35 Best Shows on Amazon Prime – December 2018
Netflix is the king of streaming platforms, but you should never discount Amazon Prime’s own streaming service. Amazon’s library isn’t as large as Netflix’s or Hulu’s own selections, but there’s plenty of titles available on Amazon that you can only get through its Prime streaming service. From blockbuster movies to indie darlings, Amazon offers a good amount of content you won’t find elsewhere, including some shows from third-parties, Amazon originals, and most interestingly, a large backlog of classic HBO series.
If you’re looking to find good content on Prime, you’ve come to the right place. We scoured the platform to find the best shows Amazon has to offer, and well, we weren’t disappointed. There are a ton of great shows on Amazon Prime, and we’ve picked thirty of the best right here. In no particular order, let’s take a look at 35 of the best shows on Amazon Prime for December 2018.
In the third television series based on the popular indie comic from the 1980s, The Tick reboots the series as a more-serious show, while still making sure the comedy lands in every way. When Arthur (Griffin Newman, Blank Check with Griffin and David), a young man scarred by the death of his father at the hands of a supervillain called The Terror. Though The Terror has long been considered dead, Arthur still believes he lives on underground. When a blue-suited superhero named The Tick shows up in Arthur’s life, he’s forced into an unexpected life of crime-fighting as he begins working toward taking down The Terror once and for all. A twelve-episode first season is streaming, with a second season on the way for 2019.
After co-creating and co-writing Seinfeld throughout the 1990s, it only made sense for Larry David to get his own show on HBO not long after Seinfeld wrapped production. Curb Your Enthusiasm is certainly a different beast than Seinfeld, focusing more on both meta-humor and awkward humor, making the viewer feel as uncomfortable as possible while watching. Larry David plays Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld, who lives in Los Angeles (later moving to New York) and enjoys life as a semi-retired television producer. As you might imagine, David finds himself in trouble often, thus leading to some uncomfortable, awkward exchanges. The show doesn’t air regularly anymore, but often comes back. The first eight seasons are streaming; the ninth and most recent is available for purchase.
Jack Ryan is, perhaps, the most popular character created by late novelist Tom Clancy, and he’s become a mainstay in American pop culture. As a character, Ryan has been played by everyone from Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford to Ben Affleck and Chris Pine, and his newest actor comes along with his first television series. John Krasinski, best known as Jim on The Office, portrays Ryan in this newest adaption, which also doubles as one of the newest Amazon Originals. In the first season, CIA analyst Ryan is put into the field after he tracks a string of bank transfers connected to a rising Islamic terrorist. Though the first season just premiered, Jack Ryan was renewed for a second season back in April.
One of the most popular shows of the 2000s, House stars Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, a grouch of a medical doctor who has a limp from a car accident. Walking with a cane and in constant physical pain, he also happens to be a medical genius, able to see what others can’t when dealing patients. The trade off, of course, comes from his lack of bedside manners and, in many cases, his inability to empathize with the people around him. Loosely based on Sherlock Holmes, with House in the Holmes role and his friend Wilson in the Watson role, House is a medical mystery drama well worth binging. The show wasn’t perfect, especially in later seasons, but with eight seasons streaming on Prime, there’s plenty of House to watch.
Consistently praised as one of the best television dramas ever created, The Wire is must-watch television at its peak. Created by ex-police reporter David Simon, the show is set in Baltimore, with the show centered around the relationship between the city and law enforcement.. Baltimore has a long history of contentious police-citizen relationships, making The Wire a revealing and poignant show, even a decade after it went off the air. Each of its five seasons centers around a new theme, from illegal drug trade to education, and though the show mostly used unknown actors in its roles, stars like Dominic West, Idris Elba, Michael K. Williams, and even director Tom McCarthy can be found throughout the series.
The seventh chapter in the ever-evolving American Horror Story series is Cult, one of the strangest yet. Set during one of the most troubling times in our recent history—the 2016 election—and follows the city of Brookfield Heights, Michigan, an area left divided after Donald Trump’s election. Ally (Sarah Paulson) is distraught by the victory, with several of her phobias coming into play as a result. Meanwhile, Winter (Billie Lourd) deals with the loss while her manipulative brother Kai (Evan Peters) rejoices at the election results and decides to pursue political power as a result. As Ally deals with hallucinations, her paranoia surrounding her new neighbors, clown attacks, and much more begins to separate her and her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) and their son. The season was well-received overall, though the finale’s reception was rather mixed.
Another HBO series from the mid-2000s, Deadwood is another show that is constantly and consistently praised for its role in creating prestige television. Though cancelled after a short three-season run, Deadwood continues to have an impact today on both creators and fans of television. The series is set in the town of Deadwood, South Dakota, as the community grows throughout the years from a small camp to a full grown town in the 1870s. Known for its violence and profanity, Deadwood is a must-watch modern western. Justified fans who enjoyed seeing Timothy Olyphant as a sheriff will especially want to tune in for Deadwood, where he plays a similar role. Rumors of continuations and films have been around for years, and HBO finally announced this past summer that Deadwood is going back into production this fall for a spring 2019 release.
If you’re going to watch just one HBO classic series on Amazon Prime, make it this one. The Sopranos is the show that changed everything for television, paving the way for almost ever prestige television series we got next. Told over six seasons, The Sopranos tells the story of Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (played by the late, great James Gandolfini), and the struggles Tony faces as he balances his home life in New Jersey with his criminal organization. The story begins when Tony starts attending a weekly therapy session with a psychiatrist, working through his issues on a personal level while also trying to deal with family members, including his wife Carmela (Edie Falco), rival mobsters, and crime organizations.
Chuck was unique in its time for being one of the earliest examples of a show saved by its fanbase. Though critically successful and featuring a strong fan following, Chuck‘s ratings sagged in its second season, nearly leading to a cancellation before fans protested NBC to give the show the renewal. A later deal with Subway would help product placement to pay for the show, and in time, Chuck managed to hit the five season mark and some to a full conclusion. The action-comedy follows Chuck Bartowski, a nerdy guy who receives an encoded email from an ex-college friend which embeds the spy secrets of the United States into Chuck’s brain, thus turning him into the greatest spy in the country.
From Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) comes her latest series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Though Palladino’s previous shows were always focused a bit on Palladino’s love for 1950s culture, Mrs. Maisel (an Amazon Original series) actually takes place in the decade, following the rise of the (fictional) Mrs. Maisel from happy housewife to divorced stand-up comedian. When her husband leaves her for his secretary, Midge Maisel takes the stage in what becomes a flashy, raw performance, leading to the owner of the comedy club to take her under her wing, as the two begin working together to become an act. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is loosely based on the life of the late Joan Rivers and won five Emmys in its first season. The second season premiered on December 5th, with a third season renewal already a lock.
Netflix may be the home of the brand-new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series, but there’s only one place you can go to check out the original series that aired on ABC and the WB in the 1990s and 2000s, and that’s Amazon. While the new series from Netflix looks dark and scary, the original series was a safe sitcom, complete with a laugh track and some of the most high-profile magic-based adventures you could have at the time. The show follows Sabrina, a teenager who learns she comes from a line of witches dating back centuries. As she lives through high school and college, Sabrina learns to make due with her magic, trying to get through her life as normal as possible while also using magic to change the world around her.
One of the few modern HBO series streaming on Amazon Prime, Veep is a must-watch for any fan of political comedy. Julia-Louis Dreyfus (Seinfeld) stars as Selina Meyer, a fictional Vice President of the United States who attempts to make an impact in the US political sphere without getting suckered into the smaller fights that can weigh down Washington DC. The show, created by Armando Iannucci, is loosely based on the BBC series The Thick of It, and like Iannucci’s former work, has been critically-acclaimed. The show has been nominated and won a number of Oscars, and is generally considered one of the best comedies of the 2010s. Seasons one and two are streaming on Prime; the show has a seventh and final season coming to HBO in 2019.
If you’re in the mood for some classic British science-fiction, Doctor Who is the show for you. We’re taking a look at the newer reboot (which, of course, is also technically a continuation), the show that returned in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor before David Tennant took over in the second series. Since then, both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi have had their turns in the role, with ten series having aired since the start of the 2005 reboot. All ten series following the continuing adventures of the Doctor and his companions through space and time are available on Amazon Prime, giving you plenty to watch before catching up with the current eleventh season, which stars Jodie Whittaker as the newly-regenerated Doctor.
Created by Alan Yang (Master of None, Silicon Valley) and Matt Hubbard (30 Rock), Forever follows a married couple, Oscar (Fred Armisen) and June (Maya Rudolph), who live together in Riverside, California, enjoying life together. After twelve years, June begins to feel trapped in their life, asking Oscar to take a ski trip with her instead of their usual trip to a cabin on a lake. When he agrees, the two head to the ski trip together, only to be terrified by what happens next. The series’ twists have had critics imploring not to read too far into the show before you start watching it, while Rudolph has been praised for her performance in particular.
Speaking of science-fiction , The Expanse is one of the few remaining hard science-fiction series airing today that seems to have critical appraisal and a cult following. Based on the series of novels of the same name, The Expanse is set far into the future of humanity, following the colonization of the solar system and the rise of Mars as a planet of its own. When tensions between Earth and Mars begin to build to war, a rogue captain and a detective will have to work together to investigate a missing woman against the backdrop of galaxy-wide turmoil. However, when they learn of secrets that lead to a human-led conspiracy being true, they’ll need to race across the solar system to reveal their discovery. The Expanse aired for three seasons on SyFy before being cancelled; however, Amazon picked up the series for a fourth season as an Amazon Original, and the first two are currently available on Prime right now.
Timothy Olyphant rose to fame through his work on Deadwood, but he would later become better known for starring in a modern western. Justified is loosely based on “Fire in the Hole,” the short story from famed writer Elmore Leonard (the pilot of Justified also uses the name and the basic plot), and follows U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. In Justified, Givens is forced to be transferred from Miami back to Lexington, Kentucky. Assigned the case of a murdered white supremacist, Givens returns to his hometown of Harlan, where he is forced to reckon with people from his past, including criminal Boyd Crowder and Ava, a girl from Givens’ past who has a problematic history of her own.
The classic Nickelodeon series has its first four seasons available on Amazon Prime, and for many people, that might be for the best. The first three seasons of Spongebob Squarepants are largely praised by critics and viewers alike for its mixture of absurdist and kid-friendly humor, and after the success of those three seasons, a theatrical film was released. Though late creator Stephen Hillenburg wished to end the show after the film, considering it the ending to the series, Nickelodeon opted to continue the show without Hillenburg’s involvement (he eventually returned to the show until his death in 2018). Season four onward is missing a certain charm the original episodes had, focusing far more on entertainment for children than families. Still, the show continues to air on Nickelodeon in season 11, and you can check out some of the older episodes on Prime now streaming.
Flight of the Conchords is one of the quintessential HBO comedies of the 2000s, and though the production quality of some of the episodes can be a bit difficult to watch in 2018, it’s absolutely worth watching today. In Flight of the Conchords, viewers are introduced to Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie (playing themselves), who travel from New Zealand to New York in an effort to become successful musicians. The show ran for two seasons on HBO, before ending on the request of the musicians. The series was critically-acclaimed and nominated for ten Emmys during its two season run, inspiring two albums of the duo’s comedic songs. The show is coming back for a reunion special titled Flight of the Conchords: Live at the London Apollo. Premiering in October on HBO, the show will featuring original music. Until then, you can catch up with the Conchords on Amazon Prime.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has made a name for herself over the last several years in entertainment. She starred and created the Netflix-Channel 4 series Crashing, before creating and starring in Fleabag for the BBC and Amazon Prime. Adopted from the one-woman play Waller-Bridge performed in Edinburgh, Fleabag follows the titular character (played by Waller-Bridge), as she attempts to navigate modern life in London. The series is returning in 2019 for an “all-new” take on the idea, according to Waller-Bridge, who also recently wrote the popular BBC series Killing Eve. Until then, you can catch up with the first season streaming on Prime right now.
An NBC series that, frankly, never seemed to fit well with the rest of the output from the network, Hannibal is a retelling of the story originally told in the novels by Thomas Harris. The series focuses on the relationship between FBI special investigator Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played here, respectively, by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen). The two initially begin working together, before it becomes obvious that their fate is far more complicated than it seems. The series lasted for three seasons before being cancelled by NBC for its low ratings, but was critically acclaimed during its run, even now continuing to be praised by fans and newcomers alike. All three seasons are currently streaming on Prime. For years, rumors surrounding a revival have continued; however, beyond official confirmation of conversations surrounding reviving the series in August of 2017, no official word has come yet.
There are so many reasons to watch Orphan Black, from the science-fiction genre at work here to the fascinating and twisty plot told over five seasons. If anything, however, Orphan Black is worth watching for seeing Tatiana Maslany quickly show herself as one of the greatest actors working on television today. When Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) is a witness to a woman who looks identical to herself walking in front of a train, she sees an opportunity: the deceased’s bank account. She quickly realizes she’s over her head when multiple other women (also played by Maslany), from a soccer mom to a Russian operative.
In Pushing Daisies, the cult classic series that aired on ABC in 2007 for two seasons, viewers are introduced to Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker who has been gifted with the ability to reanimate the dead just by touching them. Of course, there are plenty of rules that go along with this, making the world a bit of a fairy tale nightmare for Ned. As a child, his mother is brought back to life when she dies of an aneurysm, but because she was alive for more than a minute, something nearby must also die, killing the father of his neighbor and childhood sweetheart, Charlotte. The second rule is similarly difficult: the revived person cannot be touched by Ned again, or else they’ll die permanently, as his mother does that night when kissing him goodnight. When Charlotte (who goes by Chuck) is murdered many years later, Ned revives her and they fall in love once again. There’s only one problem: they can never, ever touch, or she’ll be permanently put to rest. The series, created by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) ran for two seasons before being cancelled; it’s still celebrated and loved today.
One of the few CBS dramas to pick up both awards attention and critical praise, The Good Wife is a legal political drama that follows Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), the wife of politician Peter Florrick whose very public sex and corruption scandal ends with him stuck in prison. When she resumes her former career as a defense attorney in order to protect and support her family, she must begin taking her career and her own life into her hands. Unlike most shows on CBS, The Good Wife is not a procedural, which means you’ll want to watch this all in order. The show ran for seven seasons, and the entire series is currently streaming on Prime.
While Timothy Olyphant managed to get his big break on HBO before moving over to a cable channel, another famous actor got his break on the same premium cable channel, only to stick with premium cable for years to come. Six Feet Under stars Peter Krause as Nate Fisher, who must run the Fisher and Sons Funeral Home with his brother David (Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall, and one of the breakout actors of the show) after his father dies. The show is simultaneously a drama about the family members dealing with their own relationships and religion as they work surrounded by death, as well as a show that explores the ideas behind death on all levels. Each death affects the members of the family differently, which leads to the characters using dark humor to cope with the world they live in. The show ran for five seasons and is often considered one of the best HBO series of the 2000s; all five seasons are streaming.
Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, Band of Brothers came hot on the heels of Saving Private Ryan, and it’s obvious that the 1998 film helped this miniseries get made. Following the “Easy Company,” a crew of men assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, Band of Brothers begins with training in Georgia before following the unit’s men through the airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and the final conclusion of World War II. The series cast is huge, but Band of Brothers makes it work by focusing on one major character per episode. The cast includes Damien Lewis, Ron Livingston, Donnie Wahlberg, Scott Grimes, Neal McDonough, David Schwimmer, and Colin Hanks.
Created by Sam Esmail in one of the most single-unique visions on television today, Mr. Robot follows Elliot Alderson, a young man living in New York who struggles with numerous mental disorders, including social anxiety, dissociative identity, and clinical depression. Constantly in a state of paranoia and delusion, Elliot works at Allsafe, a cyber security company, as a security engineer. At night, Elliot works as a vigilante online, often hacking into people’s personal accounts to figure out who they are. When he’s recruited by an anarchist known only as Mr. Robot, he joins the mission to, among other things, destroy all consumer debt. The series has been praised for its technical knowhow and for its visual style, along with its themes of living in the 21st century and dealing with the pressures of the outside world. Seasons one through three are now streaming.
Created by Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under) and partially based on her own life experiences, Transparent follows the Pfefferman family, who has to deal with the revelation that the patriarch of the family (played by Jeffrey Tambor) has come out as a trans woman. As both Maura’s ex-wife Shelly (Judith Light) and children Sarah, Josh, and Abby (Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffman, respectively) learn to adjust with their new discovery, the family will also manage to go through hard times and difficult struggles, leaning on both each other and their community in the process. The show has been critically-acclaimed over its four seasons, and a fifth and final season is on the way. Tambor, who played Maura, left the show in 2017 following sexual harassment claims. The show is confirmed to end with a feature-length, two-hour musical.
One of several romantic-comedy dramas that have aired over the last several years, Catastrophe is an Amazon Prime-exclusive show originally airing on Channel 4 in England. The show follows Sharon Morris, an Irish primary school teacher, and Rob Norris, an American advertising executive, who hook up while together in England, leading to Sharon being impregnated. Deciding to become a couple to raise the child, Sharon and Rob (played by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney) must work through the differences they hold with each other to properly care for their new child. Also co-starring the late Carrie Fisher, Ashley Jensen, and Mark Bonnar, the series has been acclaimed throughout its run. Three series are currently streaming, with a fourth on the way.
When David, a college student in the middle of the 1980s, begins working at a New Jersey country club during his summer vacation from school, his entire life grows more complicated. The show focuses on David’s life, including his interpersonal relationships with his mother and father, his friends, and his co-workers as he spends the summer working at the Red Oaks country club. Mostly focused on comedy, the series also has plenty of dramatic beats to keep your attention. With a pilot shot by David Gordon Green, the series spans over three seasons released exclusively to Amazon Prime, which means the entire show can be binged right now.
For many, there’s no network on television making shows as well as FX does. For more than a decade, FX has had a string of hit originals, ranging from comedies to dramas and action, covering everything in between. And while there’s no shortage of good television from this period, it never got better than The Americans, the 2013 drama series set during the Cold War-fueled 1980s. Spanning over six tension-filled seasons, the series follows two KGB officers who infiltrate the United States disguised as everyday Americans, nicknamed Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (played, excellently, by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys). Over six seasons, the series follows the two officers as they attempt to gather intel for Russia and work undercover in the United States, all while their neighbor (Noah Emmerich) works for the FBI.
There’s a lot to be said about Julia Roberts deciding to finally do a television-based project, something she’s never really focused on in her extensive library of films over the last several decades. So when it became public news that Julia Roberts, of all people, had decided to star in a new Amazon Original series based on a scripted podcast from Gimlet Media (which originally featured David Schwimmer, Oscar Isaac, and Catherine Keener, in the role now played by Julia Roberts). The series follows a woman named Heidi Bergman who works as a caseworker at Homecoming, a facility helping soldiers transition to home life. After she’s started a new life and left the department, a Dept. of Defense auditor questions her on why she left the facility. The entire series was directed by Sam Esmail, the creator and showrunner behind Mr. Robot.
The first series from creator Matthew Weiner since the end of Mad Men, The Romanoffs is a strange beast. As an anthology series, each episode takes place in a different part of the globe, all centered around a group of people who, despite not knowing each other, claim to be descendents of the Romanov family in Russia. Each episode takes place in a new location, spread throughout three different continents, with an entire new cast, including actors like Aaron Eckhart, Corey Stoll, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery (both from Mad Men), Paul Reiser, Kathryn Hahn, and many more, this is a show you simply must check out.
Based on the novel of the same name, Sex and the City is HBO’s prestige romantic-comedy series that follows four women living in New York City. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, and Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes, the series follows the women as they grew into middle age while dealing with their love lives. Tackling concepts and issues like sexuality and femininity, the series based most of its episodes around the idea of friendship and relationships while also confronting concepts from very different perspectives. Running for six seasons, the show also had two spin-off movies and a prequel series on the CW that followed a teenaged Carrie when she arrives in New York.