20 Best Apple TV Shows Right Now

Updated July 6, 2024 • Staff
When Apple TV+ first launched in 2019, its prospects seemed dim. It was entering a saturated streaming market with only eight titles to its name, and it was standing up to competitors with far more experience and recall in the entertainment game. But thanks to a quality-over-quantity strategy and a nothing-to-lose gumption—literally, the company had millions to spare—it now comes out on top of the streaming wars, right there with old-timers like Netflix and powerhouses like Disney+. At the moment, Apple TV+ has more than 50 original shows (and a couple of Emmys, mind you) under its belt. Endearing comedies and hard-hitting dramas are what it does best, so we list the finest of them below.
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20.

Shrinking

In Shrinking, Jason Segel plays Jimmy Laird a newly-widowed therapist who’s trying to make amends with his loved ones after isolating himself for so long. It sounds depressing, but Shrinking has the delightful buoyancy of a show like Ted Lasso (which makes sense given that they’re created and directed by the same person) and even Trying, that other Apple TV+ show that masterfully balances seriousness and silliness. Like them, Shrinking is warm and affecting, but it has one undeniable advantage: Harrison Ford. Ford plays Segel's boss, and if you aren't onboard yet, Shrinking is definitive proof that Harrison is actually, objectively hilarious.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Comedy
Actor: Christa Miller, Harrison Ford, Jason Segel, Jessica Williams, Luke Tennie, Lukita Maxwell, Michael Urie
Rating: TV-MA
19.

Drops of God

In the multilingual Drops of God, French author Camille and Japanese sommelier Issei battle for a wine expert's multi-billion-dollar inheritance. Camille may be the expert’s daughter, gifted with an incredible sense of smell and taste, but Issei is the so-called “spiritual son,” the protégé who filled in Camille’s shoes upon her abrupt departure from her father’s life. Whoever wins a series of wine-related tests gets to keep the expert’s estate and continue his legacy.

Based on the Japanese manga of the same, Drops of God is strangely but enjoyably competitive as it plunges you deep into the complex world of wine—through intense competitions, we get a closer look at the drink's many layers, long history, and even its cultural connotations. This nice blend of knowledge and rivalry makes it a thrilling watch, but the show also has an unexpected but welcome family element to it that softens the edge a bit and gives it a sweet aftertaste. If you were ever looking for a smart but heartfelt show about wining and dining, this is it.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Azusa Okamoto, Cécile Bois, Diego Ribon, Fleur Geffrier, Gustave Kervern, Luca Terracciano, Makiko Watanabe, Margaux Chatelier, Satoshi Nikaido, Sophie Mousel, Tomohisa Yamashita
Rating: TV-MA
18.

Lessons in Chemistry

While the show won’t teach you chemistry (or at least not enough for non-chemists to understand certain dialogue), Lessons in Chemistry is an enjoyable adaptation of the bestselling novel. Taking what makes the novel great, the period mini-series, like many period shows, highlights the historical inequality, but does so in a way that’s organic. Protagonist Elizabeth Zott, like Brie Larson, is just simply ahead of her time, while misogyny misinterprets her words and actions. The series also expands on other characters, but still manages to keep a steady pace, through clever rearrangement and reinterpretation of the novel’s plot points. Adding in the lovely costumes, and a stronger love story to start, Lessons in Chemistry might be Apple TV+’s answer to The Queen’s Gambit, albeit set a decade earlier.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Aja Naomi King, Brie Larson, Lewis Pullman, Patrick R. Walker, Stephanie Koenig
Rating: TV-MA
17.

Criminal Record

With the various police procedurals available online, it can feel like an oversaturated genre, at best. At worst, with the struggles the world has to do with regards to the justice system, police procedurals can glorify the institution. Criminal Record examines this, but it doesn’t give the easy answers other shows have when discussing the systemic failure of the police, especially when it comes to race, age, and sex. Peter Capaldi stands in as the old guard, though his skin-crawling presence keeps Dan Hegarty’s real intentions an enigma until the very end. However, it’s Cush Jumbo as the empathetic June Lenker that drives the show, with her persistence meeting Hegarty’s every move, and her frustrations mirroring the real rage the world feels with regards to past injustices. The way the two clash creates a novel rookie-veteran dynamic that makes Criminal Record so striking.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Crime, Drama
Actor: Cathy Tyson, Charlie Creed-Miles, Cush Jumbo, Peter Capaldi, Shaun Dooley, Stephen Campbell Moore, Zoë Wanamaker
Rating: TV-MA
16.

For All Mankind

What if the 1960s space race never ended? For All Mankind imagines such a world; here, Russia's cosmonauts arrive on the moon first, the galaxy holds resources beyond belief, and global wars have expanded in stakes and scale. More than just the final frontier, outer space is now the focal point of warring nations hungry to capitalize and claim new assets. 

For All Mankind's out-of-this-world premise alone make it a thrilling watch, but you'll be glad to know that the show also feels intimate and affecting thanks to its fully fleshed-out characters. If you're looking for an epic but grounded story to lose yourself in, this is it. 

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction, War & Politics
Actor: Casey Johnson, Casey W. Johnson, Coral Peña, Cynthy Wu, Edi Gathegi, Jodi Balfour, Joel Kinnaman, Krys Marshall, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Sonya Walger, Wrenn Schmidt
Rating: TV-MA
15.

Trying

Trying is a realistic but charming take on couples venturing to build a life and stable future for themselves. Heavy themes are tackled here, like infertility, infidelity, and parenthood, but the immensely likable couple that is Nikki and Jase guide us through the murky ups and downs of them all. Their heart and humor aren’t just comforting to watch, they're also inspiring in a TV age obsessed with heavy dramatics. Like Ted Lasso, Abbott Elementary, and other well-meaning shows like it, Trying is a bit of lighthearted fare that we’d do well to indulge in every now and then.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Esther Smith, Imelda Staunton, Oliver Chris, Ophelia Lovibond, Rafe Spall
Rating: TV-14
14.

Little America

Based on Epic magazine’s column of the same name, Little America is an anthology series based on real-life immigrant stories. The episodes vary in plot, topic, and even era—they’re as diverse as the characters themselves—but they are all connected by one thing: the hope of achieving the American Dream. In one episode, an Iranian father sets out to build his family’s dream home in a bid to prevent his son from moving out. In another, a second-generation Korean-American struggles to find his calling, much to the dismay of his war-survivor parents (“What do you know about suffering?” the mother, played by Parasite’s Lee Jung-eun asks when her son complains about med school).

Co-created by Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani, and Emily Gordon (The Big Sick) and directed by Sian Heder (CODA), Little America is a heartwarming collection of stories, as moving as it is urgent. It’s easy to miss this over splashier shows on TV, but trust that this one’s worth tuning into.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: TV-14
13.

Hijack

The show’s premise is plain, but it’s also endlessly, edge-of-your-seat gripping. It’s steady and unhurried but never boring, and each episode, which represents an hour on the seven-hour flight, gives you a sliver of hope for the passengers, especially since they have pro-negotiator Sam Nelson (Idris Elba) on their side. Or do they? The show has fun playing with Sam as the anti-hero, but his heart is too big and golden to achieve that complexity. It also doesn’t bother to paint the hijackers as anything other than terrorists (at least not in the first few episodes screened for review). Instead, the show narrowly chases that mid-flight suspense, and it works. It successfully builds up to it with small but revealing moments. 

At the back of all the hubbub, there is also a running joke about what happens when you get stuck with the worst people you know. The passengers are characters you may be familiar with—the family with loud babies, the nosy seatmate forcing a chat, the lowkey racist eyeing everyone who doesn’t look like him—and it gets doubly entertaining to see them collaborate when they otherwise won’t.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Aimee Kelly, Archie Panjabi, Ben Miles, Christine Adams, Eve Myles, Idris Elba, Jack McMullen, Jasper Britton, Kate Phillips, Max Beesley, Neil Maskell, Zora Bishop
Rating: TV-MA
12.

Frog and Toad

For those familiar with the original book series, you’ll already know what kind of show to expect. The Apple+ cartoon is centered on the two titular amphibians going through universal adventures that makes or breaks your day. From finding the willpower to resist eating delicious cookies, to hoping a friend would contact you when you’re lonely, each episode keeps a gentle sort of humor, poking lighthearted fun at the differences between the emotional Toad and more sensible Frog. With each episode’s twenty minute runtime, and two adventures per episode, Frog and Toad is a sweet, nostalgic series that’s easy to breeze through for millennial parents and their kids.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Animation, Family, Kids
Actor: Kevin Michael Richardson, Nat Faxon
Rating: TV-Y
11.

Swagger

Swagger could’ve easily been a generic sports drama about an ambitious prodigy who, against all odds and through sheer determination, makes it to the top. It is that, but it’s also so much more. Swagger offers biting commentary on race and economic realities, as well as heart-warming and relatable stories about family, love, and coming of age. It’s finely acted, with everyone from the kids and their parents to the coaches offering lived-in and realistic performances. The show is most reminiscent of the 2000 film Love & Basketball, which would make sense since the latter is directed by Swagger director Reggie Bythewood’s spouse, Gina Prince-Bythewood. Swagger and Love & Basketball have unique differences, of course, but both deeply understand and powerfully speak to the Black experience.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Caleel Harris, Isaiah R. Hill, James Bingham, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Quvenzhané Wallis, Shinelle Azoroh, Solomon Irama, Tessa Ferrer, Tristan Mack Wilds
Rating: TV-14

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