20 Best Apple TV Shows Right Now

20 Best Apple TV Shows Right Now

May 8, 2024

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When Apple TV+ first launched in 2019, its prospects seemed dim. It was entering a saturated streaming market with only eight titles to its name, and it was standing up to competitors with far more experience and recall in the entertainment game.

But thanks to a quality-over-quantity strategy and a nothing-to-lose gumption—literally, the company had millions to spare—it now comes out on top of the streaming wars, right there with old-timers like Netflix and powerhouses like Disney+.

At the moment, Apple TV+ has more than 50 original shows (and a couple of Emmys, mind you) under its belt. Endearing comedies and hard-hitting dramas are what it does best, so we list the finest of them below.

1. Pachinko

best

9.3

Country

Japan, Korea, South Korea

Actors

Anna Sawai, Eun-chae Jung, Han Jun-woo, In-ji Jeong

Moods

Character-driven, Dramatic, Emotional

Both poetic and epic in scale, Pachinko (adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name) tells the story of a family spanning four generations, three nations, and one dream: to ensure a better life for their children, and their children, and so on. Because the story is rooted both in the unique experience of immigrant life and in the universal values of family life, it can seem painfully striking and relatable all at once. 

Despite the many places and eras it traverses, Pachinko also feels less nostalgic and more real-time, deeply immersed in whatever setting it’s in, taking us breathlessly for the ride. 

Sensitively directed by Kogonada (Columbus, After Yang) and movingly acted by veteran Youn Yuh-jung and breakout star Minha Kim, Pachinko is certainly one for the books: an arresting adaptation through and through.

2. Severance

best

9.0

Country

United States, United States of America

Actors

Adam Scott, Britt Lower, Christopher Walken, Dichen Lachman

Moods

Challenging, Discussion-sparking, Original

In Lumon, a company that resembles the increasingly intrusive oligarchs of Big Tech, Mark (Adam Scott) and his colleagues undergo a procedure that allows them to separate their work memories from their non-work memories. It sounds like a dream: the perfect work-life balance. But things get complicated when one colleague mysteriously leaves and is replaced by confused new hire, Helly (Britt Lower). Mark and Helly dig into shocking truths about what they really do, and for whom.

Just like the endless halls of Lumon, Severance is filled with twists and turns, many of which are impossible to see coming. Slow, smart, and sneaked with a dystopian eerieness that doesn’t feel all that far off, Severance is sure to leave you wary of corporate slavishness, if you aren’t already. 

3. Black Bird

best

8.8

Country

United States of America

Actors

Greg Kinnear, Paul Walter Hauser, Ray Liotta, Robert Wisdom

Moods

A-list actors, Binge-Worthy, Challenging

Based on true events, Black Bird follows James Keene (Taron Egerton), a narcotics dealer sentenced to ten years in jail. He makes a deal with the authorities to reduce his sentence, but in return, James has to befriend their deadliest convict—a child murderer played by the excellently terrifying Paul Walter Hauser—and extract a confession out of him before it’s too late.

If you’re a fan of gripping crime thrillers, anti-heroes, star-studded shows, and watching British actors do a perfect American accent, then Black Bird is right up your alley. The miniseries is also an excellent showcase of topnotch performances; Egerton and Hauser bring the house down in their excellently staged two-handers, Greg Kinnear is reliably sturdy as the determined detective, and Ray Liotta in one of his final roles is devastating as an ailing father. 

4. Bad Sisters

best

8.5

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Actors

Anne-Marie Duff, Brian Gleeson, Claes Bang, Daryl McCormack

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Easy, Grown-up Comedy

Bad Sisters is an Irish miniseries that is part romance, part murder mystery, and all-around cheeky, bold fun. It follows the Garveys, five sisters who’ve developed a tight bond after the untimely death of their parents. They protect each other mainly from their brother-in-law John Paul, whose antics have become increasingly threatening and toxic over the years.

The series is very much in the vein of Big Little Lies, Dead to Me, and Good Girls, where women who’ve kept up with so much for so long finally let loose in a fit of violent rampage. But Bad Sisters narrowly escapes cliches thanks to a winning ensemble and deft handling of its weighty subject matter.

5. Acapulco

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Camila Perez, Damián Alcázar, Enrique Arrizon, Eugenio Derbez

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Funny

There is an art to making a comedy that can be enjoyed by all ages—a balance must be kept between mature and genial humor, serious and unserious matters—and it’s an art that Acapulco manages to execute with finesse. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re a kid looking for a good story or an adult wishing to drive by memory lane. 

The colors are vibrant, the characters are alive, and the plot, while familiar, is charming nonetheless. But perhaps the best thing about Acapulco is its call for viewers to be kind. It’s never explicit or preachy about it; it just comes naturally, by way of practice.

6. Five Days at Memorial

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Adepero Oduye, Cherry Jones, Cornelius Smith, Cornelius Smith, Jr.

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Discussion-sparking

Five Days at Memorial recalls the real and horrifying events that went on at a New Orleans hospital during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Over the course of five days, the caregivers in charge try their best to evacuate thousands of people from the building, but heavy floods, power outages, intense heat, and a sorry lack of planning result in some heartbreaking decisions about the fate of their patients.

The ongoing series is a gut-wrenching and at times excruciating watch, adeptly directed by John Ridley (American Crime) and absorbingly moored by a cast that includes Vera Farmiga (Conjuring)—by now an expert at exhibiting pure horror—and Cherry Jones (Succession).

7. Silo

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Angela Yeoh, Common, David Oyelowo, Geraldine James

Moods

Action-packed, Dramatic, Gripping

You don’t necessarily need a lot of money to make a sci-fi series good, but it doesn’t hurt to have either. In Silo, high production value ballasts a solid script and committed acting to make an impressively detailed and astonishing future world set deep in the underground. 

No one knows why or how they got to where they are, and part of the show’s charm is that it’s able to sustain that mystery and hold off exposition until absolutely necessary. A master class in storytelling (the pilot episode is one of the best I’ve seen in a while), Silo is an exciting and prestigious entry into the sci-fi genre—closer to the gritty likes of Dune and Westworld than to the fizzier Doctor Who and Star Trek.

8. Masters of the Air

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Anthony Boyle, Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan, Callum Turner

Moods

A-list actors, Action-packed, Dramatic

It’s hard not to be swept away by the epicness of Masters of the Air. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, with the first four episodes directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (No Time to Die, True Detective), it’s made sure to flex its massive $250-million budget. Everything is accounted for here, from the sweeping and historically accurate production design to the stacked cast of rising male stars (Oscar nominees Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan easily steal the show). Even the rousing score and sound design, while bordering on melodrama at times, build up tension and add a premium air to it. It’s a visual and sonic feast bolstered by upstanding performances and an endearing show of brotherhood. Whenever it risks being propagandistic or misguidedly patriotic, it’s the believable relationship between the boys and their grave understanding of war that ground it and give it heart. And of course, the air combats are edge-of-your-seat thrilling. Like Band of Brothers and The Pacific before it, it’s a visceral entry in the genre of World War II must-sees.

9. Dickinson

best

8.3

Country

United States of America

Actors

Adrian Enscoe, Amanda Warren, Anna Baryshnikov, Chinaza Uche

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Easy

Dickinson takes more than a few creative liberties in telling the story of one of America’s greatest poets, Emily Dickinson (played here by the effervescent Hailee Steinfeld). As soon as the first pop song blasts in the background, followed by more than a few expletives blurted by the characters, it becomes clear that the series is more interested in making Emily’s life story not just understandable to a new generation, but timeless and universal too; it’s a tale about freeing oneself from the constraints of gender and society, and how regardless of whether you succeed or not, it’s the attempts that keep us human. 

The series is funny and tender and vivacious, kept afloat by its modern sensibility and desire to showcase a whole new side of Emily. Here, she’s a fighter, a (queer) lover, and an intellectual. But she’s also spoiled, narrowminded, and selfish—she is after all, still a growing girl. Dickinson succeeds on two counts: as an enlightening biopic, artistic license notwithstanding, and as an energizing coming-of-age series, complete with awkward epiphanies and inspiring character developments. 

10. For All Mankind

best

8.0

Country

United States, United States of America

Actors

Casey Johnson, Casey W. Johnson, Coral Peña, Cynthy Wu

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Dramatic, Inspiring

What if the 1960s space race never ended? For All Mankind imagines such a world; here, Russia’s cosmonauts arrive on the moon first, the galaxy holds resources beyond belief, and global wars have expanded in stakes and scale. More than just the final frontier, outer space is now the focal point of warring nations hungry to capitalize and claim new assets. 

For All Mankind’s out-of-this-world premise alone make it a thrilling watch, but you’ll be glad to know that the show also feels intimate and affecting thanks to its fully fleshed-out characters. If you’re looking for an epic but grounded story to lose yourself in, this is it. 

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