TV

18 Outstanding TV Series You Can Only Stream Through Amazon Prime

If you don’t have HBO Go or HBO Now, an Amazon Prime subscription ought to look very appealing to you because — other than HBO — Amazon is the only place you can stream some of the best series in HBO’s back catalog, like The Wire, Rome, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Band of Brothers, Oz, In Treatment, and Eastbound & Down. In fact, if you don’t have HBO and you order from Amazon more than once twice a month, Amazon Prime is probably the best deal going on the internet, being that you’ll get free shipping on Amazon orders, plus HBO’s back catalog, and the hundreds of movies and television series you can already watch on Netflix (that are also on Prime). There’s a lot of crossover between the two streaming series, although that’s becoming less so. Netflix is moving more toward original content, and Amazon Prime (and Hulu) are picking up the slack, winning exclusive rights to more and more television series.

Netflix is still the place to go for British television series, and original series, but if you don’t have cable, Amazon Prime is quickly becoming a very competitive alternative. Part of that reason is because of these 18 series you can’t watch on Netflix or HBO:

18. Downton Abbey (3 of 5 seasons): Only the first three seasons are on Amazon Prime so far, but you honestly need only see the excellent, addictive first season, and enough of the second season to know that the excellent addictive quality burns out quickly. For one season, however, Downton was superb television, even if — like me — you’re not into period or costume dramas. I do wish it could have maintained that quality, but as cast members were killed off and plotlines grew increasingly preposterous, Downton fizzled into an average soap opera with amazing costumes.

17. Bosch (1 of 1 season): Not an exceptional series by any stretch — save for the strong performance from its lead, Titus Welliver — Bosch is nevertheless very good television, if you’re into the pace and formula of police procedurals but more interested in a longer story arc. Essentially, Bosch does what The Killing attempted to do, which is to tell the story of one man’s pursuit of a serial killer (Jason Gedrick) while fighting police corruption in his own department, as well as a civil case hanging over his head for shooting an unarmed man. It’s a solid show, but don’t expect much depth or any exciting twists along the way. It’s basically the citified version of Longmire, and that’s not an insult.

16. Orphan Black (2 of 3 seasons): Orphan Black suffers some of what Downton suffers: A great first season that the rest of the series can’t quite live up to. Tatiana Maslany plays several clones variations of the same woman, and she breathes so much life and so many distinct personalities into each clone that you often forget that one woman is playing all the cloned characters (and you will pick a favorite). The supporting cast is mostly great, as well, and for a Canadian series, the production values are excellent. Unfortunately, the series gets so bogged down in its own confusing mythology that it begins to run out of steam, until only the hardest of hardcore Orphan Black fans will stick around for the currently airing third season in only the hopes that the series can find its way again.

15. Suits (4 of 4 seasons): We talk about Suits often enough on Uproxx that you should know it’s not just another legal procedural. In fact, there’s barely any courtroom scenes. It’s a show about bluster, and negotiation, and dick-swinging. There’s some procedural framework in the first half of Season 1, but the series lets go of its premise after that (a brilliant lawyer with no actual law degree fraudulently lands a job at a corporate law firm) and becomes more about the politics of the law firm. It’s not a brilliant show, but it’s witty, sharp, and hella fun to watch, even if every episode is virtually the same (as Danger so aptly describes here).

14. 24 (9 of 9 seasons, including last summer’s reboot): 24 was a groundbreaking series in its first few seasons that helped to shape the course network television over the next decade, although many shows have come along since and done it better. However, during the early run — and off and on throughout — 24 usually remained a wildly entertaining, if not completely absurd, police drama that nevertheless raised the stakes so high that we eventually grew numb to the casualties, the torture, the Jack Bauer yelling, and the explosions in every other season. Still, if you have 145 hours to kill, 24 is akin to a summer blockbuster… big, loud, stupid, and fun.

13. Veronica Mars (3 of 3 seasons): The movie based on the series was both fun and something of a letdown for the way it basically provided an hour and a half of fan service, but it did nothing to diminish the series (especially the first two seasons). In fact, you’ll appreciate the Veronica Mars movie so much more if you’re familiar with the series. Rob Thomas series mastered the art of mixing series long arcs and cases of the week (much like Thomas’ iZombie does now), blending it with a droll Whedon-esque sense of humor, a love triangle, and a Jason Katims-like family dynamic. It’s Buffy, Justified, and Parenthood all rolled into one. Basically, Veronica Mars is close to a perfect show (for two of the three seasons, anyway).

12. Hannibal (2 of 2 seasons): Season 3 starts this week, so there’s no better time to than today to start begin the Bryan Fuller series if you’re not caught up. It’s a perfect series to binge-watch, as it evens out some of the slow pacing. It’s dark, macabre, and brilliantly creative, and while it has many of the same characters you know and appreciate from the movie/book series, it also has an entirely different and unique tone (some would even say better). The murder scenes are equally gruesome and gorgeous, the series’ long arc is engrossing, and the acting is superb. It’s a slow, morbid addictive burn, and you really must stick around for Michael Pitt’s Mason Verger in Season 2, if only for one of the most beautifully disturbing sequences you’ll ever see on network television.

11. Transparent (1 of 1 season): Transparent is the original Amazon series that made the streaming service a contender. Amazon may not stack up favorably against Netflix in the original series department, but Transparent is as good or better than most of Netflix’s original series. It sees Jeffrey Tambor decide, very late in life, to transition into a woman, and we see how that decision affects his family in the most hilarious and poignant ways imaginable. It’s a light series with heavy themes, and truly one of the best new series of 2014.

10. The Good Wife (5 of 6 seasons): If you like Suits, The Good Wife is essentially the rich-man’s version of that show, dealing with some of the same interoffice politics, the conflicts that arise between work and relationships, and the marriage between a law firm associate and her husband, a state district attorney — and later governor — caught early on in a prostitution scandal. All due respect to Hannibal and Empire, but The Good Wife is the best, most entertaining network drama right now in my opinion, and no show on television fills its guest roles better, even if the recently finished sixth season began to run out of steam.

9. The Americans (2 of 3 seasons): The Americans follows Russian spies posing as a married couple living in America, and while the missions are enjoyable, and the glimpse into early 1980s is fascinating, the real pull in this show are the relationship dramas, both between the married spies — who are often pulled between their love one another and their love of country — and an FBI agent who is pulled between his own relationship with his family and country, and the Russian mistress he’s using as an informant. Well-crafted, engrossing, and hypnotic, The Americans is one of the smartest — if not the smartest — show on television right now, which is why it — above all other series — won the most relevant television award of 2015: The Peabody for best drama.

8. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (100 episodes): Maybe it’s not a show you watch anymore, but if you have very young children, it’s excellent, timeless television, and even if you don’t have kids, doesn’t it feel good just knowing that 100 episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood still exist at your fingertips? After all, if you consider yourself a “good” person today, most of you can attribute at least a little of that to Mr. Rogers. I simply couldn’t bring myself to rank it any lower, out of respect for the late Fred Rogers.

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (TIE). Review (1 of 1 season), Inside Amy Schumer (2 of 3 seasons), Key & Peele (3 of 4 seasons), Broad City (1 of 2 seasons), Nathan for You (2 of 2 seasons), Workaholics (3 of 5 season): Maybe the biggest benefit, besides the HBO back catalog, to having Amazon Prime instead of Netflix is that Amazon Prime has the streaming rights to Comedy Central’s best shows (except for South Park). I tried to rank the six comedies, but that’s just foolish. They’re all absolutely brilliant, and while each of the series can occasionally be hit or miss, they’re also six of the best, funniest, most original comedies in all of television. The best one depends the episode I’ve most recently seen. If I had to choose, I might put Review slightly ahead of them all, although Amy Schumer probably achieves most of the highest highs. Then again, the hardest I have probably laughed over the last two years was Nathan For You. Key and Peele drops a lot of mediocre sketches, but they more than make up for it with their very best sketches. Broad City is also running neck-and-neck with Inside Amy Schumer for the best feminist comedy on TV. They’re all terrific, and Comedy Central is a comedic powerhouse. If you’re into great, groundbreaking comedy, Amazon Prime is actually be a better choice than Netflix right now, even without the benefit of free shipping.

1. Justified (5 of 6 seasons): The fifth season might have been something of a letdown, but Justified came back strong in its recently completely sixth and final season, making it one of television’s very best complete series. Justified boasts not only the two most charismatic characters around in trigger-happy Raylan Givens and its sly villain, Boyd Crowder, but also the quickest 42 minutes on television. Seriously, no hour-long drama goes by faster than Justified, which also makes it one of the very best series to binge watch. Justified is not only smartly written and completely absorbing, but it’s also really f*cking cool.

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