Prime Video: The 32 best TV shows to watch

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Yearly Review (2021)


Amazon Prime Video

Aside from dropping several TV shows at the beginning of each month, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t have a ton of new weekly releases.

But occasionally an Amazon Original comes knocking that deserves to be put on your radar. Below you’ll find a selection of highlights for this week, as well as CNET’s full list of best Amazon Prime Video Original TV shows.

What to watch this week (Dec. 20 to 26)

Just one new TV arrival this week.

Thursday

  • Yearly Departed – Amazon Original Special (2021) — a year-in-review stand-up comedy special featuring Jane Fonda, X Mayo, Aparna Nancherla, Chelsea Peretti, Dulcé Sloan and Megan Stalter, with a musical performance by Alessia Cara.

Read more: Amazon Prime Video: The 26 best movies to watch | Everything you need to know to sign up to Amazon Prime Video

Full list of best Amazon Prime Video Originals

Sci-fi

Tales from the Loop (2020—)

Amazon

Not just another show about a small town where strange things happen, Tales from the Loop has a lot more underneath the surface. Drawing from a narrative art book by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, the series is stunning to look at, meticulous as can be with symmetrical frames. Light and space are infused with a painterly feel. The interconnected townspeople are similarly nuanced, their stories exploring loneliness, aging, the impact of technology and more through sci-fi ideas.

The Feed (2019)

Amazon Studios

The Black Mirror vibes are strong in this British series about technology gone wrong. The Feed is set in a futuristic London where a family develops an implant that lets people livestream their lives without needing to press a button on a phone. No, absolutely nothing can go wrong with that! Some pretty impressive actors stack out the cast, including David Thewlis and Michelle Fairley. While it’s not as polished or deep-cutting as Black Mirror, it’s still worth a look — just grab your phone during the less gripping parts.

Amazon Studios

Amazon rescued The Expanse from the realm of canceled TV, bringing us a fifth season with a sixth (and final season) to come. Thank goodness it did, because The Expanse is smart sci-fi with realistic characters, high production values and a dash of detective noir. Set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, a conspiracy threatens to start a cold war between the largest powers. A band of antiheroes find themselves at the center. Look forward to more space western themes in the consistently excellent later seasons.

Romance

The Pursuit of Love (2021)

Amazon Studios

You’re either going to fall madly in love with or arch an unimpressed eyebrow at this romance based on the 1945 Nancy Mitford novel of the same name. The Pursuit of Love follows two cousins who represent different ways of life. Lily James is Linda Radlett, whose exuberant romantic adventures see her travel from London to Paris. Emily Beecham, meanwhile, is Fanny Logan, navigating the confinements of married life. If you’re in the mood, this three-episode miniseries will sweep you up into a story of happiness and sadness, laughter and pain.

Modern Love (2019—)

Amazon Studios

Grab your blanket and a cup of tea for this sweet, cosy viewing. Modern Love is based on real-life personal essays about love from the New York Times column of the same name. These stories are delicately brought to life for the screen by a starry cast, including Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel and, in season 2, Minnie Driver and Kit Harington, among many more. Some stories won’t be tied up with a neat bow, and some will take you to unexpected places. The overall tone is feel good without being overly saccharine, and it might just stir your belief in the magic of true love.

Drama

The Underground Railroad (2021—)

Amazon Prime Video

Sublime filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) takes on adapting Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad into a powerful 10-episode series. Set in the southern US during the 1800s, the fictional story follows Blacks attempting to escape from slavery via a network of hidden tracks and tunnels. Tapping magical realism and a superb cast including Thuso Mbedu and William Jackson Harper, The Underground Railroad is an emotional and chilling triumph.

The Wilds (2020—)

Amazon

Amazon’s first original young adult offering is an intriguing combination of Lost and the Breakfast Club — and it works. Crucially, the cast of characters who find themselves stranded on a deserted island are all teenage girls. To them, that makes life even more excruciating. Each has a very different background — from spoiled rich girl to Native American — but they have to put aside their differences to survive, learning a thing or two about themselves on the way. Things get even more dark and thrilling when Rachel Griffiths’ Gretchen Klein comes into the picture as the head of the secretive Dawn of Eve program.

Informer (2018)

Amazon Studios

This gripping British series is about, yes, an informer and the murky territory involved in coercing someone to take on the dangerous gig. Paddy Considine (who now has a gig on the Game of Thrones prequel) stars as DS Gabe Waters, a counterterrorism officer tasked with infiltrating a far-right movement in West Yorkshire. Partnered with an excellent Bel Powley (The Morning Show, The King of Staten Island) as the young and inquisitive DC Holly Morten, he attempts to bring British Pakistani Raza (Nabhaan Rizwan) on board to uncover information about a possible terrorist attack. A provocative thriller that will keep you on your toes.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018)

Amazon Studios

This TV version of Picnic at Hanging Rock isn’t quite a masterpiece like the 1975 film adaptation of the classic Australian novel. But it’s just as mysterious, unfurling a dreamy yet eerie veil over a fictional disappearance in the isolated Australian bush. When three students and their governess go missing after a picnic at the rock area, hysteria sets into the community and the esteemed Appleyard College, led by Natalie Dormer’s formidable headmistress. Dark secrets emerge, keeping you hanging on until the end.

The Last Tycoon (2016-2017)

Amazon Studios

Matt Bomer, Lily Collins and Kelsey Grammer star in this 1930s-set drama about a brilliant Hollywood executive. Self-made prodigy Monroe Stahr (Bomer) faces a constant struggle with studio head Pat Brady (Grammar). The series takes an interesting angle, exploring the influence of the Nazis and the German market on Hollywood politics in a world on the brink of war. The Last Tycoon is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last book, unfinished and posthumously published, with loose inspiration from producer Irving Thalberg, known as The Boy Wonder during the early 1900s. Superbly acted, sumptuous to look at and centered on absorbing characters, The Last Tycoon ended too soon after one season.

The Collection (2016)

Amazon Studios

If you like your fashion and historical drama, The Collection aptly brings the two together. Set in a post World War II Paris, the eight-part series follows two entrepreneurial brothers who clash as they build their fashion empire. Rivalry, betrayal and Nazi occupation are the provocative elements that light a fire under this handsomely shot family drama. Note of warning, once you become hooked on the deftly layered intrigue, you’ll have to face the disappointment of no second season.

Amazon Studios

Con man Marius walks free from jail, only to be hunted by the gangster he once robbed. So, he assumes the identity of his cell mate Pete and walks back into the lives of Pete’s estranged family, who are none the wiser. Bryan Cranston brings all the gravitas to gangster Vince in this part-drama, party-comedy. The twists and dicey situations will carry you through the addictive episodes as quickly as Pete pulls his cons.

Fantasy

Good Omens (2019)

Chris Raphael

This adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel pairs two other UK treasures in David Tennant and Michael Sheen. They play the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, respectively, in this miniseries that sees Earth on the brink of destruction thanks to a final battle between Heaven and Hell. Decidedly against this, after enjoying their time on the planet, the bickering pair team up and attempt to prevent Armageddon. With a stacked cast, including a cameo from Benedict Cumberbatch as, well, Satan, Good Omens is a worthy adaptation, largely thanks to Tennant and Sheen’s double act.

Forever (2018)

Amazon Studios

If you’re in a particularly meditative mood, reflecting on life, relationships and the big choices we make in life, Forever will gently set your world on fire. June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) are a married couple cruising through their suburban life until vastly unexpected turns take them into otherworldly territory. Stick through the slow-burning first episode and you’ll be rewarded with an exceptionally crafted eight-episode series, gently wrapping you in its visually beautiful and meaningful dream.

Thriller

Hanna (2019—)

Amazon Prime

The premise of Hanna, a Joe Wright action thriller from 2011, is so good Amazon fleshed it out for a TV series. Starring Esme Creed-Miles as the skilled young assassin living in the Romanian wilderness, Hanna the TV show expands the teen’s backstory and explains why the CIA’s Marissa Wiegler has an obsession with capturing her.

Amazon Studios

While season 2 of Homecoming didn’t quite find its feet, season 1 hit the ground running. Julia Roberts stars in this psychological thriller about an army rehabilitation facility run by questionable owners. Using an effective, mystery-building narrative that covers two timelines, Homecoming is high on tension and paranoia as it reveals what the facility’s true purpose is. Fun fact: The series uses the actual scores of movies from Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and more.

Amazon Studios

The Man in the High Castle imagines an alternate history where the Axis powers (Rome-Berlin-Tokyo) win World War II. Based on a Philip K. Dick novel, the series follows characters in the ’60s who live in a parallel universe, where Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan control the US. But there’s impossible newsreel footage surfacing of a world where Germany and Japan lose the war, causing some to rebel. To really hammer home its dystopia credentials, The Man in the High Castle is steered by producer Ridley Scott. Fully realized and with a focused plot, this is gripping TV.

Comedy

Amazon Studios

This unique series uses the Rotoscoping animation technique to tell the story of a young woman who, after suffering a near-fatal car accident, discovers she can manipulate time. Intriguing, right? It gets better: Bob Odenkirk plays Alma’s dead father, who enlists her help in investigating his murder. Bending both time and space, Undone is surreal and beautifully existential for those looking for deep material.

Amazon Studios

A sex scandal in the UK Parliament? Starring Hugh Grant and Ben Wishaw? You can thank Russell T. Davies for dramatizing this slice of late-’70s British politics. Jeremy Thorpe, a Liberal member of Parliament, wants to silence unhappy ex-lover Norman before his career ends up in tatters. Watch the murder conspiracy, big trial and media scrutiny through A Very English Scandal’s darkly funny lens.

Amazon Studios

A ’50s housewife who becomes a standup comic? This brilliant series from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, is filled with sparkling performances from Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, with dialogue to match. Set in a vibrant and changing New York, our delightful heroine moonlights as a comedian, while doing her duties as an upper class Jewish American housewife. With impressive visuals, warmth and zingers, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the full package.