20 of the best TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime Video

The best TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime Video

It's not all about Netflix (unless you're a die-hard Marvel fan). Amazon Prime Video has quickly become a favourite streaming service thanks to an increasingly impressive library of comedy and drama shows, as well as its own comic book adaptations.

There's a strong selection of shows in 4K Ultra HD and HDR, although this is largely reserved for Amazon Studios' original shows (such as The Grand Tour, Mozart in the Jungle and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). It goes without saying shows like American Gods and The Man in the High Castle look spectacular in 4K - you get the full impact of stunning depth of colours, strong contrasts and crisp detail far better when watching on a compatible 4K HDR TV rather than on your laptop or - God forbid! - your smartphone.

But that doesn't stop us from recommending non-4K shows as well. The Americans, Preacher and Alias, for instance, are simply too much fun to ignore.

So if you're on the hunt for your next binge, here's a selection of what the What Hi-Fi? team has been watching on Amazon Prime Video.

American Gods

Available to stream in 4K

What is American Gods about? On the surface it might be about a war brewing between old gods and new gods, but the meandering, road-trip narrative is intercut with vignettes of people and their lives – strangers from across different periods of time and history with different beliefs, different experiences and different deaths.

It’s an extremely difficult show to define. But showrunner Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) takes on Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed novel and breathes life into it with stunning visual flair, marrying brutality and dark comedy in a way that’ll keep you hooked.

The cast is incredible: Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson, Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Stormare and Crispin Glover are just a handful of the actors delivering epic, scenery-chewing performances, while Pablo Schreiber is particularly memorable as the unlucky leprechaun Mad Sweeney.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

The Man in the High Castle

Available to stream in 4K HDR

What would have happened if the Axis powers had won the Second World War? This series, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, takes us to a United States in the 1960s under the thrall of Nazi Germany in the east, and the Japanese empire in the West.

We follow a number of characters on either side – Nazis, Japanese government officials, resistance fighters, traitors and more – on a journey across the States in their quest to track down the titular mystery man, via some strange movies that seem to show the War having a different outcome.

It’s an enthralling premise – and the story rolls along at a cracking pace, with twists and turns, betrayals and reconciliations aplenty.

Words by Jonathan Evans

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Available to stream in 4K HDR

Set in 1958 Manhattan, this gloriously bright and funny show tells the tale of Mrs Miriam “Midge” Maisel – a well-to-do Jewish housewife who, after the breakdown of her marriage, finds a new lease of life as a stand-up comedian in New York's The Gaslight Cafe.

Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (who was responsible for 90s hit Gilmore Girls) brings her characteristic rapid-fire dialogue to the screen, along with warm, believable and immediately likeable characters that light up the screen. The period setting and costumes are gorgeous (imagine a more colourful Mad Men), the dialogue is smart and snappy, and the interplay between all the characters is electric.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

The Romanoffs

Available to stream in 4K

From Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner comes this star-studded eight-episode anthology series, following eight separate story strands, all connected via characters who believe they’re descended from the ill-fated Russian royal family.

Taking place around the globe and spanning all sorts of intimate family affairs, the Romanov link is a loose one, with the episodes taking a magnifying glass to the characters’ lives in interesting ways.

The cast – Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Aaron Eckhart, Amanda Peet and Clea Duvall, to name a few – is worth tuning in for alone.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Mozart in the Jungle

Available to stream in 4K HDR

Despite the name, Mozart in the Jungle is not about the composer.

Inspired by Blair Tindall’s memoir of the same name, Mozart sees Gael Garcia Bernal’s musical maestro Rodrigo sweep in and become the new conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra. In turn he inspires his young charges (Lola Kirke’s oboist Hailey), causes controversy and realises that symphonic music is a complicated mistress.

This half-hour comedy is genuinely funny and touching, with its look at the world of orchestral music one that’s rarely depicted.

Words by Kob Monney

Preacher

Available to stream in Full HD

Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s apparently unfilmable comic book series makes a surprisingly brilliant TV show.

Comic nerds will tell you it’s slow, that it takes a whole season to get to the beginning of the books, but ignore them because no-one said a TV show has to match its literary genesis frame-for-frame - and the first series is full of scene-setting texture, bizarre, twisted characters and extremely peculiar goings-on, as the titular preacher (played by Dominic Cooper) reignites an old flame (the brilliant Ruth Negga), makes friends with an Irish vampire (the endlessly hilarious Joseph Gilgun), and becomes the repository for a strange, demonic power.

The show is gorier than an abattoir, weirder than Trump’s hair and swearier than the crowd at Chelsea FC, but it’s also extremely stylish, funny and all-round rollicking good fun. A true must-watch - assuming you can stomach it.

Words by Tom Parsons

The Americans

Available to stream in Full HD

If you’ve never seen The Americans then you need to redress that issue tout suite.

One of TV’s best and most under-watched shows, it’s about two Soviet spies (Keri Russell’s Elizabeth Jennings and Matthew Rhys’ Philip Jennings) in Reagan-era America, during the final act of the Cold War.

But that it were so simple. The Jennings also have a family, including an increasingly suspicious daughter, and a neighbour in Noah Emmerich’s FBI Agent Stan Beeman, whose day job is to uncover Russian infiltrators.

Part of what makes The Americans so riveting is its verisimilitude, the unsparing plot developments, and the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip. This isn’t the life they expected, but it’s the one they’re dealt with and they have a job to do. It makes for an engrossing watch across its six seasons.

Words by Kob Monney

Bosch

Available to stream in 4K HDR

Bosch is more clichéd than a post-match interview with a Premier League footballer, but it must be hard to be original when producing a new TV show in a genre as long in the tooth as the crime thriller.

Besides, Bosch gets away with it, largely thanks to the grumpy, craggy charm of the seen-it-all-before titular detective - but also on account of the stunningly stylish cinematography, which brings LA to life, warts ‘n’ all, better than almost any other TV show or movie before it. Watch in 4K HDR and you’re in for a particularly alluring presentation.

Words by Tom Parsons

MORE: Bosch TV series review

Mr. Robot

Available to stream in Full HD

Fuse Fight Club with Hackers and you’ll get Mr. Robot. The techno-thriller show follows Elliot Alderson (played by Rami Malek), a socially awkward, clinically depressed cybersecurity engineer and hacker who falls down the rabbit hole of a mysterious group looking to erase all the debt held by the largest conglomerate in the Mr. Robot world, E Corp.

Its refreshingly realistic take on hacking, corporate espionage, and social engineering (insofar that you can’t hack into a government organisation by frantically typing binary or MS-DOS commands) is balanced by the show’s flair for the dramatic. In true Mad Men-esque form, the little changes to character relationships can make or break giant corporations. It keeps you hooked.

Words by Adam Smith

Marvel's Cloak and Dagger

Available to stream in Full HD

Marvel’s TV shows are less end-of-the-world-because-aliens than its cinematic counterparts, leading to more character-driven storylines. This is pertinent in Cloak and Dagger, where the chemistry between the two leads is the star.

Tandy Bowen/Dagger (played by Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson/Cloak (played by Aubrey Joseph) are two teens from diametrically opposite backgrounds, who fall in love. The show plays with - and subverts - expectations of race, class and tropes as these two teens - a black male and a white female - make sense of their place in the world as they deal with past tragedies and the mysteries they face after acquiring superpowers (daggers of light, cloak of darkness). The New Orleans setting, steeped in rich history, gives it a different feel, too, and it’s a darker, more introspective show than its counterparts - and wholly compelling.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Lucifer

Available to stream in Full HD

What happens when the Lord of Hell teams up with a LAPD detective? A surprisingly enjoyable, if sometimes baffling, show that refuses to take itself seriously (although it doesn't top its main thematic competition, 30 Rock's God Cop).

The immortal devil, having given up Hell to run a club in LA instead, has the ability to make people confess their sins (helpful when assisting the police department). But he becomes mortal-ish when around detective Chloe Decker, who appears to be immune to his powers. Sure, why not?

It’s a far cry from the character’s origins in DC/Vertigo's Sandman comics (for one, he's meant to look like David Bowie), but the show is 40 minutes of fun a pop – similar to eating an entire packet of biscuits in one go. It’s not necessarily good for you but, once you dig in, you’re hooked.

Words by Adam Smith

Black Sails

Available to stream in Full HD

Black Sails is a lavish, Michael Bay-produced series with Blockbuster ambitions. Its four-series run is pure guilty pleasure and worthy of binge-watching.

Merging fictional and historical characters, it's positioned as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which centres on a group of pirates operating out of the port of Nassau in the Bahamas.

Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) plays Captain Flint, whose crew is either sailing away or straight into the arms of trouble every other episode. Black Sails boasts plenty of betrayals, sex and impressively staged action scenes, and ends up being a show that’s more entertaining than Disney’s recent Pirates films.

Words by Kob Monney

BrainDead

Available to stream in Full HD

In this tumultuous political atmosphere, it’s nice to have a simple explanation for why everything feels so extreme and confusing. BrainDead’s answer? Space ants.

The conceptual baby of Veep and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, our protagonist is Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who decides to take a job assisting her Senator brother.

When the US government shuts down due to a budget crisis, Democrat Healy initially sees the enemy as the Republicans – but eventually political differences are put aside as she joins forces with the other side to fight those who have, literally, have lost their minds to alien insects that encourage extremism. It’s light-hearted and funny, but not without its moments of tension.

Words by Adam Smith

All or Nothing: The Dallas Cowboys

Available to stream in Full HD

The third season of this Emmy Award-winning Amazon docuseries sees the cameras train on the Dallas Cowboys. It offers an insight into the mentality and motivation of the owners, staff and players behind the 2017 season as they covet a sixth Lombardi trophy, but find the road tougher than expected. For NFL fans, it’s a revealing look behind the curtain. Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Baby Driver, Good Omens) narrates.

Other sporting teams under the All or Nothing spotlight include Manchester City, New Zealand All Blacks and Michigan Wolverines.

Words by Kob Monney

Black-ish

Available to stream in Full HD

Currently into its fourth season, Black-ish feels like a modern version of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – funny and charming, but not afraid to tackle the political.

We follow the inner lives of the upper-middle-class Johnson family, specifically focused on Andre "Dre" Johnson Sr (Anthony Anderson), an advertising executive who is keen to teach his relatively disinterested children what it means to be ‘black’, assisted by his underappreciated wife (Tracee Ellis Ros) and stern, hard-nosed father (Laurence Fishburne).

Balancing insight with humour, the series tackles America’s attitudes to race, politics, police brutality and LGBT issues – all from an African-American perspective. At 20-minutes an episode, it's incredibly binge-able.

Words by Adam Smith

Sneaky Pete

Available to stream in 4K HDR

The main problem with Sneaky Pete is the somewhat tenuous premise. Accept the unlikely set-up, however, and this is an entertaining and compelling crime/con caper with an excellent cast (including Marin Ireland, Margo Martindale and Peter Gerety), decent writing and some likable characters.

Giovanni Ribisi stars as Marius, a conman just released from prison into a whole world of trouble. In an attempt to avoid Vince (Bryan Cranston), a serious bad guy to whom he owes serious money, Marius assumes the identity of Pete, his former cellmate - who is still incarcerated. He is accepted into the lives of his new family (who lost contact with Pete when he was a boy) – but they inevitably have problems of their own.

And so things get complicated – and the cons are on…

Words by Jonathan Evans

Constantine

Available to stream in Full HD

While we’re a fan of the not-entirely-faithful Keanu Reeves film from 2005, Matt Ryan’s portrayal of the trenchcoat-wearing anti-hero is as if John Constantine had casually stepped out from the pages of the iconic Hellblazer comics.

He may not be allowed to swear and smoke as much, but Ryan is utterly charismatic and steals every scene he’s in as the irreverent, cynical and sarcastic conman and "petty dabbler" of the dark arts as he hunts and exorcises monsters.

The storylines are never quite as strong (which eventually led to the show’s cancellation), but it’s still an entertaining watch. There are hints of just how gripping, potent and dark the story could be, though, especially when it delves closer to home and deals with Constantine’s personal demons.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

The Grand Tour

Available to stream in 4K HDR

Armed with a bigger budget and more freedom than they had on the BBC, the former Top Gear trio have found a new home in Amazon. Now in its second series, the show has had a refresh: they've dropped segments that didn't work, brought back celebs racing each other, and the tent now has a home base.

Not much has changed when it comes to the silly camaraderie between Clarkson, Hammond and May and the equally silly misadventures in between some actual car testing. But what we like most is that the high production values that we’ve come to know from the Beeb’s show has carried over, and then some. There are some stunning shots of cars and landscapes, which look even more gorgeous in 4K HDR.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Le Mans: Racing is Everything

Available to stream in 4K

Forget Formula 1. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the toughest, oldest and most elite endurance race in the world of motorsports. Every year in France, teams of multiple drivers engage in a non-stop relay race that lasts a full 24 hours.

In this six-episode series, film crews get unprecedented behind-the-scenes access as they following six of the biggest teams (Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Aston Martin, Rebellion and newcomers Nissan) and high profile drivers such as F1 veteran Mark Webber, three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer and rookie Jann Mardenborough in the run-up to 2015's race.

It's a fascinating, exciting insight into the way the teams and drivers work to take part in this intensely challenging race that isn’t without its accidents and fatalities. And of course, the actual race footage looks impressive in 4K.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Alias

Availabe to stream in Full HD

Sydney Bristow fans, rejoice! All five series of J. J. Abrams’s spy action-drama is on Amazon Prime Video, and if you missed it the first time round on telly during the early/mid noughties, you really need to get stuck in.

If The Americans was rooted in realism, Alias is far from it. There are fun gadgets, plenty of undercover action, international escapades that would make Tom Cruise envious and more double agents than you can keep track of. Wigs are a huge part of the show, too: lead Jennifer Garner carries the show with grace, pizzazz, emotion and some kick-ass fight scenes no matter what random disguise she’s had to don.

It’s silly, fun, gripping - everything you want from a lighthearted spy show.

Words by Kashfia Kabir