Netflix is undoubtedly the king of the movie and TV show streaming services. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the others. In fact, Amazon Prime has some fantastic television shows that make it worth the asking price.
In the fight between Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, the question of which service to purchase is often going to come down to what TV shows you get in return. And while there are a number of compelling Netflix Originals in 2016, Amazon has some of the best shows around.
If you aren’t watching Transparent, you’re missing out on the smartest comedy-drama anywhere right now. Jeffrey Tambor, who some might know as the patriarch George Bluth from Arrested Development, won the Golden Globe for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) and the show won Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy) in 2015.
The storyline follows Tambor’s character Mort revealing to his two daughters and sons—all grown adults with their own lives—that he is transgender. Mort is now Maura, and the series follows how each character copes with this change.
While it might seem like a sitcom plot, the show is punctuated by its strong writing and character development, as it digs into not just Maura’s world but that of her immediate family and how they react to her now. Tambor’s performance is outstanding, stealing every scene he is in.
- Average episode runtime: 30 minutes
- Best Episode So Far: Season 1, Episode 8 – “Best New Girl”
Not every show needs to be a completely new concept for it to be a worthy watch. Bosch is a cop show like many others you have previously seen. The difference is in treatment. By slowly unraveling each thread of the mystery, and getting high quality actors, the suspense and tension makes this a show you can’t stop binge-watching.
Bosch is based on the character and books of Michael Connelly, and set in present-day Los Angeles. The titular character, played by Titus Welliver, is a homicide detective who is being sued by the family of a serial killer who he shot, while at the same time working on another case to uncover who tortured and brutally murdered a young boy many years ago.
Be warned, the show can get a bit slow at times, but much like how the actors on Breaking Bad made those slow moments worth every second, so does the cast of Bosch. Apart from an intense performance by Welliver, watch out for Jason Gedrick (who plays Raynard Waits), Annie Wersching (who plays Officer Julia Brasher), and Lance Reddick (who plays Deputy Chief Irvin Irving).
- Average Episode Runtime: 50 minutes
- Best Episode So Far: Chapter 4: Fugazi
I didn’t expect to like Hand of God as much as I did. In fact, the show has a poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the Internet’s best guides for good and bad movies and TV shows. The premise seems quite ho-hum: Pernell Harris (played by Ron Perlman) is a corrupt judge. When his son gets into a coma, he believes God starts talking to him and is making him repent for his sins by doing the right thing from now on. It’s basically a judge who has gone on the path of vigilante justice.
What I didn’t expect is how thoroughly the series held me. It isn’t great writing by a long shot. Yet, I found myself going through the whole season in three days, partly because of Perlman’s performance and mainly because of a sense of, “I need to know what happens next.”
The questions the shows raises—about faith, about the law and a sense of justice, about family—are far better than the answers it tries to give. Try and ask yourself those questions and the show becomes much more interesting.
- Average Episode Runtime: 55 minutes
- Best Episode So Far: Season 1, Episode 6: For the Rain to Gather
John Goodman stars in Alpha House. If that’s not enough to make you start watching it immediately, the show was created and written by Garry Trudeau, the creator of the famous Doonesbury comic strip. Still not convinced? Let’s throw in Clark Johnson, famous for Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire.
Goodman and Johnson, along with Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos, are four Republican senators who share a house in Washington D.C., since the rent there is far too high. Political dramas like The West Wing and House of Cards can take themselves a little too seriously at times, but Alpha House never falls into that trap. The senators repeatedly find themselves in hilarious situations and predicaments, and the show is more about the behind-the-scenes working of the Senate as well as the superficial world of public politics.
There are two full seasons of Alpha House ready for you. Each episode can be watched by itself without the need to binge through everything. Alpha House is actually perfect to download videos to watch offline whenever you’re travelling—a fun, light, and intelligent TV show for on-the-move entertainment.
- Average Episode Runtime: 30 minutes
- Best Episode So Far: Season 1 Episode 4: Triggers
What would the world be like if the Axis powers had won World War II? The Man in the High Castle (TMITHC) explores this concept to the fullest, putting you smack-dab in the middle of a dystopian world in 1962, years after the United States has been conquered. A large portion of the eastern side of the U.S. is now the “Greater Nazi Reich”, while the west coast falls under the “Japanese Pacific States”. A small neutral zone divides the two.
The show explores the lives of people in this world, from the ruling elite to the downtrodden masses. Frustrated by the oppressors, a small resistance force is gathering ways to overturn the regime by sending intelligence—mostly in the form of videos that show the world we live in—to the mysterious “Man in the High Castle”.
The intrigue, suspense, and violence of TMITHC is only surpassed by the spectacular set design and character costumes, which come together to deliver a remarkable feel of what America in the 60s would have been like under a bleak, totalitarian regime.
- Average Episode Runtime: 60 minutes
- Best Episode So Far: Season 1 Episode 6: Three Monkeys
Other “Only on Amazon” Shows
Apart from these Amazon-made exclusive shows, Amazon Prime has several other quality series that you won’t find on Netflix. In fact, there’s a special section of Prime Exclusive: Not on Netflix shows that you can check out. Here are some of the best ones:
You can watch all five seasons of David Simon’s acclaimed, award-winning TV series about the lives of cops, drug dealers, and the people of Baltimore.
Another David Simon classic, this series tracks the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as the people of New Orleans seek to reclaim their lives and their unique culture.
Arguably the best miniseries about World War II, the men of Easy Company—led by Major Dick Winters—depict the army life in the war as never before shown on film.
Amazon has a treat for comic lovers, as all seasons of the original Batman: The Animated Series are available free to Prime subscribers.
Inmates and guards in the notorious maximum-security Oswald State Penitentiary, “Oz” to its inhabitants, go through a daily life of hardship, plotting, and revenge—all narrated by a prisoner named Augustus Hill.
And There’s More…
Besides these five shows, you’ll find other wonderful free additions through Amazon Prime. Try searching Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others together for your favorite titles and you’ll see that Amazon has some great shows or seasons exclusively available, like the first two seasons of Boardwalk Empire, the latest season of Downton Abbey, the critically-acclaimed but short-lived Dustin Hoffman show Luck, and more.
Will You Buy Amazon Prime Now?
Don’t forget, apart from these great titles, Amazon has snagged the new Jeremy Clarkson motoring show, so fans of Top Gear are in for a treat. Plus, there are plenty of movies to accompany these TV shows.
In fact, part of the bouquet of Amazon Prime benefits also includes expedited shipping for Amazon products, Amazon Prime Music, and Kindle eBook rentals. For $99 a year, that’s a whole lot of stuff for the same price as a Netflix subscription!
Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? If so, let us know what makes it worth the money for you personally. If not, why not? Are these Amazon Prime exclusives enough to tempt you to sign up?