Last Updated: October 2nd
There are a lot of good TV shows on Amazon Prime, but increasingly the streaming service’s original programming has been as good as much of its licensed programming as it expands its library of original content. It doesn’t have quite the breadth of Netflix, but there’s hardly a miss among its original series. If you’re trying to figure out exactly which original show to watch next on Amazon, here’s a great place to start with a look at the 15 best Amazon Prime original series right now.
1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
3 seasons, 26 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10
Amy Sherman-Palladino’s follow-up to Gilmore Girls and Bunheads may be the most impactful Amazon series since Transparent, and it’s got the Emmys to prove it. It’s a brilliant, quick-witted, crowd-pleaser, an exuberant fast-talking comedy with some heft. Set in 1950s New York City, Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards, Manhattan) plays Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel, the perfect, upper Westside wife who — after her husband leaves her — goes on a bender and finds herself on stage delivering a hilarious, profanity-fueled set in a rundown dump of a club. The club’s booker, Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein), takes an immediate interest in her, so while her home life is falling apart, Miriam finds herself trying to build a career as a stand-up comic in an era when females weren’t exactly welcome on that scene. It’s a tremendous series that mixes comedy, feminism, and a little bit of stand-up history into a delightful concoction of laughs, heart and an incredible lead performance from Brosnahan, who will ultimately be remembered for this role the same way Lauren Graham will always be remembered for Lorelai Gilmore.
2 seasons, 18 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Patriot is a difficult show to describe because it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s about a man named John Tavner (Michael Dorman), an N.O.C. (Non-official cover) for the CIA. His cover is as an engineer for a pipe company, a job for which he has little education or experience, and yet, it’s also a job he must maintain in order to complete his mission: To get a bag of money from point A to point B, which just happens to be what his job in pipe entails: To build a pipe to get a thing from Point A to Point B. But if it were that easy, neither an engineer (in the piping context) or a CIA agent (in the context of the bag of money) would be required.
Patriot is about the complications that arise along the way. There are mishaps; a murder investigation; and human nature and Tavner’s relationships with his brother, with co-workers, and with his father get in the way. After every episode, the intensity of this mission increases. The burden gets heavier. By the end, viewers will be left desperate to find a safety valve to unleash some pressure because Patriot does a number on its audience. It’s a pitch-black comedy, and it’s not for everyone. Season 2 is just as strange and silly as ever, but unfortunately, the show has bit the dust.
2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Not exactly an Amazon Original, Fleabag was co-produced by Amazon and England’s BBC Three. Set in London, it stars the magnificent Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who also created the show) as “a young woman attempting to navigate modern life in London.” That description hardly does the series justice, however. It’s a hysterical, dirty, sexually devious and surprisingly thoughtful meditation on grief and loneliness that goes by so quickly (there are only six half-hour episodes in each season) that viewers will wish they savored it more before it ends.
Fleabag is a quick series to binge, but it packs an immense amount of comedy and ache into its short runtime, probing beneath the dating life of a sexual adventuresome twenty-something only to uncover bleakness and tragedy. There’s a gut punch around every corner, but Fleabag always manages to lift itself out of its depths to make us laugh again. It’s truly one of the most distinctive, original comedies of the last several years — think Tig Notaro crossed with Broad City — and if we’re lucky, Waller-Bridge will become one of the leading creative voices of her generation.
4. Good Omens
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
David Tennant and Michael Sheen star in this hellishly fun adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved work of fantasy. Tennant plays Crowley, a demon who’s spent the past 6,000 years living life as a kind of rockstar on Earth. Sheen plays his angelic counterpart, Aziraphale, a bumbling seraph who also calls Earth home and as a reluctant friendship with his immortal enemy. The two must band together to prevent the Anti-Christ – a kid in Oxford shire – from rising to power, destroying the world, and, most importantly, Crowley’s best of Queen mixtape.
5. Sneaky Pete
3 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Sneaky Pete comes from creators David Shore (House) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), who also stars as the series’ bad guy. However, it is the influence of showrunner Graham Yost (Justified) that is most felt: It has the same crackling energy, wit, and fast-paced storylines, combining a series-long arc with a few stand-alone episodes.
Cranston plays Vick, a bad guy of indeterminate nature. In its first season, recently released convict Marius (Giovani Ribisi) is in debt to Vick for $100,000, so he hides out in a small Connecticut town by posing as his prison cellmate, Pete (Ethan Embry). Armed with three years of prison stories from Pete, Marius — a career con man — has little trouble fitting into Pete’s family, who have not seen the real Pete since he was 11. Pete’s family enrolls Marius into the family bail bond business as an investigator, and Marius uses his in with Pete’s family to try and steal $100,000 from their safe and pay it back to Vick before Vick cuts off the fingers of Marius’ brother. It’s an out-there high-concept premise, but it plays well, primarily because of the terrific character work. It’s a show brimming with talent, starring everyone from Cranston to Peter Geraty to Margo Martindale (one of several former Justified cast members). It’s honest-to-God one of the most addictive, bingeable shows on either Netflix or Amazon, and once viewers hit the sixth episode, it’s virtually impossible to turn off.
6 seasons, 60 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
Titus Welliver stars in this police procedural from Amazon about a renegade detective charged with solving some hauntingly grisly murders. Harry Bosch is a former military man with a healthy respect for the rules and an unquenchable thirst for the truth. Each season, he’s presented with a case that threatens his carefully molded view of the world, often leading him to uncover conspiracies, corrupt cops, and even his own mother’s murderer. The subject matter might be dark, but Welliver is clearly having fun playing the brash, give-no-f*cks badass, which is why you should give this crime series a watch.
4 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Amazon has exclusive streaming rights to the British sitcom in America, which is essentially FX’s You’re the Worst if the couple at the center of it were 10 years older. Like the FX series, it’s another anti-romcom romcom, although this one involves pregnancy, children, and culture clash (he’s an American wanker, she’s an acerbic, potty-mouthed British school teacher).
Catastrophe is a romantic-comedy in reverse: There’s a pregnancy, then they get married, and then they get to know one another to see if they can fall in love. However, it’s the constant bickering and sexual disagreements between Rob (Rob Delaney) and Sharon (Sharon Horgan) that makes the series so exhilarating. A more apt name for the series would be Amazon’s other series, Transparent, because the relationship between Sharon and Rob — warts and all — is the most open and honest in television, and maybe the funniest. The only downside to Catastrophe is that there’s just not enough time to spend with these characters.
8. The Man in the High Castle
4 seasons, 40 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Loosely based on Phillip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name (it also bears some resemblance to Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America), The Man in the High Castle is set in an alternative, dystopian world where Germany won World War II. Basically, the East Coast is occupied by the Germans, and the West Coast is occupied by the Japanese, and there’s a no-man’s land in between. Exec-produced by Ridley Scott and Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), the series sees various characters working to form a resistance against their occupation by collecting “forbidden newsreels” that show the alternate history in which the Allies won the war in an effort to reveal a larger truth about how the world should be. A dark exploration of what it means to be American, The Man in the High Castle is a well-acted, tense, and often violent dystopian thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep viewers guessing.
9. One Mississippi
2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 7.3/10
Tig Notaro’s semi-autobiographical One Mississippi — about a Los Angeles DJ recovering from breast cancer who has to return home to Mississippi after her mother dies unexpectedly — is so quiet and restrained in its approach that viewers may not realize until they are halfway through the first season just how much of the comedy has seeped in.
One Mississippi can be best described as a guided tour through the grieving process, but Notaro has had enough separation from the events in her own life that inspired the story to infuse the show with plenty of levity. The death of her mother is heartbreaking — and the periodic flashback sequences give her mom dimension — but Notaro finds clever ways to find humor in the familiar. Notaro manages to find the humanity in every character via their flaws, and while the show occasionally makes light of death (and of cancer), Mississippi never treats its characters with anything less than reverence. Less a comedy than it is a healing drama, it’s essential viewing for anyone who has ever suffered a loss.
5 seasons, 41 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
In Transparent, Jeffrey Tambor plays a character who decides, late in life, to transition into a woman, and we see how that decision affects her family in the most hilarious and poignant ways imaginable, including the pain of an older woman realizing she’s wasted so much of her life living as a man.
It’s a sprawling family drama that tells its story in a way that dignifies and humanizes even its most deeply flawed characters. No one is cast in a great light, but all of the characters transcend their foibles. It’s sad and tragic at times, and triumphant at others. It’s a light series with heavy themes, and truly one of the best currently running series on television. (It’s also racked up 28 Emmy nominations and eight wins, so far.) Transparent is a beautifully painful and painfully beautiful series, and essential for anyone interested in this moment in our cultural history.
3 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Goliath is an old-school legal thriller from an old-school television writer, David E. Kelley (The Practice, Boston Legal), who’s still the reigning king of legal dramas. It’s a meat-and-potatoes show, one driven by an entertaining storyline and compelling, flawed characters led by Billy McBride (Billy Bob Thornton, who won a Golden Globe for the role).
McBride is an alcoholic has-been lawyer who, in typical John Grisham fashion, has a case against a big tech firm fall into his lap. On the other side of the case is McBride’s former firm, his ex-wife (Maria Bello) and his old legal partner turned nemesis (William Hurt).
There’s nothing new or novel about Goliath except the fact that it doesn’t try to be new and novel: It’s an old-fashioned, well-made, well-acted and gripping television show with bad guys, morally questionable good guys and a strong supporting cast that also includes Olivia Thirlby, Kevin Weisman (Alias), Dwight Yoakam, and Harold Perrineau. Of all the shows on this list aside from Sneaky Pete, it’s also the most bingeable.
12. Red Oaks
3 seasons, 26 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10
Created by Joe Gangemi and longtime Soderbergh collaborator Gregory Jacobs, Red Oaks is set in the 1980s and stars Craig Roberts (Submarine) as David, a college-aged tennis instructor working at a country club. He’s an aimless guy, and Red Oaks is as much about David figuring out what to do with his life as anything. His father (Richard Kind) wants him to become an accountant. His girlfriend’s dad hangs big paychecks at a corporate firm over his head, but David just wants to be a filmmaker, and the series explores the challenges he confronts in an attempt to keep those around him — and himself — happy. His mother (Jennifer Grey), meanwhile, is supportive, but she also discovers that she loves women.
The smartly written sitcom is bubbling with quiet humor reminiscent of early David Gordon Green’s (All the Real Girls) sensibility (he exec produces, and directs three episodes), and may be best described as a cross between Summer School andThe Wonder Years.
In some ways, Red Oaks does for ’80s comedy what Netflix’s Stranger Things does for ’80s sci-fi, and the more assured second season only improves on the first, shattering the freshman’s season’s happy ending and resetting, as it earnestly explores themes about class. The series’ core theme remains throughout, however: Follow your dreams, don’t compromise, and don’t settle for the easy out. The best reason to watch, however, remains Richard Kind, who brings awkward humor, seriocomic heartbreak, and equal doses of cluelessness and poignancy to the series (and the Mad About You reunion between Kind and Reiser in the second-season finale is not to be missed).
13. Mozart in the Jungle
4 seasons, 40 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Paul Weitz, Mozart in the Jungle stars Gael García Bernal as an orchestra conductor and Lola Kirke as an oboist/protégé. The cast is rounded out with beloved actors like Malcolm McDowell and Bernadette Peters, and familiar faces like Safron Burrows.
Mozart is sweet and low key, and to its credit, the stakes are never high — no one is beaten or murdered, but there are enough joyous, triumphant moments to remind us that television can still delight instead of punish. It is frothy and fun, and an absolute pleasure to watch.
2 season, 17 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
Julia Roberts lands on TV for the first time with this slick thriller from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. Like his previous show, Esmail keeps fans in the dark, so expect plenty of twists, turns, and cliffhangers with this limited series about a misguided counselor hoping to help veterans returning from war even as the corporation she works for has sinister plans. In its second season, Janelle Monae stars as a woman who’s lost her memory and goes in search of her past, one that has ties to the same corporation Roberts worked for in season one.
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 7.2/10
SNL alums Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen star in this fantasy comedy about a married couple living an all-too-predictable life. Armisen plays his usual type, the kind of passive, bumbling husband-type he made popular on Portlandia, but this is Rudolph’s show and her chance to prove she’s suited to any and every comedy vehicle. There are twists galore in this thing, some that work, others that fall flat, but Rudolph’s subtle comedy and leading-lady turn keep you interested despite the cliffhangers.