So you’re stuck trawlingfor something genuinely worth a watch.
A binge even, a TV show to fill up a chunk of the night or be savored throughout the week. Amazon’s streamer might not be the most prolific releaser or the biggest awards darling — stay with us — but it’s has picked up a ton of bonafide gems. Put your phone away. Allow these shows to grip your eyeballs tight — and look forward to what’s coming up each month.
What’s coming up this month (January)
- The Rig, season 1 premiere (2022-): Mystery thriller. A group of workers on a remote oil rig are due to return to the mainland when an eerie fog descends, and a mysterious force begins to take hold.
- Hunters, season 2 premiere (2020-): Drama. After an accident derails their exploits in Europe, The Hunters must band back together to hunt down history’s most infamous Nazi, Adolf Hitler, who’s hiding in South America.
- The Legend of Vox Machina, season 2 premiere (2022-): Adult animated fantasy. After saving the realm from evil and destruction at the hands of the most terrifying power couple in Exandria, Vox Machina is faced with saving the world once again.
Best Amazon Prime Video original TV shows
At time of writing, these TV shows all score at least 70 on Metacritic.
The English (2022)
Gripping Western drama series The English stars Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer as an unlikely duo traveling across a treacherous landscape. The first episode of the limited series presents some terrible characters and reveals a bit of what motivates both protagonists — Blunt’s aristocratic Englishwoman and Spencer’s Pawnee ex-cavalry scout — to continue in the face of danger. Gorgeous visuals and superb acting make the English worth a binge.
Sneaky Pete (2015-2019)
Con man Marius walks free from jail, only to be hunted by the gangster he once robbed. So, he assumes the identity of his cell mate Pete and walks back into the lives of Pete’s estranged family, who are none the wiser. Bryan Cranston brings all the gravitas to gangster Vince in this part-drama, party-comedy. The twists and dicey situations will carry you through the addictive episodes as quickly as Pete pulls his cons.
Ali Goldstein/Amazon Studios
As We See It (2022)
A newer entry to Prime Video, As We See It earns a spot among its best shows. Starring three actors who identify as autistic, this sincere series follows young adults on the autism spectrum as they navigate jobs, making friends and finding love. Neurotypical actors usually play autistic characters on screen, so the casting sets this one apart. It’s also heartfelt, funny and poignant, with well-rounded characters you’ll want to root for. I could let the show’s glowing Metacritic score speak for itself — but whatever convinces you, this needs to be your next watch.
Amazon Prime Video
The Underground Railroad (2021)
Sublime filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) takes on adapting Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad into a powerful 10-episode series. Set in the southern US during the 1800s, the fictional story follows Blacks attempting to escape from slavery via a network of hidden tracks and tunnels. Tapping magical realism and a superb cast including Thuso Mbedu and William Jackson Harper, The Underground Railroad is an emotional and chilling triumph.
This gripping British series is about, yes, an informer and the murky territory involved in coercing someone to take on the dangerous gig. Paddy Considine (who now has a gig on the Game of Thrones prequel) stars as DS Gabe Waters, a counterterrorism officer tasked with infiltrating a far-right movement in West Yorkshire. Partnered with an excellent Bel Powley (The Morning Show, The King of Staten Island) as the young and inquisitive DC Holly Morten, he attempts to bring British Pakistani Raza (Nabhaan Rizwan) on board to uncover information about a possible terrorist attack. A provocative thriller that will keep you on your toes.
Jackie Brown/Amazon Studios
The Kids in the Hall (2022—)
Prime Video has resurrected The Kids in the Hall, the Emmy-nominated Canadian sketch comedy show that originally ran from 1988 to 1995. (By “resurrects,” I mean the show literally exhumes members of the comedy troupe from a grave they were buried in at the end of the original show. That’s just the beginning of the fun.) Follow the comedians as they freak out over mislabeled desserts, fight over imaginary love interests and write Earth’s last fax. But be warned: Some of these sketches are highly NSFW.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017—)
A ’50s housewife who becomes a standup comic? This brilliant series from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, is filled with sparkling performances from Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, with dialogue to match. Set in a vibrant and changing New York, our delightful heroine moonlights as a comedian, while doing her duties as an upper class Jewish American housewife. With impressive visuals, warmth and zingers, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the full package.
A League of Their Own (2022—)
Prime Video’s TV series A League of Their Own is inspired by the 1992 film of the same name and introduces new characters portrayed by Abbi Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden and others. In the comedy-drama’s first episode, women try out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the ’40s. The show explores themes of race and sexuality, and offers a satisfying period setting and compelling characters.
This unique series uses the Rotoscoping animation technique to tell the story of a young woman who, after suffering a near-fatal car accident, discovers she can manipulate time. Intriguing, right? It gets better: Bob Odenkirk plays Alma’s dead father, who enlists her help in investigating his murder. Bending both time and space, Undone is surreal and beautifully existential for those looking for deep material.
The Outlaws (2021—)
Seven strangers are assigned to the same community payback sentence in this appealing comedy thriller set in Bristol, England. The six-episode show is fun, dark and touching, offering an engaging look at its rule-breakers’ backgrounds and the relationships that form between them. The plot thickens when some members of the group come across a bag of cash. If you need another draw, the show is co-created by Stephen Merchant, who co-created the UK version of The Office.
A Very English Scandal (2018-2021)
A sex scandal in the UK Parliament? Starring Hugh Grant and Ben Wishaw? You can thank Russell T. Davies for dramatizing this slice of late-’70s British politics. Jeremy Thorpe, a Liberal member of Parliament, wants to silence unhappy ex-lover Norman before his career ends up in tatters. Watch the murder conspiracy, big trial and media scrutiny through A Very English Scandal’s darkly funny lens.
If somehow the Fleabag train passed you by, it’s time to let it hit you at its full, incredible force. Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes and stars in the play-turned extraordinary comedy series. A 30-something woman who runs a cafe lives a sex-filled life with a sense of humor that hides the tragedies she hasn’t yet come to terms with. Just about word-for-word perfect, with a fourth-wall breaking device, Fleabag frequently does its best to both shock and devastate you, while being ridiculously funny.
I Love Dick (2016-2017)
Going on a Katheryn Hahn binge after WandaVision? Marvel’s new favorite witch starred in one season of this 2016 comedy with a memorable title. Her character’s name is just as memorable: Chris Kraus, an artist and filmmaker who moves to Texas with her husband. She quickly falls in love with his fellowship sponsor, played by Kevin Bacon. Yes, Kevin Bacon is in this. The dynamic of her marriage shifts as her infatuation challenges everything in smart and provocative and adult ways. Sadly, I Love Dick didn’t score a second season, but the first is well worth your time.
Featuring Carrie Fisher’s final TV role, Catastrophe is a rom-com about messy, chaotic people. Londoner Sharon and Bostonian Rob have a one-week stand that results in an unplanned pregnancy and Rob moving to the UK so they can start a family. The tricky part: Sharon and Rob don’t know the first thing about each other. Covering age, sex, parenthood, marriage and love in its open book, Catastrophe is a superb rom-com that gives you four seasons to devour.
Transparent’s unique story follows the Pfefferman siblings who discover their dad is transitioning into a woman named Maura. Other aspects of the Pfeffermans’ lives, including a sour marriage and a disappointing child, give this tightly scripted comedy-drama a relatable side. Poignant and ambitious, Transparent is a show to look out for.
Mozart in the Jungle (2014-2018)
A comedy-drama set in New York’s classical music scene, Mozart in the Jungle is as whimsical as its title suggests. Upcoming oboist Hailey meets eccentric conductor Rodrigo, who’s tasked with revitalizing the New York Symphony. Never losing you with jargon, Mozart in the Jungle charmingly reveals an edgier side to the world of strings, playing its own symphony of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
The Boys (2019—)
The Boys stormed Amazon with its ultra-violent tale of antihero vigilantes seeking revenge against the world’s most beloved superheroes. But these heroes aren’t what they seem: Their corporate overlords cover up their shady personal lives, including sexual harassment and the odd assassination. With social commentary, black comedy and pops of gore, The Boys takes a thrilling and unapologetic step away from the family-friendly genre.
The Tick (2016-2019)
While The Tick was sadly canceled after two seasons, the superhero comedy will still give you a hit of fast-paced, colorful action with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Based on the comic book character, The Tick is a bulletproof hero who wears a, yep, blue tick suit. His sidekick? The meek Arthur who wears a … moth suit. Their nemesis is The Terror, a supervillain in their city’s underworld. If you want to sit back and watch pure superhero entertainment, you’ve found the right show.
For those who aren’t a fan of cartoons, Invincible could be your converter, up there with other adult cartoons like BoJack Horseman and Rick and Morty. Based on a comic book from Robert Kirkman, the creator of the Walking Dead, Invincible follows 17-year-old Mark Grayson and his training to become a superhero just like his father, who happens to be the most powerful superhero on the planet. Episodes run long at nearly 50 minutes, connected into one big, blood-spattered story. A subversive series with a huge cast featuring Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh and J.K. Simmons, Invincible will engross you in its smart animated world.
This comprehensive documentary series tackles the story of Lorena Bobbitt, the woman who, famously, severed her husband’s penis in 1993. It covers the incident and two subsequent trials, incorporating a wide range of interviews that add illuminating context to the decades-old events. It gives much-needed attention to the abuse Bobbitt said she suffered at the hands of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt. Executive produced by Jordan Peele, this well-researched series is well worth your attention.
In LulaRich, the directors of Hulu’s Fyre Festival documentary explore the dark side of multi-level-marketing company, LuLaRoe. The four-part documentary series interviews founders DeAnne and Mark Stidham and paints a not-so-rosy picture of the women’s clothing giant, which is known for its loudly-colored and patterned leggings and tops. In the doc, women who joined the company (investing a chunk of money in the process) dealt with stinky merchandise, a toxic culture and challenges reaching financial goals. Settle in for an intriguing and well-made docuseries that spotlights the stories of former LuLaRoe retailers.
Led by a stellar Erin Doherty, this British thriller will swallow your attention. It centers on Becky, a temp with an unusual pastime: assuming different identities to sneak into fancy art galleries and yoga classes. When a woman she follows obsessively on Instagram suddenly dies, she attempts to uncover more details, once again posing as someone else. Tear away from your timeline and check out this six-episode limited series.
While season 2 of Homecoming didn’t quite find its feet, season 1 hit the ground running. Julia Roberts stars in this psychological thriller about an army rehabilitation facility run by questionable owners. Using an effective, mystery-building narrative that covers two timelines, Homecoming is high on tension and paranoia as it reveals what the facility’s true purpose is. Fun fact: The series uses the actual scores of movies from Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and more.
The Man in the High Castle (2015-2019)
The Man in the High Castle imagines an alternate history where the Axis powers (Rome-Berlin-Tokyo) win World War II. Based on a Philip K. Dick novel, the series follows characters in the ’60s who live in a parallel universe, where Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan control the US. But there’s impossible newsreel footage surfacing of a world where Germany and Japan lose the war, causing some to rebel. To really hammer home its dystopia credentials, The Man in the High Castle is steered by producer Ridley Scott. Fully realized and with a focused plot, this is gripping TV.
Ben Rothstein/Prime Video
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022—)
Prime Video’s highly anticipated and wildly expensive fantasy series has already made its mark (and it’s a good thing, too, as Amazon already committed to four more seasons). The series brings incredible visuals, a sprawling cast and sense of adventure to the streaming service. It’s set thousands of years before The Lord of the Rings, and in part follows a young version of the character Galadriel, who’s played by Morfydd Clark.
The Legend of Vox Machina (2022—)
Buckle up for a brand-new animated series that centers on a group of boisterous, belching misfits called Vox Machina. Based on Dungeons & Dragons web series Critical Role (you don’t have to be familiar with that to enjoy this show), The Legend of Vox Machina sees its protagonists go from being broke bar-hoppers to accepting a mission to stop evil brewing in Exandria. We’re further introduced to the characters in a musical number that occurs about halfway through the first episode. That’s right, I said musical number. But you’ll be down for every element this show throws at you. Why would anyone choose these misfits to fight for the kingdom? “Well… they do have a bear,” one royal decision-maker concedes.
If you’re in a particularly meditative mood, reflecting on life, relationships and the big choices we make in life, Forever will gently set your world on fire. June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) are a married couple cruising through their suburban life until vastly unexpected turns take them into otherworldly territory. Stick through the slow-burning first episode and you’ll be rewarded with an exceptionally crafted eight-episode series, gently wrapping you in its visually beautiful and meaningful dream.
This seven-season police procedural, inspired by Michael Connelly novels, gets everything right for old-fashioned detective drama. We follow Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch, played by Titus Welliver, who’s haunted by the death of his mother. While catching serial killers and keeping his family safe, he investigates her murder. Functional and no-nonsense, Bosch provides steady mystery with an equally steady lead. Great news: a spinoff series is underway at Amazon’s IMDb TV, keeping Welliver as the titular detective.
Ripper Street (2012-2016)
This dark and gritty series is set in the late 1800s on the streets of Whitechapel, a place once terrorized by Jack the Ripper. Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and the police have to deal with the aftermath of the Ripper murders, which have left the area of London in an anarchic state. Fine acting, strong characters and, importantly, strong dialogue make the episodic mysteries all the more suspenseful and immersive. Five superb seasons await you (consisting of six to eight episodes each).
The Summer I Turned Pretty (2022—)
If a coming-of-age tale with a peak summer setting, teenage love triangle and soundtrack stocked with Taylor Swift songs sounds appealing to you, keep reading. The show centers on Belly (breakout actor Lola Tung), who makes a much-anticipated annual commute to a beach house with her mom and brother. But she looks a bit different than she did the last time she set foot on Cousin’s Beach and spent time with her mom’s best friend’s sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Young-adult author Jenny Han wrote the book on which the TV series is based and serves as one of the showrunners.
The Pursuit of Love (2021)
You’re either going to fall madly in love with or arch an unimpressed eyebrow at this romance based on the 1945 Nancy Mitford novel of the same name. The Pursuit of Love follows two cousins who represent different ways of life. Lily James is Linda Radlett, whose exuberant romantic adventures see her travel from London to Paris. Emily Beecham, meanwhile, is Fanny Logan, navigating the confinements of married life. If you’re in the mood, this three-episode miniseries will sweep you up into a story of happiness and sadness, laughter and pain.
With Love (2021—)
Looking for love? With Love might be the perfect feel-good rom-com. The charming premise sees the Diaz siblings, Lily and Jorge, navigate major holidays across the year, from Halloween to Christmas — major holidays that put pressure on singletons in search of romantic relationships. Follow the Diaz’s on their journey, along with their delightful and sometimes delightfully awkward extended family. An earnest, enjoyable breeze.
Amazon Prime Video
Paper Girls (2022)
The first episode of Paper Girls, a new sci-fi TV series based on popular comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, brings together four kids riding bikes on their paper delivery routes in 1988. While that may sound like a sci-fier you’ve binged already, (yup, Netflix’s hit Stranger Things), Prime Video’s show stands on its own. Follow along as the girls travel through time, navigate powerful adversaries and learn more about themselves. Another reason to watch? Comedian Ali Wong is in the cast.
The Expanse (2015-2022)
Amazon rescued The Expanse from the realm of canceled TV, bringing us up to six seasons. Thank goodness it did, because The Expanse is smart sci-fi with realistic characters, high production values and a dash of detective noir. Set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, a conspiracy threatens to start a cold war between the largest powers. A band of antiheroes find themselves at the center. Look forward to more space western themes in the consistently excellent later seasons.
The Terror (2018-2019)
Not only does this horror anthology series feature Japanese folklore and explorers heading into uncharted territory, but its first chapter stars pre-Chernobyl Jared Harris. He plays the captain of Arctic explorer ships that end up stuck in the ice. On top of the harsh conditions and cabin fever, an unknown presence in the mist stalks the crew. Strung with atmospheric dread, The Terror is thrilling, prestige horror. The Terror is available on Prime Video in Australia and AMC in the US (here’s a VPN guide).