at the beginning of each month, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t have a ton of new weekly releases.
But occasionally an Amazon Original comes knocking that deserves to be put on your radar. Below you’ll find a selection of highlights for this week, as well as CNET’s full list of best Amazon Prime Video Original TV shows.
What to watch this week (Dec. 20 to 26)
Just one new TV arrival this week.
- Yearly Departed – Amazon Original Special (2021) — a year-in-review stand-up comedy special featuring Jane Fonda, X Mayo, Aparna Nancherla, Chelsea Peretti, Dulcé Sloan and Megan Stalter, with a musical performance by Alessia Cara.
Full list of best Amazon Prime Video Originals
Tales from the Loop (2020—)
Not just another show about a small town where strange things happen, Tales from the Loop has a lot more underneath the surface. Drawing from a narrative art book by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, the series is stunning to look at, meticulous as can be with symmetrical frames. Light and space are infused with a painterly feel. The interconnected townspeople are similarly nuanced, their stories exploring loneliness, aging, the impact of technology and more through sci-fi ideas.
The Feed (2019)
The Black Mirror vibes are strong in this British series about technology gone wrong. The Feed is set in a futuristic London where a family develops an implant that lets people livestream their lives without needing to press a button on a phone. No, absolutely nothing can go wrong with that! Some pretty impressive actors stack out the cast, including David Thewlis and Michelle Fairley. While it’s not as polished or deep-cutting as Black Mirror, it’s still worth a look — just grab your phone during the less gripping parts.
Amazon rescued The Expanse from the realm of canceled TV, bringing us a fifth season with a sixth (and final season) to come. Thank goodness it did, because The Expanse is smart sci-fi with realistic characters, high production values and a dash of detective noir. Set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, a conspiracy threatens to start a cold war between the largest powers. A band of antiheroes find themselves at the center. Look forward to more space western themes in the consistently excellent later seasons.
The Pursuit of Love (2021)
You’re either going to fall madly in love with or arch an unimpressed eyebrow at this romance based on the 1945 Nancy Mitford novel of the same name. The Pursuit of Love follows two cousins who represent different ways of life. Lily James is Linda Radlett, whose exuberant romantic adventures see her travel from London to Paris. Emily Beecham, meanwhile, is Fanny Logan, navigating the confinements of married life. If you’re in the mood, this three-episode miniseries will sweep you up into a story of happiness and sadness, laughter and pain.
Modern Love (2019—)
Grab your blanket and a cup of tea for this sweet, cosy viewing. Modern Love is based on real-life personal essays about love from the New York Times column of the same name. These stories are delicately brought to life for the screen by a starry cast, including Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel and, in season 2, Minnie Driver and Kit Harington, among many more. Some stories won’t be tied up with a neat bow, and some will take you to unexpected places. The overall tone is feel good without being overly saccharine, and it might just stir your belief in the magic of true love.
The Underground Railroad (2021—)
Amazon Prime Video
Sublime filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) takes on adapting Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad into a powerful 10-episode series. Set in the southern US during the 1800s, the fictional story follows Blacks attempting to escape from slavery via a network of hidden tracks and tunnels. Tapping magical realism and a superb cast including Thuso Mbedu and William Jackson Harper, The Underground Railroad is an emotional and chilling triumph.
The Wilds (2020—)
Amazon’s first original young adult offering is an intriguing combination of Lost and the Breakfast Club — and it works. Crucially, the cast of characters who find themselves stranded on a deserted island are all teenage girls. To them, that makes life even more excruciating. Each has a very different background — from spoiled rich girl to Native American — but they have to put aside their differences to survive, learning a thing or two about themselves on the way. Things get even more dark and thrilling when Rachel Griffiths’ Gretchen Klein comes into the picture as the head of the secretive Dawn of Eve program.
This gripping British series is about, yes, an informer and the murky territory involved in coercing someone to take on the dangerous gig. Paddy Considine (who now has a gig on the Game of Thrones prequel) stars as DS Gabe Waters, a counterterrorism officer tasked with infiltrating a far-right movement in West Yorkshire. Partnered with an excellent Bel Powley (The Morning Show, The King of Staten Island) as the young and inquisitive DC Holly Morten, he attempts to bring British Pakistani Raza (Nabhaan Rizwan) on board to uncover information about a possible terrorist attack. A provocative thriller that will keep you on your toes.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018)
This TV version of Picnic at Hanging Rock isn’t quite a masterpiece like the 1975 film adaptation of the classic Australian novel. But it’s just as mysterious, unfurling a dreamy yet eerie veil over a fictional disappearance in the isolated Australian bush. When three students and their governess go missing after a picnic at the rock area, hysteria sets into the community and the esteemed Appleyard College, led by Natalie Dormer’s formidable headmistress. Dark secrets emerge, keeping you hanging on until the end.
The Last Tycoon (2016-2017)
Matt Bomer, Lily Collins and Kelsey Grammer star in this 1930s-set drama about a brilliant Hollywood executive. Self-made prodigy Monroe Stahr (Bomer) faces a constant struggle with studio head Pat Brady (Grammar). The series takes an interesting angle, exploring the influence of the Nazis and the German market on Hollywood politics in a world on the brink of war. The Last Tycoon is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last book, unfinished and posthumously published, with loose inspiration from producer Irving Thalberg, known as The Boy Wonder during the early 1900s. Superbly acted, sumptuous to look at and centered on absorbing characters, The Last Tycoon ended too soon after one season.
The Collection (2016)
If you like your fashion and historical drama, The Collection aptly brings the two together. Set in a post World War II Paris, the eight-part series follows two entrepreneurial brothers who clash as they build their fashion empire. Rivalry, betrayal and Nazi occupation are the provocative elements that light a fire under this handsomely shot family drama. Note of warning, once you become hooked on the deftly layered intrigue, you’ll have to face the disappointment of no second season.
Con man Marius walks free from jail, only to be hunted by the gangster he once robbed. So, he assumes the identity of his cell mate Pete and walks back into the lives of Pete’s estranged family, who are none the wiser. Bryan Cranston brings all the gravitas to gangster Vince in this part-drama, party-comedy. The twists and dicey situations will carry you through the addictive episodes as quickly as Pete pulls his cons.
Good Omens (2019)
This adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel pairs two other UK treasures in David Tennant and Michael Sheen. They play the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, respectively, in this miniseries that sees Earth on the brink of destruction thanks to a final battle between Heaven and Hell. Decidedly against this, after enjoying their time on the planet, the bickering pair team up and attempt to prevent Armageddon. With a stacked cast, including a cameo from Benedict Cumberbatch as, well, Satan, Good Omens is a worthy adaptation, largely thanks to Tennant and Sheen’s double act.
If you’re in a particularly meditative mood, reflecting on life, relationships and the big choices we make in life, Forever will gently set your world on fire. June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) are a married couple cruising through their suburban life until vastly unexpected turns take them into otherworldly territory. Stick through the slow-burning first episode and you’ll be rewarded with an exceptionally crafted eight-episode series, gently wrapping you in its visually beautiful and meaningful dream.
The premise of Hanna, a Joe Wright action thriller from 2011, is so good Amazon fleshed it out for a TV series. Starring Esme Creed-Miles as the skilled young assassin living in the Romanian wilderness, Hanna the TV show expands the teen’s backstory and explains why the CIA’s Marissa Wiegler has an obsession with capturing her.
While season 2 of Homecoming didn’t quite find its feet, season 1 hit the ground running. Julia Roberts stars in this psychological thriller about an army rehabilitation facility run by questionable owners. Using an effective, mystery-building narrative that covers two timelines, Homecoming is high on tension and paranoia as it reveals what the facility’s true purpose is. Fun fact: The series uses the actual scores of movies from Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and more.
The Man in the High Castle imagines an alternate history where the Axis powers (Rome-Berlin-Tokyo) win World War II. Based on a Philip K. Dick novel, the series follows characters in the ’60s who live in a parallel universe, where Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan control the US. But there’s impossible newsreel footage surfacing of a world where Germany and Japan lose the war, causing some to rebel. To really hammer home its dystopia credentials, The Man in the High Castle is steered by producer Ridley Scott. Fully realized and with a focused plot, this is gripping TV.
This unique series uses the Rotoscoping animation technique to tell the story of a young woman who, after suffering a near-fatal car accident, discovers she can manipulate time. Intriguing, right? It gets better: Bob Odenkirk plays Alma’s dead father, who enlists her help in investigating his murder. Bending both time and space, Undone is surreal and beautifully existential for those looking for deep material.
A sex scandal in the UK Parliament? Starring Hugh Grant and Ben Wishaw? You can thank Russell T. Davies for dramatizing this slice of late-’70s British politics. Jeremy Thorpe, a Liberal member of Parliament, wants to silence unhappy ex-lover Norman before his career ends up in tatters. Watch the murder conspiracy, big trial and media scrutiny through A Very English Scandal’s darkly funny lens.
A ’50s housewife who becomes a standup comic? This brilliant series from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, is filled with sparkling performances from Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, with dialogue to match. Set in a vibrant and changing New York, our delightful heroine moonlights as a comedian, while doing her duties as an upper class Jewish American housewife. With impressive visuals, warmth and zingers, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the full package.
If somehow the Fleabag train passed you by, it’s time to let it hit you at its full, incredible force. Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes and stars in the play-turned extraordinary comedy series. A 30-something woman who runs a cafe lives a sex-filled life with a sense of humor that hides the tragedies she hasn’t yet come to terms with. Just about word-for-word perfect, with a fourth-wall breaking device, Fleabag frequently does its best to both shock and devastate you, while being ridiculously funny.
I Love Dick (2016-2017)
Going on a Katheryn Hahn binge after WandaVision? Marvel’s new favorite witch starred in one season of this 2016 comedy with a memorable title. Her character’s name is just as memorable: Chris Kraus, an artist and filmmaker who moves to Texas with her husband. She quickly falls in love with his fellowship sponsor, played by Kevin Bacon. Yes, Kevin Bacon is in this. The dynamic of her marriage shifts as her infatuation challenges everything in smart and provocative and adult ways. Sadly, I Love Dick didn’t score a second season, but the first is well worth your time.
Featuring Carrie Fisher’s final TV role, Catastrophe is a rom-com about messy, chaotic people. Londoner Sharon and Bostonian Rob have a one-week stand that results in an unplanned pregnancy and Rob moving to the UK so they can start a family. The tricky part: Sharon and Rob don’t know the first thing about each other. Covering age, sex, parenthood, marriage and love in its open book, Catastrophe is a superb rom-com that gives you four seasons to devour.
Transparent’s unique story follows the Pfefferman siblings who discover their dad is transitioning into a woman named Maura. Other aspects of the Pfeffermans’ lives, including a sour marriage and a disappointing child, give this tightly scripted comedy-drama a relatable side. Poignant and ambitious, Transparent is a show to look out for.
A comedy-drama set in New York’s classical music scene, Mozart in the Jungle is as whimsical as its title suggests. Upcoming oboist Hailey meets eccentric conductor Rodrigo, who’s tasked with revitalizing the New York Symphony. Never losing you with jargon, Mozart in the Jungle charmingly reveals an edgier side to the world of strings, playing its own symphony of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
Red Oaks (2014-2017)
A coming-of-age story. College. ’80s movie references. ’80s music. Endearing characters. This gem of a show from a few years back is easy viewing in the best way possible. David Myers (Craig Roberts) is a college student who gets a gig at Red Oaks, a Jewish country club, in the summer of 1985. As he figures out where he’s going in love and life, David meets eccentric, chaotic characters who provide plentiful laughs along with warranting your emotional investment. Put Red Oaks on your list of ultimate comfort viewing.
For those who aren’t a fan of cartoons, Invincible could be your converter, up there with other adult cartoons like BoJack Horseman and Rick and Morty. Based on a comic book from Robert Kirkman, the creator of the Walking Dead, Invincible follows 17-year-old Mark Grayson and his training to become a superhero just like his father, who happens to be the most powerful superhero on the planet. Episodes run long at nearly 50 minutes, connected into one big, blood-spattered story. A subversive series with a huge cast featuring Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh and J.K. Simmons, Invincible will engross you in its smart animated world.
The Boys stormed Amazon last year with its ultra-violent tale of antihero vigilantes seeking revenge against the world’s most beloved superheroes. But these heroes aren’t what they seem: Their corporate overlords cover up their shady personal lives, including sexual harassment and the odd assassination. With social commentary, black comedy and pops of gore, The Boys takes a thrilling and unapologetic step away from the family-friendly genre.
While The Tick was sadly canceled after two seasons, the superhero comedy will still give you a hit of fast-paced, colorful action with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Based on the comic book character, The Tick is a bulletproof hero who wears a, yep, blue tick suit. His sidekick? The meek Arthur who wears a … moth suit. Their nemesis is The Terror, a supervillain in their city’s underworld. If you want to sit back and watch pure superhero entertainment, you’ve found the right show.
Not only does this horror anthology series feature Japanese folklore and explorers heading into uncharted territory, but its first chapter stars pre-Chernobyl Jared Harris. He plays the captain of Arctic explorer ships that end up stuck in the ice. On top of the harsh conditions and cabin fever, an unknown presence in the mist stalks the crew. Strung with atmospheric dread, The Terror is thrilling, prestige horror. The Terror is available on Prime Video in Australia and AMC in the US (here’s a VPN guide).
This seven-season police procedural, inspired by Michael Connelly novels, gets everything right for old-fashioned detective drama. We follow Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch, who’s haunted by the death of his mother. While catching serial killers and keeping his family safe, he investigates her murder. Functional and no-nonsense, Bosch provides steady mystery with an equally steady lead.
Ripper Street (2012-2016)
This dark and gritty series is set in the late 1800s on the streets of Whitechapel, a place once terrorized by Jack the Ripper. Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and the police have to deal with the aftermath of the Ripper murders, which have left the area of London in an anarchic state. Fine acting, strong characters and, importantly, strong dialogue make the episodic mysteries all the more suspenseful and immersive. Five superb seasons await you (consisting of six to eight episodes each).