When it comes down to it, autumn – or fall, depending on where you reside – is a magical time of year. Leaves burst into bright flaming colours, there’s that hint of vanilla-cinnamon in the air when you enter almost any supermarket, and, of course: it’s dark at 3pm. That's perhaps why so many TV addicts adore this season, as it gives us a chance to catch up with all the series we’ve missed throughout the year. And what better place to start than with the best shows on Amazon Prime Video?
Once an eager rival to the big ole Netflix, today Amazon’s own repository of original shows, premium cable faves, and network classics are equally as drool-worthy. You’ve got thrillers, dramas, comedies, historical actioners, horror, fantasy… the whole gamut, really. There’s a little bit of something here for everyone to dive into - no matter what your streaming preference. We’re here to guide you closer to finding your next perfect binge of the year with our top picks of the best shows on Amazon Prime Video.
Get your night vision goggles at the ready – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join forces once again for the supernatural comedy series Truth Seekers. The eight-episode series follows a team of part-time paranormal investigators as they travel across the UK in search of evidence of the supernatural. However, it's all fun and games with their homemade gadgets and comedic hijinks until they begin to uncover a conspiracy that could bring about Armageddon for the entire human race. Yikes.
Based on Neil Gaiman’s phenomenally successful book of the same title, American Gods is incredibly unique. The series tells the tale of fading old gods as they are replaced by new gods with specialities familiar to us 21st-century pilgrims. There are the God of technology and media; ones who have risen from our devotion to the world-wide-web and unprecedented connectivity.
Yet, the old gods aren’t leaving quietly. And when they're played by the likes of Ian McShane, who has the gravitas needed for such a role, then you can expect fireworks every episode.
In a world where superheroes are ubiquitous, it takes a lot to stand out. So, thank goodness for The Boys, a brutally funny adaptation of Garth Ennis' bloody (and bloody brilliant) comic book series. From the opening episode's lightning-quick setup of a corporation filled with corrupt Supes, to the finale's topsy-turvy cliffhanger, nothing Marvel or DC has cooked up on television has had us gripped the way The Boys' cacophony of blood, chaos, and c-bombs does.
The hero of the story is Hughie, a normal man whose partner is brutally murdered by a corporate Supe. Billy Butcher, who's also had his own run-in with the superpowered, has a vendetta, and he teams up (well, forces a team-up) with the reluctant Hughie. A few more other non-Supes join in the fun and form The Boys. It all gets even messier from there on...
Michael Sheen and David Tennant play an antagonistic angel and a devilish demon who were present at the beginning of the Universe. However, despite their obvious differences – and opposing bosses – the two strike up a lasting friendship, and, when the time comes, to team up to prevent Armageddon. Neil Gaiman’s worked on this adaption of his own 1990 book written with Terry Pratchett.
This BBC and Amazon co-production is a whimsical world full of that dry British wit that you’ve come to love from the two leads. The impressive cast is filled out also by Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Jack Whitehall and other familiar faces (including some delightful cameos from some huge A-listers). The series is overflowing with irreverent humour and fascinating mythology, making Good Omens' six episodes the perfect escape.
Tales from the Loop
A local town of people in Ohio live above "The Loop", a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe. The Loop makes the impossible possible, and each episode looks at the life of one of those it affects.
Inspired by the famed paintings of Simon Stalenhag, this sci-fi anthology explores the lives of those who live above The Loop in compelling and thoughtful ways. Stalehnhag has built a cult following due to his depictions of imaginative alternate realities, and this unconventional narrative pairs beautifully with his work. The stories are interconnected and the cast – including Rebecca Hall, Jonathan Pryce, and Paul Schneider – are great.
Hugh Laurie turns off the charm and into curmudgeonly doctor Gregory House, an MD who specializes in diagnostic medicine along with making light of everyone’s woes. Don’t mistake him for a practitioner with a good bedside manner; all he cares for is cracking the case and popping pills to alleviate his chronic pain. Across the seasons, House investigates a bundle of weighty topics as the Doc and his rotating students attempt to solve the mysteries of the human body.
Laurie's performance is the epitome of a lovable antihero. He's brusque, selfish and inconsiderate. You still can't take your eyes off him. And, like all long-lasting shows, the format evolved from an 'illness of the week' procedural to a solid medical mystery serial, weaving in House's own trials and tribulations. It’s the perfect series to kickstart your fall bingefest.
Before The Boys, there was another superhero on Amazon. We are, of course, talking about The Tick, an invulnerable hero who fights crime and has a nervous, befuddled side-kick. When the villain The Terror returns, the pair must work together to save the city's citizens. With its tongue-in-cheek humour and meta-superhero antics, this one's a joy to watch from start to finish – and a huge shame Amazon didn't continue the adventure past season 2.
A rough 'n' tumble period piece that's not a million miles away from Game of Thrones, Vikings serves up a similar amount of blood-drenched violence, but none of the rampant nookie. Travis Fimmel leads the series as noted Norse figure Ragnar Lothbrok, a lowly farmer who becomes a respected warrior. That's after years of sailing the seas of Europe, of course, along with his wives and chums, in search of vulnerable countries to ransack.
The story itself is terrific, and along with its glorious production design, you’ll be drawn in and unable to stop yourself from one more episode. It's less concerned with the intricate political ties of the aforementioned HBO series, yet does err heavily on the side of fantasy. These are not the vikings you've read about at school; these are far more devious.
Mr. Robot came out of nowhere to become 2015's big watercooler hit. It's about hackers, yes, but the technology wunderkind at the heart of this story is unlike any other onscreen depictions. Rami Malek plays Elliott Anderson, a computer genius who joins the ranks of the mysterious Mr. Robot under the pretense that their band of digital vigilantes will free society from the grip of corporate America.
Paranoid and tense, Robot rolls out like a thriller cooked up in the mind of David Fincher then siphoned through the bizarre lens of David Lynch. Its creator Sam Esmail showcases his eye for detail here, that ropes in styles of all kinds to craft an entirely unique thriller.
Being a first-time parent isn’t a picnic. Especially when your partner is from another country. And you don’t really know them that well... or have indeed only met them once. Throw these factors into the pot and you get the beginnings of one of Amazon’s most seriously underseen comedies. Sharon Horgan stars as an Irish schoolteacher in London who embarks on a week-long affair with Rob Delaney’s Boston ad exec. Their efforts to stay together after they discover they’re pregnant are what drive the series into hilarity and, at times, heartache.
Catastrophe is funny as hell. Horgan and Delaney, who also wrote the entire show together, make their experience relatable and humourous without resorting to silly gags. Plus, Carrie Fisher’s cameo as Delaney’s mom is divine. Her little dog Gary even cameos with her!
The Man in the High Castle
Imagining what the world might be like had the allied forces lost the second world war is terrifying. It’s an idea so frightful that sci-fi mastermind Philip K. Dick scratched out his 1962 novel based on that concept, from which this Amazon Original series takes its inspiration. The world no longer looks the same. Under Nazi rule the sprawling North American continent has been divided into three territories, and it's inside those borders that this gripping story of a small Resistance group unravels.
As an alternate history, not necessarily a distorted reality, the show is gripping. It makes for such compulsive viewing because it bears so many recognisable emblems from the real world. As well as a few choice slips into genre territory...
John Krasinski plays the latest version of Jack Ryan, portraying the CIA Officer with enough grit that it will make you completely forget that Krasinski was, in fact, once Jim from The Office. Season 1 was a huge hit, while the second brought Wendell Pierce (The Wire), Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) and Michael Kelly (House of Cards) on board. This is a globe-trotting action adventure that's well worth a watch.
Who doesn’t like watching a bunch of incredibly wealthy people from 20th century Britain swan about on an estate? Downton Abbey captivated the TV landscape when it debuted in 2010, capturing the hearts and minds of, well, millions of viewers. The fictional Crawley family lead the story, as their lives are interwoven with real-life historical events. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 kicks things off with World War I coming to serve as a major plot point. All the while the drama and politics of the Crawleys - and their arsenal of servants - becomes all the more intriguing.
A British corset drama. An exceptional aristocratic affair. Whatever you want to call it, Downton Abbey is a darn good soap opera. With more twists, turns, and plot revelations that you’d expect from a period piece about a well-to-do English family, this is a compelling binge-watch in disguise.
After his release from prison Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) decides to get creative with his new-found freedom. Instead of picking up where he left off, which is at the mercy of gangster Vince (Bryan Cranston) for the $100,000 he owes, Marius opts to take over the life of his cellmate Pete who remains behind bars. Pete’s estranged family welcome “Pete” back into the fold as if nothing’s happened, and Marius starts to discover that his new clan might be a source of further strife.
Its well-written scripts and fantastic performances are what have turned Sneaky Pete into one of those sneaky shows that wheedles its way into your mind and refuses to let go until you’ve watched just one more episode. This is top-notch viewing that’s a relentlessly bingeable mix of crime, comedy and drama.
Region: UK, US
A BBC original that’s thankfully made its way onto Amazon Prime, Fleabag is the best show around that you’re not watching - yet. Phoebe Waller-Bridge pillaged her own one-woman theatre show to create the TV series, expanding the production into a small-screen format that luckily never shakes its theatrical origins (there’s a lot of brilliant fourth-wall-breaking). The story revolves around the experiences of Fleabag, a woman living life on her own terms in London. Despite possessing a savage wit, her day to day isn’t quite the barrel of laughs you’d expect, which makes this a bittersweet watch from the get-go as Fleabag deals with the heart slam of grief.
On the surface, it might sound like any other comedy series - but it’s in a world of its own. Dabbling with most modern-day topics through Waller-Bridge’s immensely likeable persona, there are laughs to be had in every moment, bringing a wholly new style of black comedy to television.
Region: UK, US
Imagine if the cantankerous Edmund Blackadder owned and managed a 21st-century bookshop. That’s the gist of this classic British sitcom, which revolves around a similar character, Bernard Black (Dylan Moran). Black is a sarcastic bookstore owner whose concept of a good day at work involves no customers and a bottle of wine. Constantly sozzled, irritated, yet desperate to land himself a girlfriend, it’s only when he hires scatterbrained Manny (Bill Bailey) and befriends next-door-neighbour Fran (Tamsin Greig) does he discover the joys of having friends.
Who doesn’t love a miserly grouch? Easily one of the funniest sitcoms to emerge in the early 2000s, it’s got its heart in the right place, and endless one-liners. The main trio delivers comedy gold in every single episode, which seems to get increasingly more absurd as the series ventures on. Think Green Wing crossed with Fawlty Towers and you’re in the right ballpark.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino hits another home run with a show that’s, on the surface, cut from an entirely different cloth. The late 1950s are a tough time for women everywhere, including those like Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) on the Upper West Side, who remains under the thumb of her husband. A devoted wife who supports her husband’s desire to be a stand-up comic, it’s soon revealed that Midge herself has quite a gift for the gag on-stage. The show won five Emmys and two Golden Globes in its first year, with Brosnahan snagging the same Globe the following year.
There is so much to love about Maisel. If you’re a fan of rich storytelling that’s not gloomy and doesn’t involve murder (c’mon, a LOT of prestige television is pretty downbeat) then you’ll get a kick out of this. Brosnahan is one of the best actors working today, bringing heart, warmth, humour and a fire in her belly to the role of Midge. The best scenes are the after-hours debriefs with her friend/manager Susie, played by Family Guy’s Alex Borstein. But make no mistake: this isn’t a fluffy series. It’s an R-rated show, with swears and nudity.
Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail takes a well-loved podcast and turns it into a TV series. Homecoming is technically created by its podcast authors, Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz, yet its got Esmail’s stamp all over it; no surprise as he does direct every episode. Julia Roberts stars as Heidi Bergman, a counselor at a facility called Homecoming who helps veterans transition back into civilian life. Or so she thinks. The show flits back and forth between Heidi’s first day on the job, to a point in the future, where she’s back home with her mom, working as a waitress with a foggy memory of her time at Homecoming.
Nabbing an A-list star like Roberts might be what draws your attention to a series like Homecoming. While this is her first dip into “event” television, and she is excellent, she’s not the only element that deserves acclaim. Season 2 focuses on Janelle Monae's mysterious leading woman, deviating from the podcast and following new characters altogether.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
When his 1992 movie about a cheerleading vampire slayer flopped, writer Joss Whedon couldn’t let Buffy languish in pop culture history in its campy coffin. So he did what any genre-loving creator would do! He revived it, and spawned one of the most successful female-led fantasy shows of all time, with Sarah Michelle Gellar taking over as the vamp-stabbin’, monster-huntin’ badass. Not only is Buffy tasked with saving the world from the apocalypse (multiple times) and preventing several baddies from destroying her hometown of Sunnydale, she also grapples with typical teen angst.
While the “monster of the week” format stakes its claim in earlier seasons, Buffy’s complex life and those of her best friends, Xander and Willow, extend beyond that into rich, layered storytelling that is brilliant serial television. Without a doubt a genre staple, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a must-see for anyone with a love of good vs. tales that give the middle finger to convention.
Undone hails from Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, but citing that series in comparison does a disservice to the originality of this genre-mashing comedy-drama. The story follows 28-year old Alma (Rosa Salazar) who can’t find her place in the world. Drifting along, feeling disconnected from the world as her younger sister is on the cusp of marriage, she finds herself thrown into an unexpected predicament following a car crash: she can jump through time. Her new gift allows her to commune with her deceased father, who requires her help in unraveling a mystery.
Undone is unlike anything else on television right now. Lifting themes from Lynch such as trauma, identity, and loss, and spinning them into a more coherent tale, the show also boasts ambitious animation work called rotoscoping. This technique involves artists and animators “drawing over” live-action footage. Not only does it lend Undone a dreamy visual, but it also meshes the story with the style as Alma’s dips into different realities are beautifully rendered.
Sci-fi with a gritty edge. That’s what ALL good sci-fi is like, right? The Expanse is worlds apart from every other show in the genre. Set hundreds of years in the future, it tackles the reality of a future where mankind sprawls into the universe, taking command of everything it lays its hands on. Mars is now its own military power, and at odds with Earth. Their squabbles lay the foundation for an imminent war, which forms a tense backdrop for the show’s main story, of a ship’s captain (Steven Strait) and a detective (Thomas Jane), who unite to solve the case of a missing young woman.
The world-building is as close to realistic as you can imagine. Forget the typical sci-fi signifiers; there’s no weird portals to other dimensions, mad extraterrestrials, or weaponry that defies physics. What you’re left with is a damn good story that’s set to receive a season 4, courtesy of Amazon who picked it up for a final season.
All good art is never appreciated in its own time. The Americans seemed to be headed that way, snubbed repeatedly at the Emmys, the Globes, until it finally nabbed two of the former for its show-stopping series finale. It’s not like the FX show needed awards: its devout fanbase continued to tune in week-after-week for this thrilling tale of a soviet family living undercover in the US as a regular American family. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys star as the KGB officers posing as the married couple, whose suburban homestead happens to be next door to an FBI counterintelligence officer.
When society looks back at some of its greatest ever TV shows, The Americans will be near the top of the list. A deep-rooted look at marriage, it’s also a damn good thriller that traces the couple throughout the 1980s, with career-best performances from Russell and Rhys. Seriously, if you haven’t watched this, drop everything and get going.