Promoting her new series The Morning Show, Jennifer Aniston dropped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on October 29 where she revealed the Friends cast all wants to do a reunion now.
“We would love for there to be something,” Aniston said, although she backed away from calling it a full reboot or even a movie.
“But we don’t know what that something is. So we’re just trying. We’re really – we’re working on something.”
I introduced Jennifer Aniston at the Power of Women lunch. It was powerful. pic.twitter.com/GFWavZnb7o
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) October 28, 2019
The vague admission may have been uplifting for Friends fans, but as a smokescreen for early reviews of The Morning Show, it was a bust.
The hotly anticipated original series is the crown jewel in the first line-up of Apple TV+ – and marks Aniston’s return to series TV 15 years after she stopped being there for us – but may not live up to its tentpole status.
Aniston – whose last small-screen project Murder Mystery was also panned, despite Netflix claiming it broke a screening record – co-stars with Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup in an A-list dream team project critics say is a muddled snooze.
“Brutally dull” with “ridiculous” and “implausible” parts is how The Hollywood Reporter assessed the first episode, although it relented slightly for the second, which was merely “meandering”.
The big question? “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?” asked THA.
Paste felt the same: “When launching a streaming platform you expect people to pay for, you need more than fine,” it said.
“You need to … give us a TV show we didn’t even know we needed but cannot live without. The Morning Show is not that.”
The 10-episode drama follows a breakfast news program whose male anchor Mitch Kessler (Carell) is fired after sexual assault allegations, leaving his on-air partner Alex Levy (Aniston) to reinvent herself.
Also trying to build her personal brand is small town news reporter Bradley Jackson, played by Witherspoon, who executive produced The Morning Show with Aniston.
Each episode cost a reported $22 million, and two series have been ordered, making The Morning Show an important investment for Apple’s new streamer.
But so far, response has been lukewarm, with site Rotten Tomatoes handing the series a 71 per cent rating and Metacritic giving it a 60.
Indiewire said ‘”nearly everything is boring”, and “all the pretty people in the world can’t keep you hooked when the purpose is this muddled”. To Vanity Fair, it had the “tinny clang of the trite”.
The Morning Show “feels like it could have aired on broadcast TV anytime in the last 15 to 20 years,” wrote Rolling Stone, which concluded both the show and Apple TV+ “don’t need to exist”.
CNN noted if The Morning Show is “Apple’s way of sounding the alarm for its new service, feel safe to hit the ‘snooze’ button”.
The show’s decision to “edify” an “ignorant predator” accused of sexual impropriety has also been questioned.
But other critics were fans, especially of the chemistry between Aniston and Witherspoon, whose first pairing in Friends was highlighted by the former on her new Instagram page.
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My pain in the ass little burst of sunshine sister and I are working together again. But this time, we’ll be much kinder to one another. (Hmm, then again, we’ll just have to wait and see about that…) 😏@themorningshow @reesewitherspoon
A post shared by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston) on
“With just the right dose of trashy zing, this is high-gloss soap,” said the AV Club, while Vulture applauded The Morning Show and its “superb cast whose performances remain grounded even when the material threatens to veer off course”.
Also on the upside, Aniston’s performance was largely applauded, with the star called everything from “luminous” to a force that “seizes command of the entire enterprise”.
The seizing was too much for some.
She “pounds tables, rage-slams her phone onto counters, and yanks out hair extensions with such violent contempt, you’d think they owe her money,” Entertainment Weekly said.
Aniston “can’t seem to make it through a scene without delivering a loud, impassioned monologue before running off to a private corner to brood,” said The Independent.
Big Little Lies’ actor Witherspoon also copped a caning for being a tad overwrought.
“In the pilot’s first half, the Witherspoon sections are not good,” Vanity Fair ruled, saying her role is “mired in cliché” despite Witherspoon’s attempts to throw “some old-school Reese pepper” into the action.
The Morning Show’s first three episodes drop on November 1, with the remaining seven released weekly.