By EW Staff
Updated October 29, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sure, Bill Gates is taking over the world, but at least Apple computers are conquering TV. Apples have bobbed up on HBO’s Sex and the City, The WB’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ABC’s Dharma & Greg, and CBS’ Judging Amy. In fact, according to Apple product-placement exec Suzanne Forlenza, the computers are slated to appear on no fewer than 56 series this TV season.

Why the Mac mania? ”People think ‘Oh, they’re paying us off,”’ chuckles J.J. Abrams, cocreator of The WB’s Mac-happy Felicity (which gets loaned the machines by Apple, yet gets no juicy bribes). ”But for me, this is strictly a cultural phenomenon. There’s something human and friendly and optimistic about Macintosh.” Not to mention colorful. ”We try to set up the house so there’s eye candy,” says Matt Kunitz, supervising producer of MTV’s Real World, which has a blue iMac. ”They look like a piece of art in the corner.”

And what of the poor, straitlaced PC? A relatively paltry 24 shows are scheduled to feature cameos by IBM computers this season. (Last year’s PC-powered series included NBC’s Suddenly Susan and HBO’s The Sopranos.) Says IBM spokesperson Trink Guarino, ”We don’t feel sad or left out.”

(Tricia Johnson, with additional reporting by Dan Snierson)