On Friday morning, just hours after the last candle flames had flickered out behind a million carved pumpkin eyes, people across the globe awoke to find the world had subtly changed. The magical power of the richest company on the globe, the technological marvel that is Apple, had brought to us, the natives of this planet, the gift of story, of images moving before our very eyes, of fantasy and… Wait. What? Yeah, OK, they launched a new TV streaming service, Apple+. It’s got Jennifer Aniston on it.
Oh great. Just what we needed. More television. More choices. The small number of individuals who can reel off all the “platforms” now available, let alone the infinite galaxy of channels, continues to shrink with each new one that is announced. Of course, most of these are not just platforms – they make “originals” as well. Click play on any of the new shows on Apple+, and the first thing to emerge from the void will be “An Apple Original”. In other words, they made it themselves. A bit like a pub selling its own beer.
Apple’s first artisanal array includes the aforementioned Aniston vehicle, The Morning Show, the tale of a news anchor whose presenting partner (Steve Carell) has been fired after sexual harassment claims, leaving her vulnerable to a full facelift of the show along ageist lines.
It’s so calculatedly zeitgeisty it could have been baked en papillote in a MeToo manifesto. But the starry cast, which also includes Reese Witherspoon, certainly looks “expensive”, as do other launch offerings, such as the teen-inflected drama Dickinson. Taken together, they hint that Apple, with its mind-bogglingly deep pockets, has now fully entered what Courteney Monroe, the president of National Geographic Global Television Networks, described to me earlier this year as the “economic arms race” in TV. The chequebook-led battle that’s going on globally for talent, for ideas, she said, is “staggering”.