Amazon Prime is glowing up in 2019, and we are here for it. From the all trophies it took home at this year's Golden Globes to the quality of its original streaming content, Amazon Studios is out here showing the girls less is more. Imagine this: If the streaming services were The Plastics, Amazon Prime would play Lindsay Lohan's iconic Cady Heron, and Netflix would obviously assume the role of Rachel McAdams' equally iconic Regina George (Hulu would definitely be Karen).
Mean Girls references aside, the point is there is another streaming service in town, and it's got everyone talking.
At this year's Golden Globes, Amazon and Netflix rose to the top and won big, taking home some of the night's most coveted awards. Besides the slew of Golden Globe nominations Amazon received, it secured awards for two of its central actors — Rachel Brosnahan for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Ben Whishaw for A Very English Scandal. Wins of this caliber only further prove streaming services are now actively contributing to pop culture and have become solid entertainment powerhouses, shaping and redefining the entertainment industry through their own original content.
However, the gag is this: Amazon has been quietly winning Golden Globes since 2015, even before Netflix. While our attention tends to drift toward Netflix and its ability to inspire viral trends, Amazon has been over here in a corner somewhere, churning out its own incredible original content. This year alone, Amazon produced one of the year's top Oscar contenders, Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet — a movie which you can stream on Amazon Prime right now!
And unlike other streaming services, Amazon Prime's extensive library of streaming content feels particular and curated, as though it were thoughtfully hand selected. Rather than offer a buffet of content, Amazon Prime houses some of the absolute best movies you can watch on any given day — and yes, Amazon Prime's original TV shows are particularly binge-worthy!
We've slept on Amazon Prime for way too long and now have some catching up to do. To celebrate Amazon's big TV wins, we've combed through its extensive catalogue of original shows, compiling a list of programming you can't get anywhere else. But, please proceed with caution: The top TV shows we are about to mention are so tantalizing and ingenious, you are going to forget about your queue and want to watch them right now.
1. Homecoming (2018)
Inspired by the Gimlet Media podcast created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, Amazon's Homecoming adds a stunning visual layer to a story that solely existed in the podcast listener's imagination. Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) is a caseworker with the goal of preparing soldiers for a return to civilian life. She works at a secret government facility in Florida, unaware of what's really going on there. Cut to Heidi, years later, working as a waitress. She finds herself tending to a customer who has many questions about the work she did at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. But here's the thing: Yes, Heidi remembers working at Homecoming, but she doesn't remember any details.
So, what's really going on at the Homecoming facility? Is this a government cover up, or something more sinister? As every episode edges closer towards the truth, moving back and forth between the past and present, Homecoming will leave you begging to know more.
2. Catastrophe (2015)
The show's premise is very simple: While on a business trip to London, Rob, an American, develops a one-week relationship with a woman named Sharon. Their week-long fling results in an unexpected pregnancy. Rather than go their separate ways, Rob and Sharon decide to stay together and make it work. Because, obviously, the magic they felt during their week together will last them for the rest of their lives, right? Funny, honest, and delightful every step of the way, Catastrophe plays out like a modern day rom-com. It's a brutally honesty series that tackles big and relatable issues like relationships, parenting, addiction, and adulting.
3. Transparent (2014)
Though Transparent made history for Amazon back in 2015 as the first streamable show ever to win the Best Comedy Series Golden Globe, it feels more current now than it did back then. Transparent's timelessness and relevance comes from its ability to ground the lives of its characters in a truth that feels lived in, rather than sensationalized for the premise of a TV show.
Here we follow Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) as she steps into the world as a transwoman, making the brave decision to reveal her trans identity to her three grown children. With full blown lives and problems of their own, the Pfefferman family brings hilarity to their dysfunction and heart to their emphatic understanding and appreciation of one another. Transparent creator Jill Soloway has confirmed that Transparent will be returning this year for its fifth and final season.
4. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017)
From the marvelous mind of Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, comes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Set in 1950s Manhattan, Miriam Maisel is everything you might imagine a 1950s housewife to be. She's stylish, polished, and poised in a way that feels very Betty Draper, until you take a closer look.
When Miriam's life suddenly falls apart — her husband leaves her for another woman! — she can no longer fits in the "perfect" life she's been embodying. Then something miraculous happens, and the course of Miriam's life is forever altered. In a drunken stupor, Miriam finds herself in a comedy club working the stage. People are laughing, and guess what: she's actually good. The thrill of the stage and the relief comedy brings to Miriam's life inspires her — for better or worse — to seek out a career in stand-up comedy. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is not only a funny, witty show with costumes that will leave you gagging, but it's inspired by the life of a true comedy legend: Joan Rivers.
5. Forever (2018)
Here's a show that tests the boundaries of conventional storytelling and what you can do within the parameters of a television show. Without giving too much away, Forever tells the story of June and Oscar, a married couple forced to face the true meaning of "'till death do us part." From the start, we see June's growing impatience with their daily routines, and Oscar's ability to enthusiastically embrace the monotony of everyday life. As they plan a fishing trip to their cabin for the umpteenth time, June gets the idea of infusing their relationship with spontaneity and suggests a skiing trip. From here on out, the show does its own thing.
With Forever, the story really doesn't begin until the third episode. Regardless, you'll find yourself mesmerized by how it gets you there. With its slow pacing and ability to make you laugh without realizing it, Forever is the type of show that'll get you thinking about what it means to be alive and how you interact with the world.
6. Red Oaks (2014)
Set in the 1980s, Red Oaks follows David, a college student who picks up a summer job at the Red Oaks Country Club. With his parents on the brink of divorce and his whole life seemingly out of order, David desperately seeks direction. Can he find the guidance and mentorship he needs at Red Oaks? Will this be the summer he finally figures out what he wants to do with his life?
Probably not. After all, it's summer and his job isn't really that serious. That being said, everyone David meets somehow offers him a valuable, nugget of a "life lesson" if he were to really sit down and think about it. Heck, he might even have found himself a flawed mentor in Nash, the seducer of divorcees and widows at Red Oaks. Funny, brash, and raunchy in a way that's true to '80s comedies, Red Oaks is a wild trip back to a time when Aqua Net and neon colors gave us life.
7. A Very English Scandal (2018)
Based on the true and provocative scandal that seized the Britain in 1979, A Very English Scandal dives into the life of Jeremy Thorpe, a man who became the youngest man to lead a British political party. Jeremy seems to have the life he's meant to have, wife and child included. The only problem is Jeremy also has a secret lover named Norman. As Jeremy skyrockets to popularity and fame thanks to his political power, his relationship with Norman becomes problematic. Because same-sex relationships could get you arrested — or worse — Jeremy is forced to cut things off with Norman. Surely Norman would understand, right? Wrong! Norman, spurred by heartbreak, goes public with their story and, well, the rest is history.
8. Ordeal By Innocence (2018)
Based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, Ordeal By Innocence follows the lives of a family who seems to have it all — a loving mother, a strong familial bond, and more money than can be spent in a lifetime. One day, all this changes. When the mother of these young adults is found murdered in the family estate, the blame is placed on the adopted son, Jack. Expectedly, Jack denies killing his mother, but nobody listens. Jack immediately gets arrested and the case is closed. Or, is it? A year and half after the murder, someone steps forward and presents a convincing alibi for Jack, clearing his name of his mother's murder. But, if this is true, then who amongst the siblings was actually capable of killing the beloved family matriarch?
9. The Collection (2016)
If you love the world of fashion, this is the show you've been waiting for. Set in France just after WWII, The Collection follows Paul and Claude Sabine, two brothers who are left responsible for their family's fashion house. For years, Paul has been struggling to stay afloat. Now that the war is over, Paul knows this is his chance to redefine the next wave of Parisian fashion and place the Sabine house amongst the top fashion houses of the world. The only problem is: Paul isn't the true designer of the family — it's Claude. Between rumors, marital secrets, and keeping Claude's scandalous personal life out of the press, Paul's ambition and willingness to do anything to maintain his fortune is what truly makes The Collection one of the most gorgeous, stylish dramas out there.
10. The Last Tycoon (2016)
Based on the famous novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon tells a story seeped in the lure and glamour of old school Hollywood. Monroe (Matt Bomer) is a studio executive working under Pat Brady, a studio head who wishes to raise the profile of his business up to the likes of MGM. Monroe, however, still sees his position in Hollywood through an artistic lens and has no desire to be a sales curator. As Monroe finds his voice in Hollywood, creating stars and ending careers, he soon discovers the potential in Pat's daughter, Celia, and works to try to give her the career she wants. But, has Monroe's mining for talent hit too close to home for Pat? Be prepared to be swept away and dazzled because The Last Tycoon is a period drama you won't want to miss.
11. The Romanoffs (2018)
Darkly whimsical and underhandedly funny, The Romanoffs will keep you coming back for more. The show follows the lives of different people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Romanoffs — a royal Russian family we see slaughtered in the first 20 seconds of the show! As you get to know each member of this star-studded cast, you begin to get a clearer sense of how everyone's self-importance and self-indulgence might be what truly links them rather than their supposed lineage. Each episode follows a different member of the Romanoff family, allowing you to drop in and and get a sense of their lives without too much commitment. Filled with one-liners to die for, this sharp anthology series will make you wish your family had their own family crest — or, at least, a made up one.
12. The Man In The High Castle (2015)
Based on Phillip K. Dick's popular novel, The Man In The High Castle is a show that's unintentionally terrifying. By focusing on "alternate history" storytelling and the the concept of what if, the series ultimately takes us down a deep, dark road. To be exact, The Man In The High Castle explores what might have happened if America and the Allied Powers lost against the Nazis during World War II. Consequently, the United States is divided up between Japan and Germany, thus complicating the lives of countless individuals who still consider themselves to be Americans. Fortunately, there's someone out there who might be able to topple these two regimes. Her name is Juliana, and yes, we're all rooting for her.
13. Picnic At Hanging Rock (2018)
Mrs. Appleyard runs Appleyard College which is an all girls school. It is located in an isolated mansion in the middle of nowhere, away from the city life and other distractions. Appleyard College is a place where young women can focus on their education and become more than their greatest ambitions have allowed them to envision. The school is a success and everything Mrs. Appleyard could have imagined comes to fruition. That is, until Valentine's Day.
On February 14th, the entire school goes on a picnic at Hanging Rock. By the end of the outing, three of the school's brightest student and their governesses go missing. How is Mrs. Appleyard to explain this event to the girls' parents and to the town as a whole? Are the girls alive or dead? Is Appleyard College even safe? Picnic At Hanging Rock will suck you in and leave you speechless until the bitter end.
14. Electric Dreams (2017)
Inspired by the works of Phillip K. Dick, Electric Dreams is a feast for sci-fi fans. The 10 distinct episodes take you into their own worlds with their own set of characters. Moving across time and space, the series dives into worlds riddled by technological advances that have a very curious impact on humans. From telepaths to memory erasure and recollection, Electric Dreams is able to explore human nature through its subject matter. Since every episode introduces a different story, you're never bored. It is basically the Amazon Prime version of Black Mirror.
15. One Mississippi (2015)
One Mississippi is inspired by the events of Tig Notaro's personal life. In 2012, Tig's life took a tailspin ⏤ she lost her mother and was diagnosed with breast cancer. With its inspired themes and Tig's deadpan delivery, One Mississippi somehow finds humor in life events that would leave most of us curled up into small balls. Tig does her best to make sense of the events unfolding around her in her hometown; primarily, the way her brother and stepfather are reacting to her mother's death. The best part about One Mississippi is how it allows us to catch glimpses of how Tig really feels about things. Though Tig's exterior manages to seem poised and collected, the audience is let into her "imaginative happenings" which offer Tig's true reactions to the chaos surrounding her.
16. Z: The Beginning Of Everything (2015)
Starring: Christina Ricci
Genre: Drama, Biography
Run time per episode: 27 minutes
Z: The Beginning Of Everything follows the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in the moments before and after meeting F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer of such classics as The Last Tycoon and The Great Gatsby. Though their relationship and marriage played a definitive part in the mythos of The Lost Generation, Zelda's personal life made her a celebrity and topic of great conversation. From her attempt to establish herself as a writer to her mental illness, Z: The Beginning Of Everything explores every aspect of a woman who helped define the Jazz Age and inspired some of F. Scott's greatest characters. Be prepared to witness the rise and fall of one of the first celebrity couples America had the privilege of birthing.
17. Fleabag (2016)
Starring: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run time per episode: 27 minutes
Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is one of the most original characters on television right now. Apart from having a horribly hilarious name, Fleabag's struggles are relatable on so many levels that you start to wonder if you're laughing at her or at yourself. Fleabag doesn't have her life together. Her relationship with the opposite sex is problematic, and her job is a hot mess. Yet there's something very punk rock and — dare I say, inspiring — in the way Fleabag goes through life. She's unapologetically herself, and every time she speaks directly to us, we totally get it. We see you, girl. Get your life.
18. Vanity Fair (2018)
Based on the classic novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair follows Rebecca "Becky" Sharp, a young woman born into poverty who wants nothing more than to become part of the social elite. In an effort to move beyond the lower class, Becky begins associating with the affluent Crawley family. It is here that she falls in love with the Crawley's son, Rawdon. But when Rawdon's fortune is no more, Becky finds herself, yet again, staring at the face of poverty — only this time, she's not having it. There's nothing more entertaining than watching Becky Sharp become who she needs to be in order to get to the top. She's no submissive wallflower, but that's precisely what makes Becky a riot.
19. Lore (2017)
Starring: Aaron Mahnke
Genre: Horror, Documentary
Run time per episode: 40 minutes
Based on the podcast by Aaron Mahnke, Amazon's Lore is terrifying. Each episode explores a different horror mythology by tracing it back to its origins. Lore explores topics like being buried alive and werewolves. Naturally, one might assume that by seeking out the truth, it dissolves what makes a particular horror myth terrifying, but that isn't always the case. Lore proves that seeking out truth is more chilling than just knowing who the monster is — and that revelation is truly scary.
20. Absentia (2017)
Starring: Stana Katic
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Run time per episode: 60 minutes
Absentia follows Emily, a woman whose disappearance has caused everyone in her life to declare her dead. With no recollection of what happened, Emily is unsure about who took her and why she was held captive. As Emily tries to reintegrate into her old life, she learns her husband remarried. Not only have things drastically changed since she's been gone, but there's cause to believe Emily had something to do with a string of murders. Absentia builds a mystery that is utterly engrossing and deeply complex. Believe me when I say this show is totally worth watching.
You can catch all these TV shows and more on Amazon Prime right now.