A beginner’s guide to Apple TV+ originals

By Charlie Keohane

Picture of Apple TV+ Logo on TV
Sabrina Templeton

Netflix and Amazon may reign over original streaming programming, but there is a new kid on the block: Apple TV+. The new platform offers a variety of original programming, from feel-good comedies to psychological thrillers. Here’s a rundown of their four most popular and exciting projects. 

“Servant”  

From the dark mind of M. Night Shyamalan (of “The Sixth Sense” fame) comes “Servant,” a psychological thriller and one of my favorite new shows. Recipe-developer Sean (Toby Kebbell) and news reporter Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) seem like a picture-perfect couple, happily married and living in a beautiful Philadelphia home with their newborn son, Jericho. However, the arrival of a mysterious new nanny, Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), brings frightening events and shocking revelations about the couple’s past to light. 

Its plot unfolds slowly in a series of mysterious twists. One of the most unique aspects of “Servant” is its cinematography; the camera often drifts through rooms, peering into windows, zooming in on characters’ faces and letting viewers see dark corners. From Dorothy’s jewel-toned wardrobe to the disturbing wallpaper patterning Leanne’s room, production details are far from neglected. Beyond providing gripping entertainment, “Servant” raises interesting questions about religion, family and motherhood. The show’s plot also ponders its representations of madness and secrecy, as characters often go to extreme lengths to conceal their secrets from each other. With two seasons out now, and more in the works, there is much more to explore in this universe. “Servant” is a thrilling television show that finds its way under your skin in chilling ways, lingering with you long after the credits roll. 

 

“Ted Lasso” 

Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, a successful Division II American football coach from Kansas who is hired to coach AFC Richmond, a English Premier League football team, despite having no experience with the sport. An ocean away from home and utterly clueless about soccer, Ted seems set up to fail. The show follows Lasso in his attempts to lead his team to victory and win over new friends along the way. 

Brimming with heart and optimism, “Ted Lasso” is a joy to watch. The plot is not the most inventive, but its characters are beautifully nuanced. It’s fun to see Ted’s earnest Midwestern attitude clash with English traditions, especially in relation to his boss Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), a seemingly cold and reserved woman. The show hits an easy stride of workplace antics with a dash of soapy romance, all set against the highs and lows of competitive soccer. “Ted Lasso,” already renewed for a second and third season, may not be the funniest show on television, but it is full of campy, heart-warming fun. 

 

“The Morning Show” 

What happens behind the scenes at a news studio after the cameras cut and the lights fade? “The Morning Show” is a snappy drama following a news studio and its staff in the wake of a sexual assault scandal (á la Matt Lauer and “The Today Show”). After 15 years on the air, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) loses his job at “The Morning Show,” a highly successful news program he had hosted with Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston). Tenacious young journalist Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) steps onto the scene as Mitch’s replacement, but her fiery personality and prying attitudes continue to uncover controversy. 

In the wake of the #MeToo movement’s initial virality, this story remains relevant, and it is interesting to see the drama unfold through so many different perspectives. It is exhilarating and frustrating to watch Witherspoon’s fresh-faced character encounter obstacles and secrecy deeply embedded in the news network. The star-studded cast does not disappoint, and the supporting actors are equally as impressive. Although it can occasionally be exhausting to watch these characters constantly gossip and march around Manhattan on a warpath, there’s always juicy payoff in the end. “The Morning Show” is slick and stylish, and the shocking season finale sets itself up well for an upcoming season two. Ultimately, it’s always a treat to watch veteran talents like Aniston and Witherspoon really bring their all to a project.  

 

“Home Before Dark” 

“Home Before Dark” has all the elements of a classic mystery story: a bubbly new girl, a longstanding cold case and plenty of tight-lipped residents in a tight-knit small town.

“Home Before Dark” features a young protagonist, Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince), who moves from Brooklyn to her dad’s hometown in Washington state. Despite only being nine years old, she is already following in her dad’s footsteps as a budding journalist. She confronts her biggest case yet:the strange disappearance of her dad’s best friend decades ago. 

“Home Before Dark,” reminiscent of other Pacific Northwest murder mysteries like “Twin Peaks,” is an entertaining story elevated by its charming lead. The Washington town has a beautiful and haunting atmosphere that is perfect for the show. Prince, who rose to fame in the acclaimed film “The Florida Project,” is dazzling in this role and gives a very impressive and emotional performance. While the show can be confusing at times, “Home Before Dark” maintains solid performances and a twisty plot, making it a worthwhile watch.