Netflix isn’t the only player in town when it comes to streaming video and binge-worthy shows – Amazon Prime Video is another must-have for fans of great television.
18 of the best Netflix series worth watching on Netflix.
Like Netflix, Amazon’s streaming service is building a reputation for great original content, with shows like Transparent racking up numerous awards. Amazon also gives viewers a say in what gets made, with an annual pilot season offering prospective new shows, the most popular going on to full series orders.
Prime Video is also rapidly becoming a go-to platform for the best US TV, with the likes of Preacher and Into the Badlands broadcast on the service within hours of their American airings. With a new episode each week, it’s a more traditional way of watching television, but the fastest way to see hot shows.
WIRED has combed through what’s new on Amazon Prime UK to pick out the best shows on the service, in categories from drama to sci-fi, sports to anime, along with the most promising shows on the horizon.
Read WIRED’s choice of the best films on Netflix UK
Tapping into the Southern Gothic sub-genre, this follows small town preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), who finds himself gifted with the literal word of God after accidentally merging with a celestial being known as ‘Genesis’. Joined by ex-girlfriend and current assassin Tulip (Ruth Negga) and his vampiric best mate Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), Jesse is now on a hunt to find God Himself – who has abandoned his throne in heaven.
The first season of this comic book adaptation deviated wildly from its near-blasphemous inspiration, yet retained the hallmarks of over-the-top violence and black comedy wrapped in surprisingly deep theological questions. The second season looks to be sticking even closer to the source material, exploring Jesse’s troubled background and with the core cast pursued by the fearsome Saint of Killers. New episodes are added to Amazon Prime each Tuesday.
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel exploring the gods of the modern age, this contemporary fantasy follows Shadow Moon, a man with a dark past, who is saved from released from prison in the wake of his wife’s suspicious death. With his life torn apart, he finds work with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, and is drawn into a journey across America to recruit the gods of old for a coming battle against a new pantheon. With a cast boasting the likes of Deadwood’s Ian McShane and The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson, and a willingness to not pull its punches when it comes to shocking content, this has been a massive hit. With the first season in the can and a second already confirmed, this is the perfect time to marathon one of the best new shows of 2017.
Into the Badlands
If you’re looking for the best martial arts on television, look no further than this. Now in its second season, Into the Badlandsfollows the post-apocalyptic trials of Sunny (Daniel Wu), a brutally effective warrior known as a ‘Clipper’, enforcing the will of one of the feudal barons that now rule the remains of America. Think Mad Max meets House of Flying Daggers, as Sunny struggles to uphold his personal code of honour in a dangerous world. Season one is available now, with season two episodes added weekly.
The Devil has abandoned the throne of Hell – and now fills his time running a piano bar in Los Angeles while finding himself curiously drawn to a police detective. Despite being an almost gross deviation from the comic book source material (which explored themes of faith, obligation, and self-determination while painting God as existence’s greatest villain – something that wouldn’t fly on American television, where it airs on Fox) strong performances and engaging chemistry from cast-members Tom Ellis, Lauren German, D. B. Woodside, and Lesley-Ann Brandt make this hellishly entertaining. With the second season ending on something of a cliffhanger – ahead of its return in October – now is the perfect time for a date with the Devil.
Man in the High Castle
Given world politics currently, this alternate history series set in an America where the Nazis won World War II is potentially uncomfortable material – which is also why it’s absolutely required viewing right now. Based on Philip K. Dick’s seminal novel and produced by Ridley Scott, this is a scorching look at a truly dark timeline. The hit series has just been greenlit for a third season too, set to premiere later in 2017.
The Last Tycoon
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last, unfinished novel – itself inspired by the life of film mogul Irving Thalberg – this charts the fractious relationship between Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer) and Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) as they battle for the soul and direction of their movie studio in 1930s Hollywood. With the downturn of the Great Depression and the spectre of World War II on the though, silver screen glamour may end up the last thing on their minds. All nine episodes of this tense series are available now.
Z: The Beginning of Everything
Amazon has already mined the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald, with this 1920s-set drama. However, rather than being based on any of Fitzgerald’s novels, this sees Christina Ricci as Zelda Sayre – a real-life socialite in the age of speakeasies and the birth of jazz, who would go on to marry and deeply inspire the author. Based on the real Zelda’s life, the ten-episode first season is also available now.
Hand of God
An Amazon Original now in its second series, this sees genre film stalwart Ron Perlman as Pernell Harris, a corrupt judge performing brutal acts of vigilante justice. He claims to be driven by orders from the divine – but his Old Testament brand of retribution may stem purely from his own madness. A grim tale of violence and obsession.
Like Man in the High Castle, this period series about Russian agents working undercover in the USA during the Reagan administration may hit uncomfortably close to the bone these days. Yet the pressures of KGB operatives Philip and Elizabeth to blend in while protecting their unsuspecting children from their real lives makes gripping viewing. With three full seasons on Prime now, and season four joining it May 1, there’s plenty of kompromatto uncover, comrade.
Another award winner, thriller Mr Robot just keeps getting better. Rami Malek’s turn as Elliot Alderson, an isolationist cyber-security expert turned vigilante hacktivist, provides a vulnerable face to a subject that’s largely impenetrable to many viewers, while the corrupt organisations and faceless corporations his hacker collective targets make for relevant contemporary villains. Not just one of the most accurate hacking shows ever, but an exceptional television series in all senses.
An Amazon Original, Sneaky Pete is about new starts – by any means necessary. Released from prison, former convict Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) takes on the identity of his cellmate, Pete, and tries to slip into another man’s life. On the one hand, he gets a chance at gaining something he’s never had before – a loving family. On the other, he’s being hunted by brutal criminal Vince Lonigan (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, also the show’s co-creator). The first full season is available now.
Created by Jill Soloway, this touching dramedy is arguably Amazon’s biggest hit. Three seasons in and the story of Maura (Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor) and her decision to transition late-in-life after living for decades as a man has won countless plaudits. A sensitive but more importantly genuinely funny and entertaining exploration of a complex and all too human scenario, season four debuts on Amazon Prime on September 22.
Please Like Me
It’s likely you’ve not heard of Australian comedian Josh Thomas, and so even less likely you’ve heard of this hit sitcom. That’s something you should correct immediately, as this is the sharpest comedy in years. Dealing with everything from mental health, abortion, and coming out to awkward dates, loser friends, and messy threesomes, Please Like Me has a bitter edge to its humour but you won’t be able to stop watching. With all four seasons now available, and series Thomas recently confirming that season four ends the series, there’s never been a better time to marathon this quirky, charming, and oh-so-human comedy.
Mozart in the Jungle
A comedy-drama documenting the strange world of professional orchestra musicians in New York, Mozart in the Jungle is a strange beast but thanks to a strong creative team – including Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers and Paul Weitz – and real-world source material in the form of professional oboist Blair Tindall’s memoir Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, it’s a compelling and frequently hilarious show. Now standing at three seasons, the series has picked up Golden Globes and Emmy awards, and proven itself one of Amazon’s best exclusives.
I Love Dick
Chris Kraus’ novel – telling a fictionalised version of the author’s tumultous relationship and psycho-sexual obsession with the eponymous Dick – is a heralded piece of modern literature. Following the pilot episode, it’s now one of Amazon’s latest originals, a dark comedy with the full first season available now. The show is Transparent creator Jill Soloway’s second pick-up from the streaming service, and features Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon as Chris and Dick.
This Amazon Original sees the studio getting a bit meta. Framed as a “lost” Romanian cop show from 1983 that “promoted Communist ideals and inspired a deep nationalism”, this action-comedy has the eastern European actors dubbed over – deliberately awfully – by the likes of Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman. Combining retro crime-stopping stunts with a cultural mis-match, this is Amazon’s newest and strangest comedy.
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
Amazon Prime’s selection of exclusively-streamed anime content continues to grow, and this is one of the better shows in recent years. That’s all the more surprising, when it’s (extremely loosely) based on a smartphone game. Virgin Soul is actually the second season, but thanks to a ten-year timeskip, newcomers will be able to jump right into this fantasy world. The series follows bounty hunter Nina Drango, who has the unfortunate tendency to turn into a dragon at the most inopportune moments, as she is drawn into a battle between humans and demons. In a twist to usual genre fare though, here humanity has subjugated the entire demon world, with Nina torn as to where her loyalties lie. High budget with gorgeous animation, director Keiichi Sato weaves a compelling drama while cramming episodes with homages to classic western action movies.
Another hot new anime show, Re:Creators blurs the line between fantasy and reality, and gets pretty meta as it does so. The series kicks of with high school student Sota Mizushino being pulled into the world of his favourite anime series – a fairly standard anime trope. Director Ei Aoki and writer Rei Hiroe subvert expectations though, as when Sota returns to the real world, so does the fictional warrior-princess character Selesia Uptiria. From there, the boundaries collapse, with numerous characters from video games, manga, and anime appearing in ‘our’ world, drawn to meet their own creators on this plane. A beautifully animated and surprisingly complex series, fusing countless genres of fiction while exploring the question of what happens when you meet your (very literal) maker.
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter
The first television series from legendary anime house Studio Ghibli, Ronja adapts the beloved children’s fantasy novels of Astrid Lindgren. Visually, it’s a wonder, mimicking Ghibli’s 2D finest with beautifully cel-shaded CGI, while the English dub features talent including Rufus Hound, Morwenna Banks, and The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson. Anime purists will be disappointed Amazon hasn’t provided the original Japanese audio, but this is still a masterful animated series well worth your time.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
In an alternate history, the industrial revolution has lead to humanity itself being on the rails, with the emergence of undead ghouls known as Kabane, an an entire village worth of desparate people crammed on a literal train to nowhere as the ravenous horde consistently attack. These zombie-like creatures infect with the slightest scratch and can only be killed with an iron spike through the heart – which is bad news for young inventor Ikoma, who’s just been bitten. Luckily, he stems the infection before it reaches his brain, giving him some of the Kabane’s physical attributes while retaining his faculties. But can he stem the tide of monsters before the increasingly terrified humans turn on him? A thrilling steampunk horror, this is one of the best anime shows in recent years.
Welcome to the Ballroom
One of Amazon’s first-ever simulcasts – anime shows debuting internationally as they air in Japan – also delivers something completely different for many western anime fans: a series focused on competitive ballroom dancing. Tatara Fujita is a decidedly average middle school student, who can’t settle on anything he wants to do with his life – until he stumbles into the dance studio of the eccentric Kaname Sengoku. A former world champion ballroom dancer, Sengoku’s skill inspires Tatara to devote himself to the unlikely sport, sparking a surprisingly tense and gripping drama about the sacrifices it takes to be the best. Beautifully animated with unique character designs, captivating new episodesare added weekly.
All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams
The NFL continues to grow in popularity here in the UK, so there’s sure to be an audience for this documentary chronicling the Rams’ 2016 season, from their return to Los Angeles to the impact of a new coach. Narrated by Mad Men’s John Hamm, this goes behind the scenes on one of the world’s biggest sports teams. All eight episodes are available now, while the first season – chronicling the Arizona Cardinals – is available now.
Le Mans: Racing is Everything
If you prefer your car porn to be slightly more serious that The Grand Tour, this docu-series chronicling the “Everest of motorsports” should be perfect viewing. With unprecedented access to six of the world’s finest racing teams and their drivers, technicians, and crew, this explores the history of Le Mans and what goes into winning the gruelling 24 hour endurance test of the race itself. The complete series is available now.
The Grand Tour
Top Gear in all but name it may be, but re-teaming Richard Hammond, James May, and Jeremy Clarkson and giving them license to mess around in some of the world’s best cars is as entertaining as ever. One of Amazon’s most expensive productions ever, the first season is available in full now, with a second coming soon.
Amazon Prime Video’s selection continues to grow in the months ahead, with the following shows joining the service soon.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
From Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and Family Guy producer Daniel Palladino, this 1950s-set series charts the rise of Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) from complacent housewife to stand-up comedian star – despite the over-riding sexism of the time. The pilot episode is available now, and proved such a hit that Amazon immediately signed it for two seasons – its first multi-season pick-up ever. Look for more, soon.
One of the world’s strangest superheroes, Ben Edlund’s The Tickdebuted in indie comics form in 1986, before gaining wider popularity thanks to a 1994 animated series. Now due for his second live action adaptation (the first aired for one season in 2001), Amazon’s take sees Peter Serafinowicz as the big, blue lover of justice – who may just be an escaped psychiatric patient with unusual durability. The pilot is available now, with the full season now scheduled to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on August 25.
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