of both the show’s leads in unexpected directions.

All of this plays out against a backdrop of recent socio-political events, with the writers deploying hindsight to wryly funny effect when it comes to coronavirus and the madness of US politics. Only one sub-plot – involving Jackson’s troubled brother – drags, in what remains a massively addictive second series.

Far from suffering difficult-second-series syndrome, the new run of this massively fun takedown of seething rivalries in the American TV business is even more ambitious and edgy than the first.

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