The best TV shows on Apple TV+ in New Zealand

Apple TV+ is a bespoke streaming service: they have a small but growing repertoire of original series, each lavishly produced as per the company’s dedication to inspired design. The result is an exciting assortment of shows, with Craig Mathieson listing 15 of the best to date.

See also
* The best movies on Apple TV+ New Zealand
* All new movies & series on Apple TV+
* All new streaming movies & series

Bad Sisters (2022, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

Death really does become her in this scathing, engrossing black comedy about familial bonds from Irish actor and writer Sharon Horgan. A group of tight-knit sisters—with Horgan as the oldest—impulsively plot to kill the petty dictator (Claes Bang, wildly loathsome) slowly white-anting their sibling. The stakes are genuine but the tone is playful in parts, complete with some shonky life insurance salesmen and creaking floorboard tension.

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Dickinson (2019, three seasons)

Watch on Apple TV+

The surprise packet when Apple TV+ launched, this frontal assault on the 19th century American poet’s life story—starring a terrific Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson—embraced banger-scored twerking, modern references delivered with the teen sangfroid of Clueless, gothic fantasies, and petticoat-shredding queer pleasure over historically accuracy. It’s a coming-of-age story that confidently uses extremes to outline the restraints that young women must rebel against. Emily’s household is full of mischief, but the show is much more than satire.

For All Mankind (2019, three seasons)

Watch on Apple TV+

The pacing is measured and the storytelling deeply satisfying in this alternate history drama, which begins in 1969, with Russia successfully putting an astronaut on the moon a month before the scheduled Apollo 11 mission. The renewed space race competition opens up new tangents—a class of female astronauts starting at NASA in 1970—that matches geopolitical twists and sci-fi intrigue to a dissection of astronatut lore. Joel Kinnaman headlines as square-jawed mission commander Ed Baldwin, but the supporting cast takes prominence as the scope expands to Mars and beyond.

Foundation (2021, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

This adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s canonised science fiction novels is the very definition of epic. Not only are there otherworldly locations and immaculate digital effects, but creator David S Goyer intends to depict 1000 years of galactic intrigue over eight seasons. It begins with a mathematician who believes he can see the future (Jared Harris) and the cloned emperors (Lee Pace) who see only a heretic. From the forthcoming second season it deviates widely from the book, to tell a sprawling story of individual burden amidst a wondrous and vast scale.

High Desert (2023, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

Patricia Arquette gives a can’t-look-away lead performance in this Coen brothers-like black comedy about criminal intrigue, set in the wayward Californian interior. A former drug dealer and not quite recovered addict, Arquette’s Peggy Newman is grieving for her beloved mother and trying to stay afloat financially. Her solution? Become a private investigator. It gets, like Peggy’s character, complex.

Hijack (2023, one season)

Arrives June 28

In this gripping airborne 24—unfolding in real-time over a sever hour flight between Dubai and London—Idris Elba plays a corporate negotiator trying to navigate hijackers who’ve taken over his flight home for unknown reasons. This British production is tensely constructed and skilfully executed. The layout of the plane and position of passengers is crucial; individuals come into focus; and you can see the calculations and power dynamics being wielded by both the hijackers and Elba’s resourceful protagonist Sam Nelson.

Little America (2020, two seasons)

Watch on Apple TV+

No anthology productions on Apple TV+ have been better than this series about the experiences of immigrants in modern day America. Initially shepherded by a team including Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon (The Big Sick), as well as Alan Yang (Master of None), the episodes are adapted from real-life stories of individuals trying to make sense of their own lives, in a strange and sometimes incomprehensible country. Stars and newcomers alike feature, with a breadth of portraits providing specificity and purpose.

Mythic Quest (2020, three seasons)

Watch on Apple TV+

Set at a development studio shepherding the world’s most successful mass player online video game, this workplace comedy is about the friction between creativity and commerce, digital ego and the ownership of ideas, and having to spend 10 hours a day with someone aggravating. The fulcrum is the caustic connection between the game narcissistic creative director (co-creator Rob McElhenney) and the frustrated lead engineer (Charlotte Nicdao), but the supporting cast is ace. The laughs can be piercing, or bittersweet – and each season has an excellent bottle episode to savour.

Pachinko (2022, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

The grand historical drama gets rebooted for the modern era with this richly detailed East Asian saga, focusing on a Korean clan across the 20th century, spanning life under Japanese occupation in 1915 to Wall Street in 1989. Played by multiple actors (including Academy Award winner Youn Yuh-jung), the central piece of this century-spanning puzzle is Sunja, a young girl bound for matriarch, central to turning points studded through its richly emotional narrative.

Physical (2021, two seasons)

An acerbic black comedy about building a better version of yourself, no matter the risks, this piquant series is headlined by an exemplary Rose Byrne. She plays Sheila Rubin, a one-time 1960’s college radical, now in 1981 San Diego and at the end of her tether, who derides herself with a self-scathing interior monologue and an eating disorder. When Sheila discovers aerobics she finds purpose. The show is mordant and sometimes bleak, with a sustained note of the fantastical to the blithely brief half hour episodes.

Severance (2022, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

A genuine masterpiece, this wildly ambitious office-set sci-fi thriller delivers drily surreal textures, workplace menace, and a quietly profound meditation on identity. It has a mind-binding concept: a group of corporate cubicle drones, led by Adam Scott’s Mark, work with chips in their heads that divide them in two. The worker half have no memory of their outside life; those off-duty have no idea what they do at work. Two lives in one body is conveyed with an absurd sensibility and deliriously straight dialogue.

Shrinking (2023, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

A comically illuminating study of emotional isolation set in present day Los Angeles, this soulful series tracks the disjointed life of Jimmy Laird (Jason Segel), a psychiatrist and widowed father whose loss of faith in himself results in a radical gambit of starting to tell his patients the unvarnished truth. The show shares some creators with Ted Lasso (below), but it’s more attuned to personal pain and digs deeper into the connections between family and friends. Harrison Ford is a bad-tempered delight as Jimmy’s fellow shrink, Paul Rhodes.

Silo (2023, one season)

Watch on Apple TV+

Starting with terrific world-building that is both visually immersive and likely to inspire further queries, this science-fiction conspiracy thriller is set a vast and self-contained underground vertical city, where thousands of people have sheltered from an apocalyptic even for centuries. In a story passed from one inquisitor to another, Rebecca Ferguson is the flinty engineer who literally rises from the depths to thrillingly challenge both the powers that be and the community’s allegiance to its official history.

Slow Horses (2022, two seasons)

Watch on Apple TV+

In this British espionage thriller, the rejects and last-chance agents exiled from MI5’s headquarters and left to rot find themselves back in the game as conspiracies are revealed. Their leader—or chief tormentor—is Gary Oldman’s Jackson Lamb, a dyspeptic old hand whose insults rival his breath. The stakes are genuine and costly, the human foibles of these hopefuls revealing contradictory layers.

Ted Lasso (2020, three seasons)

Watch on Apple TV+

The breakthrough hit that brought Apple TV+ into the streaming mainstream, where it stayed for a celebrated three season run, this optimistic comedy celebrates Jason Sudeikis’ titular American. A gridiron coach put in charge of an English Premier League football team as an act of sabotage, Lasso’s folksy, big-hearted belief in the best qualities of other people wins over doubting players and colleagues alike. It’s a feel-good show with an on-the-money cast.