Apple TV+'s costly flagship program, "The Morning Show,” has been ripped by critics as a “well-polished snore” and called “brutally dull” despite receiving help from CNN’s resident media guru, Brian Stelter.
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell star in the show that appears to be a fictional version of NBC’s “Today” show, complete with a #MeToo storyline reminiscent of former anchor Matt Lauer’s own sex scandal. The Hollywood Reporter indicated that the show costs a whopping $15 million per episode “for a total of $300 million for two seasons.”
But critics were given the chance to view the show’s first three episodes and the results aren’t pretty, so far. Stelter, a CNN media reporter, serves as a consulting producer on "The Morning Show," but Stelter’s own newsletter acknowledged Monday the series “did not fare well in the reviews, with critics largely disappointed in the offering from the star-studded cast.”
“The Morning Show” was inspired by Stelter’s 2013 book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV,” but even his CNN colleague Brian Lowry failed to do the show any favors with a review that claims the show’s star power backfires in some respects.
“To the extent ‘The Morning Show’ is Apple's way of sounding the alarm for its new service, feel safe to hit the ‘snooze’ button,” Lowry wrote.
“A couple of the performances… keep it from being a complete disaster, but the show has a high degree of unearned self-importance,” RogerEbert.com editor Brian Tallerico wrote.
Rolling Stone called it “a well-polished snore” and mocked the bloated price tag.
“A prime example of how throwing money at a problem — in this case, Apple’s need to dive into the streaming wars now that Netflix and company have killed off the revenue stream from buying individual TV episodes — isn’t inherently the best way to solve it,” Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall wrote.
Variety chief TV critic Daniel D’Addario wrote that Aniston and Witherspoon are both placed in “roles that don’t quite suit” and the A-list actors “can't salvage this politically muddled, underthought, and underwhelming streaming misfire.”
D’Addario added that “there’s not a human worth caring about in sight” through three episodes that touch on provocative topics such as sexual misconduct and gender issues.
“It’s hard to imagine that viewers excited by a series that promises to take on so much being satisfied by the exhaustion that bleeds out of the writers’ room onto the screen,” he wrote.
THR’s Daniel Fienberg wrote that the show features “a brutally dull pilot and a meandering second episode” before a respectable third episode.
Fienberg then asks, “But did the behemoths at Apple really get into the crowded original TV marketplace to become the latest perpetrator of, ‘It eventually gets better!’ patience-testing?”
Slate, which also reported that the series cost Apple a cool $300 million, said the finished product is “not good, but it’s bad in an extremely satisfying” way, because it offers an “earnest, mediocre, insider-y look at an insular entertainment world” that is sure to be appreciated by costal elite media types.
“But if a hate-watch falls on a brand new streaming service, will it make a sound?” Slate’s Willa Paskin wrote.
“What they arrive at by the end of the third episode is at least something soapily effective, an entertaining knot of contemporary babble that manages at times to emit a ring of truth,” Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson wrote.
The Ringer editorial director Chris Ryan admitted he will watch every episode because it’s “compelling” and feels expensive.
“I don’t think that it is very good,” Ryan said on his podcast “The Watch.”
Vulture's Jen Chaney -- who liked the show more than most critics -- wrote that Carell insists he’s not playing a made-for-fictional TV version of Lauer, but his character is fired for sexual misconduct, adamantly contends that he’s victim, his wife leaves him and “it’s revealed that he had a button under his desk that automatically locked and closed” his dressing room door.
“If you can absorb all that and not be reminded of Matt Lauer, then either you were just born five minutes ago — in which case, welcome to the world! — or you have somehow never heard of Matt Lauer,” Chaney wrote.
Political satirist Tim Young told Fox News negative reviews for “The Morning Show” won’t end anytime soon.
“I think we've reached a point in history where the real world, especially the scenarios covered by ‘The Morning Show’ is so played out in our real news that people don’t need to or want to seek it out in a drama,” Young said. “Why go watch what you already see and read daily in the real news cycle?”