Apple is learning that television critics are much tougher to win over than iPhone reviewers. With Apple TV+ launching this week, reviews are out for its first batch of television shows, and they’re not exactly gushing.
Multiple critics particularly took issue with “The Morning Show,” Apple’s flagship drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon that cost the service $300 million for its first two seasons. Rolling Stone critic Alan Sepinwall ranked the show two and a half stars out of five, writing that “the show, and the service, don’t need to exist, and thus far aren’t justifying that existence,” while Indiewire critic Ben Travers claimed that “nearly everything is boring” in the series’ first three episodes, which premiere this Friday.
Other Apple shows launching this Friday fared similarly—Variety called “See,” the dystopian drama starring “Game of Thrones” star Jason Momoa “an uninteresting wasteland,” while YA drama “Dickinson” was labeled “glossy but confusing.”
A few mixed reviews may be common for most television networks, but Apple isn’t most networks. It’s bumped its content budget up from $1 billion to a reported $6 billion in the last year, and has produced two of the most expensive programs in television history, with “Morning Show” and “See” costing $15 million an episode.
The service relies on subscribers opting in to its $5 a month price tag, and is facing major headwinds from both older players like Netflix and newer ones like Disney+ which will launch less than a week after Apple TV+.
Unlike Disney, Apple will only launch with a small number of episodes of its original shows and will release more programming on a weekly basis. Disney+, in contrast, will launch with a back catalog of thousands of hours of programming in addition to new original films and television shows.