Showrunner Kerry Ehrin on incorporating the COVID-19 pandemic into ‘The Morning Show’s’ 2nd season: ‘You can’t pretend like it didn’t happen’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

[WARNING: The above interview contains spoilers about Season 2 of “The Morning Show.” Watch at your own risk.]

The debut season of Apple TV+‘s “The Morning Show” ended with a bang as its finale sees the titular daily morning news program’s anchors, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), expose the UBA network and its president (Tom Irwin) for their knowledge of sexual misconduct and the creation of a toxic culture. Although the second season exhaustively explores the fallout of these dramatic events, it took on a new shape after the COVID-19 pandemic befell the world in early 2020 and became the defining global health crisis of our time. “In a story about news, you can’t pretend like it didn’t happen,” “The Morning Show” showrunner Kerry Ehrin tells Gold Derby in our exclusive video interview (watch above) about the importance of weaving the pandemic into the drama’s second season.

Developed by Ehrin and partly inspired by consulting producer Brian Stelter‘s behind-the-scenes book “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV” (2013), the series follows the behind-the-scenes drama at the titular daily morning news. “My initial idea for the for the first two seasons of the show was to have the first season be about turning over the rock where you see all the bugs under it [while] the second season was very much about the bugs scurrying around and trying to find their footing,” Ehrin reveals about her initial plan for seasons 1 and 2. The first season explored the fallout from the #MeToo movement as one of the show’s anchors, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), is fired amid sexual misconduct allegations. While the second season continues that storyline, it also tackles the early days of the pandemic in Italy and New York, two of the early epicenters of COVID-19.

Ehrin divulges that the writers were more than halfway into the second season when the pandemic hit and they made the decision to thematically incorporate this “looming tidal wave” into the story. What resulted therefrom was a story “about people who are so consumed with trying to find their footing politically, save their careers, do the right thing and be a good person that they are ignoring this dragon that is waiting and is starting to encroach into their space.”

For the second season of the show, Ehrin received two Writers Guild of America Awards nominations: Best Drama Series with her entire writing team and Best Episodic Drama alongside her co-writer Scott Troy for “La Amara Vita,” the seventh episode that features an emotionally charged reunion between Alex and Mitch in Italy and ends with the latter’s death. When asked what she and Troy wanted to punctuate as they were fleshing out Alex and Mitch’s final encounter, Ehrin highlights the “messiness of both their relationship and their images of themselves in the world right now.” She expands, “It really was about closure for Alex because the whole first season was about how close she had been to [Mitch], and then he just falls through the floor and disappears in her life… So, their last encounter was hateful and ugly.”

SEE our dozens of interviews with 2022 Emmy contenders

After serving as showrunner on the first and second seasons of “The Morning Show,” Ehrin, who will be stepping back from day-to-day showrunning on the show, will only be a consultant on the upcoming third season. She has also been the co-creator and co-showrunner of “Bates Motel,” as well as a writer/producer for “Rise,” “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights.” To date, she has accrued two Emmy nominations for producing “Friday Night Lights” (2011) and “The Wonder Years” (1990) plus a total of seven WGA Awards citations.

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