Great TV Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime Right Now
Get your binge on.
This list leaves out gems like The Wire and Game of Thrones, which are only available if you pony up for the HBO add-on, as well as other series only available through additional add-on subscriptions. Below, you'll find every comedy and drama streaming on Amazon and its ad-supported service IMDb TV that you need to watch for some prime (sorry) viewing.
ALSO READ: The best mystery TV shows available on Amazon Prime
J. J. Abrams' Alias was the perfect action series for the new millennium, and is just as riveting of an espionage drama now as it was then. Fronted by the magnetic performance of Jennifer Garner (and her many, trendy wigs) as regular-college-student-turned-double-agent Sydney Bristow, it's your classic globe-trotting, fancy-gadget-using spy series as Bristow works for the CIA and tries to take down the dangerous, international agency SD-6 from the inside out. It's not just the kind of show that's just there to wow you with Garner's stunts and explosive fight sequences, though—it's the kind of thriller that puts you through the ringer emotionally, too, and gives far more depth to its female action heroine than typical genre star. It's time to quit your Bond movie marathons—it's really all about Bristow.
Alpha House (2013–2014)
This two-season political satire series from Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau adds yuk-yuk sitcominess to the 47-year-old comic strip's policy wonk humor. Think Veep for the Cheers crowd. The show follows four Republican Senators (played by John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, and Mark Consuelos) who spend their days on Capitol Hill, their nights in a row house they rent together, and most waking moments trying to do as little work as possible. This proves difficult. If Sarah Palin isn't ripping them for being left of the Tea Party, LGBTQ activists are decrying their social indifference. With cameos from Hollywood veterans (Bob Balaban, Cynthia Nixon) and politicians (Elizabeth Warren, John McCain) alike, Alpha House is low-key lampooning that reminds us there was a time when TV could feel crazier than real life.
American Horror Story (2011– )
Why do people love Ryan Murphy shows so much? Because they're infused with equal parts camp, drama, suspense, and humor—even this ostensibly scary one. Whether you're watching the Murder House, Freak Show, Hotel, or Roanoke installment, you're in for unforgettable characters, stomach-curdling gore, jaw-dropping plot twists, and brutal finales.
The Americans (2013–2018)
What a strange and beautiful idea for a show: two Soviet agents living among us in the 1980s, doing terrible things to undermine our country, and yet we can’t help but root for them. The slow-building juggernaut of tension and '80s nostalgia featured some of the best TV characters of the 2010s in its lead DC suburbanite couple living a lie, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (played by the excellent Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), and thrusted them into some of the intense missions played out against a real historical timeline to see how morally corrupt they really are (or are not). Long live Mother Russia and prestige drama.
The Bernie Mac Show (2001–2006)
Bernie Mac's FOX sitcom was founded on the concept that parenting is war. It's an idea that the late Chicago-born comedian explored in his hilarious stand-up performances—particularly his movie-stealing routines in Spike Lee's hit concert film The Kings of Comedy—and one that the show, which was created by future Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore, found new ways to twist over five seasons. Before series like Arrested Development became a critical darling, The Bernie Mac Show was a sneaky experimental joy, ditching the laugh track for fourth wall-breaking scenes, gags with on-screen graphics, and emotionally real humor. It was the rare family sitcom that didn't pull any punches.
Billions (2016– )
The ethically challenged world of high finance seems like a natural fit for the current antihero-obsessed television landscape, but TV isn't exactly overcrowded with compelling business dramas. Maybe the material is too wonky? Billions, a New York-set drama from Rounders writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, solves the potential boredom problem by playing up the lifestyle porn, ripping juicy corruption stories from the headlines, and treating each hedge fund transaction like a bank heist. The over-the-top rivalry between self-made billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and tortured rich-kid-turned-do-gooder-attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) is a clever backdrop for telling stories about class, privilege, and capitalism run amok. The first four seasons are currently available on Prime, so invest now.
Blade of the Immortal (2017)
Blade of the Immortal, Amazon's first original anime series and a remake of the 2008 series, is not fucking around. The opening minutes of this violent Tokugawa-era revenge tale features the flaying of human body parts—severed arms, legs, a whole human split into chunks—and the remainder of the episodes are no less graphic. Following the 16-year-old Rin and her hired bodyguard Manji, an infamous swordsman cursed with immortality, the series bounces between tone poem reminiscent of cerebral '90s anime (like Serial Experiments Lain) and samurai stories (like Samurai Champloo and Ninja Scroll), and is animated like a Satoshi Kon property, as Rin tests the limits of her desire for vengeance for her dead family against the ruthlessness of the world. There's at least one bloody battle, maybe against a sociopath who sews the stuffed busts of women he kills on his shoulders, per episode—buckle up for the gory ride.
The first season of this Amazon-produced procedural series finds Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) under legal fire for shooting a suspect two years earlier—hotter (and more relevant) water than his TV detective predecessors. His investigations of a sadistic serial killer become an escape for the tortured officer (he's also a veteran of Afghanistan, and the son of a murdered sex worker), and as the series progresses, a healing process. Bosch eventually trims down to a grizzly neo-noir, a Miami Vice for the True Detective fan, which should be celebrated as peak airport-novel TV. It's similarly sharp and reliable, delivering complicated mysteries drawn straight from the pages of Bosch creator Michael Connelly's many, many best-sellers.
The Boys (2019– )
Our cup runneth over with shows and movies about superheroes behaving badly, and The Boys, based on the darkly comedic comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and developed for TV by Supernatural's Eric Kripke, is one of the better ones, introducing an eclectic cast of high-powered humans and swiftly revealing how awful they all are. The Boys creates a world where superheroes are commodified into action figures and heroic publicity stunts so that giant corporations can make buckets of money—why does this sound so familiar? It's biting social commentary with an extra-mean streak, and it's a lot of bloody fun.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003)
A sacred text of geek culture debuted on March 10, 1997, almost two years before The Sopranos kicked off the much-lionized "difficult men" period of Golden Age television. But if you were clued in to Joss Whedon's wickedly subversive WB (and later, UPN) action-drama from the start, you knew the revolution of modern television was already under way long before Tony and his ducks. Anchored by Sarah Michelle Gellar's star turn, the show got deeper and darker as it went, turning a comedic riff on horror-movie tropes into a soulful meditation on the nature of bravery. Plus, it's got werewolves and stuff.
Co-writers and co-stars Rob Delaney (Rob) and Sharon Horgan (Sharon) are an unlikely couple who stick together after a one-night stand. Despite their pettiness and gross-out banter, throughout the half-hour sitcom we realize that these people have a relationship rooted in genuine, deep affection, making their crassness feel inspirational.
There’s a reason Dan Harmon’s community college ensemble comedy amassed a devoted cult following for its six-season run, despite it nearly always being on the brink of cancelation. The series focuses on a lovable study group of misfits played by both comedy veterans and those then just on the brink of breaking out—including consummate cool guy Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), lovable ditz Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), TV-obsessed Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), anxious genius Annie Edison (Alison Brie), tough-but-firm mother Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), high school jock Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), and the baffling, bored, former CEO Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase)—as they navigate their way through Greendale Community College. It’s a sitcom that’s goofy and delirious, but forever a lesson in how to become a better person.
What's better than one J.K. Simmons? Two J.K. Simmons. (Plus scene-stealer Harry Lloyd.) This inventive sci-fi spy series from writer Justin Marks (The Jungle Book) focuses on a career UN paper-pusher (Simmons) who gets swept up in interdimensional intrigue when his "counterpart" from a parallel universe (also Simmons) jumps through a portal and disrupts diplomacy between the two worlds. It gets mind-bendier from there.
Desperate Housewives (2004–2012)
You know how it goes in the suburbs: Nothing is quite as picture-perfect as those landscaped lawns and white picket fences appear to be. This long-running network hit dives into the private lives of the woman living on Wisteria Lane after their neighbor mysteriously dies by suicide. Of course, the neighborhood is abundant in crime, affairs, marital spats, and personal troubles, all rife with great clichés to keep you fantasizing—including some spicy infidelity with the chiseled gardener. Hands down the sexiest soap to grace our small screens.
Dexter Morgan is a blood-spatter analyst in the Miami Police Department by day and moonlights as a serial killer who kills other serial killers and heinous criminals who've slipped through the justice system. With a standout first season, in Dexter's hunt for the Ice Truck Killer that ends in a devastating twist, Dexter's later seasons fell prey to mismanaged obsolescence—how long could he keep up the bit around his coworkers, including his homicide detective sister? Still, if you’re blood thirsty, Dexter is likely the murderous thriller to satisfy all your cravings for procedural investigations, mystery, and deadly action sequences to amp up this Showtime classic.
Downton Abbey (2010–2015)
Inside the Downton Abbey estate, a high-society British family jostles against the hired help, but this early-20th-century period piece is no ordinary history lesson. Between arranged betrothals, sabotage among the support staff, an influenza epidemic, cancer scares, risky pregnancies, love triangles in perpetual motion, and even murder, the series is a soapy blast dressed up in 1900s finery.
The Expanse (2015–2021)
On the surface, The Expanse is like Battlestar Galactica meets Game of Thrones. The ambitious series combines the tense, close-quarters naval space opera of the former with the sprawling, based-on-a-book-series storytelling approach of the latter. Easy enough. But then you see Thomas Jane playing a weary detective who won't quit, wearing a fedora over a stringy Macklemore haircut, and you realize this is actually an intergalactic neo-noir. Think Raymond Chandler with a pinch of Isaac Asimov. The special effects will draw you in, but the gumshoe-with-anti-gravity-boots narrative keeps you coming back for more.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's one-woman-play-turned-12-episode-comedy follows the titular character as she wrestles with intimacy and recovers from a tragedy. The Brit import comes packed with dark surprises, Francis Underwood-esque asides, and side-splitting laughs. It's kind of like watching an Annie Hall character trying to survive in London, and its critically acclaimed second season builds on what made the initial run great while also finding new notes to hit. Like the Hot Priest, for example.
When the first promo for Amazon's Forever came out, something was missing. That something, namely, was any semblance of a plot. All the series seemed to be about was that Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph were playing a married couple who had reached a familiar stagnation. And when it finally debuted, the series was, in a way, just that—but it was also so much more. Forever turns into an exploration of the afterlife and what paradise looks like for different people. For Oscar (Armisen), it's living in exactly the same way with his wife June (Rudolph) by his side. For June, there's a longing for something more. The single season, which sets some of the universe's ground rules, feels like just an appetizer for something more, but it's intriguing nonetheless.
Good Omens (2019)
Most of the time, adaptations take too many liberties or switch up too many characters or generally just don't get what it was that made the source material great in the first place, so when one really works, it feels like a miracle. The Good Omens miniseries, adapted from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's cult classic 1990 apocalyptic farce, is one of the good ones, its best moments, naturally, centering around its two leads: slimy-cool demon Crowley, played by David Tennant, and his friend/frenemy/partner-in-crime the angel Aziraphale, played by Michael Sheen.
Based on the 2011 Joe Wright action film of the same name starring Saoirse Ronan, this Prime Original follows a young girl who was raised in the wilderness and trained to be an assassin by her father. Once she and her father are discovered and separated by a CIA operative, she sets out on a journey alone across Europe to be reunited with her family, officially putting her skills to the test and coming to terms with who she is on her own. It’s a riveting and rough thriller as much as it is a compelling story of one girl's journey through adolescence and family, and newcomer Esme Creed-Miles as the titular Hanna opposite Joel Kinnaman literally kills in the role.
Homecoming (2018– )
Adapted from the popular podcast of the same name, Homecoming tracks Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) as she tries to piece together her work as a therapist at a treatment center for veterans with PTSD. Over 10 fast-paced episodes in Season 1, the mystery of what a government contractor actually intends to do with the veterans unfolds in lockstep with Bergman's own investigation into the missing memories of her previous job. It's the rare streaming show that doesn't feel bloated, and leaves plenty of room for new storylines to develop in Season 2.
If you're tired of police procedurals and true crime docuseries, switch things up with House, the classic medical mystery that made Hugh Laurie a star in the States. This eight-season drama focuses on the most baffling medical mysteries, which are invariably solved by Dr. Gregory House, an asshole of a doctor who gets away with torturing his residents and treating his patients like chopped liver due to his well-deserved reputation for getting to the bottom of impossible cases. House is a classic anti-hero, an addict and a destructive personality you simultaneously root for and against. Just remember, at the end of the day: It's never lupus.
How I Met Your Mother (2005–2014)
Like Friends, but with a low-level mystery running throughout the series. Architect Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) has a tight group of friends, a cool job, and a dream NYC apartment (they always do), but he spends most of his time agonizing over finding his soulmate—and narrates the series from the future, hindsight and all. That finale sure was a doozy, but even if you've already seen some episodes, with plenty of in-jokes and Neil Patrick Harris' show-stealing run as Barney Stinson, this one stands up to repeat viewings. Running for nine seasons of 22-minute episodes, this is perfect for a long-running binge.
Hunters (2020– )
Amazon's Hunters is out for blood. The series from newcomer David Weil and co-executive produced by Jordan Peele is an unhinged grindhouse series about huntin' Nazis that surprises in more ways than one, from its wit, camp, and Blaxsploitation inspiration points, to the very graphic bloodshed that unfolds as a group of underdogs track down Nazis lurking in '70s America. The series drew Al Pacino to TV, as he plays Meyer Offerman, a man who sees it as God’s will to rally his group of Nazi Hunters and take his latest recruit, 19-year-old Jonah (Logan Lerman), under his wing as he feels the need to seek vengeance after a tragedy unfolds in his own life. While the show may not be what you expect, it has its power—which is emboldening the disenfranchised—and a sense of catharsis follows suit.
I Love Dick (2016–2017)
Transparent creator Jill Soloway's second Amazon series is like screen-printed Warhol take on the fire emoji: syncopated, artful, and satisfyingly vicious. Based on Chris Kraus's 1997 art-world-dominating memoir of the same name, the show stars Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms) as Chris, a failing New York City filmmaker who follows her writer husband, Sylvère (Griffin Dunne), to Marfa, Texas, where he's earned a research fellowship academic sensation Dick (Kevin Bacon). His aura turns the community into a hotbed of intelligentsia and psycho-sexuality, which cracks Chris's world in half. The crass and poetic collide as she pieces it back together, giving Soloway, along with playwright Sarah Gubbins, the opportunity to throw convention out the window. From Louise Bourgeois references to episodes devoted to fourth-wall-breaking flashbacks, I Love Dick does everything it can to pierce the esoteric-yet-essential idea of art and its inseparable companion: sex.
Invincible (2021– )
Invincible is an anti-superhero superhero series, full of intense bloodshed, sharp quips, and the collateral damage that comes with having the power to obliterate an entire skyscraper with a single blow. Adapted from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman's long-running comic, the animated series breathes fresh life into its source material with a few character revamps and chronological swaps, but mostly works thanks to its absolutely stacked cast—Steven Yeun as a teen balancing high school life while learning that he can fucking fly, Sandra Oh as his human mother, J.K. Simmons as his stronger-than-god father, and Gillian Jacobs, Zazie Beets, Jason Manztoukas, Walton Goggins, etc. surrounding them—who all bring the necessary rigor and charm to their characters wading into a messy universe-wide conspiracy stuck with the foibles of an earthbound mindset.
Key and Peele (2012–2015)
Over the course of five seasons, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele created some of the funniest, smartest, and most visually striking sketch comedy of the new millennium. It's why you'll see clips from the series being memed over and over, even years after it's finished.
Long before Damon Lindelof's The Leftovers bludgeoned viewers with its bracing emotional intensity, or J.J. Abrams became the crown prince of Wookieepedia, there was a show called Lost. While it has become increasingly hip to condemn the show's later seasons for any number of faults ranging from mawkish sentimentality to an over-dependence on wonky sci-fi tropes to gooey Touched by an Angel spirituality, the show itself retains all its brilliant power when viewed in a streaming hatch, free of recaps, fan theories, and backlash. If you've never seen it, there's no better time to get wrapped up in its mysteries. And if you have—well, as Jack would say, we have to go back!
Mad Men (2007–2015)
Matthew Weiner knew where it was all going from the start—and the AMC show's creator even warned us in the third-season premiere, via a Don Draper line to Roger Sterling: "I keep going to a lot of places and ending up somewhere I've already been."
The series spans many eras as we travel throughout time: the '60s change the people around Don, and the second half of the final season, set in 1970, is momentous. Betty confronts her own mortality. Peggy discovers that true independence isn't as clean-cut as she thinks. Pete breaks his life in two so that he can put it back together again.
And then there's Don Draper: well-meaning, self-destructive, creative genius Don Draper, who dreams big and falls hard over and over and over again. Mad Men asserted itself as the Great American Television Show by being hyper-specific—designed down to the desk stapler—and universally opaque. We’ll never stop talking about the ending, the beginning, and everything in between, so you'd better hurry up and get on our level if you're not already by watching the series on Amazon Prime's free-with-ads IMDb TV channel.
The Man in the High Castle (2015–2019)
Amazon's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's alternate-history dystopia—what if the Axis powers had won World War II?—picked up a solid critical reception for portraying a world where political events didn't turn out as expected, to disastrous effects. At times the pacing and plot drag, but there's enough mystery baked in to make bingeing exceedingly easy.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017– )
After putting her acclaimed revival of Gilmore Girls to rest, writer-director Amy Sherman-Palladino turned her attention to the story of a dumped 1950s housewife with a sailor's mouth and a stage, Greenwich Village's The Gaslight Cafe, on which to vent. Like a young Joan Rivers, "Midge" Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is on fire when she's performing stand-up for bohemian crowds, toasting her own wedding, or sparring with her father at synagogue. Sherman-Palladino once again provides her lead with a motormouth, but it's Broshahan's conflicted performance—carried by comedy, reined in by the paranoia of body image and female expectations—that makes it as compelling as it is riotous. With Mad Men behind us, it's time for the mad women of Mrs. Maisel to seize the period-drama spotlight.
When it was released in the '90s, Moesha was a much needed sitcom about a Black teenage girl finding her way in the world, and after all this time it's remained one of the most beloved sitcoms to ever air on TV. Much of that is owed to the star power of R&B star/actress Brandy Norwood in the titular role, bringing a relatability to the high schooler as she navigates her widower father's new marriage to her high school vice principal and the typical woes of adolescence. While many sitcoms border onto treacly when they fumble through tougher issues, Moesha handles those moments with grace and remains as necessary a watch today as it was when it first hit UPN.
If you prefer comedy to drama, Monk is the mystery show for you. The genius main character, the eponymous Adrian Monk, may be an obsessive compulsive, multi-phobic former police detective who suffered a nervous meltdown that rendered him barely able to function in regular society, but with the assistance of a private nurse, he begins to lend his detective services to the San Francisco Police Department. Of course, this can pose a challenge given the 312 phobias that prevent him from performing many typical tasks. Each episode features a new criminal investigation served with a side of comedy.
Mozart in the Jungle (2014–2018)
Inspired by a memoir subtitled Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, this Golden Globe-winning show tracks the debaucherous antics of orchestra musicians when they step outside the pit. Thanks to Gael García Bernal's eccentric, hotheaded conductor Rodrigo De Souza, what could have been a one-note show about good-looking 20-somethings offers a fresh look inside a well-developed industry that's somehow gotten very little screen time.
Mr. Robot (2015–2019)
If you weren't already terrified about the state of modern cybersecurity, drug-addled, mentally unstable hacker Elliot Alderson—Oscar winner Rami Malek—will have you taping over your webcam in no time. Elliot is pretty much the least reliable narrator you've ever seen on screen, which makes watching Mr. Robot an exercise in scrutiny and perpetual surprises.
The Night Manager (2016)
If you've always wondered what it would be like to see Dr. House transplanted into a John le Carré novel, The Night Manager scratches your bizarrely specific itch. Hugh Laurie stars as a wealthy businessman and "philanthropist," while Tom Hiddleston plays a—yep—night manager at an upscale British hotel in Cairo. Hiddleston's character somewhat unwittingly gets caught up in the back-room espionage of the Arab Spring, and, like in most of le Carré's work, the tension arises from the personal and bureaucratic mundanities of the international spy game. It's less 007 and more Mad Men, in other words, and in six one-hour episodes, you'll be finished with it in less than a workday.
One Mississippi (2015–2017)
There are a lot of big names attached to One Mississippi, Tig Notaro's semi-autobiographical dark comedy. "Dark" probably doesn't do it justice: The opening episode features Notaro—who's undergoing chemotherapy AND has a gastrointestinal disease—returning home to take her mother off life support. Enter at your own risk, but the humor extracted from dire circumstances rewards viewers who stick with it.
Featuring espionage, folk music, soliloquies on human fragility, and offbeat humor, Patriot tracks the increasingly unstable emotional state of John Tavner, aka John Lakeman, who's tasked with posing as a piping engineer so he can travel to Europe to prevent Iran from obtaining full nuclear capabilities. Also, he's a folk singer with a penchant for inserting classified information into his lyrics, and John Locke from Lost (Terry O'Quinn) is both John's dad and his boss. Patriot possesses an ironic sensibility and is just plain weird tonally, so if you're looking for something different, give it a shot.
Another comedic take on the traditional police procedural, half the mystery of Psych lies in Shawn Spencer's (James Roday) ability to fool those around him into believing he's psychic. With highly honed observation skills, Spencer is able to identify clues that leave the police baffled, solving cases with panache and a comedic touch.
Reacher (2022– )
Reacher is another one of Amazon's series that takes notes from a series of popular dad-core thriller books, Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Although the show in many ways feels designed for fans of the source material—particularly in its attention to detail and the way that the titular character is as large of a man as he's described to be—it's also a good ole fashioned convoluted mystery that any fan of procedurals can get behind. About a retired U.S. Army police officer who wanders the country, Season 1 finds him in Georgia where he is arrested for a murder he didn't commit and only to find out his brother was the one who was killed, meaning things get personal and he's suddenly tag-teaming the case with the local authorities. While the plot may be needlessly complicated, this is a show that's less about understanding all the twists (just go with it) and more about marveling at what a big boy Reacher is and what his strength can allow him to do. If you're so inclined, allow yourself to be smothered by Reacher's beefy embrace.
Red Oaks (2015–2017)
The '80s teen sex comedy of your dreams. Director David Gordon Green takes us to the country club where one college student spends his summer as a tennis instructor. Think of it as John Hughes meets Richard Linklater.
The Romanoffs (2018)
Matthew Weiner's much anticipated follow-up to his near-perfect Mad Men wasn't the frothy, fun exploration into why so many royal pretenders are running around that we expected. It's partly that, but it's more a darkly mean study of the worst kind of people, the kind who lie and manipulate in their desperation to give their dull existences some impressive, esoteric meaning. The anthology series isn’t for everyone, and it's made more than a few missteps in attempting to tackle timely issues (e.g., one episode revolving around false harassment accusations left more than a few viewers with a sour taste in their mouths), but if you're ever in the mood to watch some stylish, horrible rich people make utter fools of themselves on jury duty, on the sets of bad TV shows, and onboard a ridiculously ostentatious Russian Empire-themed cruise, this one's for you.
If you ever have to check into Sacred Heart Hospital, at least you know you'll get a laugh out of the experience. Whether in the form of its slapstick humor, one of J.D.'s goofy daydreams, or his ridiculous antics with Turk, the comedy about a class of medical interns led by Zach Braff and Donald Faison refuses to let up on the zaniness. Don't be fooled: It's way more outrageous and watchable than a comedic E.R.
Sneaky Pete (2015–2019)
Perhaps the name turned you off. Maybe it was the idea of spending hours watching "that guy" actor Giovanni Ribisi play the titular conman. We get that. But Sneaky Pete's subtle charms materialize if you view it as a companion piece to Justified (Graham Yost serves as showrunner and Margo Martindale plays the wise matriarch of a rural bail-bonds business) and Breaking Bad (Bryan Cranston serves as executive producer and recurs as a Heisenberg-y gangster).
Tales from the Loop (2020– )
Amazon's Tales from the Loop is a series drawn from of the work of Swedish visual artist Simon Stålenhag. That might seem like a pretentious topic for a show, but Stålenhag made a name for himself by painting primarily imaginative, abandoned robots, so this sci-fi series is actually opportune for some intriguing, artful TV. Each episode tells a story about a resident in a Midwestern town that interacts with the so-called "Loop" that's a facility that supposedly makes fantastical things come true. Tales from the Loop does exactly that—make the impossible possible with its various storylines and gorgeous cinematography—while covering the most human of topics, meaning this loose adaptation is able to create a beautiful, affecting series.
Teen Wolf (2011–2017)
Once MTV moved away from its heavy reality TV programming of the '00s, the network was churning out some pretty great scripted teen series in the 2010s. Teen Wolf was one of those, arriving in the midst of the Twilight craze with its own cool, moody take on rebooting the concept of the 1985 movie of the same name. As you might expect, there are plenty more supernatural entities looming around this teen wolf's town than in Michael J. Fox's, making it typical teen fantasy TV fair. What the show has that similar series don't, though, is a cast of incredible performers like Tyler Posey and the excellent Dylan O'Brien, who don't need a full moon to hypnotize you into pressing play on episode after episode.
The Tick (2016–2019)
When fans heard Ben Edlund's satirical big blue bug of justice was getting the Amazon treatment, many wondered: would anyone really be able to adequately replace original live-action star Patrick Warburton? Would this reboot be able to cut through all the other streaming superhero bullshit? The good news: yes. Peter Serafinowicz nails the bold airheadedness of the The Tick, helping Arthur (Griffin Newman)—the real star, a poor, broken, obsessive man—to tap into his potential and uncover a villainous conspiracy. Their story, more importantly, comes packed with legit emotion, action, and tons of weird fun. ("When destiny speaks, she speaks to me. She says, "Hi," by the way!") Watching this thing is like rediscovering your love of an old toy—one that yells, SPOOOOOOOOON!!!! with an exhilarating sense of reckless abandon.
Too Old to Die Young (2019)
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) and Ed Brubaker wrote every provocative, weird and gory episode of this Prime original limited series (Halley Gross joined them for the final two episodes), with director Refn shooting it all in his signature colorful and deliberately unhurried style. Some might argue that Refn cares more about style than substance, and it's fair to say that the plot is less compelling than its visuals. But Too Old to Die Young is like Only God Forgives, Breaking Bad and Twin Peaks: The Return put into a blender, with surprisingly awesome supporting performances by William Baldwin as a super-wealthy, super-creepy dad and by Die Hard scene-stealer Hart Bochner as a MAGA-inspired police chief, plus a compelling turn by Jena Malone as a conspiring spiritual healer. It also has a Drive-esque car chase, which should be reason enough to check it out.
When Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) comes out as trans to her family, it sets off an intense reaction among her ex-wife and their self-centered children. Creator Jill Soloway has a trans parent of her own, so it's no surprise that the series does a masterful job of balancing the tense family dynamics and nuanced identity politics with some much-needed comic relief.
Ugly Betty (2006–2010)
America Ferrera broke out as the eponymous fashion-loving and braces-wearing Betty in this beloved sitcom. It's a coming-of-age, fish-out-of-water story as Betty, who lives in a loving, humble home with her family in Queens, gets a job at a glossy fashion magazine and starts changing its snobby cutthroat culture from the inside. It's incisive in its class consciousness and cutting down the unrealistic standards in the fashion and beauty industry, championing body positivity and self-love.
The Underground Railroad (2021)
The Underground Railroad, Barry Jenkins' extraordinary adaptation of Colson Whitehead's book, is a landmark of this era of television. The series starts in Georgia where Cora Randall (the stunning Thuso Mbedu) is enslaved. When she escapes with her lover Caesar (Aaron Pierre), they are introduced to Whitehead's central conceit: That the Underground Railroad was actually a system of locomotives. Jenkins captures the unnerving magical realism of Whitehead's idea—helped by another fantastic score by Nicholas Britell—all while never losing the weight of the terrible history he is representing. The show unfolds slowly, but confronts its audience as its characters, in Jenkins' now classic closeups, stare directly into the camera.
Undone (2019– )
It's rare to see Rotoscope animation outside of a handful of Richard Linklater movies, and Amazon's Undone is the first episodic TV series to utilize the surreal and trippy technique. It's more than a technological feat, though; the Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg-created series also tells a wildly compelling, funny, and heartbreaking mystery-box, reality-questioning story. After a horrible car accident puts Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) into a coma, she wakes with the ability to communicate with her quantum physicist father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk), who says he was murdered because of his research into time travel. Alma's younger sister Becca (Angelique Cabral), mother Camila (Constance Marie), and boyfriend Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay) all think she's losing it while she secretly experiments with bending time and dimension under her dad's guidance. Each 20-something minute episode is stuffed with an emotional spectrum that's draining, but Undone is so good that it's hard to stop watching until the very end.
Upload (2020– )
With Upload, it's as if The Office and Parks and Recreation showrunner Greg Daniels put the best rom-com, sci-fi, social satire, and murder mystery elements into a blender knowing full well that the end result would be the thought-provoking and humorous series we have before us. The series posits a not-so-distant future where a technological breakthrough has made a variety of digital afterlife scenarios available to extend one's life for centuries—which may sound familiar in the age of Black Mirror—but no sci-fi take on the afterlife is as heartwarming, funny, and imaginative as Daniels'. Navigating the digital afterlife with Robbie Amell's Nathan, a tech entrepreneur who dies unexpectedly and falls for his living, customer service "angel" Nora (Andy Allo), it's an oddball journey but with heavenly results.
A Very English Scandal (2018)
This miniseries dramatizes a notorious event in British political history that's likely obscure to Yanks. Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, a Member of Parliament whose affair with a young man named Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw) in the early 1960s spirals into acrimony when Norman refuses to keep quiet about their relationship after they break up. Increasingly feeling that his career might be threatened by Norman's persistence, Jeremy eventually considers murder. It's a scenario that would seem outlandish if it hadn't actually taken place, but Grant's and Whishaw's performances make this three-episode drama must-see viewing. Grant, especially, seems to have hit a new level—the natural charm that allowed him to coast through so many rom-coms has curdled into something sinister.
Wayne is not your average teenage boy. Rather, he's a badass weirdo from Brockton, Massachusetts who seeks justice for anybody who's been wronged, even if that means bloodshed. The pitch black comedy is co-executive produced by the writers of Deadpool, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and follows the titular teen and his equally as unhinged girlfriend on their journey via motorbike down the East coast to Florida to retrieve his late father's stolen Trans Am. The show, which originally aired on YouTube Premium before the streaming service went defunct, got a very deserving second life on Amazon Prime—so there's no reason not to do yourself a favor and buckle up for this wild ride. The ultra-violence might come as a shock at first, but there's a lot more heart under this series' brooding exterior.
The Wilds (2020– )
Set on an island after a plane crash, full of backstory, and flash-forwards, The Wilds sure sounds a lot like Lost or Lord of the Flies. This teen show still manages to be pretty nervy and surprising, though, as plot mechanics slowly reveal what's really happening to the teenage girls at the story's center in this heightened dangerous scenario—they're all headed to Dawn of Eve, a sinister-sounding women's empowerment retreat, when their plane falls from the sky. The clever dialogue, the rumbling electro-score courtesy of Cliff Martinez, and the winningly vulnerable performances make this a worthy successor to many of the sharp, stylish teen shows of the WB's late '90s and early '00s heyday.
This Comedy Central workplace sitcom is like all of workplace sitcoms you know and love, and at the same time, not like them at all. The show from and starring friends and frequent collaborators Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, and Anders Holm is much more of the irreverent, stoner variety about three slacker roommates who work together as telemarketers. But don’t shy away from their outlandish brand of humor: It's not as bro-y as you'd think. In fact, just about everybody would find their misadventures through young adulthood are funny as hell.
You've probably seen gritty drug trade series before, but you haven't seen one with as wide of a scope and as full of intrigue as this one. Based on the best-selling book by Italian writer Robert Saviano—the author who penned Gomorrah, which upended the secrets of the Italian mafia—ZeroZeroZero explores the inner-workings of the cocaine trade and showcases the global communities and all the lives involved. Zeroing in on the Lynwood family who run an international shipping company that facilitates cocaine shipments between the Mexican cartel and the Italia mafia, the series manages to engrosses you in both a gripping family drama and high-stakes thriller that unfolds across the globe.