Mercado on TV: Two shows about TV, The Newsreader and Morning Wars – which is best?

The Newsreader

One of these two returning series is trying way too hard to be on point

A TV executive once said to me that shows about TV don’t rate. And yet, this week we have the return of two hit shows about TV, The Newsreader (above – Sunday on ABC/iview) and Morning Wars (Apple TV+).

The Newsreader was the highest-rating ABC drama of 2021 and it deservedly garnered around 1.5 million viewers. This second series begins with election night 1987, and then it’s the Bicentennial.

New is Irish variety show host Gerry (Rory Fleck Byrne), network owner Charlie (Daniel Gillies), and Kay (Philippa Northeast), the troubled daughter of Geoff and Evelyn Walters (Robert Taylor and the still magnificent Marg Downey).

However, it’s the unusual relationship between co-newsreaders Dale Jennings (Sam Reid) and Helen Torville (Anna Torv) that is still at the heart of this show. Does Dale really love Helen, or is she a convenient beard that keeps his secret locked in a closet? 

The Newsreader is a well-planned character-driven show where history is a backdrop. Morning Wars does the opposite of that, as its places its characters into historical events. In the first season it was the Me Too movement, and then it was Covid. Now in its third season, it’s Black Lives Matter and Roe v Wade. 

The Newsreader

Morning Wars

Morning Wars executive producer Mimi Elder told People that this season “will not be about Covid, I promise you that”. This is a strange thing to say given at the halfway point of this series, a clunky flashback episode goes back to the days of face masks, as the plot gets more and more ridiculous.

At least there’s always great property porn, with Alex’s (Jennifer Aniston) sky-high penthouse and Bradley’s (Reese Witherspoon) incredible loft apartment. Throw in Corey’s (Billy Crudup) clifftop estate, and the show’s new tech billionaire Paul Marks (Jon Hamm), and it makes that Sex and the City spin-off look like a poor cousin.

Morning Wars starts off by sending one of its female anchors into space, and it ends with lots of talk about legacy media. It might be slick but it’s trying way too hard to be on point. Give me the less flashy but more authentic vibe of The Newsreader any day.

Read more Mercado on TV here.

Mercado on TV

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

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Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Andrew Mercado and James Manning.

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The Lovers

This week: The Newsreader, Morning Wars and The Lovers

Two major returning series this week with both set inside TV newsrooms – The Newsreader (S2 on ABC/iview) and Morning Wars (S3 on AppleTV+). A third series reviewed is the new Irish comedy The Lovers (Binge/Foxtel) which tells the story of Janet, a supermarket worker who doesn’t care about anything, including her life, and Seamus, a self-centered, political broadcaster.
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