A pop star murdered at a high school reunion, a megalomaniacal game designer, and big-dreaming immigrants navigating the quirks of life in America are among the many vibrant characters at the center of some of Apple TV+'s best shows. (And, yes, so is a soccer coach who knows nothing about soccer.)
Since first launching in 2019 with a slate of sci-fi series and dramas, Apple TV+ has proven its worth as a standalone streaming platform with an onslaught of highly unique, creative, award-winning shows covering the wonderful strangeness of humanity. Here are 15 of our favorites.
1. Ted Lasso (2020-present)
Disturbingly folksy American football coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is a fish out of water across the pond when he's hired by football club owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) to tank her football team. He eventually wins everyone over, even when the team loses. The show is a breakout hit because of its kindness and optimism, and its second season evolution added brilliant depth and experimentation. It's also highly likely that all your friends have already demanded you watch it.
2. Little America (2020-present)
Little America is a story-hopping blend of heartbreak and comedy that showcases eight different immigrant families attempting to build their lives in the United States. The show is a partnership between the creative teams behind The Big Sick and Master of None, who together have found a way to brilliantly highlight the absurdity, loneliness, and triumph of living in a strange world of possibility.
3. The Afterparty (2022-present)
When annoying celebrity Xavier (Dave Franco) falls off a cliff at his high school reunion afterparty, everyone is a suspect because everyone hated him. The dynamite comic cast includes Tiffany Haddish as the lead detective, with Sam Richardson (Veep), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Rec), and more. Each episode is told in a different genre style and focused on a different partygoer's POV and personality, with each interrogation bringing everyone one step closer to the truth.
4. Severance (2022-present)
At Lumon Industries, the employees have all undergone a procedure that completely separates their work memories from their real-life memories, so that those two worlds never intersect. Employees can't remember their personal worlds outside of the office, and have no concept of their work lives once they step inside the elevator to go home. After getting promoted, Mark S. (Adam Scott) is confronted in his real life by a former Lumon employee claiming to be his best friend, who sends him down a rabbit hole of discovery about what the company really does. It's an incisive psychological thriller that's also a fantastic argument for keeping WFH life alive. To give further weight to the terrifying reality of the series, Lumon Industries even created its own LinkedIn page.
5. Mythic Quest (2020-present)
All Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney) wants to do is launch the brain-breaking new expansion to Mythic Quest, his beloved online role-playing game, and make sure to take all the credit for its creation himself. First, however, he'll have to butt heads with the people who do all the actual work. Ultimately, Mythic Quest is a fast-paced workplace comedy about smashing as many watermelons as it takes to make a realistic exploding head in a video game.
While McElhenney is best known as the creator of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he's not the only Sunny talent behind—or in front of—the camera. McElhenney co-created the series with Sunny star/writer/executive producer Charlie Day and writer/executive producer Megan Ganz. And David Hornsby, who plays David on Mythic Quest, is a writer and executive producer for both series (and also plays Sunny's lovable priest-turned-junkie Rickety Cricket).
6. El Deafo (2022-present)
Cece Bell is a rabbit who needs a Phonic Ear hearing aid to hear. When it isolates her from the other kids, she adopts the alter ego of a superhero called El Deafo, gaining confidence and learning to make friends that really care about her. This children's show is based loosely on creator Cece Bell's childhood (though she's not actually an animated rabbit in real life). It's also the rare, much-needed show that's fun for parents, too.
7. Swagger (2021-present)
Swagger is a bit like Friday Night Lights, only set in the world of youth basketball. Anchored by stellar performances from O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) and Isaiah Hill, this striking sports drama follows its fictional players both on and off the court as they strive for excellence and use basketball as a therapeutic distraction from life. The series is produced by famed Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Durant, and draws partly from his own life experiences.
8. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (2022-present)
Dementia patient Ptolemy Grey (Samuel L. Jackson) is given the opportunity to have all of his memories restored, but they won't last long, and his mind will be worse than before. Taking the gamble, his entire life comes back into view, and he uses the opportunity to tell his story and learn the truth about the death of his nephew. The show, which comes from crime fiction legend Walter Mosley, is powerful, engaging, and like nothing else around.
9. Mr. Corman (2021)
Mr. Corman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) could have been a rock star if everything had worked out differently. Instead, he's a public school teacher battling anxiety and depression because he didn't get his dream life. Fantasy elements weave their way from his imagination into the real world in this funny, sweet exploration of a man dealing with the fact that nothing's perfect and life isn't fair.
10. The Morning Show (2019-present)
This flagship Apple TV+ series, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and a ton of frustrated yelling, features a veteran morning show host's rivalry with an up-and-comer as an entry point to exploring power and truth-telling in broadcast news. Based on Brian Stelter's book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, it's a classic drama with a phenomenal cast that includes Mark Duplass, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Billy Crudup, and Steve Carell.
11. Dr. Brain (2021-present)
Sewon (Parasite's Lee Sun-kyun) is a unique genius who hacks into the brains of the dead in order to get clues about what really happened to his family following a terrible accident. As he gathers more memories, his own mind struggles to distinguish between reality and someone else's thoughts. Series creator Kim Jee-Woon, the South Korean filmmaker behind A Tale of Two Sisters and I Saw the Devil, is already well-known for his unique ability to combine thrilling action with strange psychological stakes. Here, he delivers a powerhouse of thought-provoking sci-fi and thrilling detective work.
12. Dickinson (2019-2021)
This whip-smart series, which injects modern language and attitudes into the coming-of-age era of Emily Dickinson's life, stars Hailee Steinfeld as the budding poet. It's a winning series that brings Dickinson's poetry to life while unapologetically bucking the suffocating societal norms on gender and family that were prevalent during the writer's lifetime (even if it does play fast and loose with the historical facts).
13. Harriet the Spy (2021-present)
The latest iteration of the beloved children's book stars the voice talents Beanie Feldstein and Jane Lynch to deliver the hyper-observant character to a new generation of fans. Produced by The Jim Henson Company, it's a fun, irreverent show featuring Harriet's adventurous spirit as she juggles school, friendships, and her boundless curiosity.
14. Pachinko (2022-present)
In this generation-spanning epic based on the bestselling novel from Min Jin Lee, Youn Yuh-jung stars as Sunja, a Korean woman trying to build a better life in an era of Japanese rule over her people. It's a gorgeously shot saga of the sweeping changes felt by one family as they navigate different cultures and their own sense of self. Through painstaking effort, the production team has crafted a show that's both massive in its scope and intimate in its focus.
15. Schmigadoon! (2021-present)
Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong) think a hike will fix their crummy relationship, but they're in for more than arguing when they cross through a magical mist into the all-singing, all-dancing world of Schmigadoon. Stuck inside a musical brought to life, Josh and Melissa endure/appreciate the unnervingly cheery citizens and a slew of song-and-dance parodies. It's wonderfully silly, with Strong and Key's sarcasm as the perfect foil for the cheerful intensity of the town. Performances from Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Alan Cumming, and Jane Krakowski are cherries on top of the corn puddin'.