M. Night Shyamalan’s newest thriller, Servant, is a TV series about a couple coping with the loss of their infant by relying on a fringe form of therapy. The show is set to stream exclusively on Apple TV Plus, and it will be available to watch on November 28th.
Servant follows a couple in Philadelphia (played by Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell) as they hire a nanny (Nell Tiger Free) to look after a therapy doll they’re using to cope with the loss of their child. Strange things start to happen as the nanny enters their lives. The entire show takes place in one location, which Shyamalan says gives the show a more play-like feel.
Shyamalan spoke about Servant at a panel gathered for New York Comic Con. He was joined onstage by co-creator Tony Basgallop and the cast: Ambrose, Kebbell, Free, and Harry Potter star Rupert Grint. Apple has only released a pair of 15-second teasers for the show, but a new teaser shown at the panel provided some more details about the Rosemary’s Baby-like story. The trailer will be available to the public in approximately four weeks, according to Shyamalan.
Servant marks one of Shyamalan’s first major forays into television, and the director said there’s already a set number of episodes the creative team needs to make in order to tell the story completely: 60. The goal is to run those 60 episodes over the course of six years (making it a six-season show). Shyamalan didn’t suggest whether Apple already committed to six seasons of the show, but he spoke about wanting to work with the tech giant, specifically, instead of a broadcast network or another streaming service like Netflix.
“This is a new movement in how you watch content.”
“A lot of places wanted to make this show, and we decided to go with Apple,” Shyamalan said. “The reason we did is because I felt there was a connection between the aesthetics that we talked about [in the show] and them as a company. Also, this was an opportunity to help define a place, which was a really exciting thing for me. This is a new movement in how you watch content, to be with the biggest company in the world, and to have that reach is really exciting.”
Part of the reason Shyamalan wanted to take on the project with Basgallop was because of Basgallop’s take on the format. Each episode will span 30 minutes instead of the typical hour length that dramas usually run. Changing to 30 minutes allows Shyamalan and Basgallop to properly tell their story on television, the director argued, and Apple was willing to let them do what they wanted with the series. It was only because of the 30-minute format, with the idea to do 60 episodes over six years, that Shyamalan agreed to take on the show.
“I’ve avoided this format [television],” Shyamalan said. “The great thing about the format is that it’s a character-driven format. You come to watch week-to-week because you’re connected to the characters, and I love that. But the amount of content that you have to deliver for the amount of time and the amount of resources ... The math just doesn’t work. It’s why, on two hands, we can count every show that has gone from beginning to end with the same quality. It’s a machine that keeps going. That was terrifying to me.”
Servant isn’t part of Apple TV Plus’ launch lineup, but it does arrive not too long after the streaming service is set to launch. Other shows — including Jennifer Aniston’s The Morning Show, Jason Momoa’s See, and Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore’s For All Mankind — will launch with the streaming service on November 1st. Apple TV Plus costs $4.99 a month, but customers who buy an Apple product will receive a full year for free.