You like TV, eh? Well, it’s time to get serious about your bingeing habits with the best shows on Amazon Prime Video. Sure, Netflix is great, but who knew that an online retailer would turn out to be its biggest rival? Amazon Prime hosts some of the top telly of the last two decades. I’m serious.
As well as Amazon’s own string of original series, like Homecoming, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Bosch, there’s a glut - yes, I said glut - of HBO shows that aren’t included in any other streaming deal. The Sopranos, Deadwood, Justified, Six Feet Under, and that’s just for starters. You won’t tire of the array of stuff that’s here to stream. But where oh where do you begin? Worry not, I’ve got you covered. Having trawled the depths of the Amazon back catalogue, I’ve curated a list of the 30 best shows on Amazon Prime Video to stream right now.
30. Dead Like Me
Region: UK, US
The show: From Bryan Fuller, one of the creative forces behind Hannibal and American Gods, comes Dead Like Me. This series tones down the violence and ups the comedy, considerably, with the silliness and seriousness we put on our lives providing the main source of amusement for a bunch of death’s lackeys. As its title implies, the show follows a dead girl named Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth). Her supposedly premature death was due to her destiny as a grim reaper, a role she grows to love thanks to her quippy colleagues.
Why it’s worth a watch: A criminally under-seen show that’s hilarious and heart-warming. The mixed bag of characters, all struggling with their afterlife predicaments, remain utterly relatable despite their being dead. If you like your dramedies to err on the unusual, morbid side (Six Feet Under fans take note!) then this short-lived series is a must-see.
The show: An Amazon Original that’s based on a trio of Michael Connelly novels that follow the exploits of former Special Forces officer turned Hollywood homicide detective, Harry Bosch. Bosch’s hard knocks past leads him to become a no-nonsense type of cop, a do-gooder with a hard moral line. Interesting then that Titus Welliver tackles the role. There's something foreboding about Welliver - partly why he made such a convincing smoke monster on Lost - but he seems to have shaken free of it for the first season of this dark procedural show.
Why it's worth a watch: While there's certain changes in the page-to-screen transition that some Connelly die-hards might pick apart, it does share one major similarity to its source material: it's easily digestible. Yeah, this is A LOT of fun to binge. The entire show grows more confident and assured with every season.
Region: UK, US
The show: A rough 'n' tumble period piece that's not a million miles away from Game of Thrones, Vikings serves up a similar amount of blood-drenched violence, but none of the rampant nookie. Travis Fimmel leads the series as noted Norse figure Ragnar Lothbrok, a lowly farmer who becomes a respected warrior. That's after years of sailing the seas of Europe, of course, along with his wives and chums, in search of vulnerable countries to ransack.
Why it's worth a watch: The story itself is terrific, and along with its glorious production design, you’ll be drawn in and unable to stop yourself from one more episode. It's less concerned with the intricate political ties of the aforementioned series, yet does err heavily on the side of fantasy. These are not the vikings you've read about at school; these are far more devious.
27. Orphan Black
The show: Orphan Black mixes futuristic genetic technology with family drama and thrilling action - who knew those components would make for gripping TV? Well, they do. The show follows Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), a young woman whose life is changed forever when she witnesses her doppelgänger commit suicide at a train station. That moment sets her on a complex journey to uncover the truth behind her identity, which is full of twists and turns that are, at times, dizzying.
Why it's worth a watch: Maslany's nuanced turns as a series of clones are nothing short of breathtaking. You may find yourself scanning the credits for the actresses who play Sarah's sisters and then slap yourself silly when you twig. Keep your eyes peeled for the moments when the clones impersonate one another. Thank goodness she finally won an Emmy for her flawless turn!
26. Mr. Robot
Region: UK, US
The show: Mr. Robot came out of nowhere and suddenly emerged as 2015's big watercooler hit. It's about hackers, yes, but the technology wunderkind at the heart of this story is unlike any other onscreen depictions. Rami Malek plays Elliott Anderson, a computer genius who joins the ranks of the mysterious Mr. Robot under the pretense that together their band of digital vigilantes will free society from the grip of corporate America.
Why it's worth a watch: Paranoid and tense, Robot rolls out like a thriller cooked up in the mind of David Fincher then siphoned through the bizarre lens of David Lynch. Its creator Sam Esmail showcases his eye for detail here, that ropes in styles of all kinds to craft an entirely unique thriller. With Bohemian Rhapsody rocketing Malek to new heights, now's the perfect time to watch his first significant debut.
The show: Being a first-time parent isn’t a picnic. Especially when your partner is from another country. And you don’t really know them that well... or have indeed only met them once. Throw these factors into the pot and you get the beginnings of one of Amazon’s most seriously underseen comedies. Sharon Horgan stars as an Irish schoolteacher in London who embarks on a week-long affair with Rob Delaney’s Boston ad exec. Their efforts to stay together after they discover they’re pregnant are what drive the series into hilarity and, at times, heartache.
Why it’s worth a watch: Funny as hell, do it for ya? Horgan and Delaney, who also wrote the entire show together, make their experience relatable and humourous without resorting to silly gags. Plus, Carrie Fisher’s cameo as Delaney’s mom is divine. Her little dog Gary even cameos with her!
The show: Feeling a little glum that Glenn Close didn’t bag the Oscar? Console yourself with her sublime performance as Patty Hewes, a criminal prosecutor with no scruples, who’d happily sell out her own grandmother if it meant getting a leg up. The series starts as Patty’s company, Hewes and Associates, hires Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), fresh out of law school with plans to change the world. Every season charts the relationship between teacher and protegee alongside a season-long criminal case. It’s unlike any crime show you’ve watched.
Why it’s worth a watch: Continuing to get better with each season, the pure, babbling madness of Damages is that it’s impossible to lock down who’s good and who’s bad. With moral compasses this thoroughly skewed, that’s not even the point, as the real joy comes from watching Close and Byrne go head-to-head as one of the small screen’s best pair of frenemies.
23. The Man in the High Castle
The show: Imagining what the world might be like had the allied forces lost the second world war is terrifying. It’s an idea so frightful that sci-fi mastermind Philip K. Dick scratched out his 1962 novel based on that concept, from which this Amazon Original series takes its inspiration. The world no longer looks the same. Under Nazi rule the sprawling North American continent has been divided into three territories, and it's inside those borders that this gripping story of a small Resistance group unravels.
Why it's worth a watch: As an alternate history, not necessarily a distorted reality, the show is gripping. It makes for such compulsive viewing because it bears so many recognisable emblems from the real world. As well as a few choice slips into genre territory...
22. Downton Abbey
The show: Who doesn’t like watching a bunch of incredibly wealthy people from 20th century Britain swan about on an estate? Downton Abbey captivated the TV landscape when it debuted in 2010, capturing the hearts and minds of, well, millions of viewers. The fictional Crawley family lead the story, as their lives are interwoven with real-life historical events. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 kicks things off with World War I coming to serve as a major plot point. All the while the drama and politics of the Crawleys - and their arsenal of servants - becomes all the more intriguing.
Why it’s worth a watch: A British corset drama. An exceptional aristocratic affair. Whatever you want to call it, Downton Abbey is a darn good soap opera. With more twists, turns, and plot revelations that you’d expect from a period piece about a well-to-do English family, this is a compelling binge-watch in disguise. Watch all six seasons now before the movie drops in September.
21. Sneaky Pete
Region: UK, US
The show: After his release from prison Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) decides to get creative with his new-found freedom. Instead of picking up where he left off, which is at the mercy of gangster Vince (Bryan Cranston) for the $100,000 he owes, Marius opts to take over the life of his cellmate Pete who remains behind bars. Pete’s estranged family welcome “Pete” back into the fold as if nothing’s happened, and Marius starts to discover that his new clan might be a source of further strife.
Why it’s worth a watch: Its well-written scripts and fantastic performances are what have turned Sneaky Pete into one of those sneaky shows that wheedles its way into your mind and refuses to let go until you’ve watched just one more episode. This is top-notch viewing that’s a relentlessly bingeable mix of crime, comedy and drama.