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Hamm adds some serious ambiguity to soapy ‘Morning Show’

Jon Hamm as billionaire Paul Marx in "The Morning Show."Erin Simkin/Apple TV Plus/Handout

I’ve written about the new season of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” which is a heated-up soap opera without much heft. The series started as a look into the #MeToo revolution, but it quickly got mush-mouthed and excessive. Now it’s really just about watching the famous actors do their glossy thing, as the story lines spin out of control and the tone pretends to have some moral intention. It’s not boring, but it’s a bit bonkers.

One of the additions this season, the third, brings a little extra glamour to the mix: Jon Hamm. The season leans a bit toward the “Billions” side of things, as a tech billionaire, Hamm’s Paul Marks, expresses some interest — with the urging of Billy Crudup’s Cory — in buying the struggling UBA, the network that carries the show within the show. Big numbers get thrown around, the dire state of the media is analyzed, and mega-deals go before the board, whose votes need to be courted.


Hamm fits right into this context, with the studied insouciance he perfected on “Mad Men,” a quality that makes it hard to pin down whether he’s a good guy or a big bad. He’s a divisive dude, but because he wants to save UBA — or because he wants to destroy it? The ambiguity, for the first few episodes, is tantalizing.

I’ve enjoyed seeing Hamm expand into comedy so ably since he broke through with “Mad Men,” but it’s a treat to find him back in serious mode, throwing looks like daggers and yet oozing the kind of charm that could be real, if it’s not totally fake and manipulative. Paul Marks is in some ways a big little boy, an Elon Musk-type figure who wants to control space travel with his Hyperion company; but he is also the adult in the room, the guy whose realistic takes are undeniable. What are his secrets? Is he trying to reel in Jennifer Aniston’s Alex as a kind of power play?


It’s also fun watching Tig Notaro in her scenes with Hamm. She plays his cool-tempered fixer, and she’s always lurking, always watching. She’s his Radar O’Reilly.

Tig Notaro (with Hamm) plays the billionaire's fixer in the Apple TV+ series. APPLE TV+

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.