Apple TV+ has released shows to critical acclaim and word-of-mouth buzz after stumbling at launch

  • When Apple TV+ debuted in November 2019, its flagship launch shows like “See” and “The Morning Show” were received poorly by critics. 
  • But Apple’s streaming component gained buzz for its second wave of original shows, thanks to word-of-mouth hits like “Ted Lasso” and “Defending Jacob.”
  • Some launch shows like “For All Mankind” and “Dickinson” also released their second seasons this year to critical acclaim, with both receiving 100% Rotten Tomatoes critic scores in their sophomore installments.
  • The Apple streaming service still doesn’t have anywhere near the quantity of content that others like Netflix have, but its small collection of recent critical favorites may give it a chance to reel in potential subscribers when the extended free trial ends in July.
  • Insider ranked every Apple original scripted series (we excluded docuseries) by their Rotten Tomatoes critic scores, and broke ties with audience scores.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

19. "Truth Be Told" — one season (December 2019-present)

Description: “When new evidence compels podcaster Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) to reopen the murder case that made her a national sensation, she comes face to face with Warren Cave (Aaron Paul), the man she may have mistakenly helped to put behind bars. Her investigation navigates urgent concerns about privacy, media and race.”

Critic score: 31%

What critics said: “With a stacked cast and a premise that gives way to a wealth of ideas, Truth Be Told could have been a solid story about many things. However, Truth Be Told doesn’t work and instead it’s the rare crime mystery where I don’t care about getting to the end.” — Observer (season one)

18. "Amazing Stories" — one season (March 2020-present)

Description: “From visionary executive producers Steven Spielberg and Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, this reimagining of the classic anthology series transports everyday characters into worlds of wonder, possibility, and imagination.”

Critic score: 40%

What critics said: “Maybe the show will get better; I hope it does. But with so many shows on so many different platforms right now, it seems like Amazing Stories blew its one chance to make a good first impression.” — IGN (season one)

17. "See" — one season (November 2019-present)

Description: “In the far future, a virus has decimated humankind. Those who survived emerged blind. Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, the father of twins born centuries later with the mythic ability to see — who must protect his tribe against a powerful yet desperate queen who believes it’s witchcraft and wants them destroyed. Alfre Woodard also stars as Paris, Baba Voss’ spiritual leader.”

Critic score: 43%

What critics said: “As the show leans heavily on gore and predictable plot points, it proves that, at the very least, Apple has figured out the dirty truth of making TV: Even the strongest story pitches can blindly wander into a puddle of mediocrity.” — Washington Post (season one)

16. "The Mosquito Coast" — one season (April 2021-present)

Description: “A brilliant rebel (Justin Theroux) and his wife (Melissa George) take their family on the run to protect them, but end up exposing them to more danger than ever. At every turn of their adventure, they encounter increasing threats and intensifying moral choices from which there’s no turning back.”

Critic score: 60%

What critics said: “The Mosquito Coast works best when you just follow along with the running and don’t think too hard about the rest, but the running itself becomes tedious after awhile. Not everything makes perfect sense, or seems remotely plausible.” — Los Angeles Times (season one)

15. "The Morning Show" — one season (November 2019-present)

Description: “What happens when the people you trust to tell the truth prove themselves to be dishonest? The Morning Show follows the free fall of an early morning newscast in the wake of a scandal, and its struggle to survive in an era when news arrives in the palm of your hand. The Morning Show stars Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, Emmy winner Jennifer Aniston and Golden Globe winner Steve Carell in a high-stakes drama that pulls back the curtain on the morning news.”

Critic score: 61%

What critics said: “Sadly, by its finale, The Morning Show is less addictive train wreck than glum clunker, symptomatic of peak TV: it’s yet another lacquered, poorly structured ten-episode story, whose sparks are dampened as it becomes more earnest.” — New Yorker (season one)

14. "Defending Jacob" — limited series (April 2020)

Description: “In this gripping, character-driven thriller, a shocking crime rocks a small Massachusetts town and one family in particular, forcing an assistant district attorney to choose between his sworn duty to uphold justice and his unconditional love for his son.”

Critic score: 72%

What critics said: “You’ve seen it before, perhaps, but don’t let that stop you. ‘Defending Jacob’ is gripping enough in its own way, despite some of the familiar moves, and the acting is consistently fine.” — Boston Globe

13. "Losing Alice" — one season (January 2021-present)

Description: “In this internationally acclaimed psychological thriller, Alice is a middle-aged film director who feels lost since raising her family. But a chance meeting with Sophie, a femme-fatale screenwriter, takes Alice on an obsessive journey toward success at any cost.”

Critic score: 76%

Audience score: 78%

What critics said: “An immensely compelling drama, if an overlong one, and a heroine who is, title notwithstanding, anything but lost.” — Wall Street Journal

12. "Little Voice" — one season (July 2020-present)

Description: “From Emmy Award-winner J.J. Abrams, Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-nominee Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson, Little Voice is a new coming-of-age drama series featuring original music from Sara Bareilles. A love letter to the diverse musicality of New York starring Brittany O’Grady, Sean Teale, Colton Ryan, Shalini Bathina, Kevin Valdez, Phillip Johnson Richardson and Chuck Cooper, Little Voice follows Bess King, a uniquely talented performer struggling to fulfill her dreams while navigating rejection, love, and complicated family issues.”

Critic score: 76%

Audience score: 82%

What critics said: “While it often crosses the line into saccharine, Little Voice is an engine of joy, driven by great music and even catchier, unforgettable characters.” — RogerEbert.com (season one)

11. "Home Before Dark" — one season (April 2020-present)

Description: “A mystery inspired by the reporting of a real nine-year-old journalist. When a young girl and her family move back to the small town her father left behind, her pursuit of the truth leads to the unearthing of a long-buried cold case.”

Critic score: 81%

What critics said: “The main attraction, from start to finish, is the insouciance and conviction that Prince brings to her portrayal of a child who suffers for being an outsider but refuses to give into pressure from family, schoolmates, teachers and police to just go along.” — New York Times (season one)

10. "Servant" — two seasons (November 2019-present)

Description: “From M. Night Shyamalan, Servant follows a Philadelphia couple in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.”

Critic score: 85%

What critics said: “Rupert Grint still impresses as Dorothy’s wine-swilling, foul-mouthed brother, Julian (wash your mouth out, Ron Weasley!). And Ambrose releases the throttle fully for a performance of even more delicious derangement.” — Empire Magazine (season two)

9. "For All Mankind" — two seasons (November 2019-present)

Description: “For All Mankind is created by Emmy Award winner Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica), Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi. Told through the lives of NASA astronauts, engineers and their families, For All Mankind presents an aspirational world where NASA and the space program remained a priority and a focal point of our hopes and dreams.”

Critic score: 86%

What critics said: “Its bona fides stem from many corners — terrific production design, visual effects that might be TV’s best, stellar performances from a beautifully chosen ensemble cast — but its overall quality can also be traced back to its showrunner Ronald D. Moore.” — Vox (season two)

8. "Dickinson" — two seasons (November 2019-present)

Description: “Dickinson is a half-hour comedy series starring Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld. Created by Alena Smith, Dickinson audaciously explores the constraints of society, gender and family from the perspective of rebellious young poet Emily Dickinson.”

Critic score: 87%

Audience score: 86%

What critics said: “It is imperfect and strange and easy to love. Sometimes the ride is bumpy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth taking the trip.” — Indiewire (season two)

7. "Trying" — one season (May 2020-present)

Description: “All Nikki (Esther Smith) and Jason (Rafe Spall) want is a baby—but it’s the one thing they just can’t have. How are they going to fill the next 50 years if they can’t start a family? They already went through The Sopranos in a weekend. After ruling out every other option, Nikki and Jason decide to adopt and are confronted by a world of bewildering new challenges. With their dysfunctional friends, screwball family, and chaotic lives, will the adoption panel agree that they’re ready to be parents?”

Critic score: 87%

Audience score: 92%

What critics said: “At its best, Trying candidly lays bare the emotional filigree of failing to conceive a child and choosing to devote your life to a tiny stranger. At its worst, it yokes us to two unlikeable people who grind you down with their endless neuroses.” — Hollywood Reporter (season one)

6. "Ted Lasso" — one season (August 2020-present)

Description: “Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer.”

Critic score: 91%

What critics said: “On Ted Lasso, American innocence, humility, and heroism are all alive and well-and you don’t have to consciously notice any of that for it to bring you comfort.” — Slate (season one)

5. "Calls" — one season (March 2021-present)

Description: “Based on the buzzy French series of the same name, Calls is a groundbreaking immersive television experience that masterfully uses only audio and minimal abstract visuals to tell bone-chilling snackable stories. Launching in a binge model worldwide, all nine 12-minute episodes are told through a series of phone calls that use sharp writing, compelling voice talent and graphics to aid in transcribing the darkly dramatic conversations onto the screen. These relatable scenarios transport the audience into familiar situations that quickly become surreal with thrilling and frightening moments. Featuring Lily Collins, Rosario Dawson, Mark Duplass & more, Calls proves that the real terror lies in one’s interpretation of what they cannot see on the screen and the unsettling places one’s imagination can take them.”

Critic score: 93%

What critics said: “While the audio is the focus of the production, what’s intriguing about this otherwise good-but-not-great story is that it has some of the charm and simplicity of audio-only storytelling, with some of the advantages of visual cues.” — NPR (season one)

4. "Central Park" — one season (July 2020-present)

Description: “Central Park is an animated musical comedy from Emmy Award-winner Loren Bouchard (Bob’s Burgers) that follows the exploits of a family living in the world’s most famous park. The series voice cast includes Josh Gad, Leslie Odom, Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, and Stanley Tucci.”

Critic score: 94%

Audience score: 71%

What critics said: “Public parks are the pressure valves of any major metropolis … That sense of civic pride suffuses Central Park, a delightful animated comedy created by Bob’s Burgers team Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith with Josh Gad.” — Time (season one)

3. "Tehran" — one season (September 2020-present)

Description: “A new espionage thriller from Fauda writer Moshe Zonder that tells the thrilling story of a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover on a dangerous mission in Tehran that places her and everyone around her in dire jeopardy.” 

Critic score: 94%

Audience score: 77%

What critics said: “While it would’ve benefited from sharper storytelling and editing, Tehran still manages to pull off the daunting task of telling personal stories while looking at the long history of political tensions between two nations.” — AV Club

2. "Little America" — one season (January 2020-present)

Description: “Inspired by the true stories featured in Epic Magazine, Little America goes beyond the headlines to bring to life the funny, romantic, heartfelt and surprising stories of immigrants in America. The first season consists of eight half-hour episodes, each with its own unique story from different parts of the world.”

Critic score: 95%

What critics said: “Its ambitions aren’t flashy, but Little America leads with a clear investment in the kinds of people often relegated to the background of other shows. It’s a smart, empathetic choice.” — The Atlantic (season one)

1. "Mythic Quest" — two seasons (February 2020-present)

Description: “With the quarantine finally over, the new season of Mythic Quest finds everyone back in the office (well, almost everyone), attempting to build upon the success of Raven’s Banquet by launching an epic new expansion, but Ian (Rob McElhenney) and the newly promoted co-creative director, Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao), struggle with the game’s direction. Meanwhile, C.W. (F. Murray Abraham) reconciles some unresolved issues from his past, the testers (Ashly Burch and Imani Hakim) test the bounds of an office romance, and David (David Hornsby) loses yet another woman in his life as Jo (Jessie Ennis) leaves him to assist Brad (Danny Pudi).”

Critic score: 97%

What critics said: “Mythic Quest continues to level up in Season Two, even with the characters all back in the office together. It’s now a consistently funny show, on top of an emotionally effective one.” — Rolling Stone (season two)

Source: Read Full Article