We run through our favourite Amazon Original shows, available to stream or download for free if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber.
Amazon Prime Video might not enjoy as much prestige as its biggest rival, Netflix, yet that doesn’t mean you won’t find all kinds of great things on there to stream your evenings away. In fact, just like Netflix, Amazon produces its own exclusive TV shows, under the Amazon Original banner. Not a particularly original name, of course, but hey ho.
What are Amazon Original shows?
Amazon has its very own subsidiary studios, surprisingly titled Amazon Studios, which produce new TV shows for the Amazon Prime Video streaming service. These exclusive series are known as Amazon Original shows.
In its early days, the studio produced a number of pilots and asked viewers to vote for their favourite, which was then produced. Amazon also allows screenwriters to send in their own works, for consideration. The Studios output has gone from strength to strength, and in 2015 the show Transparent won a Golden Globe for the best series.
How do I watch Amazon Prime Video content?
First, sign yourself up for an Amazon Prime Video subscription. At the time of writing this costs £79 for the year, with a free month thrown in for good measure.
Once you’re all signed up, you can stream shows to your heart’s delight on Amazon’s website or by using the Prime Video app.
How can I watch Amazon Prime Video shows on my home TV?
Many smart tellies already come with Amazon’s Prime Video app pre-installed, or available to download via the online app store. Sign into the app with your Amazon login details and you should have full access to the Prime Video original content.
If you don’t own a smart TV or can’t find the Amazon Prime app, you can always connect a smart streamer such as the Amazon Fire TV. Check out our complete guide on watching Prime Video on your telly for all you need to know.
How can I watch Amazon Prime Video TV shows on my Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad?
If you have Apple’s iPhone or iPad, you can stream TV shows using Amazon’s Prime Video app. Just head to the App Store and get it downloaded, then sign in with your Amazon creds and you’re good to go. Note that you can even download Amazon Original shows, to watch on the move without killing your data allowance.
Android owners will annoyingly have to download another Amazon app first, as the Prime Video offering can’t be found on Google Play. Check out our full instructions to get started.
What are the best Amazon Original TV shows right now?
You might be a little daunted by the sheer number of original telly series that Amazon has published on Prime Video, so we’ve rounded up our favourite shows below. Ready, set, go binge.
Michael Connelly fans will of course know the gritty character of Harry Bosch all too well and this self-titled show follows the LAPD detective as he tracks down murderers in the seediest parts of the city. Expect plenty of internal conflict, horrible crimes, shocking revelations and a truly gripping watch, now in its third season.
Billy Bob Thornton is one of the most watchable actors out there, and it’s his performance in Amazon Original show Goliath (which won him a Golden Globe) that really elevates the series.
You won’t be too surprised to hear that Billy Bob plays a down-on-his-luck booze hound lawyer, who spends most of his time self-pitying in bars. That is, until a massive case lands on his desk, involving an old client and an accidental death.
The Man in the High Castle
Although this series is based on a Philip K Dick novel, it’s more of an ‘alternate historical drama’ than a sci-fi show. Imagine a 1960s setting where Japan and Germany devastated the Allied forces in World War 2, and you’d be picturing the setting of The Man in the High Castle.
A band of hopeful renegades living in a dictatorship society discover some mysterious movies, which offer a glimpse of a better life. But are they real and can they battle against their cruel rulers to change their fates? Plenty of tension and some explosive action make for an uncomfortable but enthralling watch.
Giovanni Ribisi stars in this crime drama about an ex-con who takes on the identity of his old cellmate, Pete, to escape the attention of a dangerous gangster. His new family gradually grows suspicious of the imposter however, while it seems like Pete’s new cohorts have plenty of dark secrets of their own.
Life in Pieces
This low key family comedy boasts quite an impressive cast, and manages to lift us up even when we’re feeling a bit low. You’re guaranteed to be smiling, if not all-out shaking with laughter, throughout the tight 20-minute running time of each episode. Comparisons with Modern Family are inevitable, so definitely check out Life in Pieces if you’re a fan of that show.
Halt and Catch Fire
Right, so a show about the rise of the personal home computer in the 1980s might not sound particularly thrilling. Anyone who appreciates a well constructed character drama should definitely give Halt and Catch Fire a chance however, at least to the first season’s mid-point. Even technophobes will enjoy the story that unfurls, with the fourth and final season providing a sweet send-off.
The Last Tycoon
This Amazon Original show is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished final novel, which was published after the scribe’s death. It’s the times of the Great Depression, and a slick movie executive is locked in a battle of wits with his boss, played by the gloriously gruff Kelsey Grammar, over the future of their studio. This one’s all about the characters and their fiery relationships, not to mention the fantastic period setting. If you like slow-burning dramas, get stuck straight in.
Jean Claude Van Johnson
Say what you will about Jean Claude Van Damme, the muscles from Brussels has clearly proven that he’s happy to take the mickey out of himself and his on-screen persona. Following on from the hilarious and baffling JCVD, this new Amazon Original series casts the former Kickboxer as himself, albeit a messed-up alternate version of himself where he sells his services on the side.
You can check out the first episode right now on Prime Video, with the rest of the season following shortly.
The first award-winner for Amazon Studios was this very adult comedy-drama starring Jeffrey Tambor as a retired professor and father who decides to become a woman. This revelation causes a variety of reactions from his family, some of whom are more accepting than others.
If you like watching dysfunctional families having a proper go at one another, you’ll certainly get a kick out of Transparent. Three seasons are available to stream on Prime Video right now, with a fourth arriving soon.
Neil Gaiman’s sci-fi novel has been converted into one of the more outlandish and gore-filled Amazon Original titles out there, with a great cast and spectacular visuals to entice viewers. Considering the density of the source material, the results are rather enjoyable.
Ex-con Shadow Moon (yes, that’s his name) finds himself lamenting his sudden recruitment by the mysterious Mr Wednesday, played with perfect charm by Ian McShane. You see, a lot of people don’t like his new boss, as Moon soon discovers, rather violently. And as the clueless hero is drawn further into the world of American Gods, things get very bloody indeed.
Netflix has the Marvel franchises, and Amazon Prime Video has…The Tick.
This rather surreal and quite funny superhero TV show focuses on a depressed accountant called Arthur, a ‘norm’ who lives in a world populated by all manner of caped crusaders. Arthur becomes tied up in a plot involving a seemingly deceased super-villain, and only a hero known as The Tick – who may not actually be real – can help to save Arthur and the city.
You can check out the first season right now in its entirety.
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