The Morning Show on Apple TV+ is a bonafide hit for the streaming platform—which is great because the service started off on uneven footing with not enough content to justify its price.
While early days for Apple TV+ were tough, things are turning around with notable success for shows like Ted Lasso, See, and now The Morning Show, a series based on the behind-the-scenes drama of America’s biggest light-entertainment breakfast shows.
The caliber of acting on this project is phenomenal, with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Billy Crudup, and many others keeping Apple’s reputation in the streaming industry afloat.
With Aniston, Carell, Witherspoon, and Crudup all nominated for Emmys in their roles, we’re looking at the characters they portray and ranking them to see which of them are truly the best.
7. Chip Black
Expertly portrayed by Mark Duplass, Chip Black is The Morning Show’s producer when we first meet him. All of the show’s editorial decisions have to run through Chip, and—aside from Alex and Mitch—he’s the most integral person in the running of The Morning Show.
After the investigation into Mitch’s firing, pressure on Chip’s shoulders builds up until he himself is fired at the end of the first season. However, despite his reservations about working with UBA and The Morning Show again, Chip returns when Alex asks him to come back.
Duplass’ performance gives the series a visual representation of itself, as he spins in the wind, not knowing which way to go, which makes The Morning Show feel like it’s defined by Chip in many ways.
6. Hannah Shoenfeld
At first glance, Hannah’s role in the unfolding of the story of The Morning Show isn’t overtly clear. However, when the tale begins to rapidly unravel, her connection to Mitch Kessler and the culture of silence around those who work on The Morning Show is evident.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s quiet-yet-edgy performance creeps up on the audience from out of the blue, and watching Hannah get raped by Mitch Kessler as he passively pushes himself upon her is one of the series’ most distressing moments.
When Hannah attempts to report Mitch Kessler’s actions to Fred Micklin, she’s offered a promotion to keep her quiet, which she accepts and feels guilty for, eventually leading to her overdose and death.
5. Mitch Kessler
Steve Carell’s Mitch Kessler is the one who begins the tale of the entire series by getting fired for sexual assault allegations. His journey through the accusations and his attempts to revive his career are akin to the flailings of a wounded animal who knows it’s already dead.
But in the grand scheme, Kessler’s role is a supporting one despite his importance and his relationship with Alex Levy and the entire team behind the fictional The Morning Show.
The second season sees Kessler living in Italy, estranged from his family and resigned to his fate as a cancelled, denigrated star. Carell’s performance from beginning to end is one of The Morning Show’s highlights as he makes him human rather than just a face.
4. Bradley Jackson
Where does one start with Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson? She’s the ranting renegade who’s hired, against the will of UBA, to replace Mitch Kessler.
When Bradley starts trending after her confrontation with a coal protester who harms her cameraman, she’s brought to New York to be interviewed for The Morning Show by Alex.
The pair strike a chord with one another, and Alex uses her power move to announce Bradley as the new host of The Morning Show, despite UBA not being interested in Bradley for the job.
Reese Witherspoon’s performance as Bradley is one of pent-up rage and aggression, which dissipates slowly as the first and second seasons roll forward, making Bradley relatable with too much to cope with.
3. Laura Peterson
Laura Peterson isn’t in the first season of The Morning Show, only joining in the second—but when you have a role as well-written as Laura Peterson, you need a great actress to go with it. Enter Julianna Margulies.
Laura has a long history with The Morning Show and Alex Levy, which allows her to see through Alex in a way that few seem to. And her burgeoning relationship with Bradley during their time in the second season grants Bradley with some of that insight, too.
Margulies imbues Laura with a calm sense of intensity and playful fun, which gives Laura a special ingredient: she can smell lies from a mile away. She isn’t attracted to Cory’s erratic charm and brings a collected stability to the series after the hurricane of the first season.
2. Alex Levy
Alex Levy is the center of the series, the character who connects the old Morning Show to the new one. She’s constantly in the spin of Cory Ellison’s game of human chess and the media’s spotlight on the show.
Her relationship with Mitch Kessler and Bradley Jackson is The Morning Show’s bedrock. Her love for Mitch is compounded by her anger over what he did, while her respect for Bradley pushes her into the spotlight.
Jennifer Aniston brings a lot to Alex, as she’s constantly unsure about herself, her position in the world, and her attempts to forge a place of power through her on-screen personality. However, when off screen, Alex is a person constantly on the edge of disaster in her life.
1. Cory Ellison
What makes Billy Crudup’s UBA CEO Cory Ellison so fun is his air of mystery. At first glance, you get the sense that he’s positioning himself moment by moment, not entirely sure what he’s doing.
However, when looked at further, Cory is a mastermind of human politics within UBA. He knows what will and won’t work, and he’s willing to cut anything and anybody that gets in his way.
Despite his ruthless streak that hides beneath the surface, Cory isn’t an awful person. He tries to do what’s best for the network and the people that it needs to run, and he demonstrates on several occasions that he’s affected by the plight of the wronged at UBA.
Crudup brings Cory to life with endless charm, like he knows he’s the coolest guy in the room. He plays everyone around him like a puppetmaster who sees the game five steps ahead of the rest, which is why watching Cory is the most fun and best character.