Okay, so Apple's streaming service, Apple TV+ dropped some time last fall, and all anybody was talking about was how The Morning Show didn't live up to expectations – then "suddenly" it got better (???). Now, I know with so many shows teeming with well-known names and starring huge actors, stuff seems to get lost or overlooked. Which is why I'm putting Apple TV+'s best show on your radar: Ronald D Moore's (of Battlestar Galactica fame) For All Mankind.
I am even tempted to call it the most underrated show on not just Apple's streaming service (we're setting the bar a little higher), but also a number of others. Yes, it is that good.
Oh, you have no idea what I'm talking about? Strap in, because we're going to space…
For All Mankind is a space show, but not just any space show. It centers around the space program, but in a very sci-fi approach as it asks – and offers its own answer to – the following question, "What would have happened if the Russians won the space race?"
In case you failed intergalactic history, it went a little something like this: in the late 50s, America looked up at the sky and said, "Let's go there!". So in the 60's, they kept running tests and figuring rockets out and America got space fever – but that was contagious, so the good ol' USSR caught space fever too, and then it became a game of, "Last one to the moon is a rotten egg".
So JFK was all, "America will put a man on the moon before the 60's are done-zo" and lo-and-behold, those brilliant people at NASA (with some questionable help from WWII "scientists") did it with like 5 months to spare. Cue sad Soviets and communism not prevailing.
Now, what would that look like if back in 1969, we were looking up at a Soviet sky? Enter For All Mankind.
In the show, the Soviets land the first man on the moon, so where does that put the intrepid U.S. of A.? Naturally, we double-down, of course. Those wascally cosmonauts may have beat us to the moon, but we'll be the first one to build a base and have people living on the moon. Ha! Beat that, borscht!
So, the space race flies onward and we keep working towards our new goal.
Are politics affected?
Is space a big campaign issue?
What does this mean for a little country called Vietnam? The hippie generation?
If you stop and really think about it, if this one thing didn't happen? The potential ramifications are too numerous to even process. How would the world as we know it today be different… our history… our day-to-day lives? Creator and showrunner Moore tackles these very questions in the show -and the answers feel right.
From the science and technical aspects to the costumes, hair, and sets – all of it is spot-on. Other shows spend their budget on big names in an effort to boost a show's potential – but For All Mankind shelled out for historical accuracy. Maybe I love this because I love space and mid-century style and Battlestar Galactica, but it is a genuinely compelling show with stories that are relevant both in a historical context as well as in the present day.
So while the only "stars" are the ones lightyears away, it's better that way because they can use the show to tell stories without expectations – and for the actors to make their characters their own. So if you're looking for a different kind of "space adventure", blast off to Apple TV+ for For All Mankind.