7 best Apple TV Plus miniseries to binge-watch this weekend

The Apple logo in white glows behind a phone with the Apple TV+ logo on it
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Apple TV Plus is one of the best streaming services out there. It might even be my personal favorite. It may not have the most content but Apple TV Plus has some of the best TV shows and movies, including some excellent miniseries.

And who doesn't love a good miniseries? They're often just as good as the best TV shows and typically come loaded with great actors. Plus, you can watch all of these limited series in their entirety over the course of a Saturday and Sunday. A few, like "Black Bird" and "Last Days of Ptolemy Grey" are just six episodes long. You could knock them both out on a Saturday, and then save Sunday for "Hijack" or "Lessons in Chemistry."

So if you’re looking for a way to kill some time this weekend, we’ve got you covered with this curated selection of the best limited series that Apple's streaming service has to offer. Here are our picks for the five Apple TV Plus miniseries you should binge-watch this weekend.

'Black Bird'

Would you enter hell if it meant winning your freedom? In "Black Bird," Taron Egerton must do exactly that. Based on true events, this movie centers on James "Jimmy" Keene (Egerton), a charming criminal who is serving time in prison after being picked up in a drug bust. He is offered freedom but only if he can get the FBI evidence that keeps serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) behind bars.

Frankly, there's very little negative that anyone had to say about this miniseries, but its highlight is probably the excellent ensemble cast. In addition to Egerton and Hauser, "Black Bird" also features performances from Sepideh Moafi, Greg Kinnear and the late Ray Liotta. This limited series is a must-watch.

Genre: True crime
Episodes: 6
Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus

'Five Days at Memorial'

This miniseries is not for the faint of heart. Starring Vera Farmiga, Cherry Jones and Robert Pine, this medical drama retells the events of five days at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans, Louisana, during Hurricane Katrina. It is dark — the Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus calls it "unflinching to the point of punishing" — but it is nonetheless compelling television. 

If you can stomach the horror of this real-life disaster, you're rewarded with eight episodes of one of Apple TV's best original shows.

Genre: Medical drama
Episodes: 8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus 

'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey'

Based on the 2010 novel, "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey" has a compelling premise. Ptolemy Grey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a 91-year-old man suffering from dementia, largely under the care of his great-nephew Reggie (Omar Benson Miller). When Reggie mysteriously dies, Ptolemy elects to undergo a procedure offered by his doctor (Walton Goggins) to restore his memory so he can uncover the truth of Reggie's death. The only problem? The procedure is temporary, and once it wears off Ptolemy will lose his memories entirely.

Just as compelling as the premise is Jackson's performance as Ptolemy Grey, but he's not the only one to watch. Dominique Fishback shines as his niece Robyn, and their performances are worth the price of admission alone.

Genre: Drama
Episodes: 6
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus 


"Told in real time, Hijack is a tense thriller that follows the journey of a hijacked plane as it makes its way to London over a seven-hour flight, and as authorities on the ground scramble for answers."

That's how Apple pitches "Hijack" in the description of its trailer on YouTube, and if you're like me, that's enough to sell you on this seven-part miniseries. But if you're not sold on that alone, what if I told you it stars Idris Elba as Sam Nelson, the talented corporate negotiator who must talk the hijackers out of something disastrous before it's too late? Sold now? You should be.

Genre: Thriller
Episodes: 7
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus 

'Lessons in Chemistry'

Watching the trailer for "Lessons in Chemistry" you'll be forgiven if you instantly make comparisons to Netflix's miniseries The Queen's Gambit. Both are based on popular novels and are period pieces with a female protagonist eschewing patriarchal norms with success in a time where, unfortunately, in the real world, they'd likely have been unable to succeed despite deserving to by every measure.

And both feature incredible performances from their lead actress. In this case, it's Brie Larson as Elizabeth Zott, a chemist turned hit TV cooking show host who succeeds despite the efforts of men around her to keep her in line. While this miniseries doesn't always hit the mark, Larson is incredible. It's no surprise that both her performance and the show were nominated for Golden Globe awards this year.

Genre: Period drama
Episodes: 8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus

'The Essex Serpent'

Part period piece, part romance novel brought to life and part thriller about religious fervor and mass hysteria, "The Essex Serpent" is a solid miniseries, even if it doesn't always excel. That's not to say that the show doesn't have excellent qualities. Its gothic rendition of dreary England is well-executed and the performances of Claire Danes as the scientific-minded widow Cora Seaborne and Tom Hiddleston as Will Ransome, the charming, handsome pastor who ultimately falls for her (spoiler alert: he's not single) are gripping. It's not quite on par with some of the other shows on this list, but it's still undoubtedly one of Apple TV Plus's best miniseries.

Genre: Romance drama
Episodes: 6
Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus

'Defending Jacob'

In "Defending Jacob," Chris Evans plays Andrew "Andy" Stephen Barber, an Assistant District Attorney who one day finds his son (Jaeden Martell) accused of and arrested for first-degree murder. Andy and his wife Laurie (Michelle Dockery) try to keep their lives normal during this trying time, but it's soon clear that normal is no longer an option for the Barbers. While critics were middling on this Apple TV Plus miniseries, audiences were much more enthusiastic with their praise. So take the show's 70% "fresh" rating with a grain of salt. This dark crime drama has plenty going for it, including the performances of Evans, Dockery and Martell as the Barber family.

Genre: Crime drama
Episodes: 8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 70%
Watch now on Apple TV Plus

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.