The 50 Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime Video, Ranked (June 2024)

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The 50 Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime Video, Ranked (June 2024)

Out of every single streaming service, Prime Video’s interface might be the most frustrating and confusing. Is it on Prime, or is it on Freevee with (unavoidable) ads? Is it available through an add-on, or do you have to purchase each episode individually? Who knows! The beauty of this list, though, is that we have ventured into the far reaches of everything Amazon has to offer so you don’t have to. Prime Video has a stacked catalog, which contains not only their own original series but shows from PBS, AMC, USA, their ad-supported channel Freevee, and so much more. And even despite now having to pay a little extra each month for truly ad-free viewing, Prime Video has something for everyone in their extensive library.

Though the current catalog of TV shows on Amazon Prime no longer includes series from HBO, CBS, or FX like it used to, it does carry some otherwise hard-to-find U.K. and U.S. TV classics and under-the-radar originals, all included with your Prime subscription. (Of note: you can also subscribe to video only, but why not get the benefit of free two-day shipping as well?)

If you’re more in the mood for a movie, we have ranked the best films on Prime, and for more details on a variety of add-on services, we have a very helpful streaming guide.

1linebreakdiamond.pngHomecoming

New on Amazon Prime Video: All the Movies and TV Coming in November

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, the first season of 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 TV’s most compelling mysteries (a second season with a new cast doesn’t quite reach those heights, but is worth checking out). —Jacob Oller


Jury Duty

Created by: Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
Stars: James Marsden, Ronald Gladden, Alan Barinholtz, Rashida Olayiwola, Whitney Rice, Mekki Leeper, Edy Modica, Ishmel Sahid, David Brown, Cassandra Blair, Maria Russell, Kirk Fox, Susan Berger, Ross Kimball, Pramode Kumar, Ron Song, Brandon Loeser
Original Network: Amazon Freevee

Watch on Amazon Prime (with ads)

At the heart of Freevee’s Jury Duty is a good man, and that man’s name is Ronald Gladden. Ronald is the only non-actor participating in what he truly believes is a very real stint performing his civic duty in what he believes is a real court case. Unfolding in cringe-worthy hilarity, Jury Duty pushes its actors (including James Marsden as himself) and Ronald to the brink in order to complete a once-in-a-lifetime TV experiment. And largely, that experiment has paid off, with the series receiving a number of Emmy nominations, including an acting nomination for Marsden. No matter how you feel about its sometimes questionable ethics, Jury Duty is Freevee’s biggest break-out hit to date, and a series that finally put them on the streaming map. Anna Govert

 


Invincible

invincible-season-1-main.jpg

Created by: Robert Kirkman
Stars: Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh, J. K. Simmons
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

These days, there’s plenty of superhero greatness soaring through TV programs. Robert Kirkman is the latest to enter the discussion, bringing another of his beloved comic book serials to television with Invincible. A coming-of-age story meets a classic superhero tale, this new animated adventure brings all the twists, turns, and frenzy we’ve come to expect from Kirkman’s episodic programs (you may recognize his name from The Walking Dead).

Invincible follows Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), a seemingly dull 17-year-old kid. That is, until he finally inherits larger-than-life superpowers from his mega-cool dad Nolan (J.K. Simmons), also known by his hero name, Omni Man. Once he discovers his powers, the series becomes (a more brutal) Finding Nemo meets Iron Man, as the father and son learn how to grow from one another and coexist as heroes. And it’s not just these two bouncing into flight and sinking punches; two entire associations battle villains in the series, one of which is completely made up of sassy teenagers. The more heroes the better, right?

Invincible balances wild fight sequences with the actual logistics of these highly dangerous, orchestrated circumstances: these heroes wield their powers aggressively, of course, but they also have complex systems to evacuate areas and do damage control. Not only that, they reckon with their status as icons in society, and grasp what it means to “save” people. A flying start with stellar performances from both Yeun and Simmons, the future of Invincible is sure to excite. —Fletcher Peters

 


The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy

the second best hospital in the galaxy

Created by: Cirocco Dunlap
Stars: Keke Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, Natasha Lyonne, Maya Rudolph, Sam Smith, Kieran Culkin
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy follows Dr. Sleech (Stephanie Hsu) and Dr. Klak (Keke Palmer), two surgeons who are pushing the envelope for what can (and should) be done in the medical profession. After a new anxiety-eating parasite arrives on the scene, the two must make a choice: destroy it entirely or use it as the foundation for a new mental health drug. The latter option sounds great. But at what cost? Despite the temporary mental respite the parasite provides, the experiments are going terribly wrong, and ultimately may result in much more harm than good. Over the course of its 8-episode first season, The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy does a solid job balancing inventive one-off stories (“The Curse of Orlosh,” about an STD that turns people into the last person they had sex with, is a highlight) with developing the ongoing plotlines. While it has yet to quite be as emotionally powerful as BoJack Horseman and hasn’t hit the comedic heights of the best Rick and Morty episodes, fans of those cartoons will be right at home here. —Josh Sharpe and Reuben Baron

 


Transparent

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

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

 


The Peripheral

Created by: Scott B. Smith
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Gary Carr, Jack Reynor, JJ Field, T’Nia Miller, Louis Herthum, Katie Leung, Melinda Page Hamilton, Chris Coy, Alex Hernandez, Julien Moore-Cook, Adelind Horan, Austin Rising, Eli Gorre, and Charlotte Riley
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Prime Video’s science fiction series The Peripheral is based on the 2014 novel of the same name by William Gibson. Considered one of the founders of the cyberpunk genre, Gibson’s writing has influenced countless other books, movies and TV shows, but has rarely been directly adapted to the screen. The Peripheral takes place primarily in two different settings: 2032 North Carolina and 2099 London. The former is a recognizable extrapolation of present-day America, with virtual reality and 3D printing advancing—and poverty, the cost of healthcare, and the drug crisis worsening. Protagonist Flynne Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz) is living with her terminally ill mother Ella (Melinda Page Hamilton) and her brother Burton (Jack Reynor), a veteran who was subjected to technological experiments and now makes money doing jobs in hyper-realistic videogames. It’s through filling in for Burton on one of these jobs that Flynne finds herself in the further future.

The world-building in The Peripheral is brilliant. The show itself, which has been adapted by screenwriter Scott B. Smith and executive produced by Westworld’s Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, is merely pretty good. But its middling start is bolstered by solid production design and a few attention-grabbing moments of action and body horror. Despite its faults, the show’s clever concept is its greatest strength, and Smith’s adaptation changes enough from the book that both those who have read it and those who haven’t won’t be sure what’s going to happen next. —Reuben Baron

 


One Mississippi

one-mississippi-main.jpg

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

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

 


Grantchester

Thumbnail image for grantchester.jpgCreated by: Daisy Coulam
Stars: James Norton, Robson Green, Tom Brittney, Morven Christie, Tessa Peake-Jones
Original Network: ITV

Watch on Amazon Prime

There are two things the UK is really great at producing: vicars and murder mysteries. So it holds that Grantchester—a story about a murder mystery-solving vicar—would itself be grand. Taking place in the 1950s in the village of Cambridgeshire, the setup is familiar: there’s a young, handsome vicar who has an intuitive way with people, and a gruff, hardboiled detective with whom he improbably becomes friends. The two solve Cases of the Week as vicar Sidney listens to jazz, questions his faith, and tries to stop being in love with his childhood friend Amanda, since they cannot marry. Detective Geordie Keating meanwhile is a no-nonsense WWII veteran with a heart of gold and his own domestic issues, both of which give some extra dimension to the show’s procedural aspects. Grantchester is often thoughtful, sweetly compelling, and lightly thrilling—it also includes cozy period details and a dog name Dickens. What more could you want? —Allison Keene

 


The Fall

Created by: Allan Cubitt
Stars: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Valene Kane, Séalinín Brennan, Colin Morgan, Bronagh Taggart, Niamh McGrady, Sarah Beattie, John Lynch
Original Network: BBC

Watch on Amazon Prime

Let it be known that before he was Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan proved his acting chops and charisma as a disturbingly un-disturbable murderer in this superb psychological thriller. Dornan’s mild-mannered husband, father and grief counselor (!) is among the most terrifying onscreen serial killers in recent memory. Paul Spector is a stalker, as exacting and methodical as his eventual pursuer. Enter Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson, a British detective superintendent called to Belfast to look into a spate of gruesome murders. As the cat-and-mouse game intensifies, Anderson’s characterization is its own triumph: analytical, uncompromising, reserved, but brazenly sexual on her own terms, entirely unfazed by the politicking and dick-swinging of her male colleagues. That we know the identity of the killer from the show’s first frames, and yet can’t take our eyes off the screen is a testament to the stealth creep with which The Fall operates. —Amanda Schurr


A Very English Scandal

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

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

 


Mr. Robot

mr-robot-main.JPGCreated 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

 


Merlin

merlin-tv-show.jpegCreated by: Julien Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Caps, Julien Murphy
Stars: Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Anthony Stewart Head, Richard Wilson, and John Hurt
Original Network: BBC One

Watch on Amazon Prime

A lot of fantasy is based on existing myths, legends, and folklore, and although you might think you know the story of the famous King Arthur and Merlin, you’ve never seen it told quite like this before. The fan-favorite Merlin, which aired on the BBC from 2008 until 2012, is set in a version of Camelot in which magic has been outlawed. The story begins when Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James) and the wizard known as Merlin (Colin Morgan) are young men who cannot stand each other, but after the latter becomes the former’s personal servant, they put their issues aside and become fast friends. And this is a good thing for both men, since Merlin has to often use his gifts in secret to save Arthur—often without him knowing—so the latter can one day fulfill his destiny as the man who will restore magic to the kingdom. If you’re looking for a lighter fantasy show than some of the others on this list, this is a really good, quite fun option with plenty of bromance. —Kaitlin Thomas

 


Jack Ryan

Created by: Carlton Cuse, Graham Roland
Stars: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Abby Cornish, Michael Kelly, and Ali Suliman
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Based on the best-selling series of Tom Clancy novels, Amazon’s Jack Ryan has turned out to be the modern version with some staying power. Ben Affleck and Chris Pine played the namesake character in some early 2000s film flops (which of course came after the seminal 1990s run of Clancy adaptations of The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger). John Krasinski’s Jack Ryan, which is now three-seasons deep at Prime Video, continues to consistently deliver classic “Dad TV” thrills capable of keeping you at the edge of your seat. Propelled by world-ending stakes and a no-nonsense, plot-driven approach, Jack Ryan is a big budget political thriller, even if its genre conventions might be as well worn as those old Clancy paperbacks at times. If nothing else, the show is a testament to the fact that Krasinski is a bona fide action movie star, an impressive evolution from his days wooing the receptionist on The Office. Jack Ryan has been the perfect vehicle to showcase just that, while still delivering thrills and capers compelling enough to keep us coming back for more each time. —Trent Moore

 


Dead Ringers

Dead Ringers on Prime

Developed by: Alice Birch
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Britne Oldford, Poppy Liu, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Chernus
Original Network: Prime Video

Watch on Amazon Prime

Alice Birch’s Dead Ringers, the second adaptation of Bari Wood and Jack Geasland’s novel “Twins,” bares all. Sharing its name with David Cronenberg’s 1988 iteration, Birch’s take on the haunting story of twin Drs. Mantle is a gripping work of art, beautiful and grotesque at every turn. Rachel Weisz stars in the new Prime Video series as both Elliot and Beverly Mantle, obstetricians determined to redefine women’s reproductive healthcare by whatever means necessary. Driven by obsession and competition, the sisters share every part of their lives—patients and partners included. And with that, Dead Ringers is by no means an easy watch. In the first episode, we’re inundated with brutal sequences of the Mantles’ patients—natural births, cesareans, examinations—all in brief, indelible images. Understanding these real-life horrors is fundamental to the series’ impact. Dead Ringers relies heavily on Weisz’s stunning performances, a risk that more than pays off. Beyond the obvious personality and hairstyle differences, it’s the slight adjustments in mannerisms and facial expressions that really speak to Weisz’s dedication. Dead Ringers is designed to make its viewer uncomfortable and it absolutely succeeds. The series raises moral and ethical considerations of pregnancy, while still maintaining an objectively pro-choice point of view. It’s a brutal watch—one often that had me reflexively gripping my stomach—but Birch’s Dead Ringers has proven an essential update to the classic Cronenberg film. —Kristen Reid

 


Outer Range

Created by: Brian Watkins
Stars: Josh Brolin, Imogen Poots, Tom Pelphrey, Lili Taylor, Tamara Podemski, Matt Lauria, Lewis Pullman, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos, Will Patton, Isabel Arraiza, Olive Abercrombie, Kristen Connolly, Deirdre O’Connell
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

This eerie, Wyoming-set speculative mystery series is so damn unhurried it’s easy, half the time, to forget you’re watching a mystery at all. Just stretched-wide vistas, a vast, open sky, and a giant, supernatural hole whose secrets no one—or at least, no one with any meaningful narrative power—has the slightest interest in plumbing. This isn’t a failing. An economy of dialogue and a protraction of plot serve Outer Range well, as the mystery of the big spooky hole in a west pasture isn’t the point of the series so much as its psychological fulcrum. It is both a precursor to and the object of a kind of frontier-born religious ecstasy, a divine madness, a theia mania that overtakes every major player by season’s end. That said, if what you’re hoping to get out of your Wyoming-set, Josh Brolin-starring speculative mystery series is answers, well, get practiced at waiting. If instead you want a metaphysical, rodeo-themed psychodrama that runs off manic Mountain West ~vibes than a pressing need to provide anything resembling an explanation, Outer Range is for you. –Alexis Gunderson

 


Night Sky

Created By: Holden Miller, Daniel C. Connolly
Stars: Sissy Spacek, J. K. Simmons, Chai Hansen, Adam Bartley, Julieta Zylberberg, Sonya Walger
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Franklin (J.K. Simmons) and Irene (Sissy Spacek) York are your classic good-hearted old folks from the heartland, or at least close to the heartland (whatever small-town Illinois counts for these days). He was a carpenter, she was a school teacher, and now they’re retired on the rustic old homestead; they treat each other tenderly and with folksy humor. The central tragedy of their lives is the death of their son 20 years earlier, and the emotional scars are still evident. But as with many seemingly plain-at-first-sight families in dramas such as these, there’s something profound and scary and awe-inspiring beneath the surface, and that something is a portal in the basement of their shed that leads to outer space. More specifically, a glassed-in room in outer space where you can take in the panorama. They’re as mystified as we are, taking in the sights for years, more than 800 times total. But all they’ve ever seen is the gorgeous landscape. No aliens, no buildings, no sign of intelligent life at all. Until one day a stranger appears.

Night Sky is a show that draws you in with narrative and performative subtleties. It’s tempting to sigh when confronted with another in a long line of “deliberate” dramas, but this is one that works. It’s a tribute to the synchronicity between the depth of the unsolved mystery and the similar depth of the two principal actors. They embody multitudes, and happily, those multitudes are a match—or near enough—for the indescribable universe they’ve been blessed to glimpse, but never fully understand. —Shane Ryan

 


Tales from the Loop

tales-from-the-loop-main-resize.jpgCreated by: Nathaniel Halpern
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Paul Schneider, Duncan Joiner, Daniel Zolghadri, Jonathan Pryce
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

A small town can become so self-contained and isolated, so self-involved in its own goings-on, that it can feel like a reality all its own. In Mercer, Ohio, the Midwestern setting of Amazon’s Tales from the Loop series, that feeling is magnified by a synecdoche of strangeness: The Loop, a device that’s fantastical physical function is left as vague as the intentions of its creator Russ (Jonathan Pryce). The thrumming black sphere at its center, locked beneath a concrete facility filled with scientists and mathematicians, makes the impossible possible. Life, otherwise, goes on. With limited explanation and an excess of empathy, the stark and lovely vignettes are a touching blend of intimacy and otherworldliness, like diary entries sent from an alternate dimension.

Creator Nathaniel Halpern adapts Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag’s sci-fi source of the same name, which blends alt-history anthropology and techno-archeology, into this reimagined and loosely linked anthology. Americanized to Ohio, the stories of Mercer play out like the Voyager’s Golden Records—teaching viewers from another world how the basic elements of life work in this realm. Memory, loss, regret, loneliness, even unrepentant horniness—Tales from the Loop skews less Black Mirror than it does the best episodes of Twilight Zone, where the genre setting merely kickstarts a more evocative piece of naturalist drama. Sometimes the sci-fi elements add layers and depth, but they often just support and color the humanity Halpern writes into the stories.

Ultimately, however, Tales from the Loop is that rare sci-fi show: one that trusts us to breathe in deep the oddities of its world, accept that we aren’t going to know everything, and climb aboard anyways. That trust, built with its tactful scene-setting and human-sized troubles, allows for easy investment in deceivingly simple dramas. If the rest of the episodes are as touching, moving, and casually engaging as what I’ve seen from The Loop, Amazon already has one of the sharpest pieces of sci-fi. —Jacob Oller

 


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

 


High School

Created by: Clea DuVall and Laura Kittrell
Stars: Railey Gilliland, Seazynn Gilliland, Cobie Smulders, and Kyle Bornheimer
Original Network: Amazon Freevee

Watch on Amazon Prime (with ads)

Based on the memoir High School and accompanying album Hey, I’m Just Like You by Canadian trailblazers Tegan and Sara Quinn, High School is Amazon Freevee’s latest offering in their burgeoning library of originals. Taking place during Tegan and Sara’s tumultuous high school years, the show follows the twin sisters as they navigate life, sexuality, and music—all while trying to simply get along. Coming from showrunner Clea Duvall (Happiest Season), the series stars TikTokers and actual twin sisters Railey and Seazynn Gilliland as the musicians. This series is perfect for any fan of Tegan and Sara’s decades-long music career, as well as those looking for an intimate examination of teenage girlhood in the mid-90’s. This show is grungy, stylized, and so much more than just a Tegan and Sara biopic. —Anna Govert

 


Sneaky Pete

sneaky-pete-main.jpgCreated by: Bryan Cranston
Stars: Giovanni Ribisi, Marin Ireland, Shane McRae, Peter Gerety, Margo Martindale
Original Network: Amazon Prime

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

 


Psych

psych-resize-main.jpgCreated by: Steve Franks
Stars: James Roday Roderiguez, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen
Original Network: USA

Watch on Amazon Prime

When USA debuted Psych, it was just a little show about a fake psychic who solved crimes. The network was in the nascent stages of its “blue sky” period, a time that included Burn Notice, White Collar, and Royal Pains. Now that the phase is over, it’s easy to declare Psych the best of the no-heavy-watching-required bunch. Starring James Roday Roderiguez, Dule Hill, Timothy Omundson, and Maggie Lawson, the comedy-mystery hybrid is decidedly lighter than most shows centered around solving murders. Frequently hilarious, the series relishes in spoofing the pop-culture landscape and tapping into the zeitgeist both past and present. Almost every episode is themed around a trope, genre, or specific film or TV show. Psych ran for eight seasons and spawned three follow-up films, so don’t be a myopic Chihuahua—dive in. Wait for it. Wait for iiiiiiiit… —Shannon Houston

 


Vanity Fair

Created by: Gwyneth Hughes
Stars: Olivia Cooke, Claudia Jessie, Tom Bateman, Johnny Flynn
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Vanity Fair is a woefully under-adapted period piece, likely because its central character is pretty much the antithesis of everything we’ve come to expect from heroines in stories like this. But this whipsmart adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1848 novel has never felt more relevant, with its grifter leading lady and constant acknowledgement that humanity is generally no better than it has to be.

In this 2018 adaptation, Olivia Cooke makes a sly, pitch-perfect Becky Sharpe (Reese Witherspoon always had too much of an America’s Sweetheart vibe to be believable this role, IMO), who revels in her ambition. There’s something intensely entertaining about watching her scam her way into the upper echelons of society. Plus, everyone around her is even worse, even if they are played by the sort of British acting talent that includes everyone from Martin Clunes and Frances de la Tour to Tom Bateman. —Lacy Baugher

 


The Legend of Vox Machina

Created by: Matthew Mercer
Stars: Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Matthew Mercer, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel, Travis Willingham
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Prime Video’s The Legend of Vox Machina arrives just as D&D’s corporate owners are also making moves to bring the property back to the big screen and fans of roleplaying games are interrogating the hobby’s foundational biases. While the show doesn’t have any official connection to the game, the setting and characters are transparently grounded in tabletop RPG logic and archetypes. The voice actors of Critical Role reprise their roles in this (really violent, occasionally sexually explicit) animated series about a group of down-on-their-luck mercenaries engaging in high adventure, bar room brawls, and other familiar high fantasy shenanigans. In a departure from other attempts to adapt RPG properties, the show’s focus is much more on the characters’ grim backstories and a lived-in group dynamic than any fusty lore. While the principal cast itself isn’t the most diverse, the show studiously avoids the underlying biases that the TTRPG industry and community are interrogating and reflects the sensibilities of a new generation of eager gamers. —Kenneth Lowe

 


Alex Rider

alex-rider-main-small.jpgCreated by: Guy Burt
Stars: Otto Farrant, Stephen Dillane, Vicky McClure, Andrew Buchan, Brenock O’Connor
Original Network: Amazon Freevee

Watch on Amazon Prime (with ads)

This newest take on Alex Rider is something entirely different. More of a piece with what teen TV has become in in the last decade—slick, serious, cinematic and mature, with a strong bent towards internationalism and diversity—it’s the kind of spy drama you can recommend indiscriminately to your adult friends. So what if its reluctant spy hero is a teenage boy? The show takes him seriously, which means their fictional version of the SAS takes him seriously, which means the deeply realistic bad guys out to literally kill him also take him seriously. And while that much seriousness has the tendency to drag lesser adult action series to an absolute standstill, the hyper-realistic teen antics Alex and his tiny circle of friends get up to, even in the midst of life-or-death situations, serve as useful tonal ballast that lends the series just enough warmth and humor to bolster the rest of the story’s inherent tension. (That the soundtrack is excellent definitely helps.)

And when I say tension, I mean tension. The story the Alex Rider team have chosen to take on for the show’s first season, which mostly comes from the second book of the series, Point Blanc, finds Alex (Otto Farrant) on a mission to embed himself at a mysterious boarding school for troubled, ultra-wealthy youths. Isolated high in the French Alps and run by a virulently racist South African expat named Dr. Greif (Haluk Bilginer), the shadowy Point Blanc academy becomes a point of SAS interest when Alex’s spy uncle is killed after his investigations into the “accidental” deaths of two otherwise unconnected global power players—which had turned up evidence that both died shortly after Point Blanc sent their now-perfect kids back home.

That said, there are a few elements of the series that jangle more than they should. Of course, Alex Rider is still a spy drama, and as such is obliged to have its characters make a lot of silly decisions for the sake of plot. But if watching 2020 torturously unfold for the last eleven months has convinced me of anything, it’s that the existence of rich teen Nazis with a chip on their shoulder and the will to wreck the world ought to be taken much more seriously than any of us might want to believe, and Treadstone-esque Alex Rider gets it. It’s a sophisticated spy thriller custom-made for the Bourne Identity set. More good news: It was just renewed for Season 2. —Alexis Gunderson

 


Red Oaks

red-oaks-main.jpgCreated by: Joe Gangemi, Gregory Jacobs
Stars: Craig Roberts, Ennis Esmer, Jennifer Grey, Gage Golightly, Paul Reiser, Richard Kind
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Red Oaks arrived with a hell of a pedigree. It’s produced by Steven Soderbergh and David Gordon Green, the latter of whom directed the pilot, and it’s created and written by long-time Soderbergh associates Joe Gangemi and Gregory Jacobs. (Jacobs also directed Magic Mike XXL.) Other episodes are directed by people like Amy Heckerling and Hal Hartley. Set in a country club in New Jersey in the mid-’80s, the show openly evokes movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Caddyshack and The Flamingo Kid, and with a consortium of creators who understand both comedy and drama behind it, it falls into the same realm of bittersweet nostalgia as beloved comedies like The Wonder Years and Freaks and Geeks. —Garrett Martin

 


Little Women (2017)

Watch: PBS' Version of Little Women Is Destined to Become a Classic

Created by: Heidi Thomas
Stars: Emily Watson, Maya Hawke, Willa Fitzgerald, Katheryn Newton, Annes Elwy, Jonah Hauer-King, Angela Lansbury
Original Network: BBC One

Watch on Amazon Prime

Though it had the misfortune to air a little too close to Greta Gerwig’s adored film version to get noticed, don’t sleep on the BBC/PBS Little Women miniseries. Featuring four young stars on the rise as the unforgettable March girls, Emily Watson as their mother, Marmee, and the 92-year-old Angela Lansbury in an astoundingly good turn as Aunt March, Little Women—adapted by Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife) and directed by Vanessa Caswill—has all the makings of a new beloved viewing tradition. The three-part miniseries is is a fitting tribute to the novel’s central themes: love, kinship, and the bravery of women, and is as bright, clever, and emotional and any excellent adaptation should be (it’s also one of the only adaptations that makes Amy less hateful and where Jo rejecting Laurie makes real emotional sense). A delightful if overlooked take on a classic, the women here may be little, but they are also strong, brilliant, and full of heart. —Keri Lumm and Allison Keene

 


Gen V

gen v

Developed by: Craig Rosenberg, Evan Goldberg, Eric Kripke
Stars: Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo, Lizzie Broadway, Maddie Phillips, London Thor, Derek Luh, Asa German, Shelley Conn
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

From the dark, gory, cynical world of The Boys comes Gen V, a spinoff of the superhero send-up keen to continue to make fun of the superhero genre, capitalism, and influencer culture. Ostensibly about the first generation of superheroes who had their powers injected into them—whose parents chose to dose them with Compound V and weren’t born with their special abilities—Gen V is a coming-of-age tale on literal steroids, as students are not only asked to compete against one another for prestige and opportunity, but forced to confront ethical questions about what kind of hero they want to grow up to become. (A darker question than one might initially assume, as anyone who has ever watched The Boys knows.) Throw in some standard college-age debauchery and the sort of youthful idealism the original series only ever allowed Starlight to represent, and it makes for an entertaining ride, even if the show never manages to stray too far from the original The Boys blueprint. —Lacy Baugher Milas


Class of ‘07

Created by: Kacie Anning
Starring: Emily Browning, Megan Smart, Cailtin Stasey
Original Network: Prime Video

Watch on Amazon Prime

Imagine the world ending Noah’s Arc-style. Now, imagine the world ending Noah’s Arc-style in the middle of your 10-year high school reunion, revisiting both the boarding school campus you used to call home, as well as the now-estranged women you used to share classes with. That nightmare-inducing premise is the backdrop for Prime Video’s newest high-concept Australian comedy Class of ‘07, delivering another entry into the female survivalist genre while inserting a comedic edge into the tense atmosphere of the end of the world. Filled with clever pacing and charm, Class of ‘07 dives deep into high school trauma and female friendships, elevated by former best friends Zoe (Emily Browning) and Amelia (Megan Smart), reformed mean girl Saskia (Caitlin Stasey), and the rest of the stand-out titular class. This series manages to balance humor and heart, all while never ignoring the brutal reality of survival and the point of living during the apocalypse. Acting both within and outside of its female survivalist lens, Class of ‘07 is heavy and raw, while still being a raunchy and rowdy good time to boot. It may be unapologetically Aussie, but the universality of intense female friendships, high school bullies, and the base need for survival is a tale as old as time. —Anna Govert


Fallout

fallout tv review

Created by: Graham Wagner, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Stars: Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten, Kyle MacLachlan, Moisés Arias, Zelia Mendes-Jones, Walton Goggins
Original Network: Amazon Prime Video

Watch on Amazon Prime

Helmed by Lisa Joy and Jonathon Nolan, the co-creators of HBO’s Westworld, Fallout is an eight-part series based on the videogame franchise of the same name. Within it, we follow the exploits of Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell), a Vault Dweller forced to leave the safety of her subterranean bunker, Vault 33, and journey into what’s left of Los Angeles 219 years after the bombs fell. She’s searching for her father (Kyle MacLachlan), who was abducted by raiders, and her only means of locating the kidnapper is a dangerous quest that involves delivering an item that could change the balance of power in the Wasteland.

But of course, she’s not the only one after this prize. Maximus (Aaron Moten) is in on the hunt, a squire in the band of feudal-cosplaying assholes known as the Brotherhood of Steel. He wants to use this opportunity to become anointed as a knight and nab the T-60 power armor and respect that comes with it. The Ghoul (Walton Goggins) is also in the scrum, a gunslinger who has been around since The Great War thanks to mutations caused by nuclear radiation. As Lucy leaves her sheltered life behind to save her dad, she faces harsh truths about the state of the world outside her bubble. Through its excellent emulation of the franchise’s vibes and a strong understanding of its underlying ideas, the Fallout TV series doesn’t only imitate the games, but meaningfully expands on them in a way that radiates confidence. —Elijah Gonzalez

 


Daisy Jones & The Six

Prime Video's Faux-Biopic Daisy Jones & The Six Hits (Almost) All the Right Notes

Created by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Stars: Riley Keough, Sam Claflin, Camila Morrone, Will Harrison, Suki Waterhouse, Josh Whitehouse, Sebastian Chacon, Nabiyah Be, and Tom Wright
Original Network: Amazon Prime Video

Watch on Amazon Prime

Based on the novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid of the same name and brought to the small screen by co-showrunners Scott Neustadter and Will Graham, Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & The Six catalogs the cosmic collision of homegrown band The Six (which only consists of five members, it’s a thing) and magnetic songwriter Daisy Jones (Riley Keough), beginning with the end of the line—in October of 1977, Daisy Jones & The Six played a sold out Soldier Field in Chicago, only to never set foot on stage together again. Rewinding from there to The Six’s humble beginnings, the series follows frontman Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin), his wife and photographer Camila (Camila Morrone), guitarist Graham (Will Harrison), pianist Karen (Suki Waterhouse), bassist Eddie (Josh Whitehouse), and drummer Warren (Sebastion Chacon) as they follow their dreams all the way out to Los Angeles, where music producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright) links them with Daisy to create one of the most legendary bands of the ‘70s.

In a mix of documentary-style interviews and narrative dramatization, Daisy Jones & The Six follows the band as they build themselves from the ground up, only to tear themselves down piece by piece. A striking look at life in the limelight and the price of dreams and art, Daisy Jones & The Six is captivating in its central performances, both dramatic and musical. It’s impossible to avoid the sheer magnetism of this cast and their stellar fictional band, and for good reason—this wild rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster ride lives up to its unimaginable hype. —Anna Govert

 


The Wilds

the-wilds-season-2-main2.jpgCreated by: Sarah Streicher
Stars: Sophia Ali, Shannon Berry, Jenna Clause, Reign Edwards, Mia Healey, Helena Howard, Erana James, Sarah Pidgeon, Rachel Griffiths
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

On paper, The Wilds sounds like a ripoff of Lost, but with teenage girls: after a plane crash, a group of girls land on a mysterious island where they have to not only endure the unknown, but also each other. Like Lost, each episode explores the backstory of one girl, weaving in their pre-crash struggles with identity, heartbreak, abuse, and more with their on-island battle to survive.

The Wilds’s plotting makes for a strong thriller that lends itself to an easy binge, and the characters are well-drawn and multilayered. But the true triumph of the show is how it portrays the peaks and valleys of being an adolescent girl—they are angry at the hands they’ve been dealt, confused about values they’ve been taught to believe, and determined to reach their goals by any means necessary. They are strong but not impervious; they are catty, they are suspicious, and they are loving.

The Wilds is a show I absolutely wasn’t checking for, but after the first episode’s surreal beach-funeral-at-dusk acapella rendition of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” you’ll be hooked, too. —Radhika Menon

 


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 in which 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 had to wrestle 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

 


Reacher

Created by: Nick Santora
Stars: Alan Ritchson, Malcolm Goodwin, Willa Fitzgerald, Chris Webster, Bruce McGill, Maria Sten
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Tom Cruise may have played Jack Reacher in two separate films, but when it comes to the embodiment of the character from the popular Lee Child novels, the actor doesn’t quite match the description. In the long-running book series, Jack Reacher is described as being 6’ 5,” around 250 pounds, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. That’s a far cry from the 5’7” star of Mission Impossible and Top Gun. The height of a lead actor for a television series may seem unimportant, but not in this case. Reacher’s imposing size is part of the character’s identity, something more appropriately personified in the brawny 6’2” Alan Ritchson (Titans, Smallville), who takes over the role in the TV series. Thankfully for viewers, there’s a lot more to Reacher than looking like an intimidating NFL defensive lineman; all of his unique character traits from the Lee Child novels have made their way into the series, as well as his compelling backstory. —Terry Terrones

 


As We See It

Created by: Jason Katims
Stars Rick Glassman, Albert Rutecki, Sue Ann Pien, Sosie Bacon, Chris Pang, Joe Mantegna, Vella Lovell, Tal Anderson
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

As We See It, executive producer Jason Katims’ Prime Video dramedy, is a refreshing take on both the coming-of-age story and on TV’s depictions of people on the Autism spectrum. Led by a cast of actors who have ASD, the series doesn’t sugar-coat the disorder or coddle the three main characters. It shows them falling in love, making mistakes and learning how to navigate careers and friendships. And while these characters may struggle to find their places in a neuro-typical world, viewers without ASD may find that the challenges the trio face aren’t that different from theirs. —Whitney Friedlander


The Boys

the-boys-homelander.jpgCreated by: Eric Kripke
Starring: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Chase Crawford
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

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 in Season 1 that will leave fans of the comics reeling. 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

 


Patriot

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

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

 


The Expanse

the-expanse-season-6-main.jpgCreated by: Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
Stars: Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Paulo Costanzo
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

In 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

 


A League of Their Own

Created by: Will Graham, Abbi Jacobson
Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Chanté Adams, D’Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Roberta Colindrez, Kelly McCormack, Priscilla Delgado, Molly Ephraim, Melanie Field, Kate Berlant, Patrick J. Adams, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Dale Dickey, Aaron Jennings, Lea Robinson
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

While there are numerous excellent films centered around America’s pastime, there aren’t many TV shows set in the world of baseball. Luckily, with the debut of Prime Video’s A League of Their Own, we’ve got a new one to add to the list. But Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham’s take on the classic Penny Marshall film of the same name is more than just a show about women playing baseball in the 1940s while men are at war.

Told through parallel storylines following Carson Shaw (Jacobson), an indecisive white catcher-turned-manager for the Rockford Peaches, and Max Chapman (Chanté Adams), a talented Black pitcher barred from even trying out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the show tackles head-on the prejudices of the day, from racism and sexism to homophobia (many of the women in the league are queer), as women attempt to make their baseball dreams come true. With a major focus on the Black experience and the ways in which Max must work around and outside the paths open to white women (and even Black men, to an extent), the show is able to tell a story that was only hinted at in the film. So while the actual baseball itself could be better, and the games could probably be more central to the show, A League of Their Own swings for the fences in its attempt to tell a powerful, timely story. While not every at-bat results in a home run, every step into the batter’s box allows the characters (and the viewers) to learn something new about themselves… and about the game of life. —Kaitlin Thomas

 


Mozart in the Jungle

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

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


The Outlaws

Created by: Stephen Merchant, Elgin James
Stars: Rhianne Barreto, Darren Boyd, Gamba Cole, Jessica Gunning, Clare Perkins, Eleanor Tomlinson, Charles Babalola, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Walken
Original Network: BBC One

Watch on Amazon Prime

One of the best things about The Outlaws is that it knows exactly what it is, and tells us so right off the bat. Essentially: a heartwarming heist. The six episode UK comedy-crime series from Stephen Merchant (The Office) and Elgin James (Mayans M.C.) has a fairly simple setup—a motley crew of petty criminals doing community service end up embroiled with a dangerous drug gang after a bag of cash is found—but despite its familiar framework, it manages to make its story unique in small yet important ways.

Playing with types and tropes (from flashback cold opens to the self-aware stereotyping of the gang to begin with) that both reinforce and subvert viewer expectations, the series is a quick and strangely comforting watch. To give any more specifics is really to ruin the delightful show, but suffice it to say that many of the reveals along the way come as genuine, gentle surprises. Most importantly, as the oddball gang come together and forge real friendships—and make real mistakes—there’s something genuinely heartwarming about it that leaves you with a smile. —Allison Keene

 


The Wheel of Time

Created by: Rafe Judkins
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney, Josha Stradowski, Zoë Robins, Madeleine Madden, Marcus Rutherford, Barney Harris, Kate Fleetwood, Priyanka Bose, Sophie Okonedo
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

“The wheel weaves as the wheel wills,” and for Amazon Prime Video’s new fantasy series, it wills it quickly. Running an economic eight hourlong episodes, The Wheel of Time is a brisk entry to Robert Jordan’s massive novel series, which evidently contains 2782 distinct characters. Amazon’s version doesn’t have quite that many, not yet, but I can genuinely say that as a newbie to the franchise it took me several episodes and many tabs to understand what anyone’s name actually was. And yet, this adaptation—developed by Rafe Judkins—does everything it can to be accessible to viewers unfamiliar with the source material.

It doesn’t hurt that the fantasy beats are familiar: There is a battle between light and dark, as well as a Chosen One (the “Dragon Reborn”) who will fight to save humanity—or destroy it in the process. There are critters and creatures and a magic that can only be wielded by women, plus a cult looking to eradicate the use of magic, pretenders to the would-be throne, and a hellish army of darkness. Navigating all of this are four young adults (any of whom could be the fabled savior) shepherded by a powerful sorceress named Moraine (Rosamund Pike).

The Wheel of Time teases out so much, but whether or not it eventually fills that out—or if its surface-level telling of this story will lead viewers to a deeper connection with the series itself—is uncertain. For now, it’s a fun ride. —Allison Keene

 


The Underground Railroad

underground-railroad-prime-main.jpgCreated by: Barry Jenkins
Stars: Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

This 10-episode limited series, based on Colson Whitehead’s novel, is a fictional account of two runaway slaves, Cora (Thuso Mbedu) and her partner Caesar (Aaron Pierre), as they traverse the American South via a connection of literal hidden railroads. Helmed by Barry Jenkins, the series is lush and atmospheric while never shying away from the atrocities Cora and Caesar are running from, most notably the persistent slave catcher Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), who stalks the duo relentlessly.

Each episode plays like a chapter in their journey, one stop on the railroad at a time, and Jenkins is deliberate in his worldbuilding. Georgia and South Carolina and North Carolina feel like different countries with different rules for how to treat Black folk: slaves in one, members of society in another, and illegal to exist in the open in the last. Jenkins fills every location with its own flavors. The first time we see the railroad, it feels like a huge sigh of relief—a literal bright light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s easy for a slavery drama to feel suffocating or paralyzing, and there are parts of The Underground Railroad that are designed to evoke discomfort and stagnancy. But Jenkins’ composition also allows us to examine every side of the story, every perspective at play. The series is urgent even in its slower moments. There is a thudding heartbeat at the center, proving that despite the trauma at the core of the story, the series is about perseverance. And in it is a tale ready to be deemed a classic. —Radhika Menon

 


Bosch

Created by: Michael Connelly, Eric Overmyer
Stars: Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector, Amy Aquino, Lance Reddick
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

(For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Season 5, here’s the write-up of a set visit we did in 2019.)

Adapted non-chronologically from Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus Bosch detective series and shot like a moody, sun-soaked noir, Bosch is officially Prime’s longest-running original series to date (and unofficially your dad’s secret favorite show). Starring a stoic, steadfast Titus Welliver as its eponymous hardboiled hero, Bosch is a senior Hollywood Homicide detective who loves jazz and is unforgiving in his pursuit of justice—both on the streets of Hollywood (the town) and within the corrupt confines of the LAPD, itself. The series does a fair job setting a tone that consistently challenges the all cops are heroes messaging that’s been baked into Hollywood (the industry) since the days of Dragnet. Yes, Bosch and his closest colleagues (Jamie Hector, Amy Aquino and Lance Reddick, just to name a few) are painted as Good Ones, but at least in their Los Angeles, whenever they’re stymied in their pursuit of justice, it’s not because the bad guys are particularly good at being bad. Rather, it’s because they’re a bunch of overworked civil servants stuck in a system that’s custom-built to protect the wealthy and promote the most privileged, and chew up anyone who doesn’t count as either.

Of course, recognizing the broken system for what it is doesn’t go very far in coming up with a way to fix it, but given where cop shows have been elsewhere in television for decades, managing to complicate the myth of American policing even a little isn’t nothing. That Bosch has been chasing complication since Season 1—and doing so with such a hauntingly sharp visual style, and such a stupendously solid ensemble cast? Better still. (And if nothing else, at least it’s given us one of the best title sequences in mystery series history.) —Alexis Gunderson

 


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 handled 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 on screen together. Happily for us, that’s most of the show.—Amy Glynn

 


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

marvelous-mrs-maisel-season-4-main2.JPGCreated by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Stars: Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Bornstein, Michael Zegen, Marin Heinkle, Tony Shaloub
Original Network: Amazon Prime

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 a 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

 


The Night Manager

the night manager.jpgCreated by: David Farr
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, Elizabeth Debicki, Alistair Petrie, David Harewood, Douglas Hodge, Antonio de la Torre, Tobias Menzies
Original Network: BBC One / AMC

Watch on Amazon Prime

John le Carré 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 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 Colman was very pregnant while fliming made British intelligence agent Angela Burr’s obsession with taking down Roper much more real and dangerous. Most impressive, though, 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

 


Catastrophe

catastrophe-episode-1.jpgCreated by/Starring: Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan
Original Network: Amazon Prime

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Catastrophe is absolutely one of TV’s best series, and its recent farewell means we’re losing one of the medium’s funniest comedies—one that cuts to the core of life’s daily hassles. We’re also losing the most achingly honest show about marriage, parenting, and the daily slog of raising a family, particularly when your children are young. The series’ greatest gift has always been 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 based on the pregnancy results of a one night stand, now in the thick of raising small children), was equally realistic. In its four-season run, Catastrophe remained as sharp, as biting, and witty as ever. Few shows ever maintain such a creative high. —Amy Amatangelo

 


Friday Night Lights

friday-night-lights-finale.jpgCreated by: Peter Berg
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Scott Porter, Zach Gilford, Taylor Kitsch, Gaius Charles, Jesse Plemons, Aimee Teegarden, Adrianne Palicki, Minka Kelly, Derek Phillips, Stacey Oristano, Michael B. Jordan, Jurnee Smollett, Matt Lauria, Madison Burge
Original Network: NBC

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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

 


Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Created by: J. D. Payne, Patrick McKay
Stars: Morfydd Clark, Robert Aramayo, Nazanin Boniadi, Charlie Vickers, Owain Arthur, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Lenny Henry, Markella Kavenagh
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

Prime Video’s lavishly expensive Lord of the Rings prequel series has been something of an industry cautionary tale for months, from its hefty price tag to the inevitable comparisons to Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning trilogy of films. After all, if you’re going to come at the king—or, in this case, The Return of the King—you best not miss. Thankfully, The Rings of Power doesn’t miss. A gorgeous and welcome return to Middle-earth, the series not only looks amazing with epic and impressive visuals, more importantly feels right emotionally. Grand in scale but intimate in its story, this is a series that’s as grounded in relationships as it is prophecy, as concerned with what the threat of Sauron means to the everyday lives of the races of Middle-earth as it is the larger battle of good and evil written across ages.

Set during the Second Age, The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before the events of Jackson’s movies, the series weaves together at least half a dozen major plots and twice that many main characters with a confidence that makes its slow, deliberate pace feel as though it’s organically building toward the potentially world-ending stakes that are in all their futures. I’m looking forward to finding out whether that confidence is truly warranted, but thus far, this series certainly makes me want to believe in magic, enough that I’ll be very happy to see this road go (ever on and) on for several more seasons to come. —Lacy Baugher-Milas

 


Fleabag

Created by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman Andrew Scott, Brett Gelman
Original Network: Amazon Prime

Watch on Amazon Prime

The perfectly crafted Fleabag, running an economical twelve episodes over two seasons, is one of television’s most stunning comedy achievements. The fourth wall-breaking U.K. series from creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge is sharp, clever, and devastatingly emotional. Every word spoken is carefully crafted and full of meaning, creating a fully immersive experience where we act as Fleabag’s curious confidants through her personal trials.

In its long awaited second (and final) season, Fleabag sees our heroine still reeling from the death of her best friend and her culpability in what happened. “I want someone to tell me how to live my life because I think I’ve been doing it wrong,” she wails in the fourth episode. But living your life is difficult when you have a sister who blames you for all her problems (“We’re not friends. We are sisters. Get your own friends,” Claire tells her) and a father who gives you a therapy session as a birthday gift (which leads to a delightful cameo from Fiona Shaw). Fleabag also cuts to the core of the female experience. Whether it’s Fleabag rightly explaining that how your hair looks can be the difference between a good day and a bad day or guest star Kristen Scott-Thomas, whose character receives a women in business award in the third episode, only to rightly decry it as the “fucking children’s tables of awards,” explaining menopause as “it’s horrendous and then it’s magnificent.”

The series succeeds because it never has disdain for its characters and their tragic dysfunction. It never mocks them. It merely lays them bare for everyone to see. Martin’s stifling cruelty. Claire’s overwhelming unhappiness. Their dad’s desperation not to be lonely. The godmother’s narcissism as a cover for her acute insecurity.

When it comes to those last episodes, I don’t want to say too much about the relationship between Fleabag and a certain hot priest, because the way it unfolds is so perfect and surprising and, in the end, redeeming. But I will say that Andrew Scott, who wears a priest’s robe very well, creates a character that is fully realized: a person who swears and makes mistakes but is still devoted to his faith. Their love story is one of salvation.—Amy Amatangelo and Allison Keene


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