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Best Apple TV+ shows (so far) and those most anticipated this year

Ted Lasso
Ted Lasso (Image credit: Apple TV+)

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it has only been fourteen months since Apple TV+ made its debut. At the time, no one could say whether the new streaming service would take off. With COVID-19 slowing down the launch of some of the service's early content, that uncertainly largely remains. Despite this, there has been much to love about Apple TV+ over the first year, and 2021 shows great promise as well.

Best Apple TV+ shows: You can watch these right now

Before the Apple TV+ debut on November 1, 2019, I was most excited about The Morning Show because it features one of my favorite Friends. The alternative reality space drama For All Mankind also caught my eye thanks to its unique premise. I continued to watch Apple TV+ before and during the early days of the pandemic, finding some shows better than others.

Nothing I watched during that time ever rose to the level of must-see tv, although Servant (creepy) and Defending Jacob (with its surprise ending) had moments that made me take notice. Then Ted Lasso arrived.

Here are the best Apple TV+ shows since the service was launched.

1. Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso Locker Room

Ted Lasso Locker Room (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Ted Lasso and its unique cast of characters would have probably found success even without the pandemic. And yet, its August arrival felt especially right during a time of uncertainty. The comedy-drama made us laugh and smile when real-life feel-good stories continue to be in short supply.

As Ted Lasso, the man, Sudeikis leads a fictional English football team that isn't used to winning. Though that didn't change in the first season (the team suffered relegation in the season finale), everyone knows where this is heading. And with Ted Lasso already securing orders for a second and third season (the first Apple TV+ series to do so), the team has plenty of time to rise to the top.

2. The Morning Show

The Morning Show

The Morning Show (Image credit: Apple)

Seconds into The Morning Show, it's clear Apple spared no expense for this highly-anticipated Jennifer Aniston-Reece Witherspoon workplace drama from its beautiful sets to the deep bench of award-winning actors that also includes Steve Carell and Billy Crudup. It felt fresh and timely when it launched in November 2019, right down to its central Me Too movement storyline.

However, through the prism of early 2021, The Morning Show now feels like a period piece where New York City streets are bustling, and California wildfires are the biggest news story of the day — not the latest death count for a worldwide virus.

Had The Morning Show debuted sometime in 2020 with its dated first season storyline intact, I'm not sure it would have rated so high on my list. But all 10 first-season episodes launched weeks before COVID-19 transformed the U.S., so I'm basing my rating exclusively on its production value.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how the next season of The Morning Show handles the pandemic, which it promises to do. That second season started filming right before the world changed in March 2020, and production shut down. Seven months and no-doubt many re-writes later, production began again. The next season should air later this year on Apple TV+.

3. For All Mankind

For All Mankind Jamestown Base

For All Mankind Jamestown Base (Image credit: Apple)

A new television drama needs at least one overreaching hook to bring viewers in, and For All Mankind had a big one when it launched alongside The Morning Show. Instead of the United States, the Soviet Union landed the first person on the moon. Because of this, within this alternative-reality, the space race between the two superpowers never ended, which leads to some fascinating storylines in season one that spans two decades.

Season 2 of For All Mankind arrives on February 19 and also looking promising. Set in the early 1980s during the height of the Cold War, the tensions between the superpowers have never been higher. In this world, there's less worry about nuclear weapons flying across the Earth sky. Instead, the moon is where this conflict might be resolved.

4. Servant

Servant Season Three

Servant Season Three (Image credit: Apple)

The weirdness that's at the heart of M. Night Shyamalan's Servant has just picked up again with the recent debut of season two. The psychological thriller left us guessing in its first episodes thanks to the well-received acting from Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free, Rupert Grint, and a creepy baby that skips between being real and "scary Jerry."

Like The Morning Show, one of Servant's biggest strengths is its high-value production value. It's the story itself that will keep you coming back for more, however. How with this end? I have absolutely no idea, which is what makes it a thriller, hour by hour. Season three was announced in mid-December.

5. Central Park

Apple Tv Central Park Key Art 16

Apple Tv Central Park Key Art 16 (Image credit: Apple)

The animated Central Park offers a unique mix of storytelling and music geared for the entire family. As its name suggests, the series following a family that lives in the iconic New York City location. Created, written, and executive produced by Emmy Award winner Loren Bouchard (Bob's Burgers), Central Park features the voices of Grammy Award winner Josh Gad (Frozen) and Emmy Award winner Nora Smith (Bob's Burgers).

Central Park returns for season two later this year.

Specials and films

Apple TV+ isn't just about dramas and comedy series. In its first year, it also released various films, documentaries, and specials. According to Rotten Tomatoes, Visible: Out on Television, Wolfwalkers, Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds, *Little America, and Boys States are the ones most favored by viewers.

Best Apple TV+ shows: Looking ahead

This year, Apple TV+ will continue releasing new content, although not everything has a start date. In no particular order, here are some of the most anticipated new titles coming in 2021:

Losing Alice

Apple TV Losing Alice

Apple TV Losing Alice (Image credit: Apple)

Launched January 22, Losing Alice is co-produced by Israel's Hot Telecommunication Systems Ltd. Featuring multiple flashbacks and flash-forwards, the series follows a 48-year-old film producer (played by Ayelet Zurer) who no longer feels relevant in her life since raising her family.

As Apple explains, "Through the prism of this female Faust, the series explores issues such as jealousy, guilt, fear of aging, and the complex relationships women have among themselves and each other. But above all, "Losing Alice" is a love letter for the still-too-rare female director."

Losing Alice includes eight episodes in its first season.

Lisey's Story

When Stephen King and J.J. Abrams get together, there's no telling what might happen. Lisey's Story is the latest collaboration between the writer and producer. It's based on King's 2006 novel by the same name and stars Academy Award winner Julianne Moore. Like the book, Lisey's Story is described as a psychological horror romance.

Though an official release date for Lisey's Story hasn't been announced, Apple promises the eight-part miniseries will launch in 2021.


Also heavily-anticipated is Severance, a thriller television series by Dan Erickson that will star Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, and Britt Lower. The 10-episode first season started filming in October 2020. It's set at fictional Lumen Industries, where a "severance" program is used to separate their employees' non-work memories from their work memories.



Foundation (Image credit: Apple TV+)

One of the first Apple TV+ series announced, the science fiction drama Foundation is based on the popular book series by Isaac Asimov. The first season will consist of 10 episodes.

Foundation is an upcoming American science fiction television series based on the book series of the same name by Isaac Asimov and produced for Apple TV+. Foundation will consist of ten episodes and premiere in 2021.

The Mosquito Coast

Finally, there's The Mosquito Coast, based on the Paul Theroux novel that was first adapted as a 1986 film starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, and the late River Phoenix. The new series stars Justin Theroux, Peter's nephew, in the leading role, and Melissa George.

What are your favorites?

Which Apple TV+ series did you like the best during its first year? Let us know in the comments below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

  • I am so freaking excited to see Foundation. I hope it's not too far off in the future. (So to speak.) Amazon Prime has one of the best science fiction series ever written behind an unnamed up-coming show they are producing. It should be pretty outstanding considering it's based on the late Iain M. Banks' Culture Series on which is what Amazon is basing this new series. I only wish Apple was doing it.
  • Same. Thanks for reading.