A list of the finest Amazon Prime Instant Video series right now.
Looking for the best TV shows on Amazon Prime Instant Video? There’s certainly no shortage of choice.
With so much on offer, however, deciding which Amazon Prime Instant Video TV shows to stream and which to skip can become tiresome to say the least.
Luckily we’ve put together a list of the best TV shows on Amazon Prime Video, so you can start streaming with confidence.
Here’s our pick.
TV show of the week
With the devastating news that Mad Men will be leaving Amazon Prime Video at the end of this month, you’re going to need a decent comedy series to lift your spirits. And Amazon original series Red Oaks might just be the show to do it.
Young tennis player and college student David works at the Red Oaks Country Club during one summer in the 1980s. Various hi-jinks ensue in this coming-of-age comedy, which finds itself firmly rooted in the tradition of Richard Linklater films, and has earned praise from many a critic. If you’re about to have Don Draper cruelly ripped away from you mid-series, then this might help you through.
Best TV shows to watch on Amazon Video
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It’s that show you’ve heard is really good but never got round to watching. Well, now’s your chance to catch up with the Hip-Hop-based drama series that’s won over the critics with its outstanding cast and compelling plot lines.
The always intense Terrence Howard adapts well to his role as former drug dealer turned Hip Hop mogul Lucious Lyon, and Taraji P. Henson is particularly memorable as his ex-wife Cookie Lyon. The setup involves Lucious learning he has ALS, forcing him to decide which of his three sons should take over his Empire Entertainment company.
Empire feels like a soap that’s been given the premium drama treatment, and as such makes for an easily bingeable affair. Season One is available on Amazon Prime Video now.
Related: Best Amazon Prime Video movies
We may be in the so-called ‘golden age of TV’ but we’re pretty sure the status of our current TV-based entertainment isn’t nearly as exciting as the golden age of piracy. Which is why we suggest you check out Black Sails: a Starz drama in the vein of Spartacus which focuses on a group of pirates in 1715 West Indies. There’s a lot of exposition involved at first but by the second season this one really gets going.
Everything else has had the premium drama treatment, from police and medical procedurals, to vikings and politicians. Why not give pirates a go? The Amazon reviewers certainly seem to love it. There’s three seasons of Black Sails available on Amazon Prime right now so you’ll have plenty to binge in the coming weeks.
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Both Netflix and Amazon have got into the habit of following the US airings of TV series and uploading an episode of a show per week. Netflix does it with Better Call Saul and Amazon does it with Lucifer. What is Lucifer? Well, it airs on Fox in the US and the basic premise is that the Devil gets bored with hell and moves to LA where he opens a piano bar and helps the LAPD punish criminals.
If that’s not enough to get you watching, we don’t know what is. Based on a comic book character, the, shall we say, imaginative premise actually yields a decent show. You can catch up with Lucifer every Tuesday on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Fear the Walking Dead
American TV channel AMC are having a run of success as of late. Ever since the bosses decided Mad Men was worth taking a gamble on, a string of slickly produced hour-long dramas have followed. Now after Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, we’ve been gifted with a Walking Dead spin-off, with the wildly imaginative title of Fear the Walking Dead.
And wouldn’t you know, Amazon’s gone and added it to the Prime lineup, so now you can stay up to date with AMC’s latest adventures in premium drama. This is a prequel to The Walking Dead, set in Los Angeles, which focuses on a troubled family dealing with a range of issues. From a drug-addicted son to the impending zombie apocalypse, this family’s got a lot going on. Why not find out how they overcome such problems by giving Fear the Walking Dead a go?
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What could be a better subject for political satire than Republican senators? Now you can watch John Goodman and three other guys playing Repulican senators who also happen to be house mates. And all while the GOP hurtles irrevocably towards full-on Trumpdom.
Is this Amazon’s answer to House of Cards? Kind of. It’s a lighter offering of course, but then most things are. Goodman, who never seems to disappoint, plays senator Gil John Biggs with a deftness that, on its own, makes Alpha House worth watching. But the other guys, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, and Mark Consuelos, are also great. So if you fancy a break from Kevin Spacey snarling angrily into the camera, check out Alpha House.
Hap and Leonard
Since David Simon’s pre-eminent drama series The Wire finished, Michael K. Williams has popped up in the odd role here and there. You might have caught him in Boardwalk Empire, RoboCop, or 12 Years a Slave. If not, you can now see him alongside James Purfoy in a series from America’s Sundance channel entitled Hap and Leonard.
Who wouldn’t want to watch something Amazon refers to as a ‘darkly comic swamp noir’ involving a zany scheme revolving around a missing million dollars, a couple of sociopaths, and a group of former radicals bent on preserving the spirit of the 60s? Adapted from Joe Lansdale’s novels of the same name, it might sound a bit much, but Hap and Leonard is definitely worth a shot for it’s sharp writing and great cast.
Bosch (Season 2)
When we last left Bosch he was shuffling lugubriously around LA, and now he’s back for more. Season 2 went up on Amazon Prime last week and so far, it looks like it might be better than the first.
This is one of Amazon’s best original series so make sure you catch it. LAPD detective Bosch is your classic tortured type: better than most of his colleagues, haunted by his past, and far too committed to his work.
If you’re not tired of the whole tortured lone wolf character (think Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro in True Detective Season 2), then try to catch Bosch as he shuffles glumly into your Amazon Prime Video queue.
The New Yorker Presents
New to Amazon, this series drafts in well-known and accomplished film-makers to create half hour documentaries, short films, animations, and generally cool stuff. From Alex Gibney, director of such acclaimed documentaries as Going Clear and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, to Steve James, director of classic documentary Hoop Dreams, the film-makers assembled form an impressive line up.
So check out the five episodes that are available now and check Amazon Prime Video every Tuesday for a new episode.
Amazon has just added the seventh season of this silly yet endearing comedy series. This is the type of show you haven’t seen elsewhere because it’s no doubt been deemed ‘too American’ to work in the UK. And in a way, that concern is justifiable.
The show is about a group of dysfunctional friends who all participate in a fantasy football league. Sounds like a pretty flimsy premise right? Well this show isn’t aiming for an Emmy win, it’s aiming to provide some quick and easy entertainment. A nice aspect of it is that you won’t find the usual cast of Judd Apatow affiliates here, with most of the cast being made up of relatively unknown comedic actors. And if you’re still not convinced, Paul Scheer as the hilariously hopeless Andre may just win you over, but you’ll have to watch it to find out.
We’ve neglected to add this to the list as it’s one which most have probably already seen. However, it’s just so good that we feel it deserves a place among the best, and therefore, we give you Mad Men.
Jon Hamm, January Jones, the ad industry. It’s all here, and shot as beautifully as any great movie. If you’ve yet to sample this incisive deconstruction of 1960s America, we suggest you stop what you’re doing and immediately start streaming.
Set in Belize, this new Amazon original series promises ‘dark secrets and a web of lies, deception and murder.’ This is what we’re talking about, Amazon. Keep it coming.
Starring Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Billy Zane (Twin Peaks), Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) and Romany Malco (Weeds), the series certainly boasts enough talent to have some potential.
The plot revolves around a group of friends in their mid-40s who meet in Belize for a retirement celebration. Doesn’t really do much in terms of amping up anticipation does it? In fact, it sounds downright boring.
But you may be pleasantly surprised by Mad Dogs. Especially once all that deception and murder starts kicking off.
Critics seem unable to agree on whether Mad Dogs is good or not. So that leaves only one option: watch it and see.
It’s likely you’re already well acquanted with the adventures of FBI special agents Mulder and Scully. But if not, in honour of the show returning to our screens this month, we suggest you catch up on the original series. Amazon has provided all nine seasons of the show’s original run for your viewing pleasure, so get to it!
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Mozart in the Jungle
Amazon was so pleased that it’s original series won two Golden Globes, it made the first two seasons free for a whole weekend. For those who already have a Prime subscription, you should have already checked out Mozart in the Jungle.
If you haven’t, you should be ashamed. This strange meld of comedy and drama is an adaptation of Blair Tindall’s memoir ‘Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs & Classical Music’. It basically takes you behind the scenes of a fictionalised version of the New York Symphony Orchestra where new maestro Rodrigo is causing a stir with his bold approach.
There’s some other stuff going on too but with two Golden Globes, one for Best Actor in a TV series, and one for Best TV series, musical or comedy, this thing requires no more explanation.
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This was the show that established Amazon as a credible producer of original content and a genuine competitor to Netflix. It focuses on a Los Angeles father who comes out as transgender to his family.
But the Kardashians this ain’t. Willa Paskin, TV critic at Slate, was so impressed by the show’s sensitive and mature treatment of its subject matter that she declared: “to call it Amazon’s first great series, or the only great series of the new fall season—both of which are true—is to damn it with faint praise”.
The Man in the High Castle
Another Amazon original, this show gives us all a look at what America would be like if it lost World War 2. The country has been divided between a Japanese puppet state and a Nazi puppet state, with a buffer zone between them. It’s got everything you want: Nazis, castles, Alexa Davalos (we don’t know who she is either but if you don’t watch it you’ll never find out). (Actually don’t worry we’ve IMDB’d her and she is an actress born in France who apparently lived a ‘quintessentially bohemian upbringing’ and we stopped being interested there.)
But there are still Nazis and castles, and critics are loving this Amazon original series. New York Magazine’s Matt Coller Seltz says “the main draw is suspense and bursts of gunfire and torture, undergirded by the low-level dread.” Sounds like a good time to us!
Mr Robot’s blend of sci-fi, drama, and its bleak observations about modern life make for a show that is both exciting and vaguely haunting. As its tagline ‘our democracy has been hacked’ suggests, this is a show about hacking. But it touches on everything from the economy to personal relationships.
Rami Malek stars as Elliot Anderson, an employee at a cyber security company whose hacking skills are second to none. He meets anarchist Mr Robot (Christian Slater) who tries to recruit him to a project aimed at taking down Evil Corp, the very firm Elliot is employed to protect. The name Evil Corp is lame but the rest of it is pretty good.
Ray Donovan is one of the best shows you’ve never seen. It’s so good you will wonder how you lived without it. The titular character, played by Liev Schreiber, is a ‘fixer’ for a powerful law firm in Los Angeles. He is tasked with fixing all manner of celebrity faux pas, while simultaneously dealing with one of the most dysfunctional families you’ll ever watch on screen.
Jon Voight is probably the best thing about this show. He plays Ray’s unscrupulous and manipulative father who constantly makes life difficult for his sons and their families. He’ll soon become your favourite character with his mix of mischief and menace. But there’s loads more to love about Ray Donovan. With great actors, great locations, and great writing, this will be the beginning of your next magical binge-watch relationship.
The Walking Dead
The zombie trope became so popular that studio execs decided to make an entire show out of it. And why not? We’ve had the films, we’ve had the comics, we’ve had the games. Now it’s time to indulge your bizarre fascination with walking corpses TV-style.
This show follows a group of survivors as they face the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Doesn’t sound too original, does it? But it’s well done and you’ll come to care about the group as they struggle through their crumbling surroundings. It’s also pretty gory, so save this one until the family’s gone to bed. Or just play it anyway and scar your children and/or partner for a laugh.
Masters of Sex
It’s raunchy. It’s hot. It’s got Christmas written all over it. And soon, your eyes can be feasting on the delight that is Masters of Sex.
Set in the 1950s and ’60s, the show follows Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) as they endeavour to explore the furthest reaches of human sexuality and help to spark the sexual revolution. It’s loosely based on a true story, but don’t let boring reality put you off. This is good.
Another show you probably vaguely recall hearing about but never bothered watching. This is one of those shows that Amazon trialled with a pilot, asking for audience feedback on whether it warranted a full season. Feedback was good and Amazon has since ordered two seasons, both of which are available now.
Bosch is based on a series of novels by American author Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is an LAPD homicide detective who’s standing trial for killing a serial murder suspect. There’s also a cold case involving the remains of a missing boy which Bosch struggles to solve as the trial unfolds. Sounds alright, doesn’t it? You should’ve started watching it a long time ago.
Prisoners of War
If you’re a fan of Homeland you should check out the original Israeli series it was based on. Prisoners of War was created by Gideon Raff, who was also an executive producer on the American remake.
Israeli soldiers Nimrod Klien, Uri Zach and Amiel Ben-Horin were captured 17 years ago while on a mission in Lebanon. Negotiations to have them freed finally succeed and the two soldiers who remain alive return home. But there are discrepancies with their testimony about the time they spent in captivity and an investigation is launched to find out exactly what happened during those 17 years.
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The Americans is a drama series about two KGB spies working undercover in suburban Washington D.C. during the Cold War. They’re married and their next door neighbour is an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. It’s a decent premise for a show and the whole thing was created and produced by a former CIA officer, so it’s got a level of authenticity to it. There are two seasons on Prime now, so get to it!
Check back over the coming weeks and months as we’ll be updating this list with the latest streaming delights you need in your life.