20 amazing Amazon Prime Video original series you should binge right now
Prime Video’s library of original shows features plenty of gems awaiting your attention.
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At first sight, navigating through Amazon’s jungle of content can seem overwhelming. Its Australian library was originally quite small, but has rapidly grown, amassing 3,000 more movies than Netflix as of April 2020.
So while you might have heard of Netflix original hits like Orange is The New Black or Stranger Things, Amazon’s original content, although just as addictive, tends to fly under the radar. That’s a real shame, since its versatile library is populated with all sorts of treasures, from a communist buddy cop show to a charming series about a housewife turned stand-up comic in the 50s.
Amazon started to develop its original series in 2013, so there’s a generous back catalogue to explore. Costing $6.99 a month, Prime Video is one of the cheapest streaming services on the market, especially given that a Prime membership also comes with perks like free or expedited shipping. You can also take advantage of the generous 30-day free trial, which should give you enough time to get a taste and maybe even hooked on something.
So where to start? There’s hardly a miss among Amazon’s original series, but here are 20 titles to prioritise.
Coming from award-winning writer Greg Daniels, who also worked on The Office and Parks and Recreation, Upload is a charming sci-fi comedy series set in a technologically advanced future. The story follows a young man, played by Robbie Amell, who winds up in the hospital following a self-driving car accident.
Given that he just went through a near-death experience, he chooses to be uploaded to his family's luxurious virtual afterlife, where he quickly becomes close to his customer service "angel". Witty and featuring an appealing cast, the series will make you laugh out loud. Always a win in our book.
A mesmerising psychological thriller, Homecoming is an anthology series centred around unconventional wellness company Geist Group and its equally unorthodox program, the Homecoming Initiative. Sounds intriguing? Buckle up – you'll be in for a thought-provoking ride.
The first season of the show stars Julia Roberts, the second Janelle Monáe. Both offer terrific performances and the series is as polished as they come. If you're into stylish dramas with unexpected twists, you can't miss this one.
3. The Expanse
The Expanse may have started out on US television, but it became an Amazon original when the streaming platform picked it up following its cancellation. Based on the novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey, the sci-fi hit is set in a future where humanity has colonised the solar system and follows a disparate band of antiheroes as they place themselves at the centre of a conspiracy which threatens the system's fragile state of cold war.
The series is visually stunning and well-acted, with thrilling storylines and compelling characters. What more do you need to give it a chance?
4. Good Omens
This tale of the bungling of Armageddon features an angel, a demon, an 11-year-old Antichrist and a doom-saying witch. Fun! As the Apocalypse kicks off, it's up to a demon and an angel, who just happen to be buddies, to team up and save the world from going up in flames.
Based on the cult novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens succeeds thanks to the amazing chemistry between the two leads: Michael Sheen and David Tennant. Who would have thought the end of the world could be so hilarious?
The last few years have seen excellent high-concept dramedies and Forever is no exception. The show revolves around June and Oscar, who live a comfortable but very predictable suburban wedded life. Suddenly they find themselves in completely new circumstances and have to learn how to navigate their new condition, to unexpected results.
We're being intentionally vague here – when it comes to Forever, it's best to go in blind and allow the series to surprise you. We can tell you that the performances are great and there are cliffhangers at every turn. Plus, the show only has eight episodes, so you can easily watch it all in one lazy afternoon.
6. Tales from the Loop
A dazzling drama, Tales from the Loop follows the townspeople who live above a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe. As they say, it’s all about location, so they start to experience all sorts of things previously consigned to the realm of science fiction.
Inspired by the wondrous paintings of Simon Stålenhag, the series is warm and eerie. Tales from the Loop isn’t the kind of show you can put on in the background while you scroll on your phone. It’s the kind that grabs you and requires your undivided attention. You won’t regret tuning in.
7. Star Trek: Picard
A worthy entry in the Star Trek universe, Picard is set at the end of the 24th century, when retired admiral Jean-Luc Picard, still affected by the loss of Commander Data, is living a quiet life on his vineyard. However, he doesn’t hesitate to spring back into action when a mysterious young woman asks for his help.
Patrick Stewart is remarkable in Picard, offering a performance for the ages. More than that, the series is visually stunning and well-written, allowing the audience to better understand the beloved character. Throw some action into the mix and viewers will be unable to look away.
Prime Video’s Hunters is set in the 70s and stars Al Pacino as the leader of a rag-tag group of Nazi hunters. When they find out that Nazi officials are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the US, the hunters set out to bring them to justice and put a stop to their devious, genocidal plans.
Equal parts grim and entertaining, the show has a tremendous cast and offers enough thrills to keep viewers glued to the screen. Even better, the story evolves in interesting ways, with plenty to say about revenge and humanity.
9. The Boys
If you’re craving a fresh take on the superhero genre, you’re in the right place. The Boys revolves around a group of vigilantes who take justice in their own hands when they realise that society’s superheroes have started to abuse their power.
What comes next is gruesome and gripping, a complex story that is likely to definitely satisfy even the most demanding of viewers. Thought-provoking and action-packed, The Boys doesn’t shy away from heavy themes and delivers just the right amount of sarcastic jokes to balance out the violence. You’ll be in for a treat.
A visual delight, Undone follows Alma, a young woman who discovers that she has a new relationship with time after she nearly dies in a car accident. As a result, she decides to take advantage of her abilities and figure out what really happened to her late father.
Undone is a genre-bending, brilliant series, the kind that stays with you long after the end credits roll. The story may be fantastical, but anyone can relate to Alma and her journey of self-examination.
11. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
When it comes to Amazon originals, this one should be near the top of your watch list. The show was created by Daniel and Amy Sherman-Palladino, the duo behind beloved series Gilmore Girls. This time, they decided to gift audiences with the story of a ballsy housewife whose life turns around when her husband leaves her. Instead of wallowing, she uses her pain to jump-start a career as a stand-up comedian. Add in the fact that the action takes place in the 50s and you’ve got yourself a hit.
Critically acclaimed, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stars Rachel Brosnahan, who offers an inspired and charming performance as Midge. The show also wins bonus points for tackling issues regarding sexism and religion. It’s fun, it’s stylish and it’s marvellous.
12. Mozart in the Jungle
You wouldn’t think that classical musicians would lead rock’n’roll lifestyles behind the scenes. Well, this series is set to prove you wrong. Season one sees a young oboist, Hailey, trying to break into the New York Symphony Orchestra, which has just hired a new eccentric conductor, Rodrigo De Souza. The series boasts a talented and electric ensemble cast featuring Gael García Bernal, Lola Kirke, Malcolm McDowell and Saffron Burrows.
The show has been the critically acclaimed jewel in Amazon’s library ever since its debut. Turns out, what happens behind the curtains at the symphony is just as captivating as what happens on stage. And you don’t even need a degree in classical music to get the jokes. Constantly pushing boundaries and defying expectations, Mozart in the Jungle makes for a delightful binge.
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Billy Bob Thornton is an astonishing actor and Goliath stands testament to that. The series follows a down-and-out lawyer as he seeks redemption. It’s basically a legal drama, so nothing particularly groundbreaking there. However, it’s extremely compelling and the amazing performance from the ensemble cast pushes the series into must-see TV territory.
The show was created by David E. Kelley, also responsible for titles like Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and Big Little Lies. Gritty and entertaining, you’d be surprised by how quickly Goliath will feel like comfort TV.
14. Red Oaks
Set in the 80s, Red Oaks is a sweet and endearing coming-of-age story. David, a college student and wannabe filmmaker, begins to work at a New Jersey country club one summer and starts to think about out what kind of life he wants to lead in the long run. The series stars Craig Roberts, Jennifer Grey, Richard Kind, Alexandra Socha, Paul Reiser, Oliver Cooper and Alexandra Turshen.
The great thing about Red Oaks is that, despite its setting, the show isn’t just nostalgia porn. It’s a charming story about adapting to change and fearing you won’t be able to live up to your potential. The series ended, but remains one of Amazon’s most underrated original offerings. Three seasons are available to binge. Three summers you’ll never forget.
Transparent was the first show produced by a streaming media service to ever win a Golden Globe, which should be reason enough to add it to your watch list. And despite the more recent controversy surrounding it, it remains a ground-breaking and thoughtful piece of work. After all, it’s the show that pushed Amazon into the league of premium programming.
The dark comedy revolves around a dysfunctional Los Angeles family following the discovery that the person they knew as their father, Mort, is a transgender woman, Maura. Transparent is a daring and confident series, which benefits tremendously from the perfect ensemble cast: Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffmann, Judith Light, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass.
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Fleabag is funny, dark, rude and extremely honest. This British sitcom follows a young woman attempting to navigate modern life in London. It was created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also plays the title role, based on her one-woman play with the same name.
There are only 12 short episodes to get through and we guarantee you’ll be completely mesmerised by the end. The main character is flawed, but very likeable. Fleabag is both narrator and actor. She often breaks the fourth wall by turning to the camera and speaking directly to the audience, which makes the series even more charming. Gut-punch comedy at its best.
17. Sneaky Pete
Sneaky Pete sees convicted con man, Marius, released from prison and assuming the identity of his cellmate, Pete, to hide from debtors. Once back on the streets, Marius soon meets Pete's estranged and eccentric family and lands a job with his faux-clan's bail bond business. The cast includes Giovanni Ribisi, Bryan Cranston, Margo Martindale and Marin Ireland.
This comedic crime drama is captivating, suspenseful and fun, making it ideal for binge-watching. Just as the title suggests, the show will sneak up on you. At first you’ll tend to roll your eyes at the show’s premise, only to realise you’re completely hooked after a couple of episodes.
18. The Man in the High Castle
This dystopian show is based on the novel with the same name written by Philip K. Dick. It’s basically an alternate version of life in the US in the 1960s if Nazi Germany and Japan had won WWII. The premise is that those nations divided the United States into two puppet states: the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States. The series follows characters whose destinies intertwine after coming into contact with a series of propaganda films that show a vastly different history from their own.
The Man in the High Castle is strong on both world-building and characterisation. Unlike anything else on TV, the show is filled with unexpected twists, stunning visuals and strong performances.
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19. The Tick
The Tick is based on the character from the comic book with the same name. The series revolves around a dimwitted superhero, his accountant sidekick and their assorted oddball friends, as they fight off a super-villain who has taken control of the city.
Hilarious and suspenseful, The Tick is the perfect show to watch at the end of a bad day. It will cheer you up in no time. Plus, there aren’t enough superhero comedies out there and this one’s definitely a keeper.
20. Comrade Detective
Definitely the oddest entry on our list, but well worthy of your attention. Comrade Detective is a high-concept comedy that will mess with your head – in a good way. It’s presented as a fictional lost Romanian television show commissioned by the Communist Party to promote a communist worldview during the Cold War. In fact, the series was filmed in Romania with real Romanian actors. They were speaking Romanian. To reinforce the premise, it was then dubbed into English using the voices of Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jenny Slate, Kim Basinger and Jason Mantzoukas. Convoluted, yet often hilarious.
To say the series is quirky would be an understatement, but its concept is what actually makes it must-see TV. Besides being funny, the show also questions the ways propaganda can infiltrate and influence society. And while it may not appeal to everyone, Comrade Detective will surely make some viewers lose their minds. If you think you’re one of them, you’ll be in for a treat. One season is available on Amazon.
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