Amazon Prime is taking the fight to Netflix in a big way by investing massively in its on-demand TV and movie portfolio. That means viewers get an amazing selection of top quality watching for not a lot of cash. If you’re a Prime member, read on to find out about the best shows on Amazon Prime this spring!
In no particular order:
1. Alpha House
Political satire is a bit hit and miss, but Alpha House is definitely a hit. Starring John Goodman as a senator and a good supporting cast as his housemates, this is a comedic look at how people behave if left alone too long.
2. The Americans
The Americans features two KGB agents trying to pass as Americans during the Reagan era. It is silly at times but more often tense, compelling watching, showing some of humanity’s highlights and lowlights unflinchingly.
3. Twin Peaks
We’re talking about the original here: the oddball paranormal mystery that had everyone in 1990 asking, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” and also, “What the heck is going on?” What starts out as a murder investigation spirals out to involve the mysteries of all the bizarre inhabitants of the surreal town of Twin Peaks. The owls are not what they seem.
Does anyone make old-fashioned legal thrillers anymore? Now Amazon does. This is a straight-ahead drama about a world-weary lawyer (Billy Bob Thornton) doing whatever it takes to bring the bad guy (William Hurt) to justice. If you’re tired of “bringing the bad guy to justice” referring to tights and lasers instead of suits and briefcases, Goliath is a top-notch throwback to scratch your itch.
This British sci-fi show explores what happens in a near future where intelligent, humanlike androids become commonplace. It’s a bit of a thriller and a bit of a political drama as everyone deals with the issues the “synths” create–economic, civil rights, and personal questions. The first season of this show but the second season is where it becomes brilliant.
Bosch is a detective out of Michael Connelly’s novels, played by Titus Welliver. It’s not quite the usual procedural nonsense we have to contend with in cop shows. This is thoughtful and well put together, by one of the brains behind The Wire. Enough said.
7. Batman: the Animated Series
If you grew up in the 90s, this show might have shaped your image of Batman more than any movie. These animated adventures hold up surprisingly well: they’re dark, thoughtful, and contain some of the best embodiments of the characters. Kevin Conroy lends Batman his signature growl and Mark Hamill (yes, that one–Luke Skywalker) voices the Joker with manic menace.
8. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Seinfeld co-creator Larry David starred in his own brilliant “show about nothing” for eight seasons. Like comedian Jerry Seinfeld playing a comedian named Jerry Seinfeld in his show, David plays a TV writer named Larry David in this one–it’s real life, but with the absurdity turned all the way up.
9. The Man In The High Castle
The Man In The High Castle is another Amazon Prime original, and hopefully one that will go far. Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, it asks what the world would be like had the Nazis and Japan had won World War 2. A grim reality check showing just how lucky we are right now.
While the era of the sitcom may be over, a good one still occasionally comes along. Right now Catastrophe is that one. Cutting humor, deep characters, and some brilliant writing and acting make this a show with real promise.
11. Hand of God
Hand of God isn’t one of the many shows that try to make lawyers look good. This is a gritty show that tackles some hard issues. Fortunately, Ron Perlman is more than up to carrying the story as a biker turned judge turned vigilante.
12. Mad Dogs
Mad Dogs is funny, poignant, well cast, and quite amusing, despite arguably being a dumbed-down version of the original UK show.
13. Mr. Robot
If you haven’t seen Mr. Robot yet, you really should. It’s a counter-cultural series that follows hacker Rami Malek as he takes on the appropriately named Evil Corporation. It’s current, topical, and tackles exactly the kinds of things this culture face all the time.
Inspired by the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, Vikings is a bloody drama filled with epic battles, brutal politics, and historically-dubious adventure. The writing and action are both gripping.
Transparent is strong. Its great writing and great acting won it a prize for Best TV Show. It tackles transgenderism, but in a way that manages not to alienate viewers. It is bittersweet, amusing, sensitive, and clever.
16. Sons of Anarchy
Crime dramas come in every flavor, and for seven seasons ending in 2014, the hot flavor was motorcycle gangs. This show stands out because it’s smart, brutal, and packed with excellent actors. The show’s close parallels to the works of Shakespeare, especially Hamlet, add another layer of depth for viewers to watch out for.
17. Doctor Who
This goofy, ambitious sci-fi show follows the time-and-space-travelling “Doctor” as he protects Earth and the Universe from all sorts of weird threats. One of many twists is that, instead of dying, the Doctor regenerates a new body with a new personality, and is played by a new actor. Different seasons can be very different shows as a result. Christopher Eccleston introduces the character in Season 1; David Tennant makes it his own in Seasons 2, 3, and 4; Matt Smith plays the role in Seasons 5, 6, and 7; and Peter Capaldi has headed the show in Seasons 8 and 9.
18. Sneaky Pete
This Amazon original is a deft blend of comedy, drama, and crime. The story follows a con man impersonating the titular “Pete,” who ends up running Pete’s bail bond business, living with Pete’s grandparents, and dealing with all sorts of twists.
Pop culture continues its morbid fascination with Hannibal Lecter, the charming cannibal who Anthony Hopkins brought to life in The Silence of the Lambs. In Hannibal, Mads Mikkelsen gets his chance at the role. By all accounts, this is a beautiful, macabre slow-burn of a series–a must-see, if you have the, er, stomach for it.
20. The Sopranos
This is the show that revolutionized prestige TV and re-invented the “anti-hero” way back in 1999. Yet a lot of people never got to see it because, until very recently, HBO wouldn’t license any of its shows to streaming services. The result? A decade of TV watchers who only knew Tony Soprano and company by reputation. If you missed The Sopranos before, now is your chance to remedy that!
If you need more costume dramas in your life, Poldark could supply your next fix for sweeping English vistas and brooding men in frock coats. The ongoing series stars Aiden Turner (previously known for playing “the hot one” in the Hobbit movie trilogy) as Ross Poldark, a soldier who returns from the American Revolution and now has to fight to rebuild his family’s fortunes.
22. Bleak House
This mini-series adapts Charles Dickens’ twisty novel about contested wills, lost love, kindhearted orphans, and dark secrets. The central role of Lady Deadlock is played by Gillian Anderson, who’s best known for The X-Files but is getting long-deserved attention for her performances in The Fall and American Gods.
23. Orphan Black
This series takes a crazy sci-fi premise, combines it with a ridiculously talented lead actress (Tatiana Maslany), and creates one of the greatest cult hits on TV right now.
It’s been said that all American politicians imagine themselves as the stars on either House of Cards or The West Wing–but they’re mostly more like extras on Veep. This wacky, biting satire of Washington D.C. stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus–making her the first Seinfeld alum to break the “Seinfeld curse” and star in a successful comedy of her own.
25. Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter
This series adapts the popular children’s novel by Astrid Lindgren, with animation from the famed Studio Ghibli. Although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Princess Mononoke and other Ghibli films, it’s beautiful and full of heart.
26. The Expanse
It’s a classic hardboiled detective setup: the hero sets out to track down a missing heiress and ends up uncovering a massive conspiracy. The twist? It’s the 23rd Century, and unraveling this mystery will take our sleuth across the solar system.
A grad student realizes there’s an asteroid on a course to collide with Earth in six months, so he teams up with a tech billionaire to find a way to save the world. The human race, naturally, reacts to the news that they might all be about to die with scheming and backstabbing that make for an engaging ride.
This is a smart kids’ show about smart kids. Anne is a pre-teen girl with a talent for building robots. She and her robot and human friends all learn about science and technology through her adventures.
High-powered lawyer Harvey Specter has just hired a brilliant new associate, Mike Ross. The only problem? Ross isn’t really a lawyer. But that will only end both of their careers if anyone else finds out.
30. The Tick
Marvel may be filling Netflix with dour stories of the worlds angstiest heroes, but Amazon Prime has The Tick! The Tick is a dimwitted, permanently cheerful, bulletproof do-gooder out to clean up the city with with nebbish sidekick Arthur. It’s a short binge, but The Tick may be the antidote to an overdose dark-and-gritty heroics.