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Marie (Jaz Sinclair) and Emma (Lizzie Broadway) look at something intently on the computer in Gen V Photo: Brooke Palmer/Prime Video

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The best shows to watch on Prime

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Nearly two decades since it launched, Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has amassed a robust catalog of original and licensed programming.

We’re here to round up some of the best TV shows available to watch on Prime Video and Freevee, Prime’s Video free-with-ads streaming service previously known as IMDb TV. There’s a lot to choose from: Prime Video has moving shows from fantastic filmmakers, like Barry Jenkins, and classic episodic TV that changed how the medium operated forever. We’ll update this list regularly to bring you new recommendations as they come, but for now, here’s our list of the best television to watch on Prime Video and Freevee.

For more great TV, check out our lists of the best shows of 2022 and 2023, which include many selections on Prime and Freevee. Our latest update adds Gen V as our editor’s pick.


Editor’s pick: Gen V

(L-R) Chance Perdomo, Jaz Sinclair, and Derek Luh in Gen V. Photo: Brooke Palmer/Prime Video

As a lapsed fan of The Boys, I wasn’t exactly waiting intently to watch the young adult spin-off when it premiered back in September. After watching the first episode, I was hooked in a way the main series never quite managed. Gen V is less a “superhero” show as it is a college mystery drama that happens to have superheroes in it, one that focuses less on the machinations of megacorp Vought International and more on what it would mean to be superpowered young adult living in a world analogous to our own, one where brand endorsements and social media fame are entangled with superhuman abilities.

Jaz Sinclair (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) is excellent as Marie Moreau, the series’ protagonist who possesses the power to manipulate her own blood into a deadly weapon, who also doubles as the audience surrogate introducing viewers to this previously little-seen corner of The Boys universe. Chance Perdomo, too, delivers a great performance as the magnetically empowered Andre Anderson, along with London Thor and Derek Luh in their joint portrayal of the gender-shifting Jordan Li.

Gen V still has the same crass over-the-top humor of the original series, with giant penises and gory puppet massacres, but the main storyline is so down-to-Earth and character-driven it seldom comes across as excessive. Trust me: Even if you’re not a fan of The Boys, you should give Gen V a shot. And who knows, by the time you finish the first season, it might even convince you to give the main series another chance. —Toussaint Egan


The Underground Railroad

Two Black characters sit by an open window with their heads together in Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad Image: Amazon Studios

If you’re looking for a modern masterpiece that features heart-rending performances, stunning lighting, a transcendent orchestral score, and a deeply rewarding story, The Underground Railroad should be the first show you watch on Prime Video.

Barry Jenkins’ miniseries adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a perilous journey into the dark heart of America’s original sin, a stirring drama of the generational burden of regret, and a cathartic fable that strikes unsparingly at the inhumanity of slavery and the euphoria of freedom. The series follows Cora (Thuso Mbedu), an enslaved woman from Georgia abandoned by her mother, who agrees to flee with a fellow slave, Caesar (Aaron Pierre), through a subterranean train network designed to shepherd runaways to freedom.

Over the course of 10 episodes, the barbarism of chattel slavery assumes a multitude of forms, from the eugenic horrors of a South Carolina town to a North Carolina cult that murders any Black person, slave or not, on sight. Beautiful, harrowing, and unquestionably profound, The Underground Railroad is an accomplished feat of storytelling and a true cinematic event through and through. —TE

Invincible

Invincible flies from earth into outer space. Image: Amazon Studios

Nothing ever quite prepares you for the end of Invincible’s first episode.

The animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s adult superhero comic is as gore-tastic as it is compelling. It’s a riff on a coming-of-age origin story that follows Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), the son of the world’s most powerful hero, who is forced to grapple with the consequences of his double life as the masked superpowered crime fighter Invincible, all while a terrible secret that threatens to rock his sense of identity and morality rises to the surface.

With impressive animation, a suspenseful plot that takes its time before delivering a devastating emotional uppercut, and a cast bursting at the seams with standout performances from the likes of Yeun (The Walking Dead) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), the first season of Invincible is simply a fantastic time. And with the second season just around the corner and an excellent special that just aired, there’s no better time to catch up. —TE

Ziwe

Bowen Yang and Patti Harrison play “Rank the Riches” on Ziwe, with Ziwe sitting in a chair in a fluffy red coat. Yang and Harrison stand in front of a white board that has a chart from 10 to 1 and images of rich people on it. A framed picture of Oprah Winfrey hangs in the background of the pink set. Photo: Barbara Nitke/Showtime

Ziwe Fumudoh gets people to embarrass themselves.

Starting with her 2017 YouTube show Baited with Ziwe, the comedian established a rep for asking (usually white) guests incredibly direct questions about race. The show then blew up in popularity when Fumudoh moved it to Instagram Live in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and secured a number of celebrity guests that seemed unusually willing to show their ass in response to Fumudoh’s questions.

Ziwe is the culmination of Fumudoh’s work in the arena of American racial ignorance, a gonzo variety show centered around celebrity interviews and rounded out with skits and outrageous set design. A cringe comedy masterpiece, gone too soon but not before it made its point. —Joshua Rivera

The Expanse

The crew of the Rocinante staring at the camera in a still from the final season of The Expanse Image: Amazon Studios

An incredibly satisfying adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s massive sci-fi book series, The Expanse is the best hard sci-fi show in recent memory.

A grounded and lavish vision of a future where humans have begun to spread throughout the solar system, The Expanse kicks off with a murder mystery and soon swells to become a sweeping interstellar epic with plenty on its mind. An outer space playground for character actors like Jared Harris and David Strathairn, The Expanse never sacrificed its characters for lore, as class struggles and economic inequality fueled its spacefaring conflicts. —JR

Catastrophe

Rob Delaney, wearing a suit and neck brace, stands next to Sharon Horgan in what looks like a courtroom in Catastrophe. Image: Amazon Studios

It’s better if I don’t hedge things: I love Catastrophe. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Caustically hilarious and emotionally raw, the Channel 4 import stars comedians Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan as middle-aged strangers who, after a fling results in a pregnancy, decide to get hitched and see if they can make it work. It doesn’t really, but maybe it’s not supposed to. Catastrophe is about love as a terribly unique mess, and how the decision to be with someone is less the fulfillment of some idyllic fantasy and more a commitment to creating your own bespoke disaster with someone else, tempestuous and fragile, an awe-inspiring miracle every moment it persists. —JR

Mr. Robot

Rami Malek wears a black hoodie covering his head and a black backpack while walking on the street in Mr. Robot Image: USA

Perhaps the best and most misunderstood drama of the last decade, Mr. Robot garnered a lot of attention for its pulpy psychological thrills and uniquely paranoid visual style. After a satisfying first-season twist upended its initial story about anarchist hackers, Mr. Robot became a far stranger, more ambitious show.

Almost entirely told from the perspective of protagonist Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), Mr. Robot is one of television’s best uses of an unreliable narrator and one of the sharpest pop cultural responses to the social and cultural upheaval of the late 2010s, a story about broken people who couldn’t fix themselves but could maybe break an inequitable world, in the hopes that others might be able to build something better. —JR

Fleabag

fleabag talks to hot priest in season 2 of fleabag Photo: Steve Schofield/Amazon Studios

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this the show everyone is always going on about? Didn’t this show win like five Emmys? [Ed. note: It was four, but the picture of Phoebe Waller-Bridge smoking with one is worth at least one more trophy.] Of course it’s one of the best shows on Prime Video.

But that’s the thing — sorry to the other blurbs here, but yeah. Fleabag is just simply one of the best shows on Prime, not because it’s an undersung gem but because Fleabag is that bitch. Following a witty but messy young woman (Waller-Bridge) as she tries to get by, Fleabag’s two seasons pack a mighty emotional punch. That they manage to do that in two British seasons (i.e., six episodes each) is a marvel. But both of Fleabag’s seasons are ambitious in their own right, each incredible and thorny and tangled and wise.

A show this potent could just feel impressive and weighty. But Fleabag manages to muster a dry wit and a hopeful heart almost every step of the way. It’s an inspiration in that way for our own bleak moments, whether they’re darkened by grief or heartache — a reminder that beneath all that tenderness, there’s something worth excavating. It’s a good deed in a weary world. —Zosha Millman

The X-Files

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny at a desk in X-Files. Image: Fox

The one, the only, the blueprint. Watching The X-Files feels like a rite of passage, no matter which watch you’re on. You can be dipping in for the first time or watching it for the 100th, and there’s still something hidden inside its mysteries to unravel. The way it elegantly balanced monsters of the week with overarching, constantly building mythos set the template for what TV was capable of. Watching through, you can see how it’s the basis for so many shows to come — obvious heirs like Fringe, Supernatural, or Lost, but also Gravity Falls, and Breaking Bad. The X-Files is a fun and important icon for a reason.

But just as vitally: It’s important and fun. X-Files was so influential not just because it was ambitious but because its structure allowed it to be deft and fluid, putting agents Scully and Mulder (Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny) in new situations that make for great little sci-fi and horror stories. You might not like all of them, but, hey, there’s always the next one — plus, X-Files’ hit rate is as legendary as some of the monsters featured in its 218 episodes. All that gets anchored by Anderson and Duchovny, the eager believer and the curious skeptic. It’s a formula so simple and so potent it’d redefine TV for decades to come. But at the end of the day, the best trick it pulls is that all that falls to the background — just tell me what that smoking guy’s deal is. —ZM

The Good Wife

Julianna Margulies holds a cell phone to her ear while Alan Cumming watches behind her in The Good Wife. Image: CBS

You think you know The Good Wife, but you don’t. That’s part of the whole thing about the titular good wife, Alicia Florrick (played with emotive steeliness by Julianna Margulies), whose husband very publicly cheated on her with sex workers. Since he’s the state’s attorney, her case becomes a high-profile one, with the image of her standing by his side during his resignation (and pre-jail) press conference chasing her through her reignited professional career as a lawyer. As she climbs the ladder at an elite Chicago law firm, she’s constantly wrestling with her image as “St. Alicia,” her husband’s political career, the case of the week, and a love triangle for the ages.

Airing during the beginning of “peak TV” and the streaming era and a rapidly changing online culture, it’s a show that straddles a helluva lot of change. And like its titular wife, The Good Wife evolved with the times. Those changes don’t always come easily, but The Good Wife consistently manages to be a more fascinating and dimensional show than a mere CBS drama. Though it never lost its legal procedural roots, the show would morph and adapt and indulge new impulses, no matter how dramatic, zany, or wild they may be. In a time where the TV world was shifting out from under it, co-creators Michelle King and Robert King simply let The Good Wife roll. And in the process, they created one of the most bingeable procedurals out there. —ZM

Columbo

Peter Falk sits with Faye Dunaway at a bar in Columbo. Image: ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

If I ever need a pick-me-up, there’s always Columbo.

The structure, groundbreaking at the time, is consistent: first the murder, then the attempted cover-up, in great detail. It’s not until usually about 30 minutes in that Columbo himself shows up, weaponizing his endless curiosity and intelligence to gently annoy the killer into a confession. And it all sings because of star Peter Falk, one of the great actors of his time, who so perfectly inhabited the character that it’s nearly impossible to separate the two.

A direct predecessor of fellow “howcatchems” like Poker Face, the first seven seasons are streaming on Prime, but that’s all you need.

Oh, one more thing… If you’re going to watch just one episode (because they’re all stand-alone), my favorite is “Étude in Black.” It’s the first episode of the second season, and stars Falk’s longtime friend and collaborator, John Cassavetes, as a murderous conductor. But you really can’t go wrong: The pilot episode is directed by a very young Steven Spielberg, and guest stars over the years included Johnny Cash, Vincent Price, Janet Leigh, William Shatner, and many (many!) more. —Pete Volk

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Key art of Aang, Katara, Sokka, Momo, and Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Image: Nickelodeon Animation Studio

Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.

Nickelodeon’s breakthrough hit is nearly 20 years old, and it spawned a still-breathing franchise, with new entries in both live action and animation on their way. But nothing yet has reached the highs of the original, which has stood the test of time thanks to its rich characters, fantastic sense of scale, dynamic animation, and compelling story.

Technically a vast fantasy story about destiny, chosen ones, and global conflict, The Last Airbender is more closely a story of a young person who has been given a burden of responsibility more than any one person can handle. Along with his friends, the Avatar Aang seeks to find his place in a chaotic world and heal what he can before it’s too late.

If you’ve never seen The Last Airbender, it really is that good. If you have, there’s nothing wrong with a rewatch — especially with the new show and movie on their way. —PV

Patriot

Michael Dorman, wearing a sweater, sits on a park bench while playing a guitar in Patriot. Image: Amazon Studios

John is a spy. But what John really wants to be is a folk singer. And he can’t stop giving away state secrets in his songs.

That’s the premise for the singular Patriot, a hilarious, heartfelt, and deeply quirky spy show that isn’t like other spy shows. Michael Dorman (For All Mankind) is fantastic as John, bringing a deep sensitivity and a whole lot of confusion to the role as someone who’d rather be living a much simpler life than meddling in foreign elections. The show comes from Steven Conrad (Perpetual Grace Ltd.) and has a fantastic supporting cast including Kurtwood Smith (RoboCop), Michael Chernus (Severance), and Terry O’Quinn (Lost). Oh, and the songs are great, too. —PV

Leverage

Aldis Hodge, Beth Riesgraf, and Christian Kane are in various states of changing from a working jumpsuit into suit and ties (or vice versa?) in Leverage. Image: TNT/Everett Collection

Like Columbo, Leverage is also fun episodic television with a habit of skewering the rich and powerful. But its protagonists operate on the other side of the law.

A former insurance investigator (Timothy Hutton) gathers a group of grifters, criminals, and other skilled professionals to make a very unconventional sort of heist team. This team isn’t primarily interested in enriching themselves; instead, they find people being exploited by powerful people and entities, and help provide them with some leverage to balance the scales — usually through some sort of heist.

Leverage is breezy, fun television, and while I haven’t watched the revival series Leverage: Redemption yet, I’ve also heard that’s a fun time, and it too is available to watch on Prime through Freevee. Return to some old-school television with a bit of new flair and watch some Leverage. —PV

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