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The best TV shows and box sets on Apple TV+

Staff Writer

Apple TV+ is catching the world’s attention with its winning hit Ted Lasso, but the tech giant’s fledgling subscription service has built up an impressive streaming library of originals that belies its small size. From feel-good comedies to gripping dramas, we round up the best 10 TV series on Apple TV+:

Ted Lasso: Season 1 and 2

“I can’t help but root for him,” remarks a character in the opening episodes of Ted Lasso, Apple TV+’s new comedy. It’s a sentiment you’ll soon find yourself sharing – even though you likely have no idea who on earth Ted Lasso is. A clueless football coach, he was initially conceived by Jason Sudeikis for a couple of short skits for NBC Sports in 2013 to promote the network’s coverage of Premier League football. Now, seven years on, he’s been fleshed out into a full leading man. Sudeikis is hugely charming in what emerges as the nicest show on TV right now. A delightful, optimistic TV gem.

The Morning Show

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” admits Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) several episodes into The Morning Show, Apple TV+’s new newsroom drama. It’s a rare moment of honesty in a show that questions what exactly that is in the modern media age. The result is a star-studded, fast-paced, whip-smart breakdown of the current state of journalism, a show that captures the buzz of a studio, the hum of 24/7 media attention, the pressure of trying to stay true to one’s self while also staying relevant. In other words, it’s everything you could want a flagship TV drama to be.

Visible: Out of Television

“I think TV profoundly affects the way people feel about themselves,” says someone in Visible: Out on Television, a documentary that examines the relationship of the LGBTQ+ movement and the small screen. The five-part series takes us through the history of both the movement and TV, from the early days when LGBTQ+ people where portrayed as maniacs or deviants to the 1970s when positive portrayals of LGBTQ+ people began to emerge – and through to the current wave of LGBTQ+ creators who have made it within the industry open the door for greater inclusion of talent and voices off screen to wider representation on it. Superb.

Little America

“You belong here as much as they do,” a coach tells young student Marisol (Jearnest Corchado) in Little America. A compendium of tales following immigrants coming to America, or Americans born to a generation who did, Apple TV+’s new series is a collection of those little moments – tiny declarations of identity and affirmations of belonging. They hit hard with heart and hope. This heartwarming anthology of coming-to-America tales is an uplifting, inspiring watch.

Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson

“I had never made anything that emotional before.” That’s Mark Ronson talking about the song Back to Black and how he used reverb to bring a loneliness and vulnerability to Amy Winehouse’s recording of that seminal track. He describes it as the moment his career as a producer really began, and it’s that personal touch that makes this documentary series such an absorbing and interesting watch. Each episode explores a different technical aspect of music production, from Auto-Tune to sampling. Stuffed with star talking heads and practical demonstrations, the show balances Ronson’s confidence and knowledge with a self-aware sense of humour and an infectious passion and enthusiasm. It’s an emotional watch as much as an educational watch – and guaranteed to delight music lovers.

Schmigadoon!

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key star in this delightful musical comedy that sends up golden-age musicals. They play a bickering couple who go on a retreat to strengthen their relationship – only to end up in the titular town and find out that they can’t leave without finding their true love. Cue a host of meddling locals, potential other matches and no end of fun supporting characters, including the town mayor played by Alan Cummings. Add in pitch-perfect pastiches of musical classics, such as Oklahoma!, and you have a fun, charming number.

Central Park: Season 1 and 2

From the creator of Bob’s Burgers, Loren Bouchard, the show is a full-on, unabashed musical, a show that isn’t afraid to sing its ambitions and emotions loud and proud. Within the opening episode alone, there are multiple song-and-dance numbers, at least one of which will be stuck in your head for days. By the time you reach Episode 4, the show has grown into a rapturous showstopper that turns its feeling of joy up to 11. Sweet, surreal and stuffed with memorable songs, this animated love letter to parks is a pure delight.

Tehran

From the name alone, it’s clear that this miles away from a Ewan McGregor docuseries or prestige US TV drama. The Israeli production hails from Moshe Zonder, one of the co-creators of Fauda, which has become an international hit on Netflix. This has every bit of that show’s suspense and class, cementing the rise of Israeli TV creators on the global stage, something that has been on the cards ever since Prisoners of War was remade into Homeland. This fast, thrilling, stylish spy series is a gripping, grounded ride.

Defending Jacob

Based on the 2012 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name, this legal drama sees Chris Evans play Andy, an assistant district attorney whose life is good and family is picture-perfect. But things go awry when Ben, a 14-year-old pupil, is found dead in the woods just outside of town – and his son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), becomes a key suspect. It’s a shock to Andy and Laurie (Michelle Dockery), who find themselves trying to maintain their child’s innocence while also fending off the increasingly hostile town locals. A strong cast grounds this thriller with compelling realism.

Servant: Season 1 and 2

When is an M. Night Shyamalan story not an M. Night Shyamalan story? Apple TV+ gives us the answer with Servant, a psychological thriller that wastes no time in dishing up its big, juicy reveal. The opening episode introduces us to Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean (Toby Kebbell), a wealthy married couple who are currently dealing with the loss of their baby son, Jericho. To cope, Dorothy has got a reborn doll, a plastic toy figure to stand in for him. And, by the time the 30-minute opening episode is up, things have only gotten eerier. This stylish, sinister thriller is enjoyably ridiculous viewing.

Trying: Season 1 and 2

Trying is a likeable comedy about a couple trying to have a baby – or, more accurately, failing to have a baby.  Rafe Spall and Esther Smith star as Jason and Nikki, an English-as-a-foreign-language teacher and a car hire company employee respectively. Neither of them are hugely smart, neither of them are very well off, and neither of them have much experience with kids. But they are, fortunately, very likeable nonetheless, and a large part of that is Spall and Smith’s natural chemistry. They make each other laugh in a way that feels like the characters want to make each other laugh, and pick up on each other’s faults in a way that feels like they know them only too well.

Dickinson: Season 1 and 2

“Because I could not stop for death…” begins Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) in the new Apple TV+ comedy Dickinson. It’s only a matter of minutes until death himself really does turn up in a black carriage to kindly stop for her. And the way you respond to that literal interpretation of the iconic poet’s work will likely dictate how you respond to this bizarre, but bizarrely entertaining, TV show about her. This is an enjoyably unconventional watch.

Earth at Night in Color

Nature documentaries are a staple of modern TV, their stunning visuals lending themselves to UHD streaming and their reminder of our planet’s natural wonders chiming with the urgent environmental crisis on our hands. While David Attenborough is the king of this jungle, Tom Hiddleston proves a more then adept substitute, narrating this nocturnal series with an infectious sense of admiration and awe. He’s supported by some jaw-dropping camerawork, which uses cutting-edge cameras to capture the lives of animals after dusk – in, as the title suggests, in colour. We begin with a pride of lions, giving us a chance to see just how far a lioness will go to find a cub she’s lost and support her family.

For All Mankind: Season 1 and 2<

The premise for Ron Moore’s alt-history drama is wonderfully simple and full of fascinating potential: what if Russia won the space race? The opportunity for surprises is apparently immediately, as we see the moon landing take place in 1969, only for a Russian astronaut to end up on our lunar cousin, leaving America facing a red moon in the sky. The response is both shame and determination to catch up, and so we follow NASA as it races to get back in the pilot’s seat. It’s a cracking concept for a series, one that resonates with themes of national identity, global politics and scientific progress. Compelling viewing.

See

From Peaky Blinders and Taboo to even Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, there’s no doubt that Steven Knight is a man who knows an interesting idea for a TV show when he sees it. That’s try for this Apple TV+ launch title. Set in a future where a virus has decimated mankind and left the survivors blind, it’s a fascinating concept executed with a glossy budget and gritty conviction.

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