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The 16 Apple TV Plus shows you should watch first
Apple TV Plus shows started immediately with the streaming service’s launch in November 2019. Since then, we have seen a low but steady trickle of new series debut on the service, and now there’s enough content to dive deep into its selections. But which options are the best Apple TV Plus shows? Good question, and one we aim to explore here.
Read more: Best Apple TV Plus movies
As you will see, the original Apple TV Plus series already have a variety of content, from children’s shows to more mature series just for their moms and dads.
Remember, if you buy a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV box, you get three months of the service for free (read more about it here.) For everyone else, you can sign up now for Apple TV Plus for $4.99 a month, following a seven-day free trial, at the link below.
Best Apple TV Plus shows:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best Apple TV Plus shows regularly as new ones hit the streaming service.
For All Mankind
This is our favorite of the current crop of Apple TV Plus shows. It’s an alternate history tale, showing the Soviet Union winning the race to put a man on the moon in 1969. In response, the NASA of this timeline decides to keep going. Part of their plan is to recruit more women and minorities into the US space program much earlier than what happened in our reality. It’s a different look at how early space exploration could have happened. Two seasons of the show are available, and the third one is in the works.
Emily Dickinson is a real-life US poet who inspired tons of other writers over the decades. This show examines a fictionalized version of Dickinson’s early life. The twist is that this incarnation of the poet, as played by Hailee Steinfeld, and her friends act and sound more like teenagers in modern times. It’s not exactly historically accurate, but it is entertaining. You can watch all three seasons now.
Home Before Dark
We have read stories about fictional young reporters in school. However, this show tells the story of a real-life young journalist, Hilde Lysiak. As played by Brooklynn Prince in this series, the 11-year old Lysiak publishes her own newspaper for her community. Things take a big turn for her as she starts investigating a murder that happened near her home. You can watch the first season now and the second season is in the works.
This reboot of the classic children’s TV series focuses on four kids. They attempt to solve mysteries tied into well-known books like The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland. This series might be an excellent first step if you have kids and want to encourage them to read more.
This Apple TV Plus show is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by William Landay. Chris Evans takes off his Captain America uniform and shield as the star of this series. He plays an assistant DA in a Massachusetts town, who suddenly has to deal with his son Jacob being accused of murdering a classmate in school. This is an old-fashioned murder mystery, but with some family drama as well.
HBO’s Silicon Valley made a comedy out of the creation of tech startups. Mythic Quest does something similar. Instead of an internet app company, this show is about the workings of a video game developer. Specifically, it centers on the creator of an MMO game and his team members that have to deal with his sometimes outrageous ideas and requests. Rob McElhinney, the co-creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, also co-created this show and stars as its lead character Ian Grimm, who sometimes believes his job is to “create worlds.” You can watch the first two seasons now, and two more are in the works.
This series isn’t as flashy or as high concept as most of the other Apple TV Plus shows on this list. Instead, it’s more human and heartwarming. It’s an anthology show, with each episode following an emigrant as he or she tries to make a life in America. Episodes have shown the life of a Nigerian boy who comes to Oklahoma and becomes a cowboy, along with a Chinese woman who ends up winning a cruise for her family. It shows the American experience through many different eyes.
This sci-fi series takes place hundreds of years in the future after an unnamed disaster strikes the Earth and blinds all humans. The few survivors manage to stay alive, and one tribe of people, led by Aquaman’s Jason Momoa, weds an already pregnant woman. To their surprise, she has twins, both of which can see. This development gets the attention of a rival tribe, who wants the twins for their own purposes. This is a different sort of post-apocalyptic tale with heart and family. You can watch the first two seasons now and a third season is in the works.
M. Night Shyamalan is an executive producer of this thriller series and also directed two of its episodes. The show itself fits with his dark storytelling themes. A young couple deals with the tragic death of their baby boy. However, the wife later starts to care for a reborn doll that she thinks is alive. The husband hires a nanny to help take care of their “child,” but she seems to act like this thing is real as well. Get ready for some Shyamalan-style twists and turns in this series. You can watch two seasons now, and a third will debut in January 2022.
The Morning Show
This show is by far the biggest high-concept series on Apple TV Plus. It also has the biggest stars, with Jennifer Aniston as a national morning news anchor who is shocked when her co-anchor, played by Steve Carell, is fired for alleged sexual misconduct. To make matters worse for Aniston’s character, she also has to deal with a rising young female reporter, played by Reese Witherspoon. The office and media politics can sometimes get a bit confusing and dull. Still, the performances by Aniston, Carell, Witherspoon, and Billy Crudup as a news executive make this show very watchable. You can check out the first two seasons now, and a third season is in the works.
This animated show comes from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard. Like that show, Central Park was developed first for the Fox network. However, Fox decided not to move forward, so Apple snapped it up. It takes place in and around New York City’s Central Park and centers on people who either work in the park or make their living in the area as “buskers” or street performers. Josh Gad voices a busker and serves as the show’s main narrator. Kathryn Hahn and Josh Gad are also among the show’s principal voice cast, as is Stanley Tucci. He takes on the role of businessperson Bitsy Brandenham, who wants to take over Central Park to put up condos. A second season is in the works.
Culture clash, with some hilarious results, in this entry on the Apple TV Plus shows lineup. Jason Sudeikis plays the title character. Ted Lasso loves football, and he’s managed to snag a position as a football coach in a small college. However, through some unlikely means, Lasso is about to hit the big time. He’s going to coach a major professional football team; a major professional UK football (a.k.a. soccer) team. Lasso tries to show confidence, but he knows nothing about this sport. His move to win over the team with the lessons he learned across the pond makes this one of the funniest of the Apple TV Plus shows.
Ted Lasso has become the flagship show of Apple TV Plus. In addition to near-unanimous praise from critics and fans, the show recently won seven 2021 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series. You can watch two seasons now, and a third season is coming in 2022.
This is the first non-English language Apple TV Plus series, but don’t let the idea of reading subtitles keep you from watching this show. This espionage series focuses on a female Israeli Mossad agent. She’s been sent to Tehran, Iran, on a mission to help Israel shut down Iran’s nuclear facilities. However, things don’t go as planned, and she is forced to go into hiding while being hunted by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. This is a taut spy thriller that should interest fans of Showtime’s recently-ended series Homeland.
The Mosquito Coast
This new adaptation of the classic novel by Paul Theroux stars Justin Theroux, who is Paul’s nephew. The TV version has Justin playing inventor Allie Fox. He thinks life in the US is too commercialized, so he makes his wife and two kids leave the country to live a new life in Mexico. However, things quickly get far more complicated for the Fox family. It’s a unique and exciting take on the novel about a family that deals with a father who might just be a bit crazy.
Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi novel series is being adapted into a truly epic TV show. Taking place thousands of years in the future, it is set in a human-led Galactic Empire that seems to be invulnerable. However, a man named Hari Seldon, played by Jared Harris, has developed a formula that he claims shows this empire is due to fall, and soon unless something can be done to stop it. The series has already been confirmed for a second season.
Here’s another big sci-fi TV series from Apple TV Plus that recently debuted. It’s the latest take on the “alien invasion of Earth” theme. Extraterrestrials are attacking the planet on several fronts, and we see the effect from that invasion from a number of different characters in various locations on Earth. It’s a more personal story rather than a war or apocalyptic tale, and it helps that Sam Neill is the lead actor. You can watch the first season now, and a second season is in the works.
There are a few more Apple TV Plus shows you might want to check out:
- Lisey’s Story — Based on a novel by Stephen King (who also wrote this adaptation), the limited series stars Julianne Moore as a wife who explores a world discovered by her dead writer husband.
- Trying — This is a UK import about a young couple who can’t have babies who decide to adopt a child.
- Calls — This extraordinary show has an all-star voice cast, with the series telling stories through interconnected phone calls only.
- Truth Be Told — Octavia Spencer stars as a woman who hosts a true-crime podcast and reopens a previously closed murder case.
- Physical — Rose Byrne plays a homemaker in the 1980s who discovered her true calling as a fitness instructor.