While Netflix is busy pumping out more shows than any one person could watch (probably), Amazon Prime has remained the place to go for a few key pieces of original content. Trouble is, navigating the service’s labyrinthine menus can make finding the right series a pain. We’re here to help. Below are our favorite Amazon series—all included with your Prime subscription.
For more viewing picks, read WIRED’s guide to the best films on Amazon Prime, the best TV shows on Netflix, and the best films on Netflix.
Let’s be up front—supernatural thriller The Rig doesn’t even aspire to subtlety when it comes to its ecological metaphors. In fact, it’s often downright clumsy with them, such as one character remarking “if you keep punching holes in the earth, eventually the earth’s going to punch back.” Look past such clunkiness though, and this proves an engaging piece of television. With the crew of the isolated Kinloch Bravo oil rig cut off from civilization by a strange fog, the inexplicable deaths and equipment failures it brings with it make clear this is no mere weather pattern—and as the tension and fear mount, being trapped in a glorified tin can in the North Sea drives the survivors to paranoid extremes. It’s all brilliantly shot to make use of both the claustrophobic setting and the terrifying expanse of ocean around it, and the material is elevated by a phenomenal cast of Game of Thrones and Line of Duty veterans, making The Rig more than the guilty pleasure it might otherwise be.
Tales From the Loop
Despite being a couple of years old, Tales From the Loop remains one of the most mesmerizing shows on Prime Video. Loosely based on the work of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, the series blurs the line between ongoing narrative and anthology as it follows the residents of Mercer, Ohio, exploring how their intersecting lives are impacted by “the Loop,” an underground facility exploring experimental physics, making the impossible possible. Expect tales of frozen time, traded lives, and parallel worlds, all brought to life by a fantastic cast and directors including Andrew Stanton and Jodie Foster. It’s the visuals that really make this sing, though, capturing the sublime aesthetic of Stålenhag’s work and its juxtaposition of neofuturism and rural communities to create a show that looks and feels like almost nothing else. At only eight episodes, a visit to Mercer is brief but unforgettable.
The Devil’s Hour
When Peter Capaldi, here playing mysterious criminal Gideon Shepherd, says “my perception of time is better than anyone’s,” it’s clear that The Devil’s Hour creator Tom Moran is having a little fourth-wall-breaking fun with his former Time Lord leading man. That’s about as close as this gritty six-part drama gets to Doctor Who, though. This is, instead, a mix of murder mystery and thriller, tied off with a dash of the supernatural. The focus is on Lucy (Jessica Raine), an over-burdened social worker with an increasingly distant and troubled young son, who wakes at exactly 3:33 am every morning, plagued by horrific visions. As her nightmares draw her into the orbit of police detective Ravi Dhillon’s (Nikesh Patel) investigations of a bloody murder and a child’s abduction, Lucy comes face-to-face with Shepherd as she tries to uncover how the two are entangled. Raine is a phenomenally commanding lead throughout, while Capaldi’s sinister performance is one of the most chilling you’ll see on screen.
Created by Little Marvin and executive produced by Queen & Slim’s Lena Waithe, the first season of this horror anthology series is set in 1950s Los Angeles, following the Emory family as they move into an all-white neighborhood. It all goes about as well as you might expect, with Livia (Deborah Ayorinde) soon penned into their new home by the Stepford-like housewives of the area who, led by ringleader Betty (Alison Pill), make her life a living hell, while husband Henry (Ashley Thomas) faces both physical assaults and harassment at work. Ayorinde and Thomas are phenomenal throughout, brilliantly portraying the mental, physical, and emotional turmoil that living under relentless threat can cause. While the show would be tense and horrifying enough for its portrayal of the period, the layering of some truly unsettling supernatural threats on top make this a frequently terrifying watch.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Tapping into The Lord of the Rings creator J. R. R. Tolkien’s sprawling history of Middle-earth, The Rings of Power is set millennia before the events of the core books (or films, which is really where the visual language of this adaptation comes from), detailing the major events of Tolkien’s Second Age. Much of the focus is on Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) searching for Sauron, servant of Morgoth, but this ambitious fantasy series explores key events such as the fall of the island of Númenor, the fractious politics between man, elves, and dwarves, and the forging of those perilous eponymous rings. While there’s been no shortage of debate around Rings of Power, there’s also no denying that Amazon got what it paid for with the most expensive TV show ever made—this is one of the most beautiful series you’ll ever lay eyes on. Whether the ongoing story nails the landing remains to be seen, but for sheer high fantasy spectacle, there’s nothing better at the moment.
With its 1980s setting and focus on a quartet of outsider kids, it would be all too easy to write Paper Girls off as Amazon’s gender-flipped answer to Stranger Things. Yet beyond the genre trappings—here time travel rather than horrific alternate dimensions—the shows stand apart. Adapted from the Image comic by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson, the show explores themes of fate and determinism, with its young heroes accidentally catapulted from 1988 to 2019 and given a glimpse of their own futures—all while a time war rages across history. With a fantastic young cast—Camryn Jones, Riley Lai Nelet, Sofia Rosinsky, and Fina Strazza—holding their own against seasoned actors including Ali Wong and Adina Porter, Paper Girls is high-concept genre television at its best.
The Legend of Vox Machina
Bawdy, gory, and absolutely not for kids, The Legend of Vox Machina began life as the hit Critical Role, where a group of the biggest English-language voice actors in animation and gaming livestream their Dungeons & Dragons sessions, before evolving into its own beast. An exquisitely animated fantasy, the show follows the eponymous Vox Machina guild—a motley crew of usually-drunk adventurers consisting of gunslingers, druids, and the requisite horny bard—as they battle to reclaim the city of Whitestone from the monstrous Lord and Lady Briarwood. Fully accessible to long-time fans of the source material and newcomers alike, this balances being a love letter to D&D with poking plenty of fun at the classic RPG, transcending its origins to become one of the most original adult animated shows on Amazon.
Superheroes are meant to represent hope and optimism—the best of us, given form. In The Boys, adapted from the darkly satirical comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, they’re a reflection of humanity’s worst—greed and unrestrained power, marketed to a gullible public by vested corporate interests, operating without restraint and leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. Enter Billy Butcher and his “associates,” who gleefully dispatch “Supes” who’ve gone too far, often in extraordinarily violent ways. The newly dropped third season finds the team forced to go legit and work for the US government while struggling to find a way to topple the sadistic, psychotic Homelander, leader of The Seven—the world’s premier superheroes, brought to you by Vought International—all while Butcher wrestles with becoming the thing he hates most: a Supe. Possibly Amazon’s goriest show, The Boys stands as a pertinent examination of the abuses of power, all wrapped in superhero drag.
Irene and Franklin York are just like any retired couple, living out their twilight years in a home filled with decades of memories, and spending their evenings teleporting to a cabin on an alien world to look at the stars. Well, perhaps they’re not like any retired couple—and their lives get all the more complicated with the arrival of Jude, a strange man who appears in their secret bunker without explanation. A slow-burn sci-fi drama that explores themes of mortality and the rigors of aging as much as the central mystery of the cabin, Night Sky finds Sissy Spacek and J. K. Simmons in career best forms as the Yorks, struggling to solve the cosmic riddle they stumbled upon in their youth before their bodies and minds fail on them.
The Wheel of Time
Based on Robert Jordan’s sprawling novel series—one so vast it makes Game of Thrones look concise—this is one of Amazon’s most ambitious, and expensive, series to date. The eight-episode first season follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a powerful weaver of an ancient form of magic, as she gathers five unassuming young people, one of whom is destined to either save the world—or destroy it. The only problem is, no one knows which one it is, or which way their loyalties will sway should their powers awaken. A visually stunning series that blends sumptuous location shoots with cinematic effects work, this is sure to fill the epic fantasy void left by that other show.
When Mark Grayson inherits the incredible powers and abilities of his father, Omni-Man, he sets out to follow in his footsteps as the costumed superhero Invincible. Unfortunately, his coming-of-age is marred by a shocking twist that shakes his entire world—both personally and on the global political stage. A brilliantly animated adaptation of the hit Image comic book by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, Invincible offers a more mature look at the impact superpowered beings would have on society. And while it starts as an homage to classic teen superhero tropes, it goes on to do something Marvel and DC characters rarely do: grow up.
One for the Doctor Who crowd, Truth Seekers is a gentle, silly season of paranormal hijinks. A Simon Pegg/Nick Frost project that’s heavier on Frost (as gruff broadband engineer and ghost hunter Gus) and lighter on Pegg (more of a fun cameo throughout as Gus’ boss). Stacked with genre references to chew on, it’s a family-friendly option with Samson Kayo, Susan Wokoma, and Malcolm McDowell rounding out the crew.
The Underground Railroad
Based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel by Colson Whitehead, this limited series from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins sticks pretty closely to the premise of the book. It’s a work of historical fiction that takes the idea of the Underground Railroad—the network of smugglers who helped escaped slaves flee the South—and reimagines it as an actual subway system with trains and secretive station agents.
You’re not meant to like Fleabag. She’s maniacal, selfish, self-destructive, and morally bankrupt. Her family is loathsome, her lifestyle is ridiculous, and her job is a joke. Yet after watching this 12-episode series we defy you not to love her a little. This magnificent sitcom about a Londoner (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) grappling with the death of her best friend has no filter: You’ll hear her thoughts on feminism, familial tension, love, and sodomy. The first time Waller-Bridge interrupts her own dialog to shoot a disarming, conspiratorial glance to the screen, you’re hooked. Season 1 is a smutty yet wonderful crescendo of self-destruction driven by a cast of characters including Fleabag’s intensely awkward sister Claire (Sian Clifford), her selfish and pretentious stepmother (Olivia Colman), and clueless father (Bill Paterson). The second season cheerfully bounds into blasphemy as she grapples with inappropriate (and reciprocated) feelings for a Catholic priest (Andrew Scott). It’s shocking, and immensely watchable. One of the rare cases where a series truly is as good as people say.
The Man in the High Castle
This adaptation of sci-fi master Philip K. Dick’s novel about a world in which the Nazis won the Second World War was one of Amazon’s first forays into producing its own content. The world-building is stunningly done—a divided, alternate-reality 1960s America never seemed so plausible—but be warned: There might be just a touch too much present-day resonance for some viewers.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
What can a New York lady do when she finds out her husband is having an affair with his dim-witted secretary? If Mrs. Maisel is anything to go by, the answer is to head to a grotty watering hole in your nightgown, do a bit of standup comedy, and get hauled away by the police after flashing the entire audience. Set in the 1950s, this fast-talking fashionista hides her new life as a comedian from her family and ex while battling sexism, bad crowds, and big competition. Rachel Brosnahan stars as Midge Maisel in this subtle nod to Joan Rivers’ career. With four seasons and a host of awards and nominations to its name, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is one of Amazon’s sharpest comedies.
Humanity now lives among the stars—well, the rest of the solar system, at least. A group of antiheroes are linked by the disappearance of a wealthy political activist, and between them they must unravel what happened to her. Adding to the complexity are the political tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt, a group of loosely affiliated colonies between the two planets. That’s just season 1—there are six available on Prime, and each is packed with enough daring missions, space fights, and Martian politics to keep fans of hard science fiction hooked.
Feeling battered and emotionally bruised by bleak TV dystopias and even bleaker world news? Good Omens is your shelter in the storm, and inside, it’s warm, cozy, camp, and kind. Neil Gaiman has adapted his own 1990 book, cowritten with Terry Pratchett, which follows an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) trying to stop Armageddon. The six-part event series gives fans exactly what they dreamed of from such a fusion of cast and crew. Silly stuff with Cold War overtones, extreme whimsy, and gruff British wit.
You’ll know within the first episode if you’re into this slow, stylized miniseries from Parks & Recreation and Master of None alums Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard. It’s part high-concept TV, part uncomfortable marriage drama with a side helping of shtick from the two outrageously talented leads, Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. It might make you impatient at times, but Forever will stick with you once you’ve watched the finale.
Just released from prison, Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) steals the identity of his former cellmate Pete Murphy in order to hide from the dangers of his old life. On the run from a vicious debtor played by Bryan Cranston (who also jointly created the show), Marius nestles into Pete’s motley crew of estranged family, who are delighted to be reunited with their long-lost relative–and enters waters just as shark-infested as those from which he’s come. Over the course of three seasons, Sneaky Pete proves itself one of the finest dramas Amazon has produced yet.
Mozart in the Jungle
A comedy-drama documenting the world of professional orchestra musicians in New York, Mozart in the Jungle is a strange beast. The series follows Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke), an aspiring oboist trying to build a career with the New York Symphony, and her conflicted relationship with eccentric conductor Rodrigo De Souza (Gael García Bernal). With a strong creative team and real-world source material in the form of professional oboist Blair Tindall’s memoir Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, the compelling and frequently hilarious show has picked up Golden Globes and Emmy Awards, and proven itself one of Amazon’s best exclusives.
In the mid ’80s, college student and struggling filmmaker David Myers (Craig Roberts) wants one last, great summer before adulthood beckons. Unfortunately, he’s stuck working at a pretentious country club and struggling to gain momentum in his life. Big dreams of making it in the film industry meet crushing reality as David navigates the club’s eccentric guests and their demands—from awkward wedding shoots to filming sex tapes for swingers clubs—while also struggling to maintain his relationship with girlfriend Skye. All three seasons of this delightful period comedy are available now.
Inspired by the real-life Viking hero and ruler Ragnar Lodbrok, Vikings is a family saga exploring the lives, epic adventures, and cultural politics of the raiders and explorers of the Dark Ages. Six seasons of the historically inspired action series are available on Amazon Prime Video, with WWE wrestler Adam “Edge” Copeland joining the cast in season five as the story expands to a civil war in Norway, battles in England against the Nordic invaders, and exploration of northern Africa.
Entertaining well past Halloween, this anthology series presents “the frightening and often disturbing tales based on real people and events that have led to our modern-day myths and legends.” Based on the award-winning podcast of the same name, there are two six-episode seasons exploring real-world horror stories available to chill your bones now.
One of the world’s strangest superheroes, Ben Edlund’s Tick debuted in indie comics form in 1986, before gaining wider popularity thanks to a 1994 animated series. Now due for his second live-action adaptation (the first aired for one season in 2001), this take sees Peter Serafinowicz as the big, blue lover of justice—who may just be an escaped psychiatric patient with unusual durability. A graduate of Amazon’s pilot season program, the full show is a delightful two-season tonic of superheroic whimsy.
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