21 of the best TV shows on Amazon Prime Video

21 best TV shows on Amazon Prime Video
(Image credit: Amazon)

Granted, it's bit of a mouthful for the "and chill" prefix, but Amazon Prime Video has nevertheless quickly become a popular streaming service alongside its main competitor, Netflix, thanks to a growing and star-studded library of original shows.

There's a strong selection of TV shows in 4K and HDR on Prime Video, with plenty of Amazon Studios' original shows (The Grand Tour, Absentia, American Gods, Transparent and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, to name but a few) now available in 8,294,400-pixel resolution. 

Shows like Red Oaks and The Man in the High Castle look spectacular in 4K, and it goes without saying that the full impact of stunning colour depth and crisp contrasts is far better when watching on a compatible 4K HDR TV rather than on your laptop or – perish the thought! –  your smartphone. But that doesn't stop us from recommending non-4K shows too. Alias, for instance, is simply too much fun to ignore.

So if you're on the hunt for your next binge, here's a selection of TV shows on Amazon Prime Video that have kept the What Hi-Fi? team either glued to our sets or yelling, "No spoilers, I'm watching it tonight!" at each other, in the office.

Homecoming

Available to stream in 4K

Passive-aggressive bosses, the best intentions, uneasy inklings, unforeseen consequences, full-on paranoia – and an empty tank where goldfish used to be. Heidi (Julia Roberts) and her warm, well-meaning smile, work at Homecoming Transitional Support Center, a facility helping soldiers transition to civilian life. 

In 2022, four years after her tenure at Homecoming, Heidi is working as a waitress and living with her mother. Even when questioned by an investigator from the Department of Defense, Heidi has difficulty remembering much of her time at the facility. After stating that she has no knowledge of Walter Cruz, a military serviceman she clearly met and counseled in 2018, Heidi isn't the only one left in doubt over the true nature of the work she's done with the support programme. 

The ten-episode series is based, not on a book, but on a podcast of the same name created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, who also helped as writers and executive producers on the show, and it's now into development of its second series. 

Roberts is mesmerising in this psychological thriller, which will keep you on the edge of your seat and give you the occasional jump for good measure.

Absentia

Available to stream in 4K

Did you catch the first ten-episode season of this white-knuckle thriller? You did? We've got great news: on 14th June a second series was released on Prime Video. 

What should you know? Well, our central character is an FBI agent Emily Byrne (Stana Katic) and according to the authorities it's a tragic case, but whatever happened to her during the six years she was missing (which involved a terrifying tank) it changed her. The once-respected agent – declared dead in absentia while tracking a notorious serial killer – is now back with us, but violent and extremely dangerous. Or is she? 

Byrne struggles to define herself as a mother and survivor of years of torture, trying to rebuild a relationship with a son who's being raised by her husband's new wife. She even enlists the help of a police detective to investigate her history, but that goes to dark places fairly quickly. 

Watch it and however much you want to, you won't be able to look away.

Red Oaks

Available to stream in 4K UHD

If you're a fan of 80s sunglasses, synth music, slow camera zooms, tennis puns and slick Gillies Gothic Bold neon captions, then you must watch this show. Actually, we're underselling it. Red Oaks is like a three-series Dirty Dancing but set in the 80s, where Kellerman's is the country club Red Oaks. And Jennifer Grey is here.

Never taking itself too seriously, there's gloriously delayed-gratification humour on offer here, such as when Wheeler (Oliver Cooper) laments his looks by moaning, "Look at me. I'm not exactly Val Kilmer". Remember now, this is 1987... 

The third and final series contains only six episodes, but it's an affectionate nod to the 80s; a time-capsule the likes of which are rarely made. 

Good Omens

Available to stream in 4K 

Oh, we'd been on tenterhooks for what felt like months over this, and boy was it worth the wait. If you've yet to plant yourself in front of the box for a binge watch since the release of all six hour-long episodes on 31st May, we really do think you should.

An angel and a demon work together to stop the Apocalypse from happening 'cause, well, they simply dig living on Earth too much. Add an assortment of righteous angels and sneering demons, a witch, a witchfinder, the horsemen of the apocalypse, plus four young kids with a dog and you have a delightful, zany, eon-spanning story from the genius minds of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Adapted from the cult-favourite 1990 novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the series boasts celebrity A-listers including David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Jon Hamm, Josie Lawrence, Nick Offerman and Frances McDormand. 

American Gods

Available to stream in 4K

What's American Gods all about? Tough question, but there's more to it than recognising lovable antiques wheeler-dealer Lovejoy as Mr Wednesday (aka Odin), that's for sure. On the surface, there's a war brewing between old gods and new, but the meandering, road-trip narrative is intercut with vignettes of people and their lives; strangers from across different periods of time, with different beliefs, experiences – and deaths.

It’s a difficult show to define, but the aforementioned Ian McShane is outrageously good in it. Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed novel is presented here with stunning visual flair, marrying brutality and dark comedy in a way that keeps us riveted and arguing about it all well into lunch.

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

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? Well, they'd have divided the United States into the Greater Nazi Reich (with half of the eastern part of the United States and New York City as its regional capital) and the Japanese Pacific States to the west, with the capital city San Francisco, for starters.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, the four-season series takes us to a 1960s United States unlike any we've ever known, where the Rocky Mountains are just a "neutral zone" between two territories.

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 depict a very different outcome to the War.

It’s an enthralling premise – and the story rolls along at a cracking pace, with twists and turns, betrayals and reconciliations aplenty. Oh, and there's Rufus Sewell. Just saying.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Available to stream in 4K HDR

Set in 1958 Manhattan, this splendidly 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.

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.

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.

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 complete seasons.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Black-ish

Available to stream in Full HD

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.

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…

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.

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.

Alias

Available to stream in Full HD

Sydney Bristow fans, rejoice! All five series of J. J. Abrams’s spy action-drama are on Amazon Prime Video, and if you missed it the first time round on telly during the early/mid noughties, you really ought 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 a handle on. 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 throw on her head.

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