By Namu Ju
Apple has entered the ring to challenge heavyweight streaming services Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and fellow fresh contender Disney+. Apple TV+ has a reported budget of more than $6 billion USD, attracting new and established writers, actors, and producers to add to what is already the highest number of shows in television history.
With the lowest subscription cost among its competitors at $4.99 USD/month, Apple sweetens the deal with a free one-year subscription for customers who’ve bought an Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, or Mac since September 10, 2019. Students already subscribed to Apple Music will also have free access to Apple TV+ for a year.
Unlike other streaming services, Apple TV+ started from scratch with only seven original shows and one movie on its launch date, November 1, 2019. Still, as a household name with an enormous budget, Apple will be delivering some promising new television.
The Morning Show
The Morning Show is Apple TV+’s current golden child as the most highly anticipated show of the opening lineup. The Morning Show is a drama series about Alex Levy, the anchor for a popular news program, fighting to keep her job after her partner of 15 years, Mitch Kessler, is fired during a sexual misconduct scandal.
Alex also finds herself competing with impulsive field reporter Bradley Jackson as the drama unfolds to explore the complex gender dynamics of professional spaces reflecting our #MeToo and Time’s Up era. Already approved for a second season, The Morning Show stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, and is a joint-effort production by Aniston’s Echo Films and Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine.
Dickinson is a fresh coming-of-age story based on Emily Dickinson, the eccentric recluse who helped shape American literature as one of America’s greatest and most original poets. As Emily Dickinson’s poetry explores themes of death and immortality in the poet’s observations of societal limitations, it’s only appropriate Dickinson is a black period comedy series that examines the constraints of gender, family, and society.
The show features queer storylines, gothic horror, the relatable angst of living under your parents, Lizzo and Mitski on the soundtrack, and Wiz Khalifa as Death. No wonder a second season was approved before the first even premiered.
The Elephant Queen
Directed by Emmy award-winning wildlife documentarians Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble, The Elephant Queen is a documentary film about Athena, a 50-year-old mother elephant and matriarch of a small herd of female elephants. The film follows Athena as she leads her herd from the drought-stricken Kingdom, a pastoral area once marked by watering holes teeming with life, to a far off savanna in search of water.
Mimi, a newborn elephant, may be too young for the 200-mile trek, but waiting puts the elephant family at great risk. Chiwetel Ejiofor narrates this moving film nominated for the International Green Film Award, as well as for Best Science/Nature Documentary and Best Narration at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.
Apple TV+’s Ghostwriter is a reboot of the children’s mystery series Ghostwriter that aired on PBS in the ’90s. But while the original is about a detective ghost solving mysteries with the help of some neighbourhood kids from Brooklyn, Apple TV+’s reinterpretation is pretty, well, different. Apple’s version revolves around a haunted bookstore where fictional characters escape from old hardbacks.
It’s up to four neighbourhood kids, brought together by a friendly specter, to return these characters to their stories. Each episode is based on a specific literary work, classic or contemporary, that provides stunning content for a fantastical show.
The new science fiction drama series See stars Jason Momoa as Baba Voss, a warrior chief in a dystopian future. Set 600 years after a virus decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind, humans formed a tribal society and established new ways of interacting, building, and surviving without sight.
One day, Baba Voss’ wife gives birth to a set of twins who can see, which sets off already tense intertribal relations. Written by Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence, See follows Voss and the members of his tribe as they align with other tribes to protect themselves from Witch Hunters, royal servants to a queen who holds sight as a heretical sin.
With big names and compelling premises, Apple TV+’s slim-but-exciting opening lineup is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple TV+’s scheduled episode premieres for some of its shows do go against the characteristic bingeability we’ve grown to love and hate, but for quality’s sake, maybe that’s a good thing. Or maybe it’s just a good business model to keep subscribers past the free week-long trial. Knowing Apple, it’s probably a little of both.