Last week at Apple’s annual product announcement event, the world was introduced to the details about the tech company’s brand new streaming service, Apple TV+. The service was first unveiled a while ago, but with this latest reveal, we now have a full list of shows that will be available on its Nov. 1 launch and know about its $4.99 per month price tag. And while this relatively low subscription cost (it is significantly lower than Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and the newly-launching Disney+) is sure to be a selling point for many users, Apple is really banking on one show in particular to boost its numbers: “The Morning Show.”
“The Morning Show,” a drama series about the lives of three newscasters, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston), Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) and Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), was first shown to the world back in August with the official trailer, which promised a thrilling storyline involving all sorts of important issues, from sexual misconduct, to female competition, to fake news.
Paired with its all-star cast, the show seems sure to be a smash hit, right? Maybe, maybe not. The problem is that although “The Morning Show” looks to be a strong show that could go far, it doesn’t seem like it’s quite strong enough to carry the entire Apple TV+ service on its shoulders.
While there are other shows on the platform, such as the sci-fi/fantasy thriller helmed by Jason Momoa, “See,” and the Emily Dickinson biopic starring Hailee Steinfeld, “Dickinson,” Apple really seems to be putting all of their faith (and advertising) into “The Morning Show.”
It’s like they’re expecting it to be a huge success for them before it has even premiered. They are expecting it to be their “Stranger Things” or “13 Reasons Why” to Netflix or their “Big Little Lies” or “Game of Thrones” to HBO. And while “The Morning Show” and “Big Little Lies” both feature Reese Witherspoon in a leading role, “The Morning Show” just does not have the same appeal, making their approach unrealistic.
The big issue is that at first glance, “The Morning Show” reads like a sitcom, not a hard-hitting drama. When you think morning show, you think shows like “Good Morning America,” which have a light, happy feeling associated with them. If you don’t analyze “The Morning Show” further than how it is advertised, it doesn’t seem like the characters could get into drama that is much more interesting than, say, an annoying camera malfunction.
There isn’t much scandal, heartbreak or thrill in the world of morning shows, or at least there isn’t in the way they are presented. Nobody is going to pay $4.99 a month to have a few laughs over the quirks of working on a talk show.
Another mistake that could be made is that “The Morning Show” actually is what it says it is: a morning show. The title alone is enough to confuse unknowing viewers into thinking that “The Morning Show” is not even a scripted series at all, but rather another “Good Morning America”-type news outlet. The lack of foresight given to this detail could honestly cost the budding streaming service a large number of subscribers.
The reality of “The Morning Show” is much darker. In a situation eerily similar to what happened to real-life “Today” star Matt Lauer (probably the biggest scandal to rock a morning show ever), morning show host Mitch Kessler is accused of sexual misconduct and fired, prompting a response from co-host Alex Levy and the hiring of a replacement, Bradley Jackson. Levy and Jackson quickly form a rivalry, with everything from Levy’s integrity to her “sell-by date” (a wildly sexist remark made by a male show writer in the trailer) being called into question. From there, chaos ensues, as they say.
Unless you really watch the trailer, however, you wouldn’t know this. It just looks like “Good Morning America” and no one is going to pay even more on top of their standard cable bill to watch a brief newscast like “Good Morning America.” This would be a pretty hefty dilemma for Apple, who is already experiencing falling iPhone sales.
In fact, their whole reason behind starting Apple TV+ is because of these falling iPhone sales. The massive conglomerate looked at the continued success of other streaming services and their overall success with Apple Music and realized their future must lie in expanding further into the world of subscription services.
Along with a shift in hardware focus toward wearables like Apple Watch and AirPods, Apple is now focusing most of its attention on subscriptions like Apple TV+ and its new gaming service, Apple Arcade. With their big ticket item, the iPhone, slowly losing momentum, Apple really had no other choice if they wanted to survive into the foreseeable future.
However, given the lack of buzz that “The Morning Show” is generating, it doesn’t seem like Apple TV+ is going to be that grounding force that Apple hopes it will be. Considering how good the show actually looks, this is very unfortunate. I, for one, will definitely be shelling out my money to binge every episode.
The story is compelling, the characters are complex and the actors have a mile-long list of accolades, from an Oscar, to Emmys, to Golden Globes — a fact that Apple has toted relentlessly. Plus I will watch pretty much anything that Reese Witherspoon does. You have to support Elle Woods. It’s just common decency.
Ultimately though, I sincerely believe that the advertising of “The Morning Show” and Apple TV+ in general will be the cause of its demise. Simple details like show names and marketing strategies can really make or break a series and if Apple really does bank all of their money and hope for the future of Apple TV+ on “The Morning Show,” I believe they are going to do much worse than they expect.
“The Morning Show” does not have the mass appeal of “Stranger Things” or “Big Little Lies” and the way it has been presented will probably leave the general public uninterested or even confused. So no, it is not what Apple TV+ needs. It looks good, but it isn’t enough. Sorry.