16 Best Amazon Prime Original Shows Ever Made

October 22, 2019

Amazon Prime is making excellent TV these days, while Netflix is hit and miss – with many more misses than hits. Long gone are the days of House of Cards and OITNB, when a Netflix Original tag actually meant something.

But if you do have a Prime subscription, there is a lot out there that your coworkers don’t necessarily bring up during lunch break. These 16 Amazon Prime originals will put most recent Netflix shows to shame.

Red Oaks

A coming-of-age comedy about David, a 20 year old assistant tennis pro at a country club in 1985’s New Jersey. As with most people his age, David (Craig Roberts) struggles with making important life choices; his parents want him to pursue a career he’s not interested in, he starts falling in love with a girl when he’s in a relationship with another, and so on. Yet David’s story is not the only one driving the show; The excellent cast of side characters all struggle with their own dilemmas: His parents are getting bored of their relationship, his ex is doubting her imminent marriage, and his pothead friend is in love with a lifeguard he thinks is too good-looking for him. However, Red Oaks never strays from being a comedy first and an excellent show for a chill binge.

User rating: 80/100. Staff rating: 75/100.
The Man in the High Castle

Based on the 1962 award winning novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High castle presents a world in which World War II concluded with the victory of the Axis powers, dividing the United States of America into two powers on the verge of conflict, the Greater German Reich and the Japanese Pacific States. The show follows Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) and her boyfriend Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) as their lives quickly turn into chaos when they come across a film reel that shows a glimpse into the world that could have been, ours, bringing the couple to the restless attention of both governments and of the resistance. The Man in the High Castle will captivate you with excellent writing, a superb cast, and a carefully crafted world that is as believable as it is terrifying.

User rating: 85/100. Staff rating: 76/100.
Mozart in the Jungle

Hailey (Lola Kirke) is a struggling musician that has dedicated her life to the oboe. As the New York Symphony Orchestra reluctantly welcomes its new conductor, the controversial Rodrigo de Souza (Gael García Bernal), Hailey gives her all and tries to join the orchestra. But getting to play with some of the world’s best musicians isn’t only a difficult goal to attain, it is also a life-consuming struggle. Inspired by the accounts of oboist Blair Tindall in her book Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music, the show follows the orchestra through its ups and downs , portraying the current state of classical music with all its power struggles, insane competitiveness , and reluctance to change. While Mozart in the Jungle has a strong cast (Malcolm McDowell, Saffron Burrows, Bernadette Peters), Gael García Bernal steals the show with a golden globe-winning performance that perfectly fits the charming, lighthearted nature of the series.

User rating: 96/100. Staff rating: 78/100.
Hanna

Hanna the movie was the perfect mix between a coming-of-age story and a Bourne-Trilogy-type thriller. It was suspenseful, edgy, and so original.

How to make these attributes stick when the movie is stretched to a TV show? As it turns out, more of the same does the trick.

The majority of events have been imagined especially for the show, and it doesn’t stop there. The series is packed with great new talent who bring their uniqueness to the story. Hanna herself is played masterfully by British actress Esme Creed-Miles. Her father – much more present in the show than the movie – is also amazingly played by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman (you may recognize him from House of Cards or The Killing).

High production value and incredible suspense make Hanna an enjoyable and prolonged thrill ride. It’s even more fun if you’ve never watched the movie, as all plot developments will be new to you.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 78/100.
Fleabag

At 20 minutes per episode and boosting a funny and witty script, this show is such a pleasure to binge-watch.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who you may know from Broadchurch, writes and stars in the series. She plays a freethinking young woman trying to deal with grief in big-city London.

Her relationship with the city is complicated to say the least, but her relationship with her business might be even worse. The hipster-plagued café she runs is always on the verge of bankruptcy, her support system is almost nonexistent, consisting of a high-achieving sister and a nonchalant father, she has a lot to navigate on her own.

Her show is guaranteed to stay with you for a long time.

User rating: 97/100. Staff rating: 80/100.
Long Strange Trip

Long Strange Trip was originally a four-hour movie before Amazon cut it to a six-part TV show.

Produced by Martin Scorcese, it tells the full story of the band The Grateful Dead. It’s an account so detailed that it will satisfy the biggest Deadheads, but it also can be appreciated by anyone. The focus is the band, but it’s also the band’s significant impact on Rock history, and by extension, on American culture.

I didn’t know much about the band and I couldn’t stop watching.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 80/100.
Enlightened

This is an HBO dark comedy that was intensely loved by anyone who knew about it before it was inexplicably canceled.

Laura Dern plays a corporate executive who has a full-blown meltdown. I’m talking mascara streaming down her cheeks and screaming “I’m going to destroy you” to a coworker.

When she comes back from a retreat in Hawaii she is forced to take, Den’s character is no longer filled with corporate rage but with inexplicable and almost obnoxious positivity. She tries to spread her new outlook around by giving people books like “Flow Through Your Rage” and telling them about sea turtles. Things get more real when she decides to take on her old company’s abuses.

I think the reason this show has such hard-core fans is that they fell in love with Laura Dern’s character. Watching this show is like letting in a flawed, dependent, but extremely determined and well-meaning person into your life.

Enlightened is funny, engaging, and all-around near-perfect TV.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 80/100.
Bosch

Bosch returned recently for a fifth season, with a sixth one confirmed. It’s a sleeper hit that you may not have heard of, but with time should get the coverage it deserves.

Titus Welliver (Lost, Sons of Anarchy, Argo) plays an L.A.P.D. homicide detective who is on trial for using questionable methods during a fatal shootout. At the same time, he is trying to solve an open murder case.

Bosch is carried by almost entirely by Welliver, who delivers such a good multi-layered performance that it’s hard to think anyone else could have played this character.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 80/100.
Goliath

A TV show by David E. Kelley, the mogul that was also behind Boston Legal, Picket Fences, and recently the amazing HBO show Big Little Lies.

You’d think a name that big is enough to carry Goliath. But in comes Billy Bob Thornton in one of the best performances of his career.

He plays a big-time lawyer who fell down on his luck for unknown circumstances. A big case randomly comes his way that allows him to go against his former big law firm. With an escort as his legal aid, he embarks on a David and Goliath journey to find justice for the victims and redemption for himself.

A great supporting cast. Great writing. Old-school premise brought back to life. Goliath is the perfect binge.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 82/100.
The Boys

The Boys is the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express) take on the superhero genre. As creators of the show, they add their signature humor to a solid comic book story of the same name.

The show takes place in a world where superheroes, or Supes, start abusing their powers for commercial gain. Their organization, Vought, is profit-driven and run with a mindset of increasing Instagram likes and selling Supe paraphernalia.

This comes at an expense, as Supes start abusing their powers and focus more on their image than their duties. When their abuse results in a violent incident involving the show’s main character, he joins an anti-Supe unit called The Boys.

The Boys are lead by Butcher (pictured above), by far the best and funniest character in the show; and includes Frenchie, a hilarious and romantic French bomb expert. Expect excellent character development and a witty script.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 82/100.
Sneaky Pete

Created by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Sneaky Pete is a perfect thriller TV Show.

A con man learns that a violent gang awaits his release from prison, so he decides to take his cell-mate’s identity and hide with his family. He immediately faces an array of threats that make the first season of Sneaky Pete so cut-throat gripping: the gang getting to him, his new identity being exposed, the police, and it doesn’t help that the only member left of his family, his brother, is also in all sorts of trouble.

Sneaky Pete is probably the Amazon Prime Original that suffers the most from the platform’s awkward branding. Had it been on Netflix, your coworkers wouldn’t be able to stop talking about it for years.

Giovanni Ribisi who plays the main character is out-of-this-world amazing.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 83/100.
Forever

Something happens in Forever episode three that I can’t tell you about. If I did it, I would spoil the show up for you. I don’t want to do this. So I will try very hard to sell you on the first two episodes, just remember, the show gets very different afterward. Both in premise, general vibe, and humor.

Here’s my best pitch: Fred Armisen. That face, that tone, that voice. How can you resist a TV show that doesn’t have many characters and yet he’s the main one.

Pitch No. 2: Maya Rudolph. She is funny, expressive, and whenever she looks at something, that thing instantly gains a lot of interest. This is the best performance of her career so far, I would wager.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 86/100.
Homecoming

This is the perfect dark TV show.

It’s no surprise that Julia Roberts’ performance is amazing here. She is the former director of a mysterious program for rehabilitating war veterans.

She perfectly blends into her first ever TV show and the world created by the show’s director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot). That is a world of dark colors and seemingly twisted motivations.

Her supporting cast is nothing short of amazing. Shea Whigham is BRILLIANT as the sad but honest detective trying to get to the bottom of things. Bobby Cannavale is also great as Julia Roberts’s old boss, a busy and eager man. This show’s surprise star is newcomer Stephan James, who plays one of the war veterans.

At around 30 minutes per episode, time goes by quickly and your hunger to figure out what’s happening increases with every episode.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 90/100.
Patriot

Patriot is about a secret agent who is assigned meddling with the Iranian elections to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Sounds serious? It is and it is not. What Patriot is really about are the bureaucratic pitfalls that involve such work. The secret agent’s team parks on the wrong street and he ends up killing the wrong guy. The bag of money he wants to use to meddle with the elections gets stolen by an airport worker in Luxembourg. Etc, etc.

For all of this, Patriot is a funny and clever show. the best part is that the secret agent in question is also a folk singer – and sometimes sings awfully honest and descriptive songs of his missions in open mics.

Patriot is a mix between real-life thrills and real-life laughs, and it’s a near-perfect TV show.

User rating: 90/100. Staff rating: 90/100.
Trapped

The Guardian’s lead critic said of Trapped:

Seductive, involving, gripping…I am already, thoroughly, trapped.

I’m quoting a publication to give some grounding to my overly excited claim: Trapped (or Ófærð) is one of the best TV shows ever made. I am obsessed with it. The plot is simple: a cop tries to solve a murder before a storm arrives, but the way it gets stretched is exceptional, and can only be compared to Scandinavian classics like The Hunt, The Guilty or Headhunters.

And the fact that Trapped is from Iceland (not Norway or Denmark) adds a more chilling twist to the Scandinavian thriller genre. I don’t want to say more and ruin the show for you, but this is an amazing binge.

User rating: 0/100. Staff rating: 90/100.
Catastrophe

This is hands down my all-time favorite sitcom.

Rob, a New York executive, has a brief affair with Sharon, a teacher, while he’s on a business trip to London. The resulting pregnancy upends their lives.

Sharon struggles to adapt to living with this unwanted, and mostly useless American, who suddenly moves in with her. Hilarity ensues as Rob tries to navigate the unintended relationship and his new life in Britain.

The thing about Catastrophe is that you’re getting the full, unfiltered and untouched package of creative expression by two very creative people: It’s a show created by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, written by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, and starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney (as, you guessed it, Sharon and Rob).

The show is Sharon and Rob’s product of love, and it’s just great.

User rating: 92/100. Staff rating: 97/100.