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Apple TV+ is starting to feel like CDs did back in the day – a few bangers, and a LOT of filler

Published Mar 26th, 2024 6:32PM EDT
Palm Royale on Apple TV+
Image: Apple

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Is it just me, or does it seem like a little bit of the shine is starting to wear off of Apple TV+? From the slow drip of forgettable new TV releases — many with star-studded casts, like the newly debuted comedy Palm Royale — to the extremely thin selection of worthwhile original movies, the iPhone maker’s streaming service is arguably falling more short than ever of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s description of the streamer’s mission (“giving great storytellers the venue to tell great stories”).

As I see it, a more honest description of what’s going on behind the scenes at Apple TV+ would be this: Release 3-4 new shows a month and hope something sticks while also paying for whatever vanity film projects Apple can get from aging directors who think their name alone is as good as gold. In other words, not exactly the road to streaming glory.

Part of the problem that I think Apple TV+ has is its highs are so high (Acapulco, Severance, For All Mankind) that it makes the filler and the half-baked releases all the more regrettable. Of course, you can certainly point to this same thing happening on a much larger scale over at Netflix, and you’d be exactly right; the problem, though, is that Apple TV+ launched as a direct counter to the bigness of Netflix and the factory assembly line nature of content there.

Napoleon on Apple TV+
Vanessa Kirby and Joaquin Phoenix in the Apple TV+ original film “Napoleon.” Image source: Apple

Apple TV+, in other words, was supposed to be where quality goes to thrive while everyone else chases scale. Instead, the platform is increasingly becoming the home of one series after another that sinks like a stone not long after its debut.

In fact, raise your hand if you’ve even heard of any of these Apple releases:

  • Calls, an all-audio show that’s basically the equivalent of a radio drama
  • The Buccaneers, which was meant to be Apple’s Bridgerton even though I don’t know a single person who watched it
  • The Changeling (I’ve no idea about this one)
  • City on Fire (Again, your guess is as good as mine)
  • The Enfield Poltergeist (???)
  • Hello Tomorrow! (A show I wanted to like so badly, but something just felt off about it)

There are many more examples I could point to, but I’d just be beating a dead horse. The bottom line is that if you’re going to only have a few at-bats, it logically follows that it’s all the more important for you to swing for the fences pretty much every single time. Something, I should add, that Apple does actually know how to do with its streamer (which makes the filler all the more frustrating)! Apple TV+ has, in fact, released a small number of top-tier shows, like that one about the small-town soccer coach who relocates to England. You know the one, the coach has a mustache, his name escapes me …

Some of the other Apple TV+ gems that I don’t think have gotten enough love include Drops of God, about the succession battle over a wine estate; Pachinko, a multi-generational family drama that’s set in Korea and Japan; and Tehran, a pulse-pounding spy thriller set in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the problem of finding a quality needle in the haystack of content is magnified even more when one looks at the film side of the Apple TV+ ledger. Consider: Apple spent at least $700 million to produce what’s come to be regarded as a trio of cinematic misfires (Argylle, Napoleon, and Killers of the Flower Moon). Whereas, if you wanted to find a winner among the original feature films in the Apple TV+ library, you’d do better to look at the smaller-scale releases — titles like Causeway, with Jennifer Lawrence, and the John le Carre documentary The Pigeon Tunnel.

There’s no time like the present to improve the overall picture here. This November, Apple TV+ will have reached its fifth anniversary. From here on out, if you ask me, the hits-to-misses ratio needs to improve commensurate with the streamer’s age.

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.