As someone who’s been an Apple TV+ subscriber from day one in 2019, I must say it’s been pretty remarkable to see the iPhone maker build up a credible streamer in that short amount of time. Among other things, Apple’s streamer has racked up a still-growing pile of awards and critical acclaim, and thanks to shows like Ted Lasso and Slow Horses, it also has a much better hits-to-misses ratio than, say, Netflix (since Netflix obviously releases an order of magnitude more shows and movies).
What’s more, Apple is also going toe-to-toe with streamers like HBO Max and Disney Plus in other ways. For example, Reelgood’s latest Top 10 list of the most popular streaming TV shows includes four Apple TV+ series (for the seven-day period that ended on Dec. 13). Leading the pack for the week is Slow Horses, Apple’s espionage drama starring Jackson Lamb as an unkempt, disheveled spymaster in charge of a crew of washed-up wannabe spies.
The show, at #3 on Reelgood’s latest Top 10 chart of streaming TV series, returned for its third season in November, and there’s something unexpectedly refreshing about Slow Horses’ relentless cynicism and black humor. Floating in the background of the new season’s dark conspiracy that resulted in the kidnapping of one of the Slow Horses, there’s also an abiding sense of institutional rot, of squalid failures, political ineptitude, and a general malaise pervading post-Brexit Britain.
In short, Apple’s hit show — which also has a fourth season on the way — flips the sexy British chic of the 007 spyverse on its head.
As for what other Apple TV+ shows are crushing it right now, per the Reelgood data, at #5 for the week is Apple’s 10-episode Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. It’s connected to the so-called Monsterverse, which includes the 2014 movie Godzilla, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong, as well as the highly anticipated sequel movie Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire coming in 2024.
The Apple show follows the epic battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco, with the show tracking “two siblings following in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues lead them into the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (played by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later when Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows.
“The dramatic saga — spanning three generations — reveals buried secrets and the ways that epic, earth-shattering events can reverberate through our lives.”
The two additional Apple TV+ shows on the latest Reelgood list include:
For All Mankind (#9 this week): One of the OG Apple TV+ shows, For All Mankind debuted as part of Apple’s launch slate in November 2019 and offers a fascinating alternative history of the space race.
It comes from Golden Globe nominee and Emmy Award winner Ronald D. Moore, as well as Emmy nominees Ben Nedivi and Matt Wolpert. Per Apple: “The series presents an aspirational world where NASA astronauts, engineers, and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events seen through the prism of an alternate history timeline — a world in which the USSR beats the US to the moon.”
Lessons in Chemistry (#10 this week): This series stars Brie Larson as Elizabeth, a woman whose dream of becoming a scientist is challenged by 1950s societal norms. She accepts a job hosting a TV cooking show and uses it as a side door into to teaching people about science.