Many of the best series on TV this year aren’t on Netflix or Disney+ or Hulu or Amazon or HBO Max. They’re on Apple TV+.
Shocking as it may seem, the ubiquitous tech company’s foray into original TV programming, which started out with a dull whimper in November 2019, has progressed to a satisfying roar with a triumphant slate of acclaimed TV shows. As someone who initially dismissed the service as an expensive vanity exercise, I couldn’t be more thrilled with Apple’s output in 2021. And it appears like it’s only going to get better.
Apple entered the original TV business with a $4.99 a month price tag for its streaming service (purchasers of selected Apple products also get it free for one year). When the service launched it had only nine shows and films to offer, including Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s media drama “The Morning Show”; post-apocalyptic “See,” starring Jason Momoa; irreverent historical comedy “Dickinson”; alternate space race history “For All Mankind”; and some children’s programming.
It was a paltry offering compared to major rivals Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. And unlike them, and several more streaming services introduced since then, Apple has no deep library of archival content.
Disney+, launched shortly after Apple, has far more library titles than originals from Disney Channel series to “The Simpsons”; HBO Max was launched with 10 seasons of “Friends,” reclaimed from Netflix; Peacock quickly took back the rights for “The Office” from Netflix in January, months after its launch; and Paramount+, the newest arrival in the streaming wars, has everything from classic Nickelodeon cartoons to CBS crime dramas to “The Brady Bunch” (even if many of its titles are also available on its competitors’ sites).
How were a handful of shows with a handful of stars supposed to compete with more TV than any viewer could watch in a lifetime?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is quality over quantity. While “Morning Show” and “See” flailed creatively out of the gate when Apple TV+ launched, most of the streamer’s programming has been smart…