Snobby critics hate Apple TV+ but viewers can’t get enough

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Snobby critics hate Apple TV+ but viewers can't get enough
The Morning Show is way better than critics claimed.
Photo: Apple

Want to hear a secret about Apple TV+? Don’t tell the critics but … Apple’s TV shows are actually pretty good!

From The Morning Show to See, the general public seems to agree with me. But you wouldn’t know it from reading reviews from professional critics.

“Is that it?”

Those were my thoughts when I finished watching episode one of The Morning Show, one of Apple TV+’s most heavily advertised original dramas. Normally, that would be a bad reaction to have. In fact, it was a great one. Based on the early reviews, I expected The Morning Show to be the worst thing since unsliced bread. One review called it a “painful belly flop” of a show. But I liked it. Like, really liked it.

Maybe I just watched an isolated good episode, I thought. Perhaps the rest of Apple TV+ was the figurative pile of excrement reviewers claimed. So I watched Episode 2 of The Morning Show. And liked it. Then I watched Apple’s space drama, For All Mankind. It was even better.

So I checked out Dickinson. It was pretty fun. And post-apocalyptic fantasy See? Sure, it was no Season 1 of Game of Thrones, but it was far from hideous. At worst, I’d give it three stars.

Apple TV+ is way better than critics suggest

At this point, I was wondering what everyone was banging on about. Based on the reviews, you’d think Apple TV+ was an abomination. In fact, I kind of expected it myself. I’d heard the reports about Apple CEO Tim Cook pulling a Dr. Dre series because it depicted drug use. I imagined family-friendly shows, crafted by committee so it would be safe to play in Apple stores around the world. Even Apple’s progressive values, however much I might agree with them, could have come across as overly preachy if that’s all every show delivered.

Apple TV+ turned out to be much, much better than this. I’d go so far as to say that, if not a home run, Apple TV+ is a solid line drive up the middle.

Based on critical reviews, you'd think Apple TV show See was the worst crime ever committed against TV.
Based on critical reviews, you’d think this was the worst crime ever committed against TV.
Photo: Apple

A divergence between critics and the public

I’m not the only one who thinks this way, either. Look at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and you will see a huge gulf between what critics think about Apple TV+ shows and what actual viewers think. The Morning Show gets an average critical review of 59%. The consensus is that it’s “flashy, but somewhat frivolous,” and feels “more like a vanity project.” What do viewers give it? 95%. Critics give See a terrible 40%. Viewers liked it enough to give it 82%. For All Mankind does a bit better. Critics gave it 74%, but that’s still 10% lower than the 84% audiences deemed it worthy of.

The scores are … baffling. A glance at the box office will show you that the movies critics flip out over aren’t always the ones audiences flock to. But Apple TV+’s critical drubbing seems inexplicable to me. Whether it’s critics hating Silicon Valley’s increasing dominance of entertainment or just people looking to beat up on Apple, I don’t get it.

Just ignore those Apple TV+ reviews

Apple TV+ joins movies like The Last Jedi and Joker as properties where the general public’s view contrasts wildly with the critical consensus.

Frankly, I’m glad Apple TV+ reviews are playing out like this rather than the other way around. I was an Apple fan in the 1990s, when it seemed the tech media loved it — but nobody else really cared. Now it seems like the name Apple automatically dings a critical review a couple of grade points. Like whacking the name Michael Bay or Brett Ratner on a movie poster.

I’m at a loss to explain it myself. But I’m going to carry on enjoying Apple TV+ while I try and figure it out!