The 75 Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime Right Now (April 2020)

Starting with our #1 pick

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The 75 Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime Right Now (April 2020)

Though Amazon Prime may not have as many original series as its streaming competitors, it does feature a robust catalogue of titles and offers the ability to add-on a variety of niche services like Showtime, Starz, Britbox, and more. Crucially, the library of TV shows on Amazon Prime includes older HBO titles as well as shows that have aired on PBS, all included with your Prime subscription (of note: you can also subscribe to video only, but why not get the benefit of free 2-day shipping as well?)

As Amazon continues to expand its library, it also may be on the brink of losing a fair portion of it once HBO Max launches in May and Disney+ possibly absorbs FX. For now, Amazon Prime offers a truly great array of TV shows that are well worth a binge or two or ten. And we will continue to update the list as the platform’s selections change. (For the best movies on Amazon, go here. And for more on details on a variety of add-on services, visit our streaming guide).

Below, you’ll find out list of recommendations starting with #1. For those of you who want to dive deeper into our picks and what Amazon offers, keep scrolling. But for the best of the best, we’ve put it right up front for you. Happy viewing!


1. The Wire

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Created by: David Simon
Stars: Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Idris Elba, Domenick Lombardozzi, Ellis Carver, Andre Royo, Wendell Pierce, Rhonda Pearlman
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Series mastermind David Simon conceived of The Wire as a modern Greek tragedy, a morality play set in a drug-infested urban war zone where conventional good guys and bad guys barely exist. Everyone is conflicted and compromised. We didn’t need The Wire to remind us that the system—the criminal justice system, the political system, the education system—is broken. But no other cultural enterprise (and certainly no television show) has shown us precisely how the infrastructure has collapsed, forcing us to consider the impossible decisions required for repair. Amidst the rubble of a failed city, Simon created an engrossing human drama with unforgettable characters about the eternal struggle between aspiration and desperation, ambition and resignation. In other words, the fight for the American Dream. —Nick Marino


2. The Sopranos

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Created by: David Chase
Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Sirico, Robert Iler
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

For eight years, James Gandolfini crawled deep inside the complexities of Tony Soprano;loving father, son and husband, goodhearted friend, master of sardonic one-liners (“How do you vandalize a pool?”), troubled psych patient, serial adulterer, mob boss and brutal, remorseless killer;inspiring as much dumbfounded loathing and shuddering sympathy as any character in TV history. Murderers aren’t one-dimensional; they have feelings, aspirations, justifications, families. The Sopranos brilliantly and believably explored this dynamic, turning the crime-drama on its head and taking dysfunction to the extreme in the process. As unfathomable as their world was, the characters of this tragic, beautifully arcing modern epic were so real that they became like family to us, too. Steve LaBate


3. Band of Brothers

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Created by: Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg
Stars: Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Scott Grimes, Donnie Wahlberg, Kirk Acevedo, Eion Bailey, Michael Cudlitz
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Many years ago there was a blog called “Pop Culture Torture,” and one of the challenges was for a writer to watch all Band of Brothers episodes in one day and document it. By the fourth hour he was an emotional wreck, and by the fifth he was starting to sob just at the opening theme. Such is the immense power of this World War II epic, which fictionalizes the experiences of “Easy” Company from the 1992 book of the same name. The show also features some of the real heroes talking about their experiences before and after episodes, and when you learn which characters are based off of them it just brings everything together in overwhelming ways. The careful attention to detail and weaving in of historical moments will ultimately make this series your definitive understanding of the war and everything surrounding it. So don’t binge it, but do watch—it is one if the all-time greats. (One that happens to star a massive cast of recognizable young male actors in small roles who almost all became A-list movie stars). Follow-up HBO series to watch after this one include The Pacific, which deals with that theater of the war, and also David Simon’s Generation Kill, another outstanding miniseries that focuses on a Marine recon division during the first 40 days of the Iraq War. —Allison Keene


4. The Americans

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Created by: Joseph Weisberg
Stars: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Holly Taylor
Original Network: FX, 2013-2018

Watch on Amazon Prime

Over the course its six-season run, The Americans completed a remarkable evolution, beginning and ending as a blisteringly suspenseful spy drama. Of course, by the time Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields’ masterwork reaches its devastating conclusion, with deep-cover KGB agents Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (the magnificent Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) surveying what they’ve lost, and gained, in the process, The Americans is about so much more than safe houses and dead drops. It is at once a parable of family, faith, and nation; a pitch-dark examination of the Cold War’s moral calculus; a coming-of-age tale (twice over); a wrenching depiction of friendships formed and betrayed; and an indelible portrait of an American marriage. FX’s pet project was worth every ounce of patience it demanded: We may well remember it as the last great drama of the Golden Age of Television. —Matt Brennan


5. Cheers

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Created by: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles
Stars: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto, John Ratzenberger, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, George Wendt
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Like many long-running sitcoms, the Cheers of the 1990s was really a fundamentally different show than it was in the 1980s, less about the dating life of Ted Danson’s Sam and much more of an ensemble device, full of characters who were by this point beloved by all. The final years of Cheers were when all these characters got to shine, especially Rhea Perlman as Carla and Kelsey Grammer, who joined the cast full-time before spinning off into Frasier. The finale episode received mixed reactions at the time, but nostalgia has pushed it into favorable territory, especially given the happy endings that most characters receive. The fact that Sam decides to “stay with the bar” makes perfect sense—it is of course his one true love. —Jim Vorel


6. 30 Rock

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Created by: Tina Fey
Stars: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

The spiritual successor to Arrested Development, 30 Rock succeeded where its competition failed by largely ignoring the actual process of creating a TV show and instead focusing on the life of one individual in charge of the process, played by show creator Tina Fey. 30 Rock never loses track of its focus, and creates a surprisingly deep character for its circus to spin around. But Fey’s not the only one who makes the series so outstanding. Consistently spot-on performances by Tracy Morgan—whether frequenting strip clubs or a werewolf bar mitzvah—and Alec Baldwin’s evil plans for microwave-television programming create a perfect level of chaos for the show’s writers to unravel every week. 30 Rock doesn’t have complex themes or a deep message, but that stuff would get in the way of its goal: having one of the most consistently funny shows ever on TV. Suffice to say, it succeeded. —Sean Gandert


7.The Twilight Zone

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Created by: Rod Serling
Stars: Rod Serling
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

It is, in the estimation of any sane person, one of the greatest science fiction series of all time without a doubt, with its myriad episodes about technology, aliens, space travel, etc. But The Twilight Zone also plumbed the depths of the human psyche, madness and damnation with great regularity, in the same spirit as creator Rod Serling’s later series, Night Gallery. Ultimately, The Twilight Zone is indispensable to both sci-fi and horror. Its moralistic playlets so often have the tone of dark, Grimm Brothers fables for the rocket age of the ‘50s and ‘60s, urban legends that have left an indelible mark on the macabre side of our pop culture consciousness. What else can one call an episode such as “Living Doll,” wherein a confounded, asshole Telly Savalas is threatened, stalked and ultimately killed by his abused daughter’s vindictive doll, Talky Tina? Or “The Invaders,” about a lonely woman in a farmhouse who is menaced by invaders from outer space in an episode almost entirely without dialog? Taken on its own, a piece of television such as “The Invaders” almost shares more in common with “old dark house” horror films or the slashers that would arrive 20 years later than an entry in a sci-fi anthology. —Jim Vorel


8. Frasier

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Created by: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney, Peri Gilpin, Moose
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Many classic sitcoms are paeans to blue-collar family life, but Frasier was the odd show that made cultural elites and eggheads somehow seem like lovable characters to a mass audience. Both Frasier and his brother Niles can be infuriatingly snobbish, but audiences soon found that when their petty jealousies were directed at each other, they could also be hilarious. The show quickly became an off-hand representation of the idea of “smart comedy” on TV, but it was also still a sitcom full of relationship humor. Viewers waited a hell of a long time in particular for the long-teased relationship between Niles and Daphne to finally come to fruition (seven full seasons). Frasier, on the other hand, is never really lucky in love, but he was always better as a semi-depressed single, turning his probing mind on himself. —Jim Vorel


9. Six Feet Under

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Created by: Alan Ball
Stars: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Six Feet Under is a television show that attempts to find reason and order in death, but then every episode totally fails. Through the eyes of the Fisher family’s proprietors and operators of a funeral home in Los Angeles, death is an inevitability stripped of all romance, and yet the series—as it follows the lives of eldest brother Nate Fisher and his loved ones—can never escape the fear at the core of even the most jaded people’s relationship with mortality. Opaquely funny, tender, heartrending and sometimes deeply uncomfortable, Six Feet Under balks, down to the marrow of its bones, at the idea that there is reason in death. And in turn, every episode begins with a functionally freak fatality, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to binge watch the series without concluding that death will find us when we least expect it, no matter what we do or no matter how we hide. Somehow, though, Six Feet Under is never morbid, instead concerned with celebrating the lives of its ensemble however they happen to play out, sensitive to the fact that though they run a funeral home, they have as little insight into the meaning of life as anyone else navigating modernity at the turn of the century. Pretty much the polar opposite of Ball’s True Blood, Six Feet Under is, I’m not sure how else to put it, a TV show about life, all of it, and if you aren’t drenched with tears by the time it all ends, you should probably have someone check your pulse. —Dom Sinacola


10. Fleabag

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Created by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Stars: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Jenny Rainsford, Bill Paterson, Olivia Coleman, Brett Gelman, Hugh Skinner
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

TV and cinema have proffered plenty of variations on the theme of whip-smart women struggling with emotional crises while also making questionable romantic and sexual decisions. But almost none have had the raw wit and impressive depth of the BBC-born, Amazon Prime-fostered Fleabag. Writer/performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge is heartbreaking and hilarious in the role of a silver-tongued Londoner still reeling from the deaths of her mother and her best friend but stifling any negative emotions through her endless barrage of witty rejoinders and bad behavior.

Over these half-dozen half-hours, the titular Fleabag finds her steely exterior roughly chipped away as her relationships start to crumble around her, revealing just how lonely she really is. Fleabag strikes every note with poise and self-possession, never getting too maudlin or too clownish and trusting in an incredibly strong cast (particularly Bill Paterson and Olivia Colman as her withering father and evil stepmother, and Sian Clifford as her tightly-wound sister) to maintain that equilibrium. The steady hand at the wheel is Waller-Bridge herself, in a dazzling, nuanced dual performance as the writer and star of each episode, resulting in gaspingly hilarious, achingly human television. Robert Ham


11. Deadwood

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Created by: David Milch
Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, Jim Beaver, Brad Dourif, Paula Malcomson, William Sanderson, Kim Dickens, Keith Carradine
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Few shows sound as profanely inspired as Deadwood, which has also been referred to as “Shakespeare in the mud.” It deserves every kudos. The extraordinarily compelling Western is ultimately it’s less concerned with its setting and historical accuracy (though it has plenty to spare) than it is about accurately portraying humans. Why do societies and allegiances form, why are close friends betrayed, and why does humanity’s best seem to always just barely edge out its worst? These are the real concerns that make Deadwood a masterpiece. David Milch created a sprawling, fastidiously detailed world in which to stage his gritty morality plays and with it has come as close as anyone to creating a novel on-screen. With assistance from some truly memorable acting by Ian McShane, Brad Dourif and Paula Malcomson, Deadwood’s sometimes over-the-top representations never veer far enough from reality for its inhabitants to become just characters. (A recent movie on HBO also helps sew things up in a satisfying way after the original series’ sudden ending). —Sean Gandert and Allison Keene


12. Twin Peaks

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Created by: David Lynch, Mark Frost
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Joan Chen, Eric Da Re, Sherilyn Fenn
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Amazon Prime

At its heart, Twin Peaks was a detective story, with Dale Cooper (Kyle Maclachan), a stalwart, by-the-book FBI agent, descending upon the small logging town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of a young woman. But since this was a TV series conceived using the weird and wonderful visions of David Lynch, it wound up being so much more. Like its nearest antecedent, Blue Velvet, it explores the strangeness that lies beneath the surface of Anytown, U.S.A., including a lot of soap opera-like psychosexual drama and assorted oddball characters like The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) and agoraphobic Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen). The horror of the show came in with the supernatural underpinnings of this storyline, with the killer of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) potentially being an otherworldly force that goes by the name of Bob. Through Lynch’s lens and through the guise of actor Frank Silva, that spirit permeated every last scene in the show, no matter how outlandish and far-reaching it got. With the help of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score and the atmosphere created by the set designers, you spent the entirety of the two seasons waiting for something terrible to happen to everyone on screen. And it only made those moments—when things did go sour—feel that much worse. Twin Peaks: The Return, continues with wild surrealism and resistance to narrative confirm the visionary nature of Lynch’s original, including one of the most visually stunning episodes of all time. —Robert Ham


13. Parks and Recreation

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Created by: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Stars: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Parks and Recreation started its run as a fairly typical mirror of The Office, but by its second and third seasons, the student became the master. As it became fleshed out with oddballs and unusual city quirks, Pawnee has become the greatest television town since Springfield. Parks flourished over the years with some of the most unique and interesting characters in modern comedy. And the beloved series accomplished the near-impossible by going out on top in 2015. Comedies, in particular, have a difficult time knowing when it’s time to take a bow. But Leslie Knope and her merry band of friends kept us laughing (and crying) right up until the series finale, which offered a powerfully good farewell to one of the most creative and beloved network series in history. —Ross Bonaime and Amy Amatangelo


14. NYPD Blue

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Created by: Steven Bochco, David Milch
Stars: Dennis Franz, David Caruso, James McDaniel, Nicholas Turturro, Sharon Lawrence, Gordon Clapp, Jimmy Smits, Kim Delaney
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Detective Andy Sipowicz. That’s really all you need to know about NYPD Blue. In the recovering alcoholic who suffered more than Job, Dennis Franz created one of television’s best and most iconic characters. By the end of the series’ 12-season run, Sipowicz could have spent an entire episode saying nothing at all, and we still would have known exactly what he was thinking. The landmark show may be remembered for pushing the boundaries of network television (hello, naked behinds!) or for how David Caruso infamously departed the series after the first season, but its true genius was in the way that it seamlessly and authentically wove the characters’ personal lives with the cases they were investigating. While watching, we felt immersed in the 15th Precinct. Gritty, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and, at times, hilarious, the series set the bar high for all cop dramas that would follow. If you can only watch one episode, I would direct you to “Heart and Souls,” which aired November 24, 1998 and is one of the finest episodes ever about death. I still get chills thinking about it. —Amy Amatangelo


15. The Night Manager

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Created by: Stephen Garrett
Stars: Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Debicki, Olivia Coleman, Alistair Petrie
Original Network: AMC

Watch on Amazon Prime

John le Carre stories are usually morose or opaque, as spies are seen either trapped in dark and cold worlds or dealing with the monotony that makes up most of their days (witness Gary Oldman’s slow, emotionless swim to fill the days of his “retirement” in the 2011 film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). But not The Night Manager. In this visually stunning and exceptionally compelling miniseries, we have bona fide movie star Tom Hiddleston looking dashing in linen suits—or sometimes nothing at all—as he goes undercover in the world of yachts and fresh lobster salads to take down Hugh Laurie’s Dickie Roper, the worst man in the world—the type of person who learns of a sarin gas attack and thinks “business opportunity.”

But all the glitz and double crossing isn’t all that sells this production. Attention must also be given to the supporting cast. Tom Hollander’s Lance “Corky” Corkoran could have been your typical nefarious character who’s onto our hero, but instead he’s an addict in desperate need of Roper’s attention, which is all the more delicious. The fact that Olivia Coleman was very pregnant while shooting made the obsession that her character, agent Angela Burr, had with taking down Roper much more real and dangerous. Most impressive of all might be breakout star Elizabeth Debicki, who played the beautiful, if dead-eyed, Jed Marshall who knows she made a deal with the devil and doesn’t quite know how to get out of that web. —Whitney Friedlander


16. Enlightened

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Created by: Mike White and Laura Dern
Stars: Laura Dern, Mike White, Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd, Sarah Burns, Timm Sharp
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Much like its volatile lead heroine, HBO’s Enlightened demonstrated a disorientating oscillation between intensely emotional naval-gazing and abrasive, cringe-worthy comedy. Having found the proper balance approximately halfway through the first year, showrunner/co-star Mike White found a groove. Perhaps more so than any show on TV, Enlightened’s episodes were driven less by plot and more by characters’ interior lives. With its sunny, colorful visual palate masking an undeniable undercurrent of melancholy, the show was certainly never afraid to wear its heart (painfully) on its sleeve. Led by a career-defining performance from Laura Dern as the troubled protagonist, the show also milked great work from other series regulars, including White, Luke Wilson and Dern’s real-life mother Diane Ladd as Amy’s own long-suffering mother. And while one can mourn the episodes and story arcs that will never be, the show’s finale gives the entire series the poignant and conclusive crescendo it deserves. —Mark Rozeman


17. Mozart In the Jungle

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Created by: Paul Weitz, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman
Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Lola Kirke, Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell
Original Network: Amazon, 2014-2018

Watch on Amazon Prime

Based on the salacious memoir by noted oboist Blair Tindall about the down-and-dirty world of the New York classical music scene, Mozart in the Jungle plays like a rock-and-roll tell-all where the players are equipped with violins and woodwinds instead of guitars and drums. Acting as Tindall’s stand-in is Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke) an ambitious, if reserved oboist who finds herself thrust into the high-stakes, cutthroat world of a major New York symphony orchestra in the months before its season-opening performance. Kirke’s charming and grounded protagonist provides a nice anchor when paired with the show’s more wonderfully outlandish characters, which includes turns from Saffron Burrows, Bernadette Peters, and Malcolm McDowell. The series’ true star, however, is Gael Garcia Bernal as the ensemble’s eccentric and flamboyant new conductor who struggles to reconcile his experimental tendencies with the symphony’s more rigid, conservative structure. Even as it gathers up more emotional depth and complexity throughout its short run, Mozart in the Jungle is the kind of fun and vibrant experience that one would have no trouble bingeing in a day or two. —Mark Rozeman


18. Friday Night Lights

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Created by: Peter Berg
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Taylor Kitsch, Jesse Plemons, Aimee Teegarden, Michael B. Jordan, Jurnee Smollett
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Who ever thought football, a sport infamous for its meatheads and brute force, could be the cornerstone of one of television’s most delicate, affecting dramas? Heart-rending, infuriating, and rife with shattering setbacks and grand triumphs—Friday Night Lights is all of these, and in those ways it resembles the game around which the tiny town of Dillon, Texas, revolves. “Tender” and “nuanced” aren’t words usually applicable to the gridiron, but they fit the bill here, too. Full of heart but hardly saccharine, shot beautifully but hyper-realistically, and featuring a talented cast among which the teenagers and parents are—blessedly—clearly defined, the show manages to convince episode after episode that, yes, football somehow really is life. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. —Rachael Maddux


19. Generation Kill

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Created by: David Simon, Ed Burns, Evan Wright
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, James Ransone, Lee Tergesen, Jon Huertas, Stark Sands
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

One of David Simon’s lesser-known but most impressive projects, Generation Kill is based on the true story of a Marine reconnaissance division during the first 40 days of the Iraq War. A kind of miniature, modern Band of Brothers, Generation Kill introduces us to a dizzying number of soldiers that we will, by the end, come to know like family. The miniseries is blisteringly honest, funny, difficult, and haunting. Over a decade after it was made, its truths are (perhaps sadly) still incredibly relevant—politically, positionally, and personally. Boasting an outstanding cast (many of whom you’ll recognize from a variety of other projects), Generation Kill is must-see television. And when it’s over, like the soldiers it portrays, you’ll be left wondering what comes next that will matter this much. —Allison Keene


20. Carnivàle

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Created by: Daniel Knauf
Stars: Michael J. Anderson, Clancy Brown, Tim DeKay, Clea DuVall, Toby Huss, Nick Stahl
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

One of the strangest, deepest, and most beautiful series ever on television, Carnivàle takes place in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression of the 1930s and follows a young gifted man who seems to be able to manipulate the forces of life and death. A superhero story this is not, although there is a lot of spiritually-tinged lore that becomes more prominent in the show’s second (and final) season. This outstanding series explores life in a sideshow caravan full of societal outcasts who have created their own makeshift family, but there are so many interesting, heartbreaking, and even spooky stories that are also broached along the way. Carnivàle is a puzzle box show that is about so much more than that, as its mysteries and connections run deep. The attention to production design and care taken in telling the stories of these forgotten people is truly something special, if you dare to take a peek behind the curtain. —Allison Keene


21. Catastrophe

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Created by: Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan
Stars: Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

Catastrophe is one of the decade’s best series. It’s one of the medium’s funniest comedies, with humor that cuts to the core of life’s daily hassles. It’s an achingly honest show about marriage, parenting, and the daily slog of raising a family—particularly when your children are young. The series revolves around a happenstance couple—American Rob and Irish Sharon—who decide to get married and live in London after Sharon gets pregnant in the wake of their one-night stand. It is, as the title says, a (beautiful) catastrophe.

The series’ greatest gift is its dark, dark humor. On TV, children are often treated as an accessory or a character trait not as beloved tiny humans who have an enormous impact on your life. That never happened on Catastrophe. The series’ look at marriage, particularly a marriage in the thick of raising small children, was equally realistic. As it ended its incredibly short four-season run (each season running a brisk six episodes with a fantastically bracing credits sequence), Catastrophe was as sharp, as biting, as witty as ever. Few shows have the luxury of going out on such a creative high. —Amy Amatangelo and Allison Keene


22. Veep

Created by: Armando Iannucci
Stars: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Veep satirizes the political world by distilling it down to what the public likes to watch most: the screw-ups. From foot-in-mouth moments to mis-sent documents to squeaky shoes, everything Selina Meyer (Julia Louis Dreyfus) does is scrutinized, turned into an offense, and spit back at her through the distorted prism of Twitter and never-ending public opinion polling. They never specify Meyer’s political party, and it’s no surprise that its fans span the political spectrum. Because the main thing Veep stays true to is shining a light on the people more desperate to be near power than to make any real social impact. Dreyfus may also be the funniest person on TV; she’ll truly commit to a bit, and she has a habit of taking them beyond surface level cute into the truly disastrous and unflattering. Selina Meyer doesn’t walk into glass doors, she shatters them and stands in a pile of glass with bleeding cuts all over her face. She takes bad advice, wears terrible hats, gets a Dustin Hoffman haircut, and can’t go abroad without committing terrible international faux pas. And Selina is at her best as a character when she’s at her most terrible,full of ego, more concerned with being liked than passing legislation, and blaming her staff for her mistakes. Selina’s bag man Gary (Tony Hale) is a glorious sad sack, and Dan Egan (Reid Scott) is so coldly ambitious his every misstep feels like a victory. But for every unknowingly selfish thing each person says, Veep’s ace-in-the-hole is Anna Chlumsky’s Amy, whose Olympic-level reaction faces land everyone else’s jokes. And the smaller recurring roles offer cameos from some of America’s best improvisers. Through and through, it’s a comedy nerd’s dream team. —Erica Lies


23. The Good Wife

Created by: Robert King, Michelle King
Stars: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi, Graham Phillips, Makenzie Vega, Josh Charles
Original Network: CBS

Are network dramas supposed to be this good? Julianna Margulies stars as the title character Alicia Florrick, who (in a storyline ripped from many, many headlines) is subjected to public humiliation when her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), the District Attorney of Chicago, is caught cheating with a prostitute. The scandal forces Alicia back into the workforce, and she takes a job with her (very sexy) old law school friend Will Gardner (Josh Charles). But Alicia is not your typical “stand by your man” woman and The Good Wife is not your typical show. The brilliance of the series is that it deftly blends multiple and equally engaging storylines that both embrace and defy genre conventions. Each episode is an exciting combination of political intrigue, inner-office jockeying, family strife, sizzling romance, and intriguing legal cases. The series features a fantastic array of guest stars, and creates a beguiling and believable world where familiar characters weave in and out of Alicia’s life just like they would in real life: You’ll be fascinated by Archie Panjabi’s mysterious Kalinda Sharma, delighted by Zach Grenier’s mischievous David Lee, marvel at Christine Baranski’s splendid Diane Lockhart. And, witness the transformative performance Alan Cummings gives as the cunning Eli Gold. But the real reason to stick with the series is to partake in the show’s game-changing fifth season. Many series start to fade as they age, but The Good Wife peaked late in its mostly glorious seven season run. —Amy Amatangelo


24. Justified

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Created by: Graham Yost
Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Natalie Zea, Walton Goggins
Original Network: FX

Watch on Amazon Prime

Look, we’ll keep it simple: Award-worthy guest stars (Margo Martindale, Mykelti Williamson, and Neal McDonough) were the rule not the exception on this Kentucky-based gem. Combine that with the best ensemble on television (anchored by Timothy Olyphant, Walter Goggins and Joelle Carter), firecracker writing from show-runner Graham Yost with a dependable stable of wordsmiths, and the feature-film quality direction and cinematography from Francis Kenny, Michael Dinner and others, and what do you get? An instant classic that improbably translates Elmore Leonard’s twisted humor, Western deconstruction and damaged psyches into hour-long gems episode after episode. —Jack McKinney


25. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Creator: Larry David
Stars: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Set aside the recent revival for a a moment: Larry David pulled off the rare successful second act in television comedy. Curb Your Enthusiasm was Seinfeld-ian in its rhythms, with David basically playing the George Costanza version of himself as an eternally perturbed and self-defeating schlemiel who just happens to be fantastically wealthy after creating a show called Seinfeld. A lot of cringe comedy forgets to actually be funny, but that was never a problem for Curb, which remained as funny (and cringeworthy) as ever over the eight seasons of its original run. And it’s not just the increasingly uncomfortable situations or David’s masterful escalation from annoyance to rage to embarrassment that made the show work so well. David surrounded himself with a fantastic cast, from regulars like Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, JB Smoove and Susie Essman, to such recurring guest stars as Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Bob “Super Dave” Osborne. Oh, and also there’s an entire season about a Seinfeld reunion, guest starring the original cast. Curb can be hard to watch at times, but it was always hilarious, and was HBO’s trademark comedy throughout the last decade. —Garrett Martin


26. Sex and the City

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Created by: Darren Star
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Okay, bad news first: Darren Star’s Sex and the City was not a perfect show. Most of us who watched could not relate to the very specific demographic of women who were showcased. And, for a series whose beating heart was NYC, the show did not do well in its presentation of gay characters or characters of color (whenever they showed up). Hell, even the main character was problematic and difficult to root for at times. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) was the not-so-eloquent writer who was better at choosing a pair of Manolo Blahniks than making decisions in her love life (Team Aiden?). This was an infuriating show to experience sometimes, and that’s partly why we loved it. It remains a phenomenon, and as cliché as it may sound, it opened the door for more complex narratives about women and sex, and it did so unapologetically thanks in large part to Kim Cattrall’s role as Samantha Jones. And if Samantha was too much for you, Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) offered up their own unique perspectives, giving the foursome an original, entertaining, and important balance of personalities and feminist (or anti-feminist) outlooks. So when we talk about the impact of HBO, Sex and the City has to be a big part of the discussion. This is especially true in a time when shows like True Detective are being accused of putting their women characters in lazy, typical plot positions, without agency. Whatever class issues, or race issues, or gender and sexuality issues Sex and the City might have swept under the rug (or addressed in a problematic way), it still functioned as a loud, oft-obscene call for agency among the marginalized. And it did all of this with some of the funniest dialogue and sex talk we’d ever heard. “My man has funky tasting spunk!” will go down in history as one of the most horrifying, incredible TV moments of all time, and that’s just the tip (ahem) of the legendary SATC iceberg. —Shannon M. Houston


27. Peep Show

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Creators: Andrew O’Connor, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain
Stars: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Matt King, Paterson Joseph, Neil Fitzmaurice, Olivia Colman
Original Network: Channel 4 (U.K.)

Watch on Amazon Prime

Although Peep Show has a similar sense of humor to other British sitcoms that came in the wake of The Office, it uses that awkward comedy for a very different purpose. The show’s title comes from the peek we’re offered into its leads’ brains, as throughout the show we’re offered running monologues of their thoughts in a way that almost no other sitcom has tried. More important than this stylistic quirk, though, is Peep Show’s preference for long arcs, continuity and running gags of the sort Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would envy. The show has a deep memory and an equally deep sense of morality, so its characters are never let off the hook, even if it takes a few seasons to see how their horrible actions karmically return for their undoing. Peep Show can be difficult to binge-watch, especially early on, but its short seasons make for filler-free writing, and Mitchell and Webb are so good that they lend their characters a strange likability that’s closer to the U.S. Office than the original. (Of note: Bizarrely, only Season 2 is currently available on Prime) —Sean Gandert


28. Bored To Death

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Created by: Jonathan Ames
Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson, Heather Burns
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

There are the quintessential HBO shows that everyone knows and loves, hailed by critics, audiences, and Twitter alike. There are the ones that maybe you haven’t seen yet, but you’re totally going to catch up on one day, because everyone’s always talking about them. And then there’s a gem like Bored to Death. Those of us who watched Season 1 and immediately fell in love with the ridiculous, weed-laden, NYC misadventures of Brooklyn writer/part-time faux detective Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) and his pals Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and George Christopher (Ted Danson). We felt like we were a part of something special; something off the grid, but better than practically anything on TV. This was especially true for writers, because we really love movies and shows about writers. So when Jonathan stared at the words on his computer screen and the beginning of his second novel and announced to Ray, “I’m at a good stopping place,” we knew what that meant, and we were delighted to be in on the secret. Creator Jonathan Ames (the real one) no doubt drew from his own personal experiences as a novelist and comic memoir writer (those Super Ray drawings are that much more meaningful now), forming a world where a struggling artist has to get a little (or a lot) creative if he’s going to make things happen in his life. With some brilliant performances from Danson, Galifianakis and Heather Burns (and some great appearances from Patton Oswalt, Jenny Slate, Oliver Platt and countless others) Bored to Death gave us an unforgettable, though brief, TV adventure that makes for an excellent binge. —Shannon M. Houston


29. Doctor Who

Created by: Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, Donald Wilson
Stars: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Jodi Whitaker, Peter Capaldi
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Originally launched in 1963, The Doctor returned to the TV screen in 2005, traveling through time and space in the TARDIS, an antiquated and surprisingly spacious blue police box. The special effects may have gotten marginally better, but the camp has stayed the same. With Russell T. Davies at the helm and David Tennant playing the 10th doctor, the show was never better. Now there’s a new Doctor—Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to play the role—to continue, and evolve, the tradition. Josh Jackson


30. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Stars:Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Tony Shalhoub, Michael Zegen and Marin Hinkle
Original Network: Amazon Prime, 2017-present

Watch on Amazon Prime

It has its flaws, but Amy Sherman-Palladino’s tale of a 1950s housewife-turned-aspiring stand-up—starring the luminous Rachel Brosnahan as Midge Maisel—is a real charmer. Whether delivered at cocktail parties, in court, or on stage, Midge’s act, honed into a “tight ten” under the guidance of manager Susie Meyerson (Alex Borstein), is the series’ highlight: When Brosnahan gains steam, Midge’s raw, fast-talking fury becomes a performance, steering into the emotional skid and catching each laugh before it careens off the precipice. She’s a natural because her comedy is, yet Sherman-Palladino’s direction—treating the sets as set pieces, separated from life by the glare of the spotlight—maintains the border between life and art, permeable though it may be. As comedy, and on the subject of comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has the feeling of a star turn, at once vulnerable and self-aware.

Though it has sustained some (perhaps rightful) backlash for being a fantasia of privilege, those fantasy aspects of Maisel are still really fun. It’s wry, witty, and occasionally deeply emotional. But for the most part, it comes down to having a lot of funny words and a lot of beautiful costumes, with the exceptionally charming Brosnahan pulling Maisel back from the brink of occasionally becoming a little too theatrical. In fact, everyone in this swirling, whimsical series is excellent, most especially the aforementioned long-suffering Susie (in particular Susie’s low-stakes kidnapping and her later assimilation into the wealthy Jewish getaway where Midge’s family has holed up for the summer in Season 2). Maisel is pure escapism with some occasional well-earned bite.—Allison Keene and Matt Brennan


31. Hannibal

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Created by: Bryan Fuller
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Hugh Dancy
Original Network: NBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again;Hannibal airing on a broadcast network was nothing short of a minor miracle. After a stellar inaugural year, Bryan Fuller and company dared to up the stakes for their second go-around, taking major creative risks in the process. These risks came in the form of (among other things) sealing the protagonist in jail for a third of the run, killing off a major character, and ending the season with what I can only describe as the visual equivalent of a mic drop. Even in its weaker moments, the show always offered something memorable, whether it be an impressive visual, or an intense dialogue exchange. And while some viewers no doubt came to Hannibal purely for its inventive, if highly gruesome imagery (there’s certainly that in spades), chances are they ended up staying for the compelling writing, hypnotic performances, and luscious, evocative cinematography. —Mark Rozeman


32. Flight of the Conchords

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Created by: James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie
Stars: Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Kristen Schaal, Arj Barker
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

When I hear the words “musical comedy,” I tend to think of old Broadway standards like My Fair Lady or Singin’ in the Rain. No offense to those shows, but I’m very glad that Flight of the Conchords was a musical comedy of a very different kind. Starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the show is the story of an awful two-man band from New Zealand who have an incompetent manager (the wonderful Rhys Darby as Murray Hewitt) and literally one fan (the hilarious, obsessive Kristen Schaal) as they try to make it big in New York. Despite their repeated failures, there’s something both sincere and casual about their approach, which stands in stark contrast to the tense, cynical neuroses you might expect. Each episode is punctuated by two or three songs which range from “very good” to “classic.” If You’re Into it and Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymoceros are two terrific examples of the latter. This is a show that you sink into, and that sweeps you along in its own relaxed rhythms, dispensing the sort of calm, surprising laughs that feels almost therapeutic. —Shane Ryan


33. Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Wil Wheaton
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

The original series was pioneering. Deep Space Nine and Voyager had their moments. But TNG was head-and-shoulders the greatest Star Trek franchise (And one of the best sci-fi series of all time). Jean Luc Picard. Data. Worf. The holodeck. The Borg. Gene Roddenbury must not have had a cynical bone in his body, and watching his characters explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before, I didn’t either. —Josh Jackson


34. Downton Abbey

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Created by: Julian Fellowes
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt
Original Network: PBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

The lush, swirling period piece Downton Abbey is never short on drama or general strife. The ensemble series is extraordinarily well-acted (as evidenced by Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle all receiving Emmy nominations), and there’s perhaps no easier way to describe some of the plot twists than fucking nuts, a term we strongly feel the saucy Dowager Countess would approve of. Amnesia? Yup. Temporary paralysis? Got it. Murder conviction? Oh, big-time. In less capable hands, these stories would’ve likely flown off the rails and veered into the completely ridiculous, but the talented cast of Downton Abbey manage to always handle it with aplomb. As the seasons progressed, many more tragedies would befall the Crawley family, making for some of most compelling television in recent memory, and all capped off with one of TV’s most satsifying finales (and then, another hugely satisfying movie). —Bonnie Stiernberg


35. The Comeback

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Created by: Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow
Stars: Lisa Kudrow, Lance Barber, Robert Michael Morris, Damian Young, Malin Akerman
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

The Comeback was way ahead of its time. Who could have predicted back in 2005 how utterly inane reality TV would become? Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow), that’s who. As the once-popular TV actress desperately trying to make a (you guessed it) comeback, Kudrow is utter perfection. Cast as the (unfortunately named) Aunt Sassy in the comedy Room and Bored, Valerie allows the cameras to follow her every move as she re-launches her career. It doesn’t go well. Valerie is ridiculous and cringe-inducing, but she’s never a flat out caricature. We feel a great deal of empathy for her as she deals with a dismissive and cruel show runner and a world that has left her behind. The show is a scathing look at how Hollywood operates, how TV shows get made, and how actresses not in their twenties are treated by the youth-obsessed entertainment industry. The best thing is that in 2014, The Comeback made a (yeah, you guessed it again) comeback and we got eight more episodes to delight in all things Valerie Cherish. You do need to see that. —Amy Amatangelo


36. Victoria

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Created by: Daisy Goodwin
Stars: Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes, Nell Hudson, David Oakes, Rufus Sewell
Original Network: ITV / PBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

Examining the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, Victoria has never gotten the same attention as its splashy cousin, The Crown. And yet, the series share many similarities. Both feature young women being pushed very suddenly into a royal role they had not been expecting, facing difficulties living under constant public scrutiny, and fighting to command respect from men who do no think them up to the task. Among the politics there are also two beautiful love stories at the center of Victoria; a chaste one between the young queen and her first Prime Minister, “Lord M” (as she calls him), and the other between Victoria and her future husband Albert. Both are unique in their own ways, especially in how the show allows Victoria and Albert to settle into both domestic bliss and the natural scuffles all couples face (augmented, of course, by their positions). The show truly blossoms in its second season, and continues from there to be an emotional and surprisingly cozy portrayal of the royal household, the people it employs, and a nation Victoria and Albert seek to modernize. Gorgeously costumed and compellingly crafted, Victoria is a wonderful series to fully immerse yourself in—one that will (for many Americans, at least) have you constantly on Wikipedia to learn more about the historical events it portrays. —Allison Keene


37. Big Love

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Created by: Mark V. Olsen, Will Scheffer
Stars: Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Shawn Doyle
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

The thing about Big Love is that the actual plot never really mattered as much as the relationships among its characters. One man with three wives living in a modern Utah suburb is certainly an interesting premise, but from the start, the show made it about more than just salacious intrigued at polygamy. It’s about family, and about women supporting each other through difficult times. Bill Hendrickson’s fraught relationship with the fundamentalist compound where he was raised (with its powerful and dangerous prophet) was always a fascinating dynamic, even when those plotlines became increasingly insane as the series wore on. (Bill Paxton was also at his most charming in this series, and he is missed.) But throughout it all, especially those very final scenes, Big Love’s extraordinary cast and casual storytelling style made it essential to watch anything and everything this family did. It introduced a strange and often difficult world, but managed to make it feel like home. —Allison Keene


38. In the Flesh

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Created by: Dominic Mitchell
Stars: Luke Newberry, Harriet Cains, Emmett J Scanlan, Emily Bevan
Original Network: BBC America

Watch on Amazon Prime

If you have grown tired of the zombie takeover of TV, movies and videogames, revive yourself with In the Flesh. Dominic Mitchell’s extraordinary series starts out as something of a satire, where the zombie apocalypse is over, but the undead remain. They’ve been medicated to restore their consciousness, and now suffer from PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome). The specifics of how this would actually play out in a sleepy English village, though, is what gives the series its emotion and charm. Luke Newberry’s Kieren is our window into this strange new world, as the show explores what it would really be like for your family to have moved on from your passing only to take you back in as a reanimated corpse. There are so many political aspects to the series as well—people who accept those with PDS versus people who rally against “rotters.” At the same time, the PDS community is split into wanting to fit back in with society and those who want to return to a “rabid” state (and everything in between). It’s strange and beautiful and complex, most especially in the relationships and friendships that form as well as the heartbreaking revelation of how Kieren first died. The series is a testament to the creativity that can still come out of what seems like an oversaturated genre, and the deep truths that manifest through a focus on what it means to be human. —Allison Keene


39. 24

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Created by: Howard Gordon and Evan Katz
Stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Carlos Bernard, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Dennis Haysbert, Elisha Cuthbert, James Morrison, Kim Raver
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Amazon Prime

It can be hard to recommend 24, the style and spirit of which, with its split screens and ticking clocks, suggest nostalgia for a moment in which the ends were seen—on TV as in government—to justify the means. Of course, this destructive moral calculus was no more convincing in November 2001, when 24 debuted, than it is now: Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow’s counterterrorism thriller may seem outdated, but prescient critics recognized from the start that its treatment of torture, among other topics, reflected a discomfiting willingness to sacrifice our values at the altar of expedience. This isn’t to suggest that 24 never manufactured superb television—I remain staunch in the belief that Jean Smart’s performance as unstable First Lady Martha Logan, in the series’ fifth season, is one of last decade’s finest, opening with camp and ripening into courage—or to deny that I, too, once found it wildly entertaining. (Ages ago, before I had my wisdom teeth removed, I rented a season’s worth of DVDs at Blockbuster and devoured them in a single, painkiller-fueled weekend. It was glorious.) It’s simply to admit that 24 niggles, and to suggest that this is why it remains worth seeing: When cultural historians reflect on America in the first years of the 21st century, 24, in particular the damaged patriotism of Kiefer Sutherland’s unforgettable Jack Bauer, will likely be a primary source. —Matt Brennan


40. The Durrells in Corfu

Created by: Simon Nye
Stars: Keeley Hawes, Milo Parker, Josh O’Connor, Daisy Waterstone, Callum Woodhouse, Alexis Georgoulis, Yorgos Karamihos
Original Network: PBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

One of TV’s brightest gems has one of the strangest names, which means that the series may have passed you by. But it’s never too late to catch up! The Durrells in Corfu just completed its fourth and final season in the U.S., where we say goodbye to this English family living in Greece in the 1930s, just before the dawn of a new war. It sounds very posh, but in fact Louisa Durrell (the exceptionally charming Keeley Hawes) moved her four children from England after the death of her husband because they were struggling financially. Life is (or was, at this time) cheap in Corfu, where the family takes up residence in a wonderfully ramshackle and remote house right on the water—which also lacks electricity or other modern conveniences. The series is loosely based on the real story of the Durrells in a trilogy written by Louisa’s youngest son Gerry (portrayed in the series by Milo Parker). Like all good TV families, they love each other, constantly yell at each other, and also mildly insult one other.

But the less known about the gentle twists the final season takes the better. Suffice it to say that the family continue to have their adventures, but the feeling of things winding down is acute in these last episodes. For those returning to the series, you will be greeted with all of the easy-going, low-key, and whimsical touchstones that have made the show so good over the years. And if you are just now considering catching up, you are in for a treat. (Durrells has a total of 26 episodes, which is not an insurmountable number even in Peak TV!) And you will be the one urging people to get past the strange names of the title (which will no longer be strange to you) and give this wonderful show a chance. It is a soothing, deeply engaging alternative to the sound of fury of so many current dramas. There’s nothing supernatural or world-ending, there’s no excessive violence or gruesome horror. It’s just a quirky little family in an unfamiliar place who bring with them a heaping amount of laughter and joy. And in doing so, Durrells has made itself an essential watch.—Allison Keene


41. Roseanne

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Created by: Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner
Stars:Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, Lecy Goranson and Johnny Galecki
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Premiering near the tail end of the ’80s, Roseanne presented a monumental shift in the depiction of the American family. Like Married…with Children, which had debuted a year-and-a-half beforehand, it was a show with real bite, as evidenced by star Roseanne Barr’s stand-up material. Unlike the Fox program, however, the stories of Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman) and their rambunctious kids were almost always rooted in heart. In a landscape filled with pretty people and their petty problems, Roseanne chose to tackle the realities of a blue-collar family struggling to get by. Besides highlighting a side of America not seen since the heyday of Norman Lear, the show also used its primetime platform to discuss controversial issues of birth control, drug abuse and homosexuality. And though the show’s much maligned final season did not sit well with most audiences, one cannot deny that Roseanne was, like its titular character, bold and uncompromising. Now almost three decades after its premiere, with the world is economic and political upheaval, ABC is rebooting the show. Catch up before it returns but, pro tip, you can skip the final season. Seems like ABC (smartly) plans to act like it never happened. Mark Rozeman and Amy Amatangelo


42. Treme

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Created by: David Simon, Eric Overmyer
Stars: Khandi Alexander, Kim Dickens, India Ennenga, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Wendell Pierce, Jon Seda, Steve Zahn
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

When David Simon’s sprawling, ambitious, post-Katrina New Orleans drama Treme tried to tell big stories to address big problems, it could sometimes feel like homework. But when it chose to focus intently on its myriad characters and the ordinary events of life—the parades and shows and meals and everything else that we fill our time with—there was a wonderful glorification of the city’s people. Characters didn’t need to be doing anything particularly vital, like solving crimes or stirring up trouble, to be important. The historical bent of the show was actually a perfect match for this ordinariness, simply because political and social events are always happening in the background and making up the backdrop of our lives. The Wire was one of the best plotted shows in the history of television, but whenever Treme attempted to replicate any of this formula, it seemed to stumble. Still, the many crowd-pleasing moments throughout the show felt earned, as did our attachments to some of its unforgettable characters. This was the story of a city in crisis making a comeback, all set to one of the best soundtracks known to man. —Sean Gandert and Allison Keene


43. Poldark

Created by: Debbie Horsfield
Stars: Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ruby Bentall. Beatie Edney, Jack Farthing, Heida Reed, Kyle Soller, Richard Harrington, Phil Davis, Warren Clarke
Original Network: BBC One / PBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

Lovers of sweeping, romantic sagas will delight at this Masterpiece presentation, which takes viewers back to the late 1700s following the American Revolutionary War. Ross Poldark, an officer in the British army, returns home to his family estates in Cornwall to discover that not only was he presumed dead, but his father has died, the woman he loves is marrying his cousin, and he has a mountain of debts and no obvious way to raise the funds. Based on the series of 12 novels by Winston Graham, Poldark stars Aidan Turner in the title role. As the heroic Poldark, he vows to sets things to right even as the odds seem insurmountable. And he doesn’t want to succeed out of some sense of upper-class pride, but for the people of Cornwall who have fallen on hard times.—Paulette Cohn


44. Animal Kingdom

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Created by: Jonathan Lisco
Stars: Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary
Original Network: TNT

Watch on Amazon Prime

Unofficially known as “the rude boys of summer,” Animal Kingdom shares only a passing similarity with the movie on which is is based. The setup, now American, places Ellen Barkin’s Smurf as an all-powerful matriarch at the head of an all-male crime family of sons (and one grandson, who is our window into this world of shirtless beach goers who also pull heists), but that is more or less where the crossovers end. Animal Kingdom is a glossy, fun, and occasionally very tense show that pulls off some of the best action sequences on television when it comes to its many, many heists. The personal drama is high and sometimes ridiculous, but the show never falters from being incredibly entertaining and filled with twists. Smurf’s strange, controlling, definitely problematic relationship to her sons is what ties the show’s disparate plots together, but even when that dynamic begins to shift, there is still so much to explore and enjoy with the series. Come for the action, stay for the drama, and get ready to bask in the series’ eternal SoCal summer with a family whose fate you will absolutely become invested in. —Allison Keene


45. Good Omens

Created by: Neil Gaiman
Stars: Michael Sheen, David Tennant
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Neil Gaiman’s passionate fans can safely dive into this adaptation of Good Omens; since the author served as showrunner and handle the script himself, his vision comes through very much intact. The six-part series follows the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant) as they team up to avert the apocalypse. It has sensibilities that recall the work of Terry Gilliam and the films of Powell and Pressburger. It’s funny, eccentric (sometimes downright hammy) and quite poignant, and it’s got a totally delightful script and a mostly amazing cast, including Frances McDormand as the voice of God and Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Satan. But for all its virtues the standout feature of Good Omens is the incredible chemistry between Tennant and Sheen, who make sparks fly every time they appear onscreen together. Happily for us, that’s most of the show.—Amy Glynn


46. Luther

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Created by: Neil Cross
Stars: Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma, Paul McGann, Warren Brown
Original Network: BBC America

Watch on Amazon Prime

Idris Elba as a sad, violent and genius detective, tracking down the weird serial killers of London? It’s a formula that should work, and does. “You care about the dead more than the living,” John Luther’s estranged wife accuses him. She’s right. The detective chief inspector is consumed by his cases, and a months-long suspension seems to have done little good for his mental health. Luther is nothing short of mesmerizing, slicing through suspects with the angry efficiency of a man on the brink. His already tenuous grasp on civility and basic sanity is tested further by the mind games of a woman (The Affair’s Ruth Wilson, seductive and threatening) he knows to have killed her own parents. Psychological sparring aside, this is Elba’s show, so white-hot is Luther in his rage and determination to overcome it. “Do you not worry you’re on the devil’s side without even knowing it?” wonders the tormented cop. Luther’s dread is palpable and contagious. Shane Ryan and Amanda Schurr


47. Oz

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Created by: Tom Fontana
Stars: Kirk Acevedo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ernie Hudson, Terry Kinney, Christopher Meloni, George Morfogen, Rita Moreno, Harold Perrineau, J. K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Eamonn Walker, Dean Winters
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Certainly a “water cooler show” if there ever was one, Oz made waves with its violence and sexual content early on and its equally deep and disturbing storytelling once people got over the fact that it was set in a maximum security prison. It’s probably safe to say that there’s an entire subset of former viewers out there who think of every prison and prison caricature in terms of what they saw on Oz, from the racial gangs to the unpredictable violence and stress of daily living. A truly ensemble cast was one of the selling points for the large and ambitious HBO series, which showed that an adult-content drama could still turn great ratings. The fact that it was on a premium network was essential, allowing a much deeper (and more realistic) depiction of the horrors of incarceration in the United States. —Jim Vorel


48. Rome

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Created by: John Milius, William J. MacDonald, Bruno Heller
Stars: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Ciarán Hinds, Kenneth Cranham, Lindsay Duncan, Tobias Menzies, Polly Walker
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Soon after starting Rome, it will have you shouting: “The 13th!!!!” in solidarity with its lead centurions Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. The duo have a kind of Odd Couple dynamic that is bonded in blood and brotherhood, as the series tracks the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. An ambitious and enthralling series, Rome was also expensive, and an ill-advised sprint through the timeline in Season 2 botched things enough for that to be that. But going from the story of these simple but compelling legionnaires through the betrayal of Caesar and the increasing excess of the Roman elites leading up to Antony and Cleopatra is all incredibly entertaining. A kind of proto-Game of Thrones in many ways, Rome boasts an outstanding cast, bloody battles, and plenty of political machinations to keep you pressing “Play Next” until its epic tale comes to an end. —Allison Keene


49. The Expanse

Created by: Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
Stars: Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Paulo Costanzo
Original Network: Syfy, 2015-present

Watch on Amazon Prime

In Syfy’s The Expanse, Mars and Earth are two superpowers racing to gain the technological upper hand, while those who live in the Asteroid Belt mine resources for the more privileged planets and become more and more prone to radicalization.

Sound familiar?

In its relationship to our own age of authoritarianism, the series offers a kind of storytelling that seems essential: It manages to paint a portrait of a divided universe without vilifying one group and raising the other to god-like status, as evidenced by the complexities of hardboiled detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) or U.N. official Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The Expanse shows us a possible future, a future in which women can be leaders without the bat of an eye, in which racially diverse groups can unite in common cause, but it is also a warning about keeping institutions in check, about recognizing inequality wherever it might exist, in order to avoid past mistakes. In other words, it’s must-watch television for our time. —Elena Zhang


50. Howards End

Created by: Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen, Philippa Coulthard, Alex Lawther, Tracey Ullman, Julia Ormond
Original Network: Starz / PBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

The gorgeous four-part miniseries adaptation of E.M. Forester’s masterful Howards End stars Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel, the older sister (and de facto matriarch) of a progressive and independent family living in early 20th century London. Margaret and her siblings are on the forefront of changing social mores, sometimes controversially so, and it defines her relationship with an older, wealthy widower, Henry Wilcox (Matthew Macfadyen), whose conservative values clash with hers. The story feels timely in many ways, although the genuine curiosity and politeness with which these issues are broached can seem lamentably foreign. The series, stunningly directed by Hettie MacDonald and wonderfully adapted by Kenneth Lonergan, is in many ways an atypical and refreshing period piece. Anchored by outstanding performances, the series shines in its quiet moments of personal fortitude and in confronting one’s own biases in endlessly intriguing ways. It is truly a must-watch. —Allison Keene


51. Undone

Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Kate Purdy
Stars: Rosa Salazar, Angelique Cabral, Constance Marie, Siddharth Dhananjay, Daveed Diggs, Bob Odenkirk
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Loops, quantum entanglement, and a lot of screwed-up people: Time travel shows have fully embraced the inverse relationship between narrative linearity and character troubles. The latest to do so is Undone, the rotoscoped Amazon series from BoJack Horseman creators Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg. It’s not just nonlinear—it’s antilinear. Linear storytelling is antithetical to its entire premise, as embracing atypical perception is its goal. The diverse (and neurodiverse) experiences of its characters—told through immigrant stories, multicultural backgrounds, and yes, those that can screw with the timeline—exist to create a message of complicated inclusion that makes the bold yet repetitive show completely unique. Thankfully, it’s also visually exciting enough to sustain most of its philosophical musings, with a central character charming enough to shoulder some head-shaking misfires.

Rosa Salazar plays Alma, a small-scale rebel—one who wouldn’t feel out of place in a Linklater film—who has a brush with death in a car accident. Afterwards, the ordinarily strict workings of time play hooky and she sees her dead dad (Bob Odenkirk) appear before her. He goes full Hamlet and tells her that he was actually murdered. Of course, Alma is the only one who can set things right thanks to her special abilities.

It’s a strange story, and it only gets stranger as we follow Alma down the rabbit hole. The characters, which include Alma’s sister Becca (Angelique Cabral) and mom Camila (Constance Marie) alongside her ghost pop’s existential Yoda (there’s even a “there is no ‘try’” moment), are more coherent than the tale they’re telling, which is the only way a show that’s attempting to be mysterious but not cliffhanger-y can keep you watching. Undone is ambitious to a fault, beautiful as all get-out, but more enjoyable when its focus doesn’t stray too far from its great lead performance.—Jacob Oller


52. Patriot

Created by: Steve Conrad
Stars: Michael Dorman, Terry O’Quinn, Kurtwood Smith, Michael Chernus, Kathleen Munroe, Aliette Opheim
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

What if 007 dealt with his PTSD and the moral ambiguities of being a spy by revealing his deepest inner turmoil (and state secrets) at open-mic nights in Amsterdam? What if Q had trouble requisitioning his apartment with a single chair? And M sent him to work at a piping firm in the Midwest with an extra digit in his social security number? What if the American version of a Bond film replaced the car chases, femme fatales and slick gadgets with the dark humor of the Coen brothers, mixing deep ennui with side-splitting moments of levity? That’s Patriot in a nutshell. The stakes are high—keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of an Iranian extremist leader—but everything depends on our hero, John Tavner, (Michael Dormer) first navigating the mid-level corporate world of industrial piping. —Josh Jackson


53. Boardwalk Empire

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Created by: Terence Winter
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Easily dismissed as just a Sopranos clone set in the 1920s (although gorgeously so), Boardwalk Empire wisely took many of the best elements of its predecessor and expanded its scope. It’s this wide-ranging spotlight, drifting from the highest levels of political office down to lowly bootleggers and prostitutes, that makes the show something special, offering up morality plays that hold the lives of millions at stake while putting an actual face on those being affected. The show’s political commentary is apt without seeming preachy, while characters maintained the balance between being archetypal ciphers and real people. Boardwalk Empire isn’t as energetic as other dramas but its meticulous slow-burn has a depth and beauty to it that’s rarely been matched on the little screen. And it only improved over time as it became less concerned with the minutiae of New Jersey politics in favor of featuring a much more compelling national landscape. As a result, both its characters and its stories became grander, more operatic, and expressionistic. —Sean Gandert


54. The Missing

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Created by: Harry Williams, Jack Williams
Stars: James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor, Tchéky Karyo, David Morrissey, Keeley Hawes
Original Network: Starz

Watch on Amazon Prime

The Missing is an engrossing crime anthology series from Harry and Jack Williams that tells two very different stories of missing children; in the first hauntingly-filmed season, an English couple are on vacation in France when the father loses sight of their child. Blame, shame, and an obsessive search for truth dominate this incredibly-acted season that jumps through time to examine the toll taken by such a tragedy, yet done in beautifully human ways that never make it oppressive. In the second season, a missing child returns after many years, but the family is not quite sure that they believe she is who she claims to be (while hoping desperately that she’s telling the truth). Both iterations feature a common detective, Julien Baptiste, who is such a compelling character that he is getting his own spinoff. Though they can be difficult given the subject matter, both seasons of The Missing are well worth exploring. — Allison Keene


55. Eastbound & Down

Created by: Ben Best, Jody Hill, Danny McBride
Stars: Danny McBride, Steve Little, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, Jennifer Irwin
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

I can pinpoint the exact moment I turned into a massive Danny McBride fan, having previously been confused and annoyed by his presence in Pineapple Express. (I was in the wrong, I know). Early in the first season, Kenny Powers downs a beer in his car while listening to his own audiobook. As he puts in a new cassette of his boastful, foul-mouthed ramblings, a calm male audiobook voice intones “You’re listening to You’re Fucking Out, I’m Fucking In, by Kenny Powers.” All was forgiven. Initially conceived as a movie that became too good at four hours to cut down to two, Eastbound & Down turned the story of a washed up ex-major league pitcher obsessively striving for relevancy into a comeback story of epic proportions. Kenny would undergo an absurd odyssey on his path back to fame, but series creators McBride, Jody Hill, and Ben Best would never sacrifice their honest portrait of a man eaten alive by his own ego for the sake of a joke (except, of course in that insane episode with Will Ferrell, a Civil War plantation, and a cannon). The same team reunited for the tonally similar Vice Principals and now The Righteous Gemstones, again capitalizing on McBride’s magnetic, spontaneous onscreen presence, and adding in a killer repartee with Walton Goggins. —Graham Techler


56. Mr. Robot

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Created by: Sam Esmail
Stars: Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin
Original Network: USA

Watch on Amazon Prime

Mr. Robot’s Elliot Alderson (Emmy winner Rami Malek) remains one of the most seductive characters on television. To set an hour-long drama more or less inside its own protagonist’s head is a bold gambit, and Elliot, his philosophical narration roiling beneath his placid surface, is a convincing guide through creator Sam Esmail’s tumult of hallucinations, memories, delusions, and dreams. If the draw in Season 1 was its (rarely seen on TV) anti-capitalism, Season 2 witnesses Mr. Robot emerge as a claustrophobic portrait of a young man’s psychological extremes, and that it works at all is thanks mostly to our desire to understand the cryptic, complicated, always compelling Elliot.

Beginning its fourth and final season with some big shifts for its characters (including at least one shocking death), Mr. Robot remained awe-inspiring for the ways in which it plays with the concept of what you can do on television. Few shows have ever delivered the same level of creative spark on a weekly basis, but that’s because Sam Esmail is only one man; the creator and auteur has truly made his mark on the TV landscape with each inventive choice. The season continues to focus on the increased threat presented by the mysterious Whiterose (B.D. Wong) and Elliot’s (Rami Malek) efforts to take her down, was a strong opening that delivered a few major twists. It’s all-consuming television that never takes its foot off the accelerator, except for the occasional moment of grieving that reminds us that these characters might be caught up in a crazy global conspiracy, but that doesn’t make them any less human. —Liz Shannon Miller and Matt Brennan


57. American Horror Story

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Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Stars: Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, Cheyenne Jackson, Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga
Original Network: FX

Watch on Amazon Prime

Even fervent fans of Ryan Murphy’s high-camp horror anthology American Horror Story would have a tough time defending its latter seasons, most recently “the emptily political” Cult. But the first three story arcs—Murder House, Asylum and Coven—pushed the bounds of scary storytelling on television and helped kick off a small-screen horror renaissance—as well as the anthology series explosion—when AHS first debuted around Halloween 2011. AHS’ evolution from a genuinely terrifying first season starring Connie Britton to the gore-porn fifth season that earned Lady Gaga a Golden Globe mirrors just about every major horror film franchise: a shockingly strong start, followed by unexpected space shenanigans, complicated continuity callbacks, distracting guest stars, openly humorous installments and the departure of key players (most notably Jessica Lange, Murphy’s muse for the second, third and fourth seasons after her breakout supporting turn in the first). This murderous medley of elements clutters the show, but can’t suppress the glee that a horror hound feels seeing so many well-known genre tropes recycled and repurposed by Murphy and his rotating cast of players, from the chameleonic Sarah Paulson, to Misery’s Kathy Bates. American Horror Story may be a big, bloody mess, but it’s clearly in love with the genre in its title. —Steve Foxe


58. The Boys

Created by: Eric Kripke
Stars: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

At no point did I ever expect to say The Boys was the best thing I’ve seen on TV all year, especially given that it’s been promoted with clips putting the focus on shocking acts of superheroes behaving badly. But the reality is The Boys is the first true surprise of 2019, walking a careful line between Robocop and The X-Files to deliver eight jaw-dropping hours of TV.

Based on Garth Ennis’ bloodsoaked comic book satire of the same name, Amazon’s The Boys takes place in a world where superheroes are modern celebrities. Thanks to a partnership with the ironically Amazon-like corporate juggernaut Vought International, over 200 supers bring in billions a year from movies, commercials, and every endorsement that comes within reach. When a superpowered being behaves a badly, Vought is there to pick up the pieces, sometimes of people’s families. The world we see in The Boys is a savagely cynical place, full of sociopathic superheroes, conspiracies, staggering violence, and debauchery.

Yes, it’s crass as hell and one of the most violent shows on TV right now. But deep down, when you push past the gore, sex, and horrors committed to screen, the thing that sticks with you is the show’s emotional core. That, and a truly shocking final sequence that will leave fans of the comics reeling and new devotees Google searching for when Season 2 will drop. If you’ve grown tired of superhero stories, here’s one last essential tale to take out your frustrations on people who wear capes.—John-Michael Bond


59. Orphan Black

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Created By: Graeme Manson, John Fawcett
Stars: Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Michael Mando, Maria Doyle Kennedy
Original Network: BBC America, 2013-2017

Watch on Amazon Prime

Having one actor play several characters in a single show is nothing new, but that doesn’t take away from what Tatiana Maslany accomplished in BBC America’s Orphan Black. Maslany played a host of clones on a sci-fi show that’s not just for sci-fi fans. Her main character, Sarah Manning, is a young British mother living in Canada. A small-time con artist, she’s trying and failing to get her life together when she sees her doppelgänger commit suicide by stepping in front of a train. After stealing the woman’s purse and identity, Sarah the con artist becomes Beth the cop, scrambling to fool her partner and discovering more women who look just like her. Each one she comes across—the uptight suburban mom, the gay hipster scientist, the Ukrainian religious fanatic—feels like such a different character that it’s easy to forget that the same actress is behind them all. And though there are elements of sci-fi—human cloning and the Neolutionists who believe in scientifically improving themselves (one character has a tail)—most of the characters aren’t the type who would even watch sci-fi. The show is as much about identity and motherhood as it is the consequences of technology. But none of it would work without the humanity Maslany brings to each of the clones she portrays in the show. —Josh Jackson


60. Homecoming

Created by: Eli Horowitz, Micah Bloomberg
Stars: Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James, Shea Whigham
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Walter Cruz (Stephan James) is a young veteran who, along with his friend Shrier (Jeremy Allen White) and a few dozen more, has checked into the Homecoming facility to help adjust to civilian life. And it’s weird. Things are off, but we can’t really put our fingers on why. We also meet Julia Roberts’ Heidi Bergman, Walter’s caseworker, who immediately appeals to our need for stability—until we realize, thanks to a multi-year flash forward where she’s working as a waitress with only fuzzy memories of Homecoming, that she’s not stable at all. What the hell happened between now and then? And, wait, what exactly was going on then, anyways? Directed by Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail, Amazon Prime’s Homecoming is a blessed 10 half-hour episodes. That alone should be enough to get you in the door. What will keep you there is a stunning story of purpose, justice, and the work ethic that powers both the evil of America and the forces trying to save it. You will be sucked into one of the year’s most compelling mysteries. —Jacob Oller


61. A Very English Scandal

Created by: Russell T Davies, Stephen Frears
Stars: Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

Whether it’s the Catholic Church or the casting couch, the idea of people in power taking advantage of people who aren’t is not exactly a revolutionary concept. But what makes this uproarious and charming biopic’s comedy of errors so compelling is the sheer absurdity of the lengths to which a high-ranking man will go to cover up his misdeeds and how poorly he and his cronies do so. (Thanks to Amazon Prime for an optional annotation feature to deepen the context of some scenes).

Hugh Grant, an actor who’s has had his own taste of scandal, is just the right bit of naughty as closeted MP Jeremy Thorpe (the way he sticks his tongue in his cheek when demanding anal sex might even be funny in a different political climate). And Ben Whishaw’s portrayal of the pure-hearted innocent (or, depending on who you ask, “innocent”) Norman Josiffe makes me want to hug him, especially after a dog is sacrificed instead of him. He just wanted his National Health Insurance card. —Whitney Friedlander


62. Damages

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Created by: Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman
Stars: Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan, Ted Danson, Noah Bean, Zeljko Ivanek, Marcia Gay Harden
Original Networks: FX, DirecTV

Watch on Amazon Prime

Glenn Close created one of TV’s greatest characters in Patty Hewes, a lawyer who will do anything (legal, illegal, somewhere in between) for her clients. The series is worth watching just for Close’s nuanced, duplicitous, Emmy-winning performance. Just when you thought Patty was pure evil, she would reveal her more vulnerable side. Recent law-school graduate Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) is unwittingly manipulated as part of Patty’s grand scheme. The first season follows the class action case against Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), who has bilked his employees out of their life savings. It’s become commonplace now for TV shows to play with time and the sequence of events—to start at the end and work their way backwards. But Damages pioneered this narrative device, simultaneously confusing viewers and allowing them to put together the puzzle. As the series progressed, Patty’s relationship with Ellen only grew more complex and dysfunctional. (For its final two seasons, the series moved to DirecTV.) Just stay away from Statue of Liberty bookends. —Amy Amatangelo


63. The Man in the High Castle

Created by: Frank Spotnitz
Stars: Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, DJ Qualls, Joel de la Fuente, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rufus Sewell, Brennan Brown, Callum Keith Rennie, Bella Heathcote
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

The Amazon original series, based on the 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, could have landed on a number of other networks—or perhaps even in cinemas—at any other time. But the dystopian drama, set in an alternate history where the United States loses World War II, seems destined for now. the show depicts a not-so-United States in the years following World War II. Germany has taken over the Eastern states. Japan has the West Coast. In between is the neutral zone set along the Rocky Mountains. When Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), a woman in San Francisco, comes into possession of a newsreel-style film that depicts victory for the Allies, it sets her on a journey that will impact everyone around her. But the strangest thing about The Man in the High Castle is what happened in the U.S. less than six weeks before the second season’s premiere. Donald Trump won the presidential election. A stunned nation is now wrestling with “fake news” and “post-truth.” For anyone who woke up on Nov. 9, 2016, feeling as though they slipped into a parallel universe, the show took on new meaning. —Liz Ohanesian


64. Banshee

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Created by: Jonathan Tropper, David Schickler
Stars: Antony Starr, Ivana Mili?evi?, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee
Original Network: Cinemax

Watch on Amazon Prime

So long, Fanshees (that’s what fans of the show called themselves, we swear). Showrunner Jonathan Tropper’s ultraviolent vision of a rural Pennsylvania town besieged by drug dealers and reliant on the heroics of an ex-con jewel thief posing under the assumed identity of a slain local sheriff barely made it across the finish line. The show weathered changes in shooting locations, broadcast delays and an abbreviated eight-episode order, but as aforementioned Fanshees would rightly attest, Banshee’s final season brought the house down with grim deaths, settled scores and fresh starts. Calling Banshee a guilty pleasure overlooks just how unpleasant it could often be, which is what made witnessing Lucas (Antony Starr, now of American Gothic), Carrie (Ivana Milicevic), Brock (Matt Servitto) and Job’s (Hoon Lee, who segued into a starring role in Broadway’s The King and I) survival so compelling. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you ever miss the days of straight-to-cable action flicks with more emphasis on kicking ass than taking names, binge your way through Seasons One, Two and Three via Amazon Prime, then take a necessary breather until its climactic chapters are released. —Staff


65. Humans

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Created by: Sam Vincent, Jonathan Brackley
Stars: Manpreet Bachu, Emily Berrington, Ruth Bradley, Lucy Carless, Gemma Chan, Pixie Davies, Jack Derges, William Hurt, Marshall Allman, Sonya Cassidy, Carrie-Anne Moss
Original Network: AMC, Channel 4

Watch on Amazon Prime

This AMC series is reminiscent of both Ex Machina and Westworld with a story framed around the invention of “synths,” anthropomorphic robots, and the impact they have on the human world. Humans tackles some heavy themes, including memory, personhood, human (and non-human) rights and the fear of things we may not understand. Some of it is well-mined sci-fi territory, but Humans puts a fresh spin on the themes you might remember from old Twilight Zone re-runs. It also features an impeccable cast, led by Gemma Chan, William Hurt and a few others, who turn in some of the most human (and sometimes spooky) performances you’ll see anywhere on TV. The show is actually a remake of a Swedish series, and is one of the few remakes that manage to meet (and sometimes exceed) the quality of the original. —Trent Moore


66. Modern Love

Created by: John Carney
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Dev Petal, John Slattery, Catherine Keener, Andrew Scott, Shea Whigam, Julia Garner
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Where can you find Anne Hathaway, Catherine Keener, Tina Fey, John Slattery, Jane Alexander, Dev Patel and the hot priest from Fleabag?

In Amazon’s delightful, surprising and poignant new eight-episode anthology series Modern Love. Based on the must-read and ever popular New York Times first person column of the same name, each installment stands alone with the vibrant city of New York with all its positives and negatives being the one recurring character. Like the column, the series explores all kinds of love — including romantic, parental, platonic and self. It examines, among other things, the tribulations of dating, the struggles of marriage, and the difficulties with raising children.

The Modern Love column ranges from 1500 to 1700 words. Getting published is highly competitive and a career pinnacle. It’s the brevity of the stories that pull the reader in. At that word count, there’s no room for filler or fluff. Every word is precise and with intent.

The episodes, which run from 28 to 34 minutes, follow the same approach. In a TV landscape full of bloated episodes, pointless dialogue and unnecessary scenes, the precise conciseness of Modern Love is nothing short of glorious. There’s no room for anything extraneous. The installments have the unique ability to instantly introduce a character to the audience and have viewers feel as if they know them intimately. I’ve watched shows for years where I feel like I know the characters less.—Amy Amatangelo


67. Mr. Show with Bob and David

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Created by: Bob Odenkirk, David Cross
Stars: Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, John Ennis, Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, Jay Johnston
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

Before alternative comedy was a recognized thing, there was Mr. Show with Bob and David, a genius sketch comedy show that had a criminally short run on HBO from 1995 to 1998. Each episode was loosely based around a central theme and laboriously structured, with sketches leading directly into each other, and sometimes even wrapping around each other like Russian nesting dolls of comedy. Although celebrated for its absurd point of view, Mr. Show didn’t shy away from the real world, often tearing into the inequalities of society and the increasing domination of corporate America. Not every bit landed, but the show still had a shockingly high batting average over its four seasons, and very little of it feels dated today. —Garrett Martin


68. Girls

Created by: Lena Dunham
Stars: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky
Original Network: HBO

Watch on Amazon Prime

I believe Lena Dunham is one of the foremost badasses of our artistic culture, and as far as that goes, I’m already very much on the record. The one thing I really love about Girls is that it refuses to conform to identity politics. There are times when Dunham can be a wonderful spokesperson for female power, and there are times when she pisses off the feminists. There are times when she seems like the best liberal around, and others when liberals want to burn her at the stake and aren’t afraid to write endless think pieces on the topic. This is not because Dunham is trying to aggravate anybody, but because she tells her story so honestly, and so relentlessly, that anyone who wants her to conform to a prevailing ideology will inevitably be disappointed—she’s too fluid to be molded into an emblem. Girls is absolutely refreshing and absolutely bold, and Dunham has become so powerful and popular that she doesn’t need to pull any punches. The stories of Hannah, Shoshanna, Marnie, and Jessa exist to reflect something real, and something instinctual, and it originates with a brilliant artist who stayed unrepentant until the end. —Shane Ryan


69. Transparent

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Created by: Jill Soloway
Stars: Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

There’s so much that could have gone wrong with Transparent from the start. For one, an out-of-context image of Jeffrey Tambor in a dress was bound to attract some smirks. What’s more, on initial glance, the show’s content (marital discord, adultery, unplanned pregnancy) reads like a writers’ room whiteboard on a network soap. As creator Jill Soloway demonstrates, however, sometimes it’s all in the execution. Indeed, what’s immediately striking about the show, is how disarmingly intimate it all feels. In telling the story of an elderly parent’s decision to finally reveal her transgender lifestyle to her children, Soloway does not take any shortcuts in depicting the subsequent shockwaves the decision causes. In the process, she endows each character and plot development with the proper dramatic weight, without ever sacrificing a sense of levity. Maintaining such a tone is a proverbial tightrope act, and Soloway and her creative team somehow manage to keep their balance throughout each of the season’s ten episodes, without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, allegations against Tambor have (rightfully) tainted the show’s legacy, a show and legacy which has only become more problematic with time. And yet, there is still some good here worth celebrating. —Mark Rozeman


70. Sneaky Pete

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Created by:Bryan Cranston
Stars:Giovanni Ribisi, Marin Ireland, Shane McRae, Peter Gerety, Margo Martindale
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

In Sneaky Pete, Giovanni Ribisi plays Marius, a conman who, in a moment of tragicomic brilliance, fakes a bank robbery (albeit with a real gun and by scaring the bank customers) in order to avoid being killed by his pursuers. When he’s released from prison three years later, after listening to his cellmate Pete’s non-stop stories of his long-lost family, Marius assumes Pete’s identity. The result is a series whose humor is based on the interplay between truth and fiction, what is real and what is fantasy, and the gradual understanding of what constitutes “family”: Sneaky Pete’s revelations are unlikely to earn commendation from the Family Research Council, but for those of us who understand that families comprise people who love each in whatever structure works for them, it’s the ultimate show about family. —Lorraine Berry


71. One Mississippi

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Created by: Tig Notaro
Stars: Tig Notaro, Noah Harpster, John Rothman, Rya Kihlstedt
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

Double mastectomy. Your mother dying. A life-threatening infection. Not exactly hilarious stuff. But comedian Tig Notaro’s deeply personal series about returning home after her mother’s death will make you cry and laugh at the utter absurdity of life. Particularly impressive is Notaro’s performance. She’s not an actress by trade, which brings a raw believability to her character. The people who inhabit Tig’s world from her emotionless stepfather to her clingy girlfriend pulse with a realism rarely seen on TV. They aren’t TV characters. They’re real people who will remind you of your own family and loved ones. One Mississippi didn’t receive the hype of Amazon’s other original series. But it deserved to and now’s your chance to rectify that. —Amy Amatangelo


72. The Tick

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Created by: Ben Edlund
Stars: Peter Serafinowicz, Griffin Newman, Valorie Curry, Brendan Hines, Yara Martinez, Scott Speiser, Jackie Earle Haley, Alan Tudyk
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

Ben Edlund tried two previous times to bring his cult favorite comic book to the screen, but it was the third attempt which found the right balance between goofy superhero fun and the real world malaise that no human, super-powered or otherwise, can truly escape. Peter Serafinowicz, as the titular blue hero whose seeming invincibility comes with a cheery outlook on life (he looks like he’d be a great hugger), delivers a beautifully committed performance, while the journey of initially reluctant sidekick Arthur (Griffin Newman) gives the show’s sillier moments greater depth. That, plus a strong ensemble cast enlisted to play the strangest sort of characters (Alan Tudyk, as one example, voices the sentient vehicle known as Dangerboat) make The Tick’s cancellation one of the sadder streaming service tragedies in recent memory. Hopefully one day, Edlund gets yet another shot at this story — and gets to bring this cast along. —Liz Shannon Miller


73. “The Carol Burnett Show (The Lost Episodes)

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Created by: Carol Burnett
Stars: Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Amazon Prime

It’s hard to overstate The Carol Burnett Show’s influence. The plucky performer’s variety hour, which ran from 1967 to 1978, not only showcased a woman’s talents in a genre most closely associated with men, it also more or less perfected the kind of pop culture parody that’s defined sketch comedy ever since. In fact, The Carol Burnett Show is so essential to the history of American television—the Golden Globes even named a lifetime achievement award after her—that it would be much, much higher on this list were Amazon’s offering not so limited. Still, 13 “lost” episodes not available on streaming or in syndication before now is nothing to sniff at. It’s a chance to see the master at the height of her powers. —Matt Brennan


74. Carnival Row

Created by: René Echevarria, Travis Beacham
Stars: Orlando Bloom, Cara Delevingne, Simon McBurney, Tamzin Merchant, David Gyasi, Andrew Gower, Karla Crome, Arty Froushan, Indira Varma, Jared Harris
Original Network: Amazon

Watch on Amazon Prime

Reaction to this very, very odd and original series was a bit mixed, but one thing’s for damn sure: No other show in 2019 had this amount of fae-human sexytimes. And that was only one component of the quasi-steampunk Victorian fantasy set in an alternate universe where magic is real, science is fiction, and fairies, faun, and other fantastical creatures live amongst humans — who have no shortage of prejudice against those who are different from them. The allegories are a bit clunky, but the first season is definitely not boring; come for Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne’s charming love-hate banter, but stay for the romance between upper-class lady Imogen (Tamzin Merchant) and the socially ambitious faun Agreus (David Gyasi), which is so fun and nuanced, one suspects that Jane Austen snuck into the writers’ room. —Liz Shannon Miller


75. Rescue Me

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Created by: Denis Leary, Peter Tolan
Stars: Denis Leary, Michael Lombardi, Steven Pasquale, Daniel Sunjata, Andrea Roth, Callie Thorne, John Scurti
Original Network: FX

Watch on Amazon Prime

From the opening moments of the series when off-color but very funny jokes are made about the amount of sex these firemen have been able to have since 9/11, Rescue Me distinguished itself as the rare series that could easily handle the tragedy and humor that life brings. No show before or since has so eloquently portrayed the long-lasting and haunting effects the attack on the World Trade Center had on those who were the first responders. As the soul of the series, NYFD firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is simultaneously utterly despicable and utterly lovable. You’ll root for him and you’ll want to slap him. The show had its faults—creating fully realized female characters was not its strong suit—but the raw emotion and huge laughs the show delivered on a weekly basis still linger. —Amy Amatangelo



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