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Apple makes buzzy original TV shows free to watch without subscription

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Dickinson and M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant are now bingeable on Apple TV Plus

Rupert Grint holds a baby monitor in Apple TV Plus’ Servent
Rupert Grint in Apple’s Servent
Image: Apple TV Plus

Last week, HBO dropped a giant, free serving of original TV series and blockbuster movies on the plates of potential viewers. This week, it’s Apple’s turn.

On Friday, the tech company unlocked several Apple TV Plus exclusives for audiences to watch without a subscription. Announced with little fanfare — the shows and movies simply appear under a “Free Apple Originals” section in the app — the originals are now available to stream on supported devices. Apple did not indicate a window of availability at the time of the release.

What shows can you now watch on Apple for free? Here’s a breakdown:

Servant (aka the M. Night Shyamalan show)

As we dig into in our review, this 10-episode series from the director of The Sixth Sense is “sort of about grief, class, and marital strife. But mostly, it’s about recombining a host of horror tropes to create a show that’s powerfully atmospheric, but not especially meaningful.” Expect some twists and a creepy baby.

The Elephant Queen

The wildlife documentary narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor “does the ‘Circle of Life’ better than the 2019 Lion King,we wrote back during the Apple TV Plus launch. The film “does what Disney couldn’t: imbue emotional depth to its animal subjects and crafting a sweeping narrative across the African plains.”

hailee steinfeld as emily dickinson looking aghast her brother and her best friend’s recent engagement announcement
Hailee Steinfeld in Dickinson
Image: Apple TV Plus

Dickinson

In one of the more celebrated Apple TV Plus originals, Hailee Steinfeld plays the 19th-century author in her most rebellious moment. But the series is not Just Another Costume Drama: “Infused with Steinfeld’s touch to the character, a splash of quirky modern humor, a contemporary soundtrack (hello, Mitski’s “Your Best American Girl” ), and a heartfelt plot line drawing from lesser known aspects of the writer’s life, Dickinson overcomes the YA-appealing, period-piece formula.” Here’s the full lowdown.

Little America

The creators of Little America set out to adapt the true stories of American immigrants for TV, and the results — like any anthology series — are mixed. Our review called each episode “strikingly different,” but the avoidance of political issues made them all a little soft. “As a result, Little America is muddled, with its baked-in politics directly in opposition to its ‘positive’ message.”

Disclosure: Little America is based on true stories originally published by Epic Magazine, a subsidiary of Vox Media, which is also Polygon’s parent company.

For All Mankind

The alt-history drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore imagines what would happen to NASA, the U.S. government, and the world over if Russia had won the space race. The result is a show that should provoke history buffs and wildly entertain the general audience. “For All Mankind is a series impeccably dialed in for inspirational, heartwarming drama,” goes our review from launch, “cherry-picked from the likes of movies like The Right Stuff, Hidden Figures, First Man, and Captain Marvel. It’s impossible to miss the moments when NASA’s female staffers stopping dead in their tracks when they realize that the agency will bring on a cohort of female astronauts, or watching as they line up to applaud when newly minted astronaut Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) marches down the gantry on her way to fly on the Apollo 15 mission.”

Helpsters, Ghostwriter, Snoopy in Space

Anyone at home with kids who need a new stream of entertainment have three choices from the free Apple bounty: Helpsters, an original series from the The Jim Henson Company; Ghostwriter, a reboot of the supernatural, educational PBS series from the ’90s; and Snoopy in Space, a 2D animated adventure starring everyone’s favorite beagle from Peanuts.