The fall TV season is beginning, but you shouldn't forget about the high quality Apple TV Plus shows that have been sitting there, waiting for you to press 'play.' No, we're not talking about the buzzy likes of Ted Lasso, Severance, The Afterparty, For All Mankind, or more well-known shows such as The Morning Show, Dickinson and Mythic Quest. Many of which earned spots on our full list of the best Apple TV Plus shows.
Apple TV Plus (at least for its $4.99 per month (opens in new tab) price) has a surprisingly deep bench when it comes to amazing TV shows. Much like Netflix and HBO Max, these sometimes come in the form of limited miniseries (two such shows made this list).
Many give Apple TV Plus a lot of flack for having less content than other services (and no back catalogue of licensed films or shows), but we're OK with that when Apple TV Plus has gotten so good at picking the select shows it runs. The Apple TV Plus stamp of approval is getting up there, nearly at the point of HBO's brand: you know that its shows are made with care.
So, let's dive into the under-appreciated gems of Apple TV Plus. Yes, you might have seen one or two of these, but from Apple's beautiful sweeping historical drama to an animated musical set in NYC to a grim drama in a prison, we're sure we've got more than a few picks you need to start.
Bad Sisters (2022)
Sharon Horgan’s wicked, often absurd humor was deployed to masterful effect in Catastrophe. She brings it again to this dark comedy/thriller revolving around five sisters and the mysterious death of one of their husbands. Eva Garvey (Horgan) and her sisters have always promised to look out for each other, so when Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) suffers abuse from the cruel John Paul (Claes Bang), the other four decide to protect her — by killing him.
It starts off as a joke, then becomes serious after John Paul exhibits even more outrageously awful behavior, not just toward Grace but toward all the Garveys. Each of them holds their own grudge against him. Months later, he winds up dead, and a suspicious life insurance agent begins to snoop around and ask questions. But were the sisters actually successful in committing a deadly deed or are their hands clean? - Kelly Woo
Genre: Dark comedy/thriller
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Pachinko (2022 – present)
Throughout Pachinko, we see two stories from the same family of Koreans in postwar Japan. In the earlier time period, Sunja (Minha Kim) is struggling through life as her impoverished family barely makes it through in this new societal structure. While she falls for the well-off Hansu (Lee Minho), their relationship is anything but stable. You may at times see him as a villain, but Pachinko's deft storytelling fills out his actions with reasons and rationale.
Then, in the present day, her grandson Solomon (Jin Ha) is also dealing with assimilation, this time struggling to get promoted at a high-end Japanese bank (where the scene-stealing Jimmi Simpson plays a ruthless colleague). Solomon bets his career on bribing and elderly woman to leave her home because he thinks he has an in thanks to their shared Korean backgrounds. But, as is constant throughout Pachinko, nothing goes as expected.
Beautifully shot, expertly acted and featuring the best opening theme and credits this side of Peacemaker, Pachinko is filled with emotion and earns the tears it will pluck from audiences. — Henry T. Casey
Episodes: 8 (season 2 is confirmed)
Genre: Historical drama
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Central Park (2020 – present)
There isn't enough Bob's Burgers on TV, so we're thankful that Belcher family creator Loren Bouchard found time to make a second musically-infused comedy. Central Park leans further into the musical numbers, to great success, delivering a whimsical view of life in New York City's iconic Central Park. And, no, it's not stalking tourists.
This series shows us the life of a fictional family that lives in a house in the park, where parents Owen (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Paige (Kathryn Hahn) raise kids Molly (Kristen Bell, then Emmy Raver-Lampman) and Cole (Tituss Burgess). Aside from living life in the wildest city on the coast, they have to deal with the machinations of the real estate magnate Bitsy Brandenham (Stanley Tucci) who wants to replace the park with condos.
Much like Ted Lasso, Central Park is a breath of fresh and wholesome air that isn't too-wholesome. It isn't overwhelmingly melodic, either. Perfect for when you want a delightful sitcom, Central Park is one of the best Apple TV Plus shows that nobody is seemingly talking about. – HTC
Genre: Animated musical comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Slow Horses (2022 – present)
Slow Horses is perfectly British, and yet there is a subtle American grittiness to it that leads to a perfect blend. The dark spy thriller sometimes feels darker than the waters of the Thames at night, but every time is pulled back by exciting action scenes or the wit of Gary Oldman. Here, he plays Jackson Lamb, an older spy who's in charge of Slough House, a purgatorial outpost for practically-rejected MI5 agents.
While Slow Horses is not full of slouches by any means, it's Oldman who truly makes this series shine. With a first season set at a sharp six-episode cap, there are no weak links, and you’ll find yourself racing to the finish only to find you wish you had savored it. Still, Oldman’s acting chops are unparalleled and this role was the one he was born to play. Once you watch, you’ll find it impossible to imagine anyone else as Jackson Lamb.
The show really does have something for everyone. It’s dark, it’s witty, it’s got breakout performances and elite actors. There is a reason it is one of our best TV shows of 2022 so far. Plus, the six episode season is easy to digest for just about anyone and you know that you’ll still get more. Apple has confirmed that there will be at least four seasons of Slow Horses, with season two expected to come as early as later this year. That means no worries about another TV show you fell in love with getting canceled after one season. Expect Slow Horses to go the distance. – Malcolm McMillan
Episodes: 6 (renewed through season 4)
Genre: Spy thriller
Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%
Trying (2020 – Present)
Over three seasons, Rafe Spall's Jason and Esther Smith's Nikki have become two of our favorite characters, thanks to Apple TV Plus' Trying. This series shows a trouble that many shows shy away from: the difficulty conceiving a child that leads to adoption. That trying can somehow find humor in the moments surrounding this is an achievement into and of itself. Many of those laughs arise from the question that many young people don't know how to answer, as Nikki and Jason question their own worthiness as parents.
Watching Smith and Spall's on-screen chemistry, as the two nearly-effortlessly charm you for three whole seasons, is fantastic. And it's enhanced by how they bounce off of their friends Erica and Freddy (Ophelia Lovibond and Oliver Chris), who have two kids and aren't in the best situation themselves and the ever-entertaining Imelda Staunton, who plays Penny, who is sent from the adoption agency to see if Jason and Nikki are fit to be parents. – HTC
Seasons: 3 (season 4 is confirmed)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Black Bird (2022)
Most talked about as the final performance of Ray Liotta's exemplary career, Black Bird is far more than Liotta's supporting role as James "Big Jim" Keene. It's more about his charismatic drug-dealing son James (Taron Egerton), who winds up in a cushy minimum-security prison after getting busted. But he doesn't want to be there, especially as his father is fighting cancer. This is where the meat of the story comes in as serial-confessor Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) is the prime suspect in a cold case involving missing young girls. And the cops give James the offer that could get him out of jail: go undercover into the dangerous maximum security prison Hall is in, and get a confession out of him.
Black Bird is phenomenal for the tension of the story, as Hauser's performance as the creepy and subdued Hall — is the stuff that award nominations are made for. As James does his best to befriend Larry, he learns how rageful his cellblock-mate is. While Black Bird may be a slow-starter, it will have you on the edge of your seat as tensions rise between James, Larry and the prisoners and guards around them. – HTC
Genre: True crime drama
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Shining Girls (2022)
As she's gone from difficult role to difficult role, Elizabeth Moss has thrived through complex situations. So it was little shock that she was cast as Kirby Mazrachi, a journalist whose life was ruined after a traumatic assault that broke the way she sees the world. In Shining Girls, Mazrachi can't keep the time period — or situation — she's living in. As her relationships constantly change without warning around her, a new lead on the cold case that led to her condition arises. Thrilling and moody, Shining Girls gets plenty uncomfortable, as Harper (Jamie Bell), the man who assaulted Kirby, targets more and more women. – HTC
Genre: Crime drama
Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%