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16 best Apple TV Plus shows and movies to watch now

Adam Scott as Mark Scout in Severance, sitting on a desk
(Image credit: Apple)

Talking about Apple TV Plus' best shows and movies used to be a conversation that lasted minutes and not hours. These days, the conversation is no longer just around the antics of coach Theodore "Ted" Lasso. Yes, while we expected Ted Lasso season 3 to drop this summer, we forgot all about that as For All Mankind soared, Black Bird impressed and Severance broke our brains.

Over the last years since its 2019 launch, Apple TV has slowly built a worthy library, especially for its low price ($4.99 per month). This also includes CODA, which won best picture at the 2022 Oscars. And if you love that movie, we've pulled the top Apple TV Plus movies and shows to watch after CODA. This list includes excellent shows about to deliver their third seasons, excellent sitcoms, fantastic films and some neat surprises. Music documentaries, it turns out, may be one of Apple TV Plus' core competencies.

While Apple TV Plus doesn't own a slot on our best streaming services list yet, more shows and movies as good as these could get it there.

Best Apple TV Plus shows

Trying

Rafe Spall as Jason Ross and Esther Smith as Nikki Newman in Trying on Apple TV Plus

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

One of the 7 best Apple TV Plus shows you're (probably) not watching, Trying has spent three seasons finding the humor in the that Rafe Spall's Jason and Esther Smith's Nikki have had on their way to parenthood. At first, the two struggle with difficulty conceiving a child, and they then realize adoption is their best option. Effortless chemistry between Spall and Smith make Trying far from it's own name — more like a joy — to watch.

They're enabled by a strong supporting cast, as they see parenthood through friends Erica and Freddy (Ophelia Lovibond and Oliver Chris), whose situation gives them constant doubts. Imelda Staunton's also turning in a great performance, as the adoption agency rep Penny, who is trying to figure out if Jason and Esther should be parents. – Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 3 (season 4 is confirmed)
Cast: Rafe Spall, Esther Smith, Imelda Staunton, Oliver Chris, Ophelia Lovibond
Years:
(2020 – Present)
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

For All Mankind

For All Mankind season 3 poster art

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

The fascinating “what if” premise is just the start of the amazing, wild ride that is For All Mankind. In the first moments of the series premiere, the Soviets beat America to the Moon. Thus, the space race never ends and an entirely different version of history is born. If the U.S. couldn’t put the first person on the Moon, they want to win at other accomplishments like building the first permanent lunar base, establishing a permanent rotation of residents, and being the first to step foot on Mars. 

That said, For All Mankind has quietly become the best Apple TV Plus show by staying strong for three whole seasons. Not only did it begin with an impressive (yet slow-starting) first season, but its thrilling season 2 finale was followed by an equally engaging third season that has us wondering what comes next. All the while, it's been on par with the other top shows of 2022 — Severance and Better Call Saul come to mind.  — Kelly Woo

Seasons: 3
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Wrenn Schmidt, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten
Year:
2019-2023 (Ongoing)
Genre: Drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
91%

Black Bird

Paul Walter Hauser as Larry Hall and Taron Edgerton as Jimmy Keene in Black Bird

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

True crime dramatizations live and fail on one thing: performances. Since we know how the story ends (or can at least google it), shows such as Black Bird have to deliver the goods to make us stop what we're doing and make us focus on the drama.  Black Bird, an Apple TV Plus miniseries about James Keene's trip into a maximum security jail to try and get himself out of minimum security jail, is told through the eyes of Taron Egerton, who plays Keene with charisma.

That said, Black Bird's real power comes from Paul Walter Hauser, who is playing serial confessor and prime suspect Larry Hall. Suspected of killing young girls, Hall has already confessed to to the crimes, but he's not exactly a reliable narrator. So, Keene is tasked to talk some actual evidence out of the truly creepy Hall. Recently finishing its first and likely only season, Black Bird gets better and more haunting with each episode — and it should be a show that gets people to sign up for Apple TV Plus. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 1
Cast:
Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear, Ray Liotta
Year: 2022
Genre: True crime drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
98%

Pachinko

The cast of Pachinko in the poster

(Image credit: Apple)

Effort is rewarded. That's not the lesson of Pachinko, a far-reaching historical epic about generations of a Korean immigrant family, but what I learned while watching it. One of the best shows of the year, Pachinko is also dense and layered. It even presents subtitles with different colors, as the use of Japanese and Korean language is intrinsic to the series.

Since so much of the story is told in its language, Pachinko is hopefully benefitting from the current trend where the public isn't as put off by subtitles as it was prior. But with its subtly-told stories (this is no Squid Game), you're going to want to pay attention at each step. Beautifully shot, expertly acted and marvelous down to each strand of its proverbial DNA, Pachinko is proof that Apple TV Plus' eye for quality is strong. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 1
Cast:
Youn Yuh-jung, Jin Ha, Eun-chae Jung, Min-ha Kim, Jimmi Simpson
Year: 2022
Genre: Historical drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
98%

Shining Girls

Elizabeth Moss as Kirby Mazrachi in Shining Girls

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Apple had us at Elizabeth Moss, who stars in its time-bending crime mystery series Shining Girls, an adaptation of Lauren Beukes' novel. In this series, Moss plays newspaper researcher Kirby Mazrachi, who was the victim of a horrific attack that left a mental trauma on her that is extremely difficult to manage. Details in her life, including where she lives, keep shifting without warning.

But when Kirby's cold case seems to get warm, as similar victims emerge, it seems like she might get some answers. But to figure it all out, she'll have to work on the case herself. Kirby begins to find clues, despite the fact that her attacker (Jamie Bell) seems to live a step head of everyone. The series' mind-bending conceit may be confusing, but Moss makes Shining Girls one of the best Apple TV Plus shows. We're curious to see how it ends, though. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 1
Cast:
Elizabeth Moss, Wagner Moura, Phillipa Soo, Chris Chalk, Amy Brenneman, Jamie Bell
Year: 2022
Genre: Crime drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
86%

The Essex Serpent

Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston in The Essex Serpent

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Cora Seaborne (Claire Danes), a London widower who is finally pursuing her own interests, finds herself in a very murky situation when she goes to investigate a local legend of a serpent abducting townsfolk in Essex. And while she want to bring a scientific approach to her search, the townsfolk seem to immediately distrust her as an outsider.

There, she meets Will Ransome (Tom Hiddleston), the local vicar who she bonds with at first. But as the people of Essex start to blame Cora, her new friend doesn't seem like he's going to be able to help her. The Essex Serpent is a limited series that just started, but its strong first episodes have us eager to recommend it.

Seasons: 1
Cast:
Claire Danes, Tom Hiddleston, Clémence Poésey
Year: 2022
Genre: Period piece/Mystery
Rotten Tomatoes score:
86%

The Afterparty

Ben Schwartz as Yasper and Sam Richardson as Aniq in The Afterparty

(Image credit: Apple)

High school reunions shouldn't have any more drama than old crushes potentially renewed and long-settled rivalries that could bubble up. The Afterparty, though, revolves around the least-likely high school reunion, one that turns into a crime scene as someone is mysteriously killed. On top of that? This whodunit is also a comedy. We won't spoil who dies, but with a murder's row of comedic greats — Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Ben Schwartz, Ilana Glazer, Ike Barinholtz and Dave Franco to name a few — the show is almost too-full of funny folks. One had to die.

Even better, The Afterparty is a perfect binge-watch because of the show's format. As each main suspect is interrogated, they tell their own awkward reunion story and the show takes the form of how they see the world. One episode is a romantic comedy, another an action movie. One episode is an animated adventure, another is a thriller. The Afterparty is such a hit that Apple TV Plus has ordered The Afterparty season 2. While the series sounds like it could have mostly different casts between seasons, it's been confirmed that Tiffany Haddish isn't the only returning cast member next year. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 1
Cast:
Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Ben Schwartz
Year: 2022
Genre: Comedy/mystery
Rotten Tomatoes score:
89%

Severance

Adam Scott as Mark Scout in Severance, at his desk

(Image credit: Apple)

Little in our personal everyday lives these days is more frustrating and relatable than a poor work/life balance. Some of us take our frustrations with our bosses home with us on a nightly basis, while others can't stop working. Severance asks, "But what if there was another way?" No, not by developing a healthy balance or seeking therapy. But by severing the nerves in your brain that connect your work and non-work memories. That mind-boggling premise is the center of Severance, which you need to binge watch now.

Severance works so well because Adam Scott is perfectly awkward for the role of Mark Scout. Mark is one of the many worker-bees at Lumon, the company that performs severance on its employees, who then live two lives. Your "innie" lives a life of only work, while your "outie" doesn't know anything about their day-job and lives the rest of the life. A less satirical and more horrifying spin on Black Mirror, Severance is replacing Ted Lasso as Apple TV's most heralded show.

The Severance finale, though, was one of the most exhilarating TV episodes in recent history. Revelation after revelation had us almost screaming at our TVs, and the amazing performances of supporting cast members Zach Cherry and Britt Lower made it all the more intense. We cannot wait for Severance season 2. Can't we just get our own "severance" that lets us fast-forward to the next episode? — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 1 (9 episodes)
Cast:
Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Britt Lower
Year:
2022
Genre: Drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
97%

Schmigadoon!

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key in Schmigadoon!

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Fans of Broadway musicals — particularly mid-century musicals — should make a plan to visit Schmigadoon!, Apple TV Plus’ stab at a show where everyone’s prone to breaking out into song. Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong play a couple out on a hike who stumble into the mythical village of Schmigadoon and discover that anything from a lover’s spat to a bowl of corn pudding is likely to trigger a big Broadway production number. They also discover that they can’t escape Schmigadoon until they’ve found true love. It’s hard to say which discovery is more horrifying.

Schmigadoon is packed with a supporting cast of Broadway heavyweights including Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana DeBose and Aaron Tveit, among others. And the references to everything from Carousel to The Music Man to Oklahoma! fly thick and fast. That the songs are actually pretty toe-tapping will make even people who shy away from musicals succumb to Schmigadoon’s charms. — Philip Michaels

Seasons: 1
Cast:
Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming
Year:
2021
Genre: Musical comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score:
88%

Ted Lasso

Brendan Hunt, Jason Sudeikis and Brett Goldstein in Ted Lasso

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

If any Apple TV show needs no introduction, it's Ted Lasso. The story of the titular American college football coach who manages to find himself in over his head coaching the other football (call it soccer if you must) in the United Kingdom is likely the most-loved Apple TV Plus series, if not the most buzzed about online. It's not hard to see why Ted Lasso drew a strong fandom in short order, either. 

Arriving during the Covid-19 pandemic, when everything was dire, Ted Lasso's brand of wholesomeness (from the character and the show) was a winning strategy. As a coach of a losing team, Lasso's upbeat energy completely upended the toxic masculinity that was always just about to rip AFC Richmond apart. And the show's upbeat energy helped it stand out from the sea of depressing prestige TV (which we still love). And while season 2 wasn't always a crowd pleaser, the latter half ended well enough to have us excited for Ted Lasso season 3. Speaking of which, Want a refresher on what comes next for Coach Lasso? Check out our 5 big questions for Ted Lasso season 3. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 2
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein
Year:
2020-2021 (ongoing)
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rotten Tomatoes scores:
92% (season 1), 97% (season 2)

Central Park

The Tillerman–Hunter family in the living room in Central Park

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Tailor-made for fans of musicals and the animated series Bob's Burgers, Central Park posits that families actually live in NYC's iconic park. In this case, it's the Tillerman–Hunter family, which makes sense as patriarch Owen Tillerman (voiced by Leslie Odom Jr.) is the park manager. Much like Bob Belcher, though, Owen doesn't get much respect from anyone around him, even as he does his best to make sure the park stays in pristine condition. Filled with excellent songs, a fantastic cast and plenty of laughs, Central Park is probably the best Apple TV Plus show that more people should be watching.  — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 2
Voice cast:
Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Josh Gad, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Stanley Tucci, Emmy Raver-Lampman
Year:
2020-2021
Genre: Animated sitcom
Rotten Tomatoes score:
97%

The Morning Show

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston in “The Morning Show,” now streaming on Apple TV Plus, one of the returning shows of 2022/23

(Image credit: Apple)

The Morning Show has been a story of the reinventions of television, not just in the show-within-a-show hosted by Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), but the series itself. While season 1 of TMS focused on the downfall of talk show host Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) due to sexual impropriety at the workplace, the series was never meant to take that angle on — but was later reworked to do so (following the news of Matt Lauer's misconduct).

The same thing happened in the second season, where The Morning Show — which is practically required to be topical — fit the Covid-19 outbreak into its story. While the second season is a bit more soapy, it seems to have discovered a better sense of the kind of drama it is. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 2
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Steve Carell
Year:
2019-2021 (ongoing)
Genre: Drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
63%

Mythic Quest

Charlotte Nicdao and Rob McElhenney in Mythic Quest

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

In the annals of "shows we never knew we needed," Mythic Quest ranks highly, because a live action series about the life of video game developers just didn't sound riveting. Our opinions changed, though, when we met the egotistical Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney), the timid Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao) and the rest of the dysfunctional team behind the online game Mythic Quest. 

The secret sauce of Mythic Quest is that McElhenney isn't the only veteran of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia on hand. Both Charlie Day, Megan Ganz and David Hornsby (who is also in the cast) executive produce Mythic Quest. While Mythic Quest's characters are less heinous than the Sunny gang, you can see that the show carries the excellent banter from that series over. — Henry T. Casey

Seasons: 2 + 2 special event episodes
Cast:
Rob McElhenney, Ashly Burch, Jessie Ennis, Imani Hakim, David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Danny Pudi, F. Murray Abraham
Year:
2020-2021
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score:
97%

Dickinson

Hailee Steinfeld in Dickinson

(Image credit: Apple)

The show about one of America’s greatest poets is fittingly lyrical, beautiful and brief. Hailee Steinfeld stars as Emily, the often-misunderstood middle child of her family who has a penchant for penning verses that cut right to the bone (and heart). Dickinson is brimming with anachronisms in the language, casting and needle drops. But they’re never jarring; instead, they connect the modern viewer to the still-relevant difficulties faced by a young, ambitious, talented woman. As she grapples with her place in the world, her sexuality and her legacy, Emily turns her feelings into poems that will ultimately transcend time. — Kelly Woo

Seasons: 3
Cast:
Hailee Steinfeld, Toby Huss, Adrian Blake Enscoe, Anna Baryshnikov, Ella Hunt
Year: 2019-2021
Genre: Romance
Rotten Tomatoes score:
92%

Best Apple TV Plus movies

Beastie Boys Story

A still from the Beastie Boys Story, with AdRock and Mike D talking in front of an image of MCA from the Sabotage video

(Image credit: Apple)

The Beastie Boys (MCA, Mike D and Ad Rock) were one of the most popular rap groups of their era, but never got to tell their own story until this Spike Jonze-directed feature. But the film isn't your standard documentary. Instead, it's a recording of a live stage show with Mike D and Adam Horovitz telling their stories on stage, with archival footage mixed in. A true must-watch for any Beasties fan, Beastie Boys Story is easily one of the best Apple TV Plus movies. — Henry T. Casey

Cast: Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch, Spike Jonze
Year:
2020
Genre: Music documentary
Rotten Tomatoes score:
94%

CODA 

Emilia Jones in CODA

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

The acronym in the title stands for “child of deaf adults,” and in this case, it’s 17-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones). Living in Gloucester, Ruby interprets for her deaf parents (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) and deaf older brother (Daniel Durant), plus helps out with the family’s fishing business. Encouraged by a music teacher, Ruby develops a passion for singing, which mystifies her parents. It also hurts them — her mother asks if she would want to paint if they were blind. With a big choir audition coming up, Ruby feels torn between her dreams and the needs of her family. The heartwarming story, fine performances and excellent sound production made this one of the best movies of 2021. — Kelly Woo

Cast: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, Daniel Durant, Eugenio Derbez, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
Year:
2021
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score:
96%

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Take it from me, someone who is no fan of the works of William Shakespeare, and never really got a grip on the way he writes: The Tragedy of Macbeth is a phenomenal film. Director, producer and writer Joel Coen brings an artfully minimalist look to The Scottish Play, though it's Denzel Washington's gripping performance as Lord Macbeth that makes the film emotionally powerful whether you can translate each line or not. Additional points are given for how this take on Macbeth shows an actually positive and loving relationship between the Lord and his Lady Macbeth (Frances McDormand). — Henry T. Casey

Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling
Year:
2021
Genre: Drama
Rotten Tomatoes score:
93%

The Velvet Underground

Moe Tucker, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed from archival photography from The Velvet Underground

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Much like Beastie Boys Story, the 2021 documentary The Velvet Underground is a huge treat for fans of the band. The film's success is derived from director Todd Haynes, who's created a visually dynamic collage from the source material provided to him. Interviews with John Cale and Maureen “Moe” Tucker help ground the film in storytelling, as Haynes isn't interested in narrative arcs. — Henry T. Casey

Cast: Mary Woronov, Jonathan Richman, John Cale, Maureen Ann Tucker, Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed
Year:
2021
Genre: Music documentary
Rotten Tomatoes score:
97%

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.