Apple TV Plus is one of the best bangs for your subscription buck. It started with a limited number of shows back in 2019, but the offerings have steadily increased, the shows that have ended have ended super satisfyingly, and there’s just a whole lot of stuff you can binge on there.
The problem is that, unless it’s Ted Lasso, you might have problems finding other people in your friend group to watch these shows with. But there are probably dozens — dozens! — of us watching Apple TV Plus. Below are some of the best shows you can watch. I excluded Ted Lasso from this list because I’m positive you’ve already watched it.
Apple’s streaming service started slow, but is gaining popularity with its list of great original programming. Besides the $6.99 / month plan, you get three months free with a new Apple device, or try the Apple One bundle for $16.95 / month.
You know it’s been a long year when you realize Severance premiered this same year. The show is about people who willingly separate themselves into two personalities: one who always works and one who never does. It’s partly a satirical look at how much of ourselves we sacrifice for work and partly a fascinating puzzle box show. It feels like the biggest hit Apple has had since Ted Lasso, and that’s down to its wonderful blend of humor, absurdity, and perfectly paced drama.
For All Mankind
This show is scooped straight out of the brain of Ronald D. Moore, the guy who gave us the tremendous Battlestar Galactica reboot, some of the best episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the often bizarre but always entertaining Outlander. For All Mankind follows the US space program in a world where the USSR beat America to the Moon. The first two seasons saw war on the Moon, but the third season, set in the early ’90s, was focused on a more prescient storyline about a billionaire trying to get to Mars, no matter the cost.
Mythic Quest returned for a third season this year as well. It’s a little more uneven than the first two seasons, but the show — about a bunch of jackasses running a video game company — continues to be one of the most accurate looks at the game industry around. It’s also an often heartwarming, frequently funny examination of the relationships forged in the workplace.
Loot — about the wife of a tech billionaire who, as one of the richest people in the world, slowly learns to use her fortune — shouldn’t work. It should feel like a misguided attempt at crafting empathy with the richest people in the world. But Maya Rudolph isn’t afraid to make her character look like a dumbass, and she gives her just enough humanity that you root for her — even if you might wish no one had that much cash.
I wasn’t personally a fan of Foundation — I found it to be kind of a slog through one of Isaac Asimov’s less fascinating sci-fi worlds. But at least three of my Verge co-workers have finished the show and loved it, and Lee Pace is very good as what is effectively a God clone. Plus, it’s already been renewed for another season.
At least half of what I watch on Netflix nowadays is a K-drama, but Apple’s first foray into Korean language dramas often feels much more luxurious. The show is based on the book of the same name and deals with the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II, so it can be a hard watch sometimes. But Pachinko is worth it.
The Essex Serpent
Every good streaming service should have at least one romantic period drama, and The Essex Serpent is Apple TV Plus’. Like Pachinko, The Essex Serpent is based on a novel. This one is about a widow (Claire Danes) who travels to Essex to learn if a mythical serpent is killing people. There, she meets the town’s very married pastor, played by Tom Hiddleston. Longing looks and heated moments ensue.
Have you ever watched an otherwise thrilling spy caper and wished it had a dark sense of humor or a lot more Gary Oldman? Then have I got the show for you! Slow Horses, which premiered its first two seasons this year and has already been renewed for a third and fourth, is just a straight-up entertaining espionage thriller about a bunch of rejected spies trying to get their new, less important, spy jobs done. Oldman is their grumpy boss.
This three-season comedy about Emily Dickinson started off a little rocky but, by season 2, had turned into an intricate portrait of romance, ego, and family. The final season aired last year and was absolutely stunning as it carefully set up the messed-up family dynamics that would lead to Emily’s work reaching a wider audience while balancing it with a hopeful story of a woman who is content to let fame pass her by as long as she has love — and her work — by her side.
I know I could suggest a lot of other shows to watch — like Servant, about a resurrected baby, or Black Bird, about an inmate trying to get a confession out of an even worse inmate — but we need to take a moment to appreciate See, set in a post-apocalyptic North America where everyone is born blind. It was one of the first shows to launch on Apple TV Plus back in 2019, and it concluded this year. It’s extremely goofy in a syndicated-for-SyFy kind of way, and some of the characters are positively grating, but when it wanted to be fun, it was really, really fun.