‘The Harper House’ launches; ‘Morning Show’ returns

Rick's Reviews

Rhea Seahorn is the voice of Debbie Harper in the new animated series “The Harper House.” (Photo courtesy of Paramount+)

There is something new to laugh about with the streaming services of Paramount+ and Apple TV+. The animated adult comedy “The Harper House” has launched on Paramount+ while the second season of the much-heralded Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show” will be available Sept. 17.

“The Harper House” follows an overconfident female head of a household as she struggles to regain a higher status for herself and for her family of oddballs after losing her job and moving from the rich side to the poor side of a small town in Arkansas. To save money, they’ve moved into their inherited Victorian fixer-upper, the historic Harper House.

Executive producer Brad Neely describes the show as “a family show about a group of weirdos.” The cast he assembled to voice those characters include Rhea Seehorn, Jason Lee and Ryan Flynn. Gabourey Sidibe, Gary Anthony Williams, Nyima Funk, VyVy Nguyen and Lance Krall will make special voice appearances.

Following that logic, then the main “weirdo” would be the work of Seahorn as she provides the voice for Debbie Harper. If you could see Seahorn, she would be recognizable for her work on “Franklin & Bash” and “Better Call Saul.”

Seahorn knew she wanted to be part of this “weirdo” as soon as she read the script.

“I read the scripts and was dying laughing out loud.  And then had some ideas about the character.  And I was like, ‘Wow, none of my ideas for this character fall under what girls get hemmed into and women get hemmed into being likeable and palatable.  I wonder if anybody’s going to like my read on this.’  And Brad did,” Seahorn says. “He’s from Arkansas and I’m from Virginia but we clearly have some similar relatives and neighbors in our past.

“The more I got to talk to Brad, the more I got to read more and more of the script, I just fell in love with her more every time we got to record.  I loved her.  Still love her.”

The first season of the Paramount+ comedy will feature 10 episodes.

“The Morning Show”

The first season of the Apple TV+ drama offered an inside look at the politics and passion that drive a network morning news program. The key catalyst was the sexual abuse that resulted in veteran co-anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) being fired.

His on-air partner, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) had to cope with the dark realities of the man who sat next to her for years and deal with an ethics-driven new co-host in Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon).

The second season picks up after the explosive events of season one with the “Morning Show” team emerging from the wreckage of Alex (Aniston) and Bradley’s (Witherspoon) actions.

Aniston sees the show as taking a very real and humanistic look at the Me Too movement.

“As far as Steve’s character, it was important to get inside of the head of a sort of gentle, charismatic narcissist, to be at the hand of the abuse of power and not even actually know it for some of these people.  Because there’s such a varying degree of these people,” Aniston says. “We wanted to sort of allow that perspective of that character to be explored.

“I was a part of the show and as I watched the episodes, I mean I was on the edge of my seat and I actually  kind of allowed myself to forget what happened and was watching as an audience member.  And I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

Witherspoon stresses that the Me Too element is extremely important but the show deals with more than just one topic. She has seen the series look at racism, sexism, homophobia and the current news media.

The show has been embraced by the viewers and the media. Aniston was given a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series while a Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series went to Billy Crudup.

The win for Crudup came about despite his character being the least filled out of all the players. He’s a powerful force in television who looks to repair the damage caused by the scandal. But, his methods are mysterious even to Crudup.

“One of the most interesting things about him is we don’t know exactly what’s going on.  I’m just on the ride.  Cory Ellison is a construction of this entire collaborative team.  Every single person had a bit of shaping who he was,” Crudup says. “Half of the choices that were made from my character – whether they were superficial or whether they were ideological – were things that I was at one point I’m sure adamantly opposed to.

“But I then, of course, as you do in a creative collaboration, you acquiesce, you take direction, you do things a little bit differently, you’re forced out of your own comfort zone.”

“The Morning Show” returns with one new episode and will be  followed by new episodes weekly on Apple TV+.

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