Last Updated: May 23rd
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 10 best Amazon Prime original series right now.
10. Mozart in the Jungle
Series Length: 4 seasons, 40 episodes
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. Twice nominated as Best Comedy by the Golden Globes (winning once), it should appeal to viewers who like Canada’s exceptional Slings and Arrows. It’s similar in spirit, trading Shakespeare for classical music. It is frothy and fun, and an absolute pleasure to watch.
9. Red Oaks
Series Length: 3 seasons, 26 episodes
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 80’s 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).