If there’s one company primed to take on the Netflix and Hulu-dominated streaming TV monolith, it may well be Apple. The tech giant launches its Apple TV+ streaming service on November 1, kicking the battle for eyeballs on new programming into high gear.
Netflix has mostly had a charmed existence. With the runaway success of a true crime series like Making a Murderer and the even more stunning dominance of retro sci-fi hit Stranger Things, it has become the big dog on the block.
But Hulu hasn’t been slouching either. With The Handmaid’s Tale alone—not to mention solid offerings like Stephen King-themed Castle Rock—it has established itself as a worthy Netflix competitor.
Is there an Apple TV+ offering that will put the House that Steve Jobs Built into real contention, given it has those established services as well as regular network and cable to compete with?
There are some candidates for breakout hit, that’s for sure—check out 5 top prospects below.
THE MORNING SHOW
The shiny happy world of American morning television doesn’t seem on the surface like a great candidate for interesting drama. But The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, is based on a nonfiction book by Brian Stelter: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV. Obviously, there’s way more going down behind those smiles than we ever knew, so there may be some real meat on the bones of Morning Show. Add in Jennifer Aniston’s return to TV and the return as well of Steve Carell—now an established star and serious actor—and this might just be the one to beat.
See, starring Jason Momoa, is a weird sci-fi idea on the face of it: In a primitive future world where the human population has shrunk considerably and blindness is the norm, Momoa’s warrior must protect some of the first sighted children in generations. There are, we already know, some weird quirks in the writing, including a scene where an evil queen pleasures herself as she prays. Early reviews indicate it’s a mixed bag. But Momoa is usually a huge draw, so it will likely pull in plenty of curious viewers anyway. It’s streaming now.
Literary scholars may well want to set this show on fire, and not in a good way. In Dickinson, Hailee Steinfeld stars as young adult version of the mysterious 19th-century poet. It appears solidly set in a teen Emily Dickinson’s world, yes, but dialogue-wise the script is pure modern CW teen drama and comes with dream visions of Wiz Khalifa as Death and the real rumors of lesbian love between Emily and her sister-in-law up front as a key dramatic element. It comes across as a show destined to infuriate adults but please teens. That, or they’ll roll their eyes and click away. It all sits on Oscar nominee Steinfeld’s capable shoulders, so this one is a case of wait and see.
M. Night Shyamalan doubles down on the career comeback that began with solid movies like Split with Servant, a supernatural drama that sounds right up his alley. It’s about a couple, Dorothy and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell and Lauren Ambrose), who hire a nanny for their baby only to have creepiness ensue. Supernatural TV shows rarely do middling numbers—they seem to either explode in popularity (Stranger Things) or vanish (every show that tried to imitate The X-Files in the 90s and early 00s). This one also has Rupert “Ron Weasley” Grint in the cast, so at least the Harry Potter fandom will be on board for a while. It begins streaming on November 28.
TRUTH BE TOLD
In Truth Be Told, Poppy Parnell (the usually excellent Octavia Spencer) is a true crime podcaster reinvestigating serial killer Warren Cave (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie star Aaron Paul), whom she helped bring to justice. As the series progresses, it becomes apparent he may have been framed and Poppy might have a moral debt to prove his innocence. The series doesn’t hit streaming until December 6, but after his intense return to playing Jesse Pinkman in El Camino, watching Aaron Paul go dark and heavy again will definitely be worth watching.