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7 feel-good shows on Apple TV+ that can make any day better

Updated Mar 27th, 2024 2:59PM EDT
Shrinking on Apple TV Plus
Image: Apple

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Apple TV+ certainly isn’t the biggest streaming service around, nor does it crank out a consistent lineup of buzzworthy franchises and movies that get everyone talking at the same rate as, say, Netflix or Disney+. In fact, like its much bigger rivals, Apple also has a tendency to produce stinkers every now and then — forgettable shows and movies that sink like a stone upon their release, since they can’t all be winners.

The thing about Apple TV+, though, is that for all the carping from critics about how small it still is and how badly it sometimes misfires, the good stuff is really good. Particularly when it comes to sci-fi (Severance, Foundation, For All Mankind) as well as generally feel-good TV shows. In fact, I’d argue that the latter is one area where the service especially shines.

In this post, we’re going to present a rundown of the best feel-good shows that Apple TV+ has to offer, including everything from its anthology series about the immigrant experience in America to that little show about a Premier League coach from Kansas with a penchant for folksy witticisms that you might have heard about. Let’s dive right in.

The Reluctant Traveler

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV Plus
Eugene Levy in “The Reluctant Traveler” on Apple TV Plus. Image source: Apple

This first Apple TV+ show is the only non-fiction title you’ll find on this list, and this is probably the streamer’s show that surprised me the most. In The Reluctant Traveler, the gag is that Eugene Levy is a 77-year-old fussbudget who’ll be uprooted from his creature comforts and sent around the globe to host a travelogue that takes him to exotic, swoon-worthy locales … as well as some places that feel out in the middle of nowhere.

We’re so used to seeing Johnny Rose … whoops, I mean Eugene Levy, with his longtime comedic partner Catherine O’Hara that I was a little skeptical at first about where he could pull off the hosting duties adequately on his own. He has such a droll sense of humor, mugging for the camera at one point during the show that “I’m in the Arctic Circle, and the big question for me is, ‘Why?’ I wondered whether that might get old pretty fast on a travel show. But I’m happy to report that it doesn’t.

Apple TV+’s The Reluctant Traveler is sort of like the inverse of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Whereas the latter was hosted by a travel-loving globetrotter with a punk rock spirit, in Apple’s show there’s a lot of dad-joke humor involving Levy grumbling about the annoyances of travel — but he’s also authentically himself throughout. He grumbles, hems, and haws when he’s pushed to traverse a suspended bridge in a Costa Rican jungle, and he laughs with childlike delight when he sees the luxurious hotel room that greets him in the Maldives. The best part — watching him fall more in love with the world, bit by bit. It actually feels like a radical idea, a travel show hosted by a likable guy who doesn’t like to travel.

The Big Door Prize

The Big Door Prize on Apple TV+
Chris O’Dowd in “The Big Door Prize” on Apple TV+. Image source: Apple

Consider this next Apple TV+ release, meanwhile, the perfect whimsical antidote to the strange times that we live in.

Adapted from M.O. Walsh’s 2020 novel of the same name, The Big Door Prize is a story about a new machine that shows up one day in the grocery store of a Louisiana town. The machine looks sort of like a phone booth, but the wildest thing about it is that it can tell anyone (who forks over two dollars and a cheek swab) what the rest of their life has in store for them.

From the official Apple TV+ description:

“The Big Door Prize tells the story of a small town that is forever changed when a mysterious machine appears in the general store, promising to reveal each resident’s true life potential. Dusty Hubbard (O’Dowd), a seemingly content, cheerful family man and high school teacher, watches everyone around him reevaluate their life choices and ambitions — based on the machine’s printouts — and is forced to question whether he is truly as happy as he once thought.”

Little America

Little America on Apple TV Plus
Isuri Wijesundara and Sathya Sridharan in “Little America” on Apple TV Plus. Image source: Apple

In my review of Season 2 of Little America, which hit Apple TV+ at the end of 2022, I wrote that it seems on paper like a dreary sort of idea for a TV show.

The series, the first season of which debuted back in 2019 as part of Apple’s launch slate of programming, follows a single protagonist in each episode, dramatizing the stories of real-life immigrants and their families. Little America, I continued, is “a show about assimilation, prejudice, nostalgia for a homeland, familial bonds, and the American dream. For many of the immigrants depicted here, life is hard, fraught, and joy is tough to come by.”

And yet, this show somehow ended up becoming one of the most heartwarming and feel-good shows I’ve seen to date from Apple’s streamer. What’s more, these are stories about the immigrant experience, but the themes are universal. Returning to my review of the show’s second season: “If you’ve ever fallen in love or dreamed of a better life, resisted conformity, or struggled to find your place in the world — turn on Little America, and there you are.”


Trying on Apple TV+
Esther Smith in “Trying” on Apple TV+. Image source: Apple

The “trying” in the title of this next British Apple TV+ gem refers to the life goal of Nikki and Jason, the couple at the center of the story who want to raise children. After struggling to conceive, they switch tactics and decide to go the adoption route. From that straightforward premise, the show spins a heart-warming dramedy about what happens when two ordinary people who love each other decide to take the biggest step of their lives together. There are laughs, tears, obstacles, and setbacks, but one thing I’ll say about this show is Nikki and Jason might be one of my favorite couples I’ve ever seen on TV.


Acapulco on Apple TV+
Eugenio Derbez in “Acapulco” on Apple TV+. Image source: Apple

These final three shows on our list are really the best of the best, in my opinion, in terms of feel-good shows available on Apple TV+.

Take, for instance, Acapulco. It has the vibe of a bright and colorful telenovela mixed with the heart of some of my favorite dramedies like The Good Place — not to mention an endless supply of gorgeous Mexican beach and city vistas that will probably make you want to dig out your passport as soon as you’ve finished streaming the show (the third season of which is coming on May 1).

There’s a How I Met Your Mother vibe to the way Acapulco’s narrative is told, with a present-day older version of Maximo Gallardo, the protagonist, telling the story of how he scored the dream job of a lifetime back in his 20s: Working as a cabana boy at Las Colinas, the hottest resort in the resort getaway of Acapulco. In Season 2, Máximo deals with upheaval at Las Colinas, plus unexpected problems at home — as well as a new love interest who might rival the girl of his dreams. I’ll admit it: Acapulco is one of the shows that will keep me a happy Apple TV+ subscriber pretty much indefinitely.


Shrinking on Apple TV Plus
Jason Segel in “Shrinking” on Apple TV Plus. Image source: Apple

We’re grouping these final two feel-good Apple TV+ shows together, for those who might not be aware, because they both share the same creative DNA.

Shrinking is the funniest and most heart-warming show about, of all things, grief. Jason Segel plays a grieving therapist who’s still mourning the death of his wife and who also has a daughter that he’s been neglecting as a result of being mired in his grief (to say nothing of his patients who also require a significant time commitment). Segel’s character slowly breaks out his grief, and it’s a joy watching him figure out the secret to it — that no one is meant to go through the long, dark tunnel of despair alone.

The creators include Segel himself, as well as Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence, which leads us right into one more show.

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso. Image source: Apple

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, this final show is the Apple TV+ hit you’re probably very well aware even if you haven’t watched it.

It’s clear that no one had any clue how much of a breakout hit Ted Lasso would become. It’s not just a show about soccer. At heart, Ted Lasso is the story of ordinary people trying to be better versions of themselves. That simple emotional throughline helped the show take on a life of its own, from podcasts to a never-ending flood of social media commentary, memes, and posts from fans who’ve rallied around it as an island of positivity amid a streaming landscape dominated by anything but.

Jason Sudeikis gives the performance of his career as a goofy small-town American coach who, through a fluke, is brought on as the coach of a Premier League English football club. There’s so much to praise here, from Ted’s folksy aphorisms to Roy Kent’s surprisingly endearing cantankerousness, the bond between Keeley and Rebecca, and a general desire among not only AFC Richmond but everyone on and off the pitch to figure out how to live well and be the best versions of themselves. If you haven’t gotten around to watching the show that taught us all about the importance of being goldfish, you need to correct that mistake right away.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.