The 50 best TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime right now, from ‘Jack Ryan’ to ‘Scrubs’
What do Tyra Banks, Liz Lemon and Soviet spies have in common? They’re all on Amazon Prime Video.
The retail giant’s streaming service, like rivals Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and Peacock, updates its film and TV catalog monthly, bringing in new TV shows and movies and older series like NBC’s “30 Rock” or FX’s “The Americans,” while dropping others. Paired with occasional new seasons of Amazon original series, like “The Boys,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” there are hundreds of TV shows to sort through when looking for something to watch on Prime.
We’ve curated the best of the TV shows Amazon Prime has available to stream as of November 2020 (in alphabetical order), from shiny new series to TV classics.
Don’t have Amazon? The 50 best TV shows to watch on Netflix right now
Or maybe you don’t have Netflix either… The 50 best TV shows to watch on Hulu right now
1. “30 Rock”
Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan make an endlessly appealing trio in NBC’s award-winning series about a “Saturday Night Live”-style sketch comedy series.
Before Jennifer Garner started playing romantic comedy leads and mothers in family films, she played Sydney Bristow in J.J. Abrams’ spy thriller, which ran on ABC from 2001-2006. The series is smart, fast-paced and has a stellar cast that includes Victor Garber and a pre-”Hangover” Bradley Cooper.
3. “The Americans”
Over six seasons, FX’s Soviet spy drama boasted exemplary acting (particularly from Keri Russell), writing, directing, music, wigs and everything else. Thoughtful, insightful, thrilling and even funny at times, the series is the best show of the 2010s.
4. “America’s Next Top Model”
A few shows have tried to recreate the melodrama of “ANTM,” to no avail. A combination of Tyra Banks’ outsized personality, the outsized demands of the fashion industry and the outsized conflict that comes from sticking young wannabe models together for weeks combined to create magic in this 2003-18 series, which began on UPN and later aired on CW and VH1.
5. “Being Erica”
In this charming Canadian series, a woman (Erin Karpluk) who feels as though she has made all the wrong choices in life is given the chance by a magical “therapist” to go back in time and change them, although those trips to the past don’t always have the result she intends. It may sound hokey, but it’s an insightful character portrait.
David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel make a magnetic pair in Fox’s drama about an FBI agent and the forensic anthropologist who helps him solve murders where the remains are often just, well, bones. The long-running series drags near the end, but the first few seasons are the epitome of a good will they/won’t they relationship.
Perennial supporting actor Titus Welliver gets a starring role in this detective drama, based on the character from Michael Connelly’s books. The series is a solid cop show that leans dark, gritty and somber.
8. “The Boys”
A superhero series that asks what would happen if the people endowed with terrific powers were also terrific jerks. Full of graphic (but not gratuitous) violence, the series puts a dark spin on the comic book story.
9. “Burn Notice”
The USA espionage dramedy starring Jeffrey Donovan offers is good for picking up some spy tips, good for watching while you fold laundry and a good reminder you why you want to live in a beach town.
For fans of dry British humor who feel stable in their marriages, this sitcom from Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan is a beautiful portrait of a relationship that begins with an unplanned pregnancy but becomes so much more.
Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski lead this NBC action comedy, which aired from 2007-2012, about an ordinary nerd who gets the United States’ most classified secrets accidentally uploaded into his brain. Part silly, part sweet, the series was a great starting block for its appealing stars.
Wacky, weird and often wonderful, NBC’s comedy about a diverse group of friends at a community college defies genre and label in its first few excellent seasons to create engrossing television. The later seasons are fine, but never as good as the first three. All six are available Nov. 8.
J.K. Simmons works wonders in this underrated Starz series about an unassuming office worker who discovers a parallel world in which his doppelganger is a cold, calculating operative in a deadly cold war.
14. “Downton Abbey”
What makes the PBS period drama – about an upper-class British family in the early 20th century and its “downstairs” household staff – so riveting is the way it dresses up soapy drama in high-class clothes: a little trashy, a little classy and a lot of Maggie Smith asking what a “weekend” is.
15. “The Durrells in Corfu”
Based on a series of memoirs about the Durrells, a poor family that leaves the United Kingdom for Greece to attempt a fresh start, the PBS drama is full of sibling squabbles, an exasperated mother and gorgeous beach scenery. Despite the family drama, “Durrells” always maintains a sweet, loving tone.
Even more TV to stream:50 best shows to watch on HBO Max right now: From ‘Friends’ to ‘Big Bang’ to ‘Insecure’
16. “Escape at Dannemora”
With Ben Stiller behind the camera and Patricia Arquette in front of it, Showtime’s fictionalized retelling of the 2015 prison break in upstate New York is remarkably taut, thrilling and heartbreaking. The miniseries is so much better than you might have expected from a Hollywood treatment of this scandalous story.
This delightful Syfy series creates a world in which the greatest minds on Earth are gathered in one small Pacific Northwest town to work their scientific miracles, turning the little hamlet of Eureka into a futuristic enclave. The town sheriff (Colin Ferguson), who’s merely average on the IQ scale, is tasked with cleaning up all the messes caused by out-of-control experiments.
18. “The Expanse”
Set in a near future, “Expanse” marries politics and space battles in the story of a future when we populate the solar system but remain culturally divided.
Hilarious, emotional and utterly surprising, the British comedy created by (and starring) Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a struggling young woman, deserves the hype (and all those Emmys).
20. “Good Omens”
Adapted from a 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the apocalyptic miniseries has a quirky British comedic tone: The Antichrist is a mischievous middle-schooler and the only beings trying to save the planet are an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) who are best friends and terrible at their jobs.
If you love the TV genre known as “provincial British people solve murders,” try PBS’s “Grantchester,” in which a local Anglican vicar (James Norton, “Little Women”) assists an inspector (Robson Green) with murder investigations. The writers’ approach to social issues and the episodic mysteries are nuanced for a show that appears twee on the surface.
Fairytale villains meet police procedurals in this horror series, in which Portland police detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he is a “Grimm,” aka a mystical figure tasked with keeping otherworldly threats at bay.
Creator Bryan Fuller’s take on the Hannibal Lecter tale was bold, brutal and blisteringly violent on NBC. Mads Mikkelsen is superb as the classic horror villain and Hugh Dancy makes a compelling pre-Clarice Starling foil for the cannibalistic killer.
Julia Roberts anchors the moody, gripping first season of this mystery series about a suspicious rehabilitation center for soldiers returning from combat abroad. In Season 2, Janelle Monae ably steps into her shoes, and Season 1 stand-out Hong Chau gets the bigger role she deserves.
Hugh Laurie’s turn as the misanthropic, wise-cracking doctor struggling with addiction has become an iconic television role. Combining the relationships drama and life-and-death stakes of the medical procedural with the mysteries of a cop show, “House” was a huge hit for Fox and remains a one-of-a-kind show.
26. “Howards End”
Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”) winningly leads this 2017 Starz adaption of the 1910 novel by E. M. Forster. The British period piece has everything: Family drama, exquisite costuming and social change no one is ready for.
This revelatory docuseries explores Lorena Bobbitt’s own story of sexual assault and domestic violence by her ex-husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, whose penis she infamously severed in 1993.
Idris Elba is dashing, brooding and brilliant in this U.K. drama that revolves around a cat-and-mouse chase between Elba’s detective and Ruth Wilson’s sultry and psychopathic murderer Alice Morgan.
29. “The Man in the High Castle”
Although current events can sometimes make this alternate history series – about what would have happened had the U.S. lost World War II – hit differently, it’s still a smart take on what life might have been, with a little fantasy thrown in.
30. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
With mile-a-minute dialogue, impeccable costumes and an incredible cast, this dramedy about a 1950s housewife (Rachel Brosnahan) turned stand-up comic is a pastel pink-covered treat.
For those who like to mix their comedy with murder-of-the-week cop dramas, Tony Shalhoub’s performance as a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder in this USA Network comedy is a true classic.
32. “Mozart in the Jungle”
Gael García Bernal is charming as ever in this dramedy as Rodrigo, a brash new conductor for the New York Symphony. The zippy series is a delightful binge-watch.
33. “Mr. Robot”
Rami Malek played a loner hacker messing with the fate of the country long before he ever won an Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury in 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Dark, disturbing and full of twists and turns, the series became USA’s breakout drama for a reason.
34. “The Night Manager”
Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman anchored AMC’s 2016 miniseries adaptation of the John le Carré novel in which a hotel manager is pulled into international espionage and undercover work after he helps a guest involved in the weapons trade.
35. “The Office” (UK)
Before Steve Carrell made us cringe as Michael Scott, Ricky Gervais played the somehow even more cringeworthy David Brent, king of his own little office, in the U.K. version of the series he co-created.
36. “Orphan Black”
Later seasons fizzled, but the first few outings of BBC America’s light science fiction drama were a revelation, and not just because of star Tatiana Maslany’s Emmy-winning performance as multiple clones with distinct personalities.
37. “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams”
While Netflix’s “Black Mirror” gets a lot of hype as a “Twilight Zone”-style science fiction anthology series, Amazon’s lower-profile “Electric Dreams” is often more thoughtful, intriguing and scary. Based on stories by the author of “Blade Runner,” the episodes tackle artificial intelligence, the nature of reality and other topics.
All detective stories in which an outside detective and his sidekick help police are riffs on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and USA’s “Psych” is the best and the most hilarious. A faux-psychic (James Roday Rodriguez) is just a hyper observational investigator, but he prefers to make jokes and have fake visions.
39. “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
The biggest, brightest and most sashaying reality series around is almost as good of a binge-watch as it is the first time around on VH1, when tweeting with superfans. Almost.
The sweet, silly comedy of NBC’s (and later ABC’s) long-running “Scrubs,” starring Zach Braff, Donald Faison and Sarah Chalke, is what we most often remember. But it’s also a celebration of the doctors who work so hard to save lives, and a more realistic look at life in the hospital than high-drama soap operas.
41. “Star Trek”
Whether you want to hang with Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), original bros Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) or travel to “Deep Space,” there’s a “Star Trek” series for every mood. All of them (well, except “Enterprise”) offer a winning combination of great science-fiction storytelling and a sense of hope and optimism.
An underachiever with a photographic memory (Patrick J. Adams) poses as a lawyer at a high-powered New York firm and wins big cases in this snappy USA legal drama. Once you get over seeing the former Meghan Markle without Prince Harry, and the show’s admittedly absurd concept, you can enjoy the soapy drama.
43. “The Thick of It”
British actor Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who”) is a veritable fountain of profanity in this hilarious political satire from Armando Iannucci, the creator of “Veep.”
44. “The Tick”
Peter Serafinowicz is at his goofy, pompous best in this superhero comedy that flies (pun intended) under the radar amid the dark, gritty superhero series on the air right now. With half-hour episodes, a shockingly bright color palette and a distinct sense of fun, “Tick” is a breath of fresh, super-powered air.
45. “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”
John Krasinski, stepping far away from his role as Jim on “The Office,” does a serviceable interpretation of the famous Clancy character in this espionage thriller, which mixes its action with solid character work.
As deeply emotional and affecting as it is unsettling, this animated series gets under your skin, in a good way. The series’ rotoscoping technique, in which animation is drawn over live footage, provides an eerie edge as it tells a magic-realist story of a stagnant twenty-something (Rosa Salazar) who can travel in time and communicate with her dead father.
“Upload” is one of the rare shows that’s so compelling and addictive, it made me desperately crave a second season after finishing the first. Starring Robbie Amell as a man who uploads his consciousness to a digital afterlife, “Upload” balances its humor with a sweet romance and an enticing mystery.
48. “A Very English Scandal”
Hugh Grant is not the adorable rom-com hero you may know him as in this kicky, hilarious limited series, based on a real political scandal in which a British MP (Grant) allegedly tried to have his former lover (played by the always-delightful Ben Whishaw) murdered.
Starring “Doctor Who” alumna Jenna Coleman, the PBS series begins with Queen Victoria’s ascension to the British throne at age 18, and follows the pitfalls and victories of her early time on the throne as she navigates the British parliament, foreign relations and romance with Prince Albert.
50. “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji”
It’s “Survivor” meets “The Amazing Race,” but bigger and tougher. Amazon’s reboot of Mark Burnett’s first series pits teams in an adventure race like no other. Hosted by noted outdoorsman Bear Grylls and populated by compelling characters, the series is thrilling even for those who aren’t normally attracted to this kind of reality TV.