Amazon’s early forays into original programming may have been a little uneven, but Prime Video has since become a major destination for quality streaming series. Here are the best original TV series to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Set in a unique world that’s part sci-fi, part fantasy, and part alternate history, Carnival Row is a murder mystery with a supernatural twist. Orlando Bloom plays a detective in a world that resembles Victorian England, where mythical creatures like fairies and fauns have emigrated to live among humans. Cara Delevingne co-stars as the hardened fairy criminal that the detective is in love with. It’s a stylish and gritty series that successfully moves among genres while telling an engrossing story with complex characters.
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It takes a minute to wrap your head around the concept of Comrade Detective, which is presented as a long-lost Romanian 1980s TV series that emulates the overblown style of 1980s American cop dramas. It’s actually the creation of American comedy writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka.
The show was shot in Romania with Romanian actors and then dubbed into English by American stars including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum, and Nick Offerman. The creators parody the excessive machismo of American action shows along with the excessive anti-capitalist propaganda of the Cold War-era Eastern Bloc.
Adapted from the beloved novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens is a comedic fantasy series about the apocalyptic battle between good and evil. The opposing sides are represented by the surprisingly chummy pair of demon Crowley (David Tennant) and angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen).
The forces of Heaven and Hell are determined to make Earth their battleground, but Crowley and Aziraphale have grown to like it there, and they launch various schemes to prevent the rise of the Antichrist.
Adapted from a narrative podcast, Homecoming opens up its story from the world of audio drama, guided by executive producer and director Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot). The show centers on a mysterious corporate initiative that messes with people’s memories in the name of improving their lives.
The first season stars Julia Roberts as a counselor working with combat veterans, while the second season stars Janelle Monae as a woman trying to piece together her identity. Both are slick and suspenseful looks at the dangerous potential of mind-altering medications.
The title character of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a New York City housewife in the late 1950s who pursues a career in the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino makes the show into a quick-witted, fast-paced, brightly colored ode to the ’50s and ’60s (especially in New York City), with Midge as a trailblazer for women in entertainment. Brosnahan brings the brash (and sometimes overbearing) Midge to life, and Alex Borstein is perfect as Midge’s grumpy but tenacious manager Susie.
Comedian Tig Notaro co-created and stars in this dramedy series inspired by her own life. One Mississippi is a sort of fish-out-of-water story about lesbian radio host Tig moving from Los Angeles back to her small Mississippi hometown after her mother dies. But Notaro avoids the expected tension between the liberal main character and the conservative town residents, instead taking a more nuanced approach. Tig encounters more warmth than resentment, even coming to appreciate the rhythms of small-town life.
There’s been much debate about whether Steve McQueen’s Small Axe is an anthology TV series or five separate feature films. Either way, it’s a masterful study of life among the West Indian immigrant community in London in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Each episode (or film) is a standalone story, ranging from the searing courtroom drama of Mangrove to the laid-back party vibe of Lovers Rock. Acclaimed filmmaker McQueen (12 Years a Slave) directs and co-writes each installment.
Based on a series of evocative illustrations by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, Tales From the Loop envisions a retro-futuristic sci-fi world in a small Ohio town. The Loop is a mysterious research facility where many of the town residents work, and its various projects cause strange effects around town.
Each episode explores a different story connected to the Loop and to the family of its founder (played by Jonathan Pryce). The individual installments overlap but still stand on their own as meditations on the nature of humanity.
Longtime collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc.) reunite for supernatural comedy Truth Seekers, as co-creators and co-stars. Frost and Samson Kayo play a pair of broadband installation technicians who also investigate strange happenings around their sleepy English town. Like Frost and Pegg’s collaborations with Edgar Wright, Truth Seekers mixes geeky humor with a genuine appreciation for genre storytelling, including some surprisingly creepy moments.
Produced via a trippy rotoscope animation process, Undone is a psychedelic journey into the mind of main character Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar). After surviving a car accident, Alma may have become unstuck in time, now able to commune with her late scientist father Jacob (Bob Odenkirk).
Or she may just be suffering from the mental illness that runs in her family. As Jacob insists that his daughter possesses supernatural powers (and must help him solve his own murder), Alma tries to determine what’s real and what’s a product of her damaged imagination.
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