The 18 Best Apple TV+ Shows
Don't look now, but Apple TV+ might be the best streaming service out there. Since its inception in 2019, the platform has acquired a surplus of exciting television shows and films, while developing their own original content. Want to watch an exciting thriller? Apple TV+ has it, with Idris Elba as the lead, to boot. Are you interested in a period drama with a comedic twist? Yeah, the streamer has that. too.
As Apple TV+ slowly builds its streaming empire, Esquire has kept a close eye on its slate, cultivating a list of its best shows. With crowd favorites like Lessons in Chemistry, unexpected hits like Defending Jacob, sports dramedies like Ted Lasso,and tense thrillers like Silo, Apple TV+ has proven to be a treasure trove of quality storytelling. You might even discover your new favorite show. All you have to do is scroll through and pick your next adventure.
In Silo, the human race is forced to live underground after the earth becomes uninhabitable. Their one rule? Don’t go outside. Even still, residents begin mysteriously dying—despite being underground. Perhaps the silo is more dangerous than the world above them.
Remember what I said about an exciting thriller starring Idris Elba? This is that series. In Hijack, Elba stars as a negotiator who is put to the test when his international flight is hijacked. Naturally, he springs into action, but as tensions rise, he fears he might not be able to save everyone.
Lessons in Chemistry
Lessons in Chemistry will make you want to pick up a cookbook and a beaker. In this show, Brie Larson stars as Elizabeth Zott, a talented chemist who is kicked out of her research lab. Soon after, she’s offered to star in a cooking show—which she turns into a powerful lesson for everyone involved.
It's the feel good show on TV these days. Starring Jason Sudekis as the terminally optimistic Ted Lasso, the series follows the football coach over to England as he is tapped to become the manager of a different kind of futbol organization. Yes, it verges on cheesy at times, but it never feels cheap. Somehow, the series always manages to lean in the direction of fair and believable, even if the stakes are absolutely so farfetched that they would never happen in the real world.
At first blush, a "return to the office" may not sound like the fare of an insightful dystopian drama, but Severance invented a loophole that its characters accept for simple job security: what if you could surgically create work-life balance by separating the part of your brain dedicated to work. Partly directed by Ben Stiller and starring Adam Scott, the sci-fi drama uses workplace sitcom tropes to tell the story of a future that’s also true of today.
The Morning Show
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon's The Morning Show is perhaps the most high profile venture for Apple TV+, with a massive budget that rivals shows like Game of Thrones. That doesn't remedy some of its clunkier moments, as well as eye-roll-worthy dialogue (Steve Carrell's character says, "Me too," and Jennifer Aniston's characters responds that he can't say that anymore). But beyond the script, the show's impressive cast delivers strong performances, with Aniston and Witherspoon's characters forming an icily charming morning show tag team. For what it lacks in narrative finesse, the promise of The Morning Show rests on the very capable shoulders of its female leads.
Pachinko is a multigenerational story about a Korean woman searching for a better life during Japan’s occupation in the early 1900’s. Pitched as one of the streaming service’s flagship series, Pachinko finally debuted in March starring Youn Yuh-jung, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Minari. Get your tissues ready, because this sweeping, yearning story is full of returned lovers, political prisoners, and having to hide your true heritage just to survive.
This isn’t your high school English teacher’s Emily Dickinson. In this punchy half-hour comedy from playwright Alena Smith, the iconic poet is reinterpreted through a decisively modern lens. Smith’s Dickinson is a teenage rebel with an axe to grind against the patriarchy, chafing against a nineteenth-century society that demands she put aside her literary ambitions to become a dutiful homemaker. Interspersed are Billie Eilish needle drops, opium parties featuring improbable twerking, and Wiz Khalifa as the embodiment of death himself. What results is a tonally chaotic romp that improves dramatically over time. English teachers will cry, and literary purists will scoff, but hey, it’s a fun ride.
The hottest stories on television right now are cases of executive grifters, and Apple has added to the Elizabeth Holmes-style discourse with their limited series on failed WeWork CEO Adam Neumann. Starring Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway, the aptly named WeCrashed dramatizes the meteoric rise and fall of the shared workspace startup. If Leto was on any sort of a slump from House of Gucci and Morbius, his performance here as narcissistic Israeli businessman Adam Neumann should set any disbelievers back at ease.
Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery star in this acclaimed miniseries about parents who are struggling with what to do when their teenaged son becomes the main suspect in a murder trial. For anyone who was skeptical if Evans had the range following his Marvel stint, take a minute to watch this. Oh, and Knives Out.
M. Night Shyamalan, you creep. You did it again. Starring Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Rupert Grint, and the hauntingly perfect Nell Tiger Free, the series just finished up its second season. A brief rundown: a couple who has lost their baby in a tragic accident are dealing with the trauma by raising a fake baby. When they hire a nanny to take care of the doll though? Oh, everything goes to hell. Maybe literally.
The Elephant Queen
Narrated by Chewitel Ejiofor, The Elephant Queen is a documentary that follows an elephant herd across Africa. Pair a stunning landscape with the incredibly soothing English accent that Ejiofor brings, and you’ll literally feel your blood pressure start to drop a bit. A bit less aggressive than the unforgiving worlds of Planet Earth and Dynasties, The Elephant Queen is Apple TV+’s most comforting and visually pleasing offering.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Samuel L. Jackson stars in this miniseries about an elderly man with dementia who is able to remember his life and think clearly thanks to the help of a “special doctor” doing researching on Alzheimer’s. With his cognitive functions back on track, he sets out to investigate his nephew’s death before the effects of his treatment ware off.
Based on the acclaim sci-fi novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation tells the story of a mathematician who discovers that the world is coming to end. With updated plot from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice writer David S. Goyer, the series follows a group of exiles on a mission to take down the Galactic Empire and save our universe. Near-constant divergences from the source material may anger fans of Asimov's original series, but the massive budget Apple is pouring into Foundation definitely shows in its world building and set design.
Dr. Brain is unique kind of scientist, and his specialization is as on the nose as his ridiculous name. With the help of a special machine he invented, Dr. Brain can experience another person's memories. Much like Minority Report, he's haunted by an unsolved murder, but the fact that he hooks his machine up to read a cat's brain in the second episode should suffice as to say that this is no normal mystery by any means.
Set in the 80s, Rose Byrne plays a housewife caught in the flux of her own eating disorder and the unhappiness of her marriage. The series largely exists inside of Byrne's character's head, with a stream of consciousness approach that delves into the deepest judgments, insecurities, and hilarity of one woman's very complex mind. It's a bit overwhelming (though, it really does capture how difficult it must be to live inside her mind), but Byrne does the heavy lifting to make the series work. Very reminiscent of 80s aerobic videos, actually.
A beautifully shot, extremely expensive sci-fi saga, See takes place in a future where humans are no longer born with the gift of sight. It’s an intriguing concept and a good premise for some speculative fiction and fascinating visual storytelling. Even with paper thin world-building, See is for anyone interested in filling that Game of Thrones-style void in their heart.
Rob McElhenney's Mythic Quest exists at the absolute perfect intersection of full-of-shit and sincere. Set at a company who produces the largest multiplayer video game in history, the story follows the team behind the game and all their hilarious hijinks. But what makes the show sparkle is when it shines a bit of humanity onto its absurd nature—the pandemic episode is one of the rare exceptions that captures the heartbreak and isolation of what 2020 felt like.
From: Esquire US