Apple TV+

Apple TV+ Is the Best Streamer That You’re Not Watching

Dept. of Streaming Service Size Ups


Here at Goggler, we were in the midst of our annual streaming service audit (yes, we are the kind of movie nerds who frequently evaluate and rate the stable of content across all the streaming services currently available in the country) when it occurred to us that Apple TV+, since its launch in November 2019, had been quietly putting out some of the most thoughtful, entertaining, and well crafted content out there.


Umapagan Ampikaipakan: This is purely anecdotal. But I’ve lost count of the number of people have told me that they had forgotten about their free Apple TV+ subscriptions and thus failed to check out any of the shows on the service. (Apple was giving out a year’s subscription with every purchase of one of their products.)

I think a part of it has to do with the sheer volume of content that’s being pushed to us on a daily basis. It’s a glut. There’s too much. And this much choice can be intimidating.

But I also think this neglect of Apple TV+ has to do with some of the early press surrounding the service. It’s first few efforts, The Morning Show, See, and For All Mankind were met with lukewarm reviews from critics and the general notion that the service lacked a breakout hit like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black.

This early judgement may have been severely misplaced though. A lot of critics only had access to the first three episodes of those shows, all of which went on to develop their individual mythologies into something far deeper and meaningful by the end of their respective seasons. 

Bahir Yeusuff: I think there were a couple of things that didn’t help the Apple TV+ release in November 2019. For one, at least in Malaysia, a lot of people didn’t know that it would be available here as soon as it launched. As a borderline third world country, we still have that mentality that these services will not be available for us upon release. We saw it with Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video and, more recently, with Disney+. I still get questions about whether Apple TV+ is available here. A lot of people know it exists, but are not aware that it is actually available here.

There was a distinct lack of a marketing spend here in Malaysia to increase audience awareness about the service. We don’t see billboards when new shows go out. There aren’t any news pieces about their glitzy new show (Foundation. Look it up.). We aren’t really pushed sponsored posts on social media either. Sure if you go to the Apple website as often as we do, you’ll see the bits about how you get a free subscription with every purchase of a new device, but not many people know that it is an option.

Family Friendly Fare

Apple TV+

BY: There was also a lot of flack given to the service when it was announced (in a very Apple way) that the service will only include “family friendly content.” No nudity, no extreme violence, no gore will ever make it on to an Apple TV+ show. The American media commentators really put their foot down on the streamers neck at that notion of withholding creative freedom. It really gave the impression that the service was going to be a premium Hallmark style network providing lame, middle of the road content that doesn’t offend anyone (or show boobs).

I think for the most part, Apple has treated that stance in a very “Apple” way. By ensuring that the content doesn’t need those things to be interesting or successful or to stand out (365 Days anyone?). (It also helps with the Malaysian censorship board because for some really strange reason, Apple TV+ is the only digital streamer in the country to actually submit their shows for LPF approval. *shrugs*)

UA: That said, the content on Apple TV+ is actually a lot more challenging than your average Disney show. There aren’t any extremes with regards to sex or violence, but it doesn’t mean that they shy away from those things. Cherry goes to some pretty dark places with regards to the violence of war and the opioid crisis. Dickinson uses fictional history to explore the constraints of gender, family, and society. There isn’t anything here that feels sanitized in any way. It’s all very well executed.

To Binge or Not to Binge? That Is the Question!

Apple TV+

BY: I also think that being the first streaming service to release episodes week to week hurt them. I remember the general consensus online at the time being that this was a crazy thing to do to an audience that has been feasting on the Netflix binge drops. To have to wait a whole week for a new episode? You must be crazy Apple! What next? No headphone jack in your phones???!!!

That first slate of shows while glitzy, while big, also didn’t feel like it was all that new. A drama series featuring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell sounds big time but didn’t come across as exciting. I mean, it’s 18 months later and I still haven’t seen a single episode of that. Jason Momoa doing a series where everyone is blind? Or an alternate history space race series with Joel Kinnaman? They felt like high concept shows that a lot of people didn’t respond to. And I guess that is why we’re here today. Because those shows, and all the subsequent Apple TV+ shows are good. They are very, very good.

UA: We’re also seeing big shifts in the way content is rolled out. The pandemic affected production schedules and more and more streamers started experimenting with different release strategies. Some are going old school with a weekly episode drop. Others are giving you the first three episodes to get you hooked before staggering the release of the rest of the season. 

This means that audience expectations are also shifting. We’re moving past Netflix’s (revolutionary) strategy of dropping an entire season all at once. Which makes a huge difference even in the way critics are responding to these shows. We’ve seen it with Amazon Prime’s The Boys and Invincible, as well as with all of the Star Wars and Marvel content on Disney+.


BY: It also gives the writers and showrunners a different way to approach the story. Netflix’s “3 episodes in” strategy is becoming a crutch that the audience has begun to expect. The flashback episode towards the end of the season is the other Netflix thing. It has become so formulaic that, as consumers of content, we have come to predict it, and to an extent, even ridicule it. Writing a show for Netflix (we’re not saying it’s easy, none of this ever is) feels like writing for a long 8/10 hour movie that’s then broken up into 8/10 episodes. The shows don’t ever really feel like they need to write a tight 60 minutes because they know that the next episode will come up in five seconds and explain everything.

UA: And I think this is where the content on Apple TV+ really distinguishes itself. In that their content strategy is more akin to HBO than Netflix. They don’t release 90 originals a week. They don’t try to cater for every possible target demographic. What they do is put out highly curated content with a strong focus on character and story. None of their shows (so far) follow any sort of formula or template. Every show is approached in a manner that best suits the story.

As a subscriber, you may not have a massive back catalogue of content to pick and choose from, but I’ve found that the vast majority of shows on the service are interesting and engaging in their own way. 

BY: You’re absolutely right about the back catalogue. But here’s the thing, since November 2019, the service has constantly and repeatedly added shows that are different, and new, and exciting. And those shows are all there now for you to binge on.

UA: Servant. Defending Jacob. Central Park. Trying

BY: Ted Lasso. Greatness Code. Tehran. Home. Long Way Round, Down, and Up.

UA: All of them have been fantastic.

How Do You Rate a Streaming Service?

Apple TV+

UA: Here’s how I look at it. Or rather, here’s how I usually judge a piece of content.

Now, we watch a lot of stuff. Some of it is great. Some terrible. But the vast majority fall into that middling space of just being fine. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them. They just “are.” 

The shows we’ve just listed from Apple TV+ have made me want to talk about them. Even recommend them. For better or for worse, they have been the catalyst for conversation. Whether it’s the music in Central Park, or the reinvigoration of the 30 minute sitcom with Ted Lasso, or the sheer unease and discomfort caused by every episode of Servant

Or to put it another way, it doesn’t feel like they’re just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

BY: The shows coming out on the service are thoughtful. They are considered. They aren’t shows that look like schedule fillers (I’m looking at you Too Hot To Handle and The Circle). The Apple TV+ shows may seem silly (see See for an example), or Hallmarky (Little America), or even when they actually seem like schedule fillers (Greatness Code’s 7 short, 8 minute episodes come to mind), they are nevertheless amazing to watch. The shows never feel half assed. They are definitely whole assed shows. In a good way.

Ted Lasso is a perfect example. A series about an American football coach moving to be the manager of an English football team, that’s based on two American network TV commercials? As I said in my review, that description alone feels so cringey and scraping the bottom of the barrel that, as a lover of both those sports, I was preparing myself for a hate watch. But oh good God was I wrong. 

We get a lot of people asking us for recommendations of things to watch and anytime I tell them about something on Apple TV+, I have to prepare myself for a full dissection of the series because my recommendations are never well received based on the show’s description alone. A horror show about a weird baby that may or may not be real and a live in au pair with a secret past? Seriously, watch Servant.


UA: I was thinking about it as a value judgement. For the price you pay, you may not get as “much” content as some of the other streamers out there, but what you do get is “quality” content. You could click play on almost anything currently on the service and I promise that you will not be disappointed.

So in that sense, Apple TV+ gives me the best bang for my buck.

As for the rest of you, the decision on whether or not to subscribe really depends on the kind of consumer you are. Some people like having too much choice. They want the option of being able to watch a Season 3 episode of Grey’s Anatomy irrespective of whether or not they ever will. Others hate the idea of spending 45 minutes mindelssly scrolling through options before deciding that there’s nothing they actually want to watch. If you fall into that latter category, then this may be the streaming service for you. Right now, it’s all killer and no filler.

BY: And that is where I think it becomes hard to recommend anyone to sign up to Apple TV+. Look, we get it. Money is tight. Things are tough. Times are hard. So given the option of getting a selection of absolutely great content, versus paying for a streamer that has (and will continue to add) content to a back catalogue that you will never have the time to watch all of, the choice may be straightforward. Netflix and Disney Plus Hotstar have got an unmatched library of content. And if you are in a household where you need to consider the entertainment of more than just yourself, then yeah, those two seem like straight up slam dunk choices. But what we’re saying is, if you have the money to spare, then you should definitely look at Apple TV+. The stuff here is very very good. It may not be your primary streamer, but it is definitely an indispensable second choice.

Apple TV+ costs RM19.90 per month after a free seven‑day trial. If you’ve bought and activated an Apple device over the last 18 months, you probably already have a year’s free access to the service. Use it!

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