"The Morning Show’s refusal to commit to a point-of-view on Mitch seemed at times to rhyme with the unresolved feelings around certain cultural figures, even as this series lived less purposeful ambiguity than simple confusion," says Daniel D'Addario. "(The real-world version of this story has an element of that: In her new memoir, Katie Couric cites her powerfully mixed feelings about Matt Lauer, wanting both to defend him personally and to see consequences for his actions.) But the show, in its first season, showed a fundamental uncertainty about who the character even was, constantly depicting the ways in which he had a certain exquisite and pained sensitivity before tastelessly treating as a juicy season-finale reveal that he had committed sexual assault, and that the colleague he assaulted later died of an overdose. This suggests a certain easy eye-for-an-eye symmetry in Mitch’s death. But there’s a stronger sense that The Morning Show was simply out of ideas before ever really having a good one. This season’s Italian sojourn, in which Mitch camps out in a villa and discusses cancel culture with a local documentarian, was time bided, and wasted, especially if the resolution of the situation was to be giving Mitch an exit. It’s not as if the viewer wanted Mitch to be punished, exactly — and if they did, he could be said to have received the ultimate punishment. But the show had made a deal with its audience that it would examine questions around the MeToo movement in good faith and with probing curiosity and intelligence. Simply cutting the storyline off and wrapping it up with a monologue by Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) about how Mitch was a complicated guy isn’t going to cut it. It’s not as if Mitch dying makes it impossible for the show to continue doing whatever it’s trying to do. But it reveals that the show’s endless wheel-spinning exists independently of any character, or any narrative logic. All this time spent pushing and pulling Mitch back and forth over some imagined line between good and bad, just to shrug off his death by remarking the debate continues? It’s a sign that viewers who trusted this show to eventually figure out the Mitch storyline had their time wasted."
It's not been a great season for The Morning Show: "For a show starring two heavyweights like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, they share surprisingly little screen time together," says Dustin Rowles. "Julianna Margulies has been a welcome addition, but after zeroing in on MeToo and complicity in its first season, the second season has struggled to find an identity or a throughline. It’s also morphed from a “prestige drama” into a campy soap opera, and while it’s still watchable (it’s hard not to be with that cast, which also includes Karen Pittman, Billy Crudup, and Mark Duplass), it’s not going to win any writing awards anytime soon. The biggest issue this season has also been Carell’s Mitch Kessler. I’m not sure what the show is trying to accomplish, but it continues to follow him after he was fired for multiple sexual assault complaints and at least one rape. Kessler relocates to Italy to avoid the press and live out his life in anonymity. In Italy, he meets a woman and they hit it off and end up in lockdown together (the timeline of The Morning Show is set around the beginning of the pandemic). The show seems to take pains to create sympathy for Kessler both through his relationship with his new girlfriend and through Alex Levy."
Showrunner Kerry Ehrin explains the exit of Steve Carell's Mitch Kessler: "I think it’s a very human need to feel like you’re a good person," she says. "Nobody wakes up and says, 'I am a sh*theel!' The worst people in the world wake up and think they’re a good person. What was really interesting in the character and in the way Steve played it is that he wanted to be able to redeem himself inside of himself, and he would not allow it. He couldn’t go there, because he was really acknowledging what he’d done. And so, it was a kind of prison. I think when Alex comes to his life (in Italy), it melts him a little bit in that episode. It melts some of his stony resolve. And I think then you see the more painful side of it, and when the news headline comes out about him targeting Black women, he so does not want to let that in. And I think when he finally does let it in, he just can’t. He just leaves."