35 Best Shows on Amazon Prime [January 2020]
Netflix might be the undisputed 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 January 2020.
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. Two seasons are currently streaming, with most reviewers calling the second season even better than the first. Unfortunately, Amazon cancelled the show after its second season, but it’s still one of the best originals from Amazon to date.
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. The first two seasons are already streaming, with a third season already ordered by Amazon.
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. Though Cult is season seven, the rest of the first eight seasons are also streaming.
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. The series was finally wrapped up in a feature-length film that premiered on HBO earlier this year.
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. A prequel feature film, The Many Saints on Newark, written by David Chase and directed by Alan Taylor, will arrive in theaters in September 2020.
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. Two seasons are streaming, with the third set to arrive on December 6th.
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 recently wrapped its run on HBO with the seventh and final season.
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 all four seasons are now streaming.
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 duo returned in 2018 for a reunion special on HBO, Flight of the Conchords: Live at the London Apollo, which featured original music.
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 her life in London after the loss of her best friend. Though the first season saw positive reviews from critics, it was the second season of Fleabag that truly shot the show into the stratosphere of public consciousness. In addition to expanding the fanbase of the show, the second season led to Phoebe Waller-Bridge winning two Emmys for writing and acting, as well as the show winning Outstanding Comedy Series, one of the two big awards of the night. Waller-Bridge has confirmed the show has concluded its run, but she did ink a deal with Amazon Prime for new shows in the future.
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.
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.
Idris Elba stars as DCI John Luther, the tormented cop who returns to duty from a mental-health leave to come face to face with a psychotic serial killer, chillingly portrayed by Ruth Wilson. Dark and well-written, this show is propelled from good to great by Elba’s captivating performance. Inspired by both Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, any fan of murder mysteries will find something to love with Luther. Four series are available for streaming currently, with four one hour episodes in each series. Seasons one through four are streaming on Amazon Prime, and season five is available for purchase.
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.
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. All four seasons are now streaming on Prime; the fourth and final season was praised by critics.
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.
One of Amazon’s hottest new series for 2019 is the long-awaited adaptation of the classic 1990 book, Good Omens. Created and written by Neil Gaiman, who wrote the original book with late co-author Terry Pratchet, Good Omens is a miniseries that follows a demon and an angel who work together in order to prevent the apocalpyse. Set mostly in 2018 with glimpses of the entirety of human history, the show gets by on the strength of its main characters, the demon Crowley (David Tennant, Doctor Who, Jessica Jones) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon, Masters of Sex), who attempt to prevent the Antichrist, an eleven-year-old boy, from gaining his powers. Featuring an all-star supporting cast including Jon Hamm as the angel Gabriel, Michael McKean as Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell, and Frances McDormand as the voice of God, Good Omens is not to be missed.
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.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Undone—the first original animated series to premiere on Amazon—was created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the mastermind behind Bojack Horseman on Netflix. With a completely new animation style and a much more serious tone, Undone is one of 2019’s best shows, and perhaps the best work of animation we’ve seen in years. Undone follows Alma, a young woman who is trying to explore adulthood while navigating issues with her mother and sister. After getting into a near fatal car accident, Alma begins to see visions of her father, and begins to dive through time in order to find out the truth about her father’s death. Undone uses rotoscoping, an animation technique that involves filming the actors in each scene before drawing over the visuals frame by frame, to create a gorgeous new reality.
Tina Fey was one of the most popular writers and performers on Saturday Night Live of the 2000s, so it makes perfect sense that she used her experience as the first female head writer of the show to create 30 Rock. The show follows Liz Lemon, the head writer for a sketch-comedy show in New York City. When Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) becomes president of NBC, Liz is forced to hire a popular unstable movie star, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) as part of the cast, the entire show is thrown into chaos. Over seven seasons, 30 Rock follows the lives of Liz and her co-workers as they attempt to keep the show on the rails, all while dealing with personal and professional setbacks and road blocks.