Last Updated: January 23rd
While Netflix features more and better original programming, Amazon Prime holds their own in that department, and they continue to beef up their offerings. As far as licensed content goes, however, Amazon Prime may hold a slight edge, thanks to owning exclusive rights to HBO’s back catalog.
If you’re trying to figure out what to watch next, a great place to start are the 35 best shows on Amazon Prime Video right now, and none of these titles are currently available on Netflix.
1. The Americans
6 seasons, 75 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
The Americans follows Russian spies (Keri Russell and Mathew Rhys) posing as a married couple living in America, and while the missions are enjoyable, and the glimpse into the early 1980s is fascinating, the real pull in this show is the relationship drama, both between the married spies — who are often pulled between their love for one another and their love of country — an FBI agent (Noah Emmerich) who is pulled between his own relationship with his family and country, and the children of the Russian spies, pulled between their family and their love of America. Well-crafted, engrossing, and hypnotic, The Americans is one of best TV shows — if not the best TV show — right now, and its phenomenal recently completed fourth season finally gained the series the Emmy recognition it so richly deserves. The series has unfortunately finally reached its end, but that means there’s no better time to start binge-watching The Americans than now.
2. The Wire
5 seasons, 60 episodes | IMDb: 9.3/10
The Wire gave us Omar Little. It gave us Stringer Bell. And Bunk, McNulty, Kima, Bubbles, and so many other characters. The Wire examines the Baltimore drug scene from the perspective of the police and the drug dealers, and it humanizes both sides of the war on drugs. It confronts deep-seated problems in the inner city in accessible ways, and it unpacks the bureaucracy surrounding those issues in a way that makes us understand the struggles of law enforcement in their efforts to tackle the drug problem and the plight of the dealers. Spanning five seasons, The Wire is like a series of interconnected novels featuring deeply flawed, but deeply human characters. It’s a one-of-a-kind series, a show that is not only entertaining, thoughtful, and insightful, but also necessary.
3. The Sopranos
6 seasons, 86 episodes | IMDb: 9.2/10
The godfather of prestige dramas, David Chase’s series follows the life of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), as he struggles like so many of us with the work-life balance, only his work is running a criminal organization and his life involves a complicated, suburban Italian family. Spanning six seasons, The Sopranos may be the best-written series of all time and often places first or second on lists of the greatest television series of all time. (This author would place it third, behind The Wire and Breaking Bad, though both of those shows owe a great debt to The Sopranos, which created the template for the modern anti-hero and kicked off the Golden Age of television.) Regardless of where it is placed among the greatest of all time, it is essential television viewing, a masterpiece rich with nuance, comedy, brutality, and emotion, as well as some of the best-drawn characters in any medium.
4. Parks And Recreation
7 seasons, 125 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
There simply isn’t a better show to binge watch when you need a pick me up than this one. Hilarious, smart, and relentlessly sunny, Parks and Recreation is a balm to weary viewers. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope has joined the ranks of television icons, but the supporting cast is no less wonderful. If you’re looking for a show about good people trying to do good things while making good jokes, this will be your new-old favorite show. While the first season feels a bit too much like a riff on The Office, it finds its feet in season two and never relents. While so much of today’s comedy is mired in cynicism, Parks and Recreation will make you want to do better. It also gets better with each rewatch, so pour yourself some Snake Juice and enjoy.
5. 30 Rock
7 seasons, 138 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Few shows have as many jokes per minute as 30 Rock. The brainchild of Tina Fey, 30 Rock shows the daily madness of an SNL-like variety show, which Fey’s Liz Lemon at the helm. As she tries (sometimes failing) to wrangle her writers and her actors (Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski), Lemon also attempts the ever-elusive dream of “having it all.” Her quest will feel very, very familiar to viewers, particularly women, as they try and balance, work, life, love, and even a small bit of success. With Alec Baldwin turning in his best performance to date (come at me, Glengarry Glen Ross fans) as Jack Donaghy, Lemon’s boss, mentor, and eventual friend, 30 Rock has the perfect blend of weirdness, sharp writing, and genuine laughs that will make it a favorite for years to come.
6. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
3 seasons, 26 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
By now, we should just know to expect great things from showrunner Amy-Sherman Palladino. The woman who gave us Gilmore Girls and Bunheads also brought a fast-paced, wit-infused drama about a 1950s housewife with a hidden talent for stand-up to Amazon, and the awards season voters ate it up. The show follows Rachel Brosnahan as she plays Midge Maisel, a Jewish housewife disillusioned with her marriage to a cheating, joke-stealing scumbag and ready to break out on her own in the comedy world.
7. Mr. Robot
3 seasons, 32 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
USA Network’s Mr. Robot follows Elliot, a hacker with an acute social anxiety disorder who suffers from delusions and paranoia. During the day, he works as a computer programmer for a company that protects other companies from cyber threats. Elliot has other designs in mind, too, namely taking down one of the biggest corporations in America, E Corp, unsettling America’s financial system, and taking power away from the rich and giving it back to the people. Heavily influenced by American Psycho, Fight Club, the films of Stanley Kubrick, and Taxi Driver, among others, Sam Esmail’s Mr. Robot is an unnerving mindf*ck full of conspiracy theories and misdirections. Nothing is ever as it seems in Mr. Robot, and much of the fun is in trying — and mostly failing — to stay ahead of the twists.
2 seasons, 18 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Arguably the best comedy on television, and easily the smartest, Veep is the rare political satire that still works in the post-Trump political environment because it’s not about electoral politics, it’s about the futility of politics. It’s about how people stumble into positions of leadership, not because they are good people, or smart people, or even politically savvy people, but because the system rewards mediocrity and dysfunction. It is a sharp, profane, and intensely funny series, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus — winner of six consecutive Emmy awards for her role in Veep — turns in the best comedic performance of the decade, and she is surrounded by television’s best ensemble.
3 seasons, 36 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
In television’s greatest all-time Western series, David Milch creates a brilliantly distinctive universe peopled with characters who speak their own language, a pungent one that is Shakespeare, profanity, and gunslinger all rolled into one. Set in 1870’s South Dakota, Deadwood charts the growth of Deadwood from a small camp into town, basing many of the characters on real-life historical figures like Al Swearengen, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, and George Hearst. It also stars an incredible collection of talent — Timothy Olyphant, Anna Gunn, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkins, Kim Dickens, and John Hawkes, among many others — who bring the town alive with all its danger, corruption, and family struggles. Those sensitive to profanity, however, should steer clear — in three seasons, nearly 3,000 utterances of the word “f*ck” are employed, and not one is ever wasted.
10. Curb Your Enthusiasm
8 seasons, 80 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
The long-running HBO series about a fictionalized version of Larry David is as uncomfortable as it is funny, as misanthropic as it is clever. David, of course, was the inspiration for George Constanza on Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm often feels like a Constanza spin-off (which makes the Seinfeld reunion season within the show complicated). Like Seinfeld, Curb is about nothing — or more specifically, the minutia of daily life — with a particular attention paid to daily annoyances. It’s a brilliant show for the way it unpacks trivialities — as its dozens of Emmy nominations attest — but it should be binged in short bursts because the show’s cynicism and general disdain for humanity are often hilarious, but it may also weigh heavily after several hours.
5 seasons, 50 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.
12. Downton Abbey
6 seasons, 52 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
From 2010-2015, you couldn’t have a conversation about favorite TV shows without someone in your friend group mentioning Downton Abbey. The British series about the inner workings of an aristocratic English family and their manner full of servants became the biggest thing to invade America from across the pond since The Beatles. Watching the crusty Crawley family navigate historic events like the sinking of the Titanic and the First World War while their servants dealt in gossip, intrigue, and scandal below stairs was as entertaining and juicy as any good British drama should be.
13. The X-Files
9 seasons, 202 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Many sci-fi shows have come into the geeky pantheon of television, but The X-Files remains a benchmark. While the revival series wasn’t quite what fans were hoping for, seeing the unbeatable team of Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) back in action was a treat. Still, going back to the beginning is the only way to go with the show. Whether you get caught up in the monster of the week storylines or like digging into the overarching mythology, The X-Files will stick with you for years to come.
4 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
Maybe the bleakest, grittiest cop show you’ll ever see, Luther is so intense that it may at times rattle your brain stem. It’s got the best elements of other of its ilk as it follows a genius detective who struggles to separate his personal and professional lives. But it is also pummeling great drama, and Idris Elba is a tour de force (Ruth Wilson is fantastic, too).
2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
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. 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. 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.
5 seasons, 59 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
This legal thriller starring Glenn Close is an intimate character portrait of a ruthless, powerful attorney who takes a rookie under her wing. Close is Patty Hewes, the head of a New York City law firm, a woman with questionable morals, who must fight to exist in a very male-dominated profession. Her protege, played by Rose Byrne, both worships and actively questions her mentor and her methods over the course of five seasons as the two tackle high-profile cases. Glenn Close in the starring role of a gripping drama? What’s not to like?
17. Boardwalk Empire
5 seasons, 56 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Nominated for 57 Emmys (winning 20), Boardwalk Empire takes a simmering, novelistic approach to its storytelling. Brilliantly acted and meticulously plotted, Boardwalk Empire can be a slow burn while the audience waits for the pieces to come together, but they always do with near-perfect execution. With a sprawling cast spread out geographically and numerous plotlines flowing away from the series’ main character, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the Terence Winter-created series is historical fiction at its best. Loosely based on the life of Nucky Johnson, Boardwalk Empire examines the bootlegging industry in Atlantic City during Prohibition, and it brings in a host of familiar names including Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Arnold Rothstein. However, it’s often the series-created characters played by Michael Pitt, Jack Huston, Charlie Cox, Michael Shannon, Michael K. Williams, and Kelly Macdonald that prove most riveting. It’s a fascinating series from a historical standpoint (it tracks the rise of the modern mafia), absorbing as a work of storytelling, and a remarkable acting showcase. There are no weak seasons here; it’s an incredible series from start to finish and, if anything, it’s only gotten better as it’s aged.
18. The Good Wife
7 seasons, 156 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Fans of Suits will love The Good Wife, as it’s essentially the rich man’s version of that show, dealing with the same brand of interoffice politics while mixing in some legal procedural elements to its ongoing serialized storylines. The Good Wife also covers the conflicts that arise between work and relationships, as well as the marriage between a law firm associate and her husband, a state district attorney — and later governor — caught early on in a prostitution scandal. Having just completed its seven-season run on CBS, The Good Wife was one of few Emmy-worthy dramas remaining on the broadcast networks, and no show on television filled its guest roles better — it had 13 Emmy nominations and two wins in the guest acting categories alone. The show began to run out of steam near the end of its run, but it remained mostly entertaining throughout.
8 seasons, 120 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
For the eight seasons that Psych was on the air, it entertained a kind of cult following. Fans tuned in religiously to watch this buddy-cop drama about an eccentric police detective who claimed “psychic” abilities and his reluctant, by-the-book partner. Stars James Roday and Dule Hill have incredible chemistry on the show which pushes the worn-out, fun-cop-boring-cop trope past its usual limits.
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and writer Kate Purdy reunite for this adult-animated series starring Rosa Salazar and Bob Odenkirk. The show follows the journey of Alma, a young woman involved in a car accident who slowly begins to lose her mind. She’s forced to question her perception of reality when her father (Odenkirk) reappears years after his death, pushing her to discover how he died and why she seems to have a newfound ability to travel through time. It’s a bit of a mindf*ck, in the best possible way, with Purdy and Waksberg employing rotoscoping, a realistic animation technique never before used on TV, to take viewers on a surreal trek through space and time, along with dark humor and musings on grief, trauma, and mental health.
4 seasons, 24 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
The British sitcom is essentially 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 Irish school teacher). However, the constant bickering and sexual disagreements between Rob (Rob Delaney) and Sharon (Sharon Horgan) are what makes Catastrophe 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 its three seasons are each only six half-hour episodes long, and nine hours is not enough time to spend with these characters.
22. The Expanse
4 seasons, 48 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
This sci-fi space epic based off a series of beloved books found new life on Amazon for its fourth season after being canceled by Syfy in 2018, good news for fans who wanted more adventures for the show’s rag-tag band of anti-heroes. Set in the future when humanity has colonized the Solar System, The Expanse follows a trio of leads: United Nations Security Council member Chrisjen Avasarala, police detective Josephus Miller, and ship’s officer James Holden as they unravel a conspiracy that could break the uneasy peace. It’s full of action and thriller-like twists, but it’s the memorable, well-rounded character work that makes this a must-see.
5 seasons, 41 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
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, 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. It’s a light series with heavy themes, and it has racked up 28 Emmy nominations and eight wins, so far.
24. The Office U.K.
2 seasons, 14 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
The U.K. version was the original cringe comedy, starring Ricky Gervais as clueless boss David Brent, whose desperate attempts at connecting with his underlings are a painful exercise in futility. Martin Freeman is also a stand-out, playing a role that John Krasinski inhabited in the American remake, but it’s the British sarcasm that really elevates this series and makes it worthy of a watch.
25. Orphan Black
5 seasons, 50 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Tatiana Maslany plays several clones variations of the same woman in the sweeping conspiracy thriller Orphan Black, and she breathes so much life and so many distinct personalities into each clone that viewers often forget that one woman is playing all the characters (and it’s impossible not to pick a favorite). The supporting cast is mostly great, as well, and for a Canadian series, the production values are excellent. Unfortunately, Orphan Black suffers from a great first season that the rest of the series can’t quite live up to. It gets so bogged down in its own confusing mythology that it begins to run out of steam, although it picks up its momentum again in the fourth season before reaching its fifth season finish line.
3 seasons, 39 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal is a perfect series to binge-watch, as the ability to watch the episodes back-to-back evens out some of the slow pacing. Hannibal is dark, macabre, and brilliantly creative, and while it has many of the same characters viewers 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 as disturbing as it is engrossing, and the acting from Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelson, and Laurence Fishburne is superb. It’s a slow, morbidly addictive burn, and viewers must stick around for Michael Pitt’s Mason Verger in season two, if only for one of the most beautifully unsettling sequences ever seen on network television.
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 is still the reigning king of legal dramas. It’s a meat-and-potatoes show driven by an entertaining storyline and compelling, flawed characters led by Billy McBride, a character played Billy Bob Thornton, who won a Golden Globe for the role. McBride is an alcoholic has-been lawyer who, in typical 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 for 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 Yoakum, and Harold Perrineau.
5 seasons, 69 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Loosely based on the exploits of the 9th century Viking ruler and king, Ragnar Lodbrok, Vikings doesn’t match the level of complexity in Game of Thrones — the universe is smaller, there are fewer characters, and the plotting isn’t as dense — but it’s a solid, if not sometimes spectacular drama that gets progressively better over the course of the series. There’s crunching violence, lots of axe play, and frequent battles as Ragnar extends his rule over parts of Europe. Compared to Game of Thrones, it’s less about mind games and schemes, and more about brute force — and Ragnor’s victories are seldom in doubt. Nevertheless, It’s entertaining to watch the unrelenting violence unfold and revel in the demise of Ragnor’s rivals. While Travis Fimmel is excellent in the lead role and Gustaf Skarsgård’s Floki provides the often necessary comic relief, it’s Katheryn Winnick — as Lagertha — who is the show’s biggest draw.
29. Jack Ryan
2 seasons, 16 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
John Krasinski’s return to television marks a dramatic departure from his The Office days. He plays famed CIA analyst Jack Ryan in this series that explores the character’s beginnings as an up-and-coming agent whose confidence in his abilities often lead to him clashing with higher-ups like his boss, James Greer (a fantastic Wendell Pierce). Ryan infiltrates a terrorist cell with nefarious plans after uncovering how the criminal communicate with each other, but when he’s thrust into the field, things get dangerous.
9 seasons, 131 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
A legal drama that almost never steps inside a courtroom, Suits stars Gabriel Macht and Patrick Adams as a brash, big-league attorney and his whiz-kid protégé, who is practicing illegally without a law degree. Suits, which has a tenuous understanding of the law, deals week-to-week mostly with settling disputes with cocky threats and yellow manilla folders. It’s rounded out by a fun, USA Network-perfect cast (Sarah Rafferty, Gina Torres, Meghan Markle, and Rick Hoffman) and later seasons of the series are more serialized in nature, dealing primarily with interoffice politics and relationship drama. Nothing about Suits is altering the television landscape (in fact, every episode is the same), and the show is certainly not any threat to television’s heavier dramas. However, over the course of the series, it’s become a rock-solid show, one that was willing to break out of the typical USA Network procedural format years before Mr. Robot came along.
31. A Very English Scandal
1 season, 3 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw star in this mini-series biopic about British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe and his gay lover, Norman Scott. Grant plays the stiff-lipped politician, a man who ignites an affair with a young stable-boy while climbing the political ladder. When that dalliance ends, he tries to bury the story his ex-love threatens to go public with by having him killed. Grant is superb in the role of an increasingly-panicked straight-laced type while Whishaw brings a touch of eccentricity and empathy to his scorned lover, Norman.
32. The Night Manager
1 season, 7 episodes | IMDb: 8.2/10
Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston star in this limited series from AMC. Laurie is the big bad, a criminal and arms dealer with a ruthless way of doing business. Hiddleston is the night manager of a Cairo hotel, recruited to spy on the guy and infiltrate his inner circle. He’s clearly way out of his depth and most of the edge-of-your-seat action comes from watching Hiddleston lie, cheat, and steal his way through a bogus cover and a convoluted plan hatched by higher-ups happy to sacrifice him for the greater good.
7 seasons, 86 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, and Anders Holm star in this office comedy about three buddies who work 9 to 5’s at a telemarketing agency and live together on their downtime. The bros clash with their boss and coworkers while getting into all kinds of shenanigans at home, mostly because they try to extend their hard-partying days into adulthood.
34. 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. Viewers who like Canada’s exceptional Slings and Arrows will like Mozart in the Jungle because it’s essentially Slings and Arrows with classical music instead of Shakespeare. It is frothy and fun, and an absolute pleasure to watch, even if it is not exactly essential television.
35. 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.
Recent Changes Through January 2020:
Removed: Friday Night Lights, The Killing, Doctor Who, Justified
Added: Boardwalk Empire, Undone, Workaholics, 30 Rock