The 10 Best Miniseries on Amazon Prime

The 10 Best Miniseries on Amazon Prime

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From docuseries to historical dramas and investigative shows, miniseries are a wonderful, diverse format. In this list, we count down the best miniseries on Amazon Prime. 

10. The Outlaws

7.9

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Charles Babalola, Christopher Walken, Clare Perkins, Darren Boyd

Moods

A-list actors, Binge-Worthy, Dramatic

The Outlaws is an enjoyable BBC miniseries that centers on the lives and misadventures of seven lawbreakers sentenced to 120 hours of community service. The felons can’t be more different from each other, but as they gather every day to serve, they slowly bond in the process. It’s a bit like The Breakfast Club and The Good Place in that sense, although subplots of crime and heist make it a dash more thrilling.

The characters may appear as caricatures at first (“Everyone’s a type,” as one of them puts it), but don’t be fooled: they’re all nicely fleshed out with every episode, and each back story adds a new depth to the series. Stephen Merchant (co-creator of The Office UK) stars in, writes, and directs the series.

9. Wayne

7.9

Country

United States of America

Actors

Ciara Bravo, Dean Winters, Mike O'Malley

Moods

Mini-series

This violent action-comedy miniseries is about a Massachusetts teenager who tries to retrieve a stolen 1979 Trans Am.

And the show is not nice to Wayne who, from the very first scene, takes a beating. Think of it as The End of the F***ing World but more violent and with Boston accents.

8. Small Axe

best

8.0

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Moods

Mini-series

This impressive body of work defies any classification: it’s a collection of five films that have been put together into a miniseries. Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) collected a timeless set of stories set from the ‘60s to ‘80s about London’s West Indian community and their struggle with rampant racism.

The first film, Mangrove, bears the name of the restaurant at the center of the story. As a sanctuary for the community, the restaurant quickly becomes the target of a racist police division that employs various tactics to disrupt  its popularity. The local chapter of the Black Panthers and its charismatic leader (played by Letitia Wright) get involved.

Mangrove and Lovers Rock, the next episode, were in the selection of the Cannes Film Festival that got canceled because of the pandemic.

7. The Night Manager

8.0

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Actors

Adeel Akhtar, David Harewood, Douglas Hodge, Elizabeth Debicki

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Mini-series

Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie (House) star in this espionage mini-series based on a John le Carré novel.

A quick mini-series that spans six episodes, it’s about a former soldier (Tom Hiddleston) who, while working as a night manager for a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, ends up getting hold of very sensitive information. He is then recruited by an intelligence officer (Olivia Colman) to bring down a corrupt businessman (Hugh Laurie.)

A highly-acclaimed TV show not to be missed by lovers of spy stories, John Le Carré films (A Most Wanted Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), or just anyone who appreciates excellent acting.

6. Long Strange Trip

8.0

Actors

Al Franken, Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir, Donna Godchaux

Moods

Docu-series, Mini-series

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.

5. The Underground Railroad

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Actors

Joel Edgerton, Thuso Mbedu

Moods

Challenging, Depressing, Discussion-sparking

As is only appropriate for a limited series about such a horrific period in human history, The Underground Railroad isn’t meant to be easy viewing. Thanks to uncompromising direction from Barry Jenkins (the director of the Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight) and unforgettable images from cinematographer James Laxton, this approaches a level of confrontational storytelling that almost seems inappropriate for the comforts of television. But it’s essential viewing nonetheless, and Jenkins makes sure to transform this into a much stranger, more thought-provoking tale beyond the brutality of its first episode.

The Underground Railroad is speculative fiction: instead of being a historical account of the real-life network of routes to help free African-American slaves, it imagines a literal train that swiftly transports Cora (a powerful Thuso Mbedu) from one dystopian vision of white America to another. With every new setting, Jenkins doesn’t just talk about slavery; he talks about how America talks about slavery, and how the stories of these Black slaves are constantly reappropriated by white supremacists.

4. Documentary Now!

best

8.2

Country

United States, United States of America

Actors

Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, Helen Mirren, Irving Azoff

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Funny

Fans of sketch comedy, documentaries, and the always-hilarious duo of Bill Hader and Fred Armisen are in for a treat with Documentary Now!, a delightful miniseries that both satirizes and pays tribute to the non-fiction format. Each episode parodies a particular documentary and tone, bringing the comedians and their ever-revolving roster of guest stars to different eras, regions, costumes, accents, and more. 

With SNL veterans Hader and Armisen at the helm, this mockumentary is sure to amuse and impress even the most stoic among us, if not for the show’s humor, then for its sharp attention to detail and endlessly creative references.

3. Modern Love

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Cristin Milioti, Dev Patel

Moods

Mini-series, Romantic

This is one of those reviews where it’s probably enough to say: watch the pilot. There is no better proof of how good Modern Love is than its first episode. The show is based on true stories that were shared in The New York Times column by the same name. That first episode is about the relationship between a doorman and a New Yorker. But, plot twist, Modern Love isn’t just about romantic relationships. It’s also about friendships, family links, and all displays of love and affection. The second episode is with Dev Patel and Catherine Keener, which I found to be also excellent. There are other ones with Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, and many other big names, but the first two episodes are still my favorites. The power of Modern Love is in the riveting true stories it tells. It might as well have been called “you can’t make this stuff up.”

2. Forever

8.6

Actors

Catherine Keener, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Funny, Mini-series

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.

1. This Is Going to Hurt

best

8.8

Country

United Kingdom

Actors

Alex Jennings, Ambika Mod, Ashley McGuire, Ben Whishaw

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Dark, Depressing

In the dark comedy This Is Going to Hurt, Ben Whishaw stars as junior doctor Adam, who’s barely keeping it together in the understaffed and under-equipped ob-gyn ward of Britain’s NHS hospital. We see, often in sad and graphic detail, what goes on in a public hospital and the heavy toll this takes on both the patients’ and medical staff’s personal lives. It’s hard to look away, especially when Adam addresses us in the first person. 

Even more upsetting? The miniseries is based on a memoir. Former medical trainee Adam Kay wrote a best-selling book detailing his horrific time at the NHS, and now he serves as executive producer and writer of the series.

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