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Best Amazon Prime Instant Video TV shows: 25 essential Amazon Prime TV series

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These are the television shows you need to be watching on Amazon Prime.
Good news, your Amazon Prime subscription comes with hundreds of the best TV shows (and movies) – for free. Bad news, that’s a lot to choose from.
That’s why, ahead of the expected Amazon Prime Day date in July, we’re listing the best Amazon Prime Instant Video TV shows you can stream in the US. We’ve narrowed down the must-watch rankings to the top 25.
Notice, there are more Amazon Instant Video Originals than last year, with the online retailer trying to compete with the original TV shows that are now a large part of our best Netflix TV shows .
What’s the best Amazon TV show to get sucked into without regretting it by the end of season 2? Read our Prime Video recommendations to find out.
It’s 2017, but we remember when shows about cops and robbers were a dime a dozen in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Back then, there was a new crime drama seemingly every week that either took place in the courthouse or out on the streets where gritty, foul-mouthed badges upheld the law with a sidearm and implacable morals.
The Wire had some similarities to those shows, sure, but if you watched carefully enough the profound differences started to appear. The series wasn’t afraid to talk about race and racism in the courts, nor would it back down from showing the lives of people on the fringe of society. It gave you truly deep characters on both sides of the law that you wanted to succeed, and some you just couldn’t wait to see bite a bullet. If you forgot what HBO looked like before swords and sorcery, The Wire is worth tapping into for one last ride around the block.
One of the first successes to come from the Amazon Originals program, Alpha House is the antithesis of Netflix’s House of Cards. Yes it has a political edge but the back stabbing is replaced with a little bit of rib tickling. John Goodman is superb as one of four US senators shacked up in the same house.
While the humor may get a little too dry for some, there’s warmth in the cynicism and a strange amount of believability in the characters. If you were to choose one comedy that lampoons US politics then go with Veep – but Alpha House is a decent second.
Dramas have become all-too-easy to predict. There’s a line drawn in the first episode between good and bad, and while there can be some crossover late in the second or third season, it’s tough to feel truly surprised anymore. That said, Mad Dogs breaks every convention and isn’t afraid to pair goofy, slap-stick comedy with surreal scenes of intense violence just to make you sit up and pay attention.
A US revamp of the 2011 series of the same name, Mad Dogs is one of the most adult offerings from Amazon’s in-house studio, easily taking the crown from Bosch or Hand of God. It goes from The Hangover to The Godfather without warning and has the potential to be one of Amazon’s first breakout dramas.
One of the biggest advantages Amazon Prime Instant Video has over Netflix is its massive back-library of HBO programming that will make anyone with a monthly subscription salivate over. While each show could have its own entry on this list we instead chose to highlight the best of the bunch, starting with The Wire. A close, though vastly different second is True Blood, a show about the preternatural, social issues and sex. Lots and lots of sex. And if that tag line doesn’t sell you, nothing will.
To be honest, we’ re surprised that Amazon has been so quiet about The Grand Tour. We’ ve seen nothing about it anywhere. No adverts, no trailers, no Jeremy Clarkson selling his soul to promote Amazon products… nope, nothing.
And that’s surprising because The Grand Tour might be the best show on Amazon Prime Video this year.
Each episode is a more grandiose version of the Top Gear specials, with the presenters sent off to far-flung lands – sometimes with actual cars. Amazon needs this to be a hit, Clarkson need never worry about money again and as for the quality of the show: well, you might say it packs one helluva punch.
With 20-something novels to mine for source material, Bosch is a character that was always destined for the small screen. Created by Michael Connelly but brilliantly brought to life by actor Titus Welliver, the series follows the exploits of LA Homicide detective Harry Bosch and features enough grit to pave the longest of driveways.
This is no surprise – the series has been created by Eric Overmyer, who was part of the alumni that created The Wire. Bosch is another show that has been put together by Amazon Studios – proving that streaming services are becoming just as powerful as the HBOs of the world when it comes to producing compelling drama.
Now into its second series, Mozart in the Jungle was this surprise winner at the 2015 Golden Globes, where it won Best Comedy Series. The show is a comedy set in the strange world of classical music. Gael García Bernal plays young conductor Rodrigo who replaces a retiring conductor played by Malcolm McDowell. Based loosely on a true story and created by the likes of Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, it’s well worth a watch.
Actor Ron Perlman has been known to play some devious, psychologically unsound characters, but his latest one – Judge Pernell Harris – might take the cake. Hand of God follows Perman’s character in his descent into madness, where divine providence and real-world consequences meet and lives are forever changed.
In the vein of Memento, you’ll question Pernell’s sanity and whether anything is really happening or if it’s all in one man’s deeply troubled mind. The twist on the show is that it leans on biblical themes to add stakes – philandering, extortion and murder are commonplace here. Don’t go in expecting any of it to make sense in the first few minutes, or to leave the first season feeling happy-go-lucky. This is one dark ride.
While social media was all a’twitter about Aziz Ansari’s Master of None on Netflix, Amazon stealthily released a rom-com of its own that rivals, and in some respects even outplays, its quirky competitor.
The show is called Catastrophe and stars Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan (who The New York Times so aptly described as the UK’s Tina Fey) and Carrie Fisher in an unexpected-pregancy-turned-love-story that’s two parts Knocked Up, one part Annie Hall. Catastrophe excels at blending the nuanced cultural differences between the two main characters and the horrible awkwardness of falling in love in nine month’s time. Horgan’s character is a bit blunt, more cynical and slightly wittier than her significant other, while Delaney’s is slow-witted but wonderfully polite in all the best ways. Far more than the some of its parts, Catastrophe is one more example that anything Netflix can do, Amazon can, too.
Focusing on the exploits of hacker Elliot (a superb Rami Malek) , Mr Robot is Fight Club for the Tor generation, lifting a lid on a world where what Linux kernel you use is not just a badge of honor but a way of life. It’s brooding at times and there’s a political slant that hides just beneath the show’s warm glow.
Season 2 is looking even more epic, if this trailer is anything to go by, and will focus on the aftermath of the events that took place in Season 1.
Let me set the stage for this one: It’s 1969, and there’s a war going on in America. The war is being fought in business offices around the country and the group leading the charge are women in the workforce, fighting for equal rights and equal acknowledgement for the work they’ve performed for years. Good Girls Revolt is set in this backdrop, at a fictional news outlet where the women have for too long been swept under the rug.
The show scores major points for its poignant subject matter – both in the way that it covers the struggles of women in the workplace pre-1970, but also in the way it handles talking about the American history that the women in question are tasked with covering. Part raunchy history lesson, part stellar drama, Good Girls Revolt is a smart interpretation of a still-ongoing issue.
The ’80s is the en vogue decade when it comes to nostalgia. Not only are Seth Gordon and Adam Goldberg mining the era for their superb prime-time sitcom The Goldbergs, Red Oaks has appeared to prove that it is respectable to set shows in the ’80s. Amazon-exclusive Red Oaks – made by another Green, this time David Gordon – focuses on David, a tennis player at the Red Oaks country club and his summer shenanigans. Great casting – Jennifer Grey! – some brilliant nods to ’80s films, a short run time means this is a series you can eat up in one neon-fuelled sitting.
He may not have had the best career in movies, but Timothy Olyphant has become a TV stalwart thanks to a brilliant performance in Deadwood and an even better one in Justified. The premise of Justified is wafer thin – a Miami marshal is reassigned to his backwater home town after a bullet-strewn altercation – but Raylen Givens’ (Olyphant) relationship with his family, old friends and foes is forever riveting and frequently bloody.

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