Netflix is the undisputed king of original content, boasting hundreds of original shows. But is Netflix’s reputation deserved?
Despite being a less-popular service, Amazon Prime Video has lots of original content that’s just as good as the fare served up by its main competitor.
Some of Amazon’s shows—such as Sneaky Pete, Mozart in the Jungle, and The Man in the High Castle—have received critical acclaim. But what about the lesser-known original shows? What gems are lurking in the Amazon Prime Video library?
In this article we take a look at 15 Amazon Originals you might not have heard of.
Lore is a horror anthology series that takes inspiration from the popular podcast of the same name. The lead actor is Robert Patrick, famous for his roles in Terminator 2, Charlie’s Angels, and Wayne’s World.
Each episode acts as a standalone story; no reoccurring plotlines connect the episodes together. Subject matter includes disease, mental illness, spiritualism, and werewolves.
The first series featured six episodes. Amazon has renewed the show for a second season, but there is no official word about when it will be available.
2. Tumble Leaf
If you have children of preschool age, Tumble Leaf is a must-watch show.
Following the lives of fictional animal characters, the show uses stop-motion animation to help children learn about basic scientific principles.
The show has won several awards, including an Annie for “Best Animated TV Production for Preschool Children” and a Creative Arts Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation.”
The New Yorker Presents is an attempt to take America’s best-selling magazine onto the screen.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, the show offers a mix of documentaries, short films, comedy, poetry, animation, and cartoons.
Season one includes 11 episodes.
All or Nothing is an award-winning sports documentary show.
There are three seasons available. The first series follows the fate of the Arizona Cardinals over an entire NFL season, the second series tells the story of the Los Angeles Rams after they announced their move away from St. Louis, and the third installment showcases the Dallas Cowboys’ 2017 season.
Let’s stick with the sports theme. Grand Prix Driver uses a similar premise as All or Nothing, but tracks the McLaren Formula One team during its pre-season testing ahead of the 2017 curtain-raiser in Melbourne.
The series is only four episodes long. American actor Michael Douglas is the narrator.
Written and directed by Woody Allen, Crisis in Six Scenes marks the first time since the 1950s that the famous filmmaker had produced content specifically for television.
The comedy series is split into six 30-minute episodes. The story takes place in 1960s America and tells the story of Lennie Dale (Miley Cyrus) turning the life of a middle-class suburban family upside-down.
Z: The Beginning of Everything is a period drama based in the 1920s. The show is based on a novel by Therese Anne Fowler called Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.
The show’s main protagonist is Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (Christina Ricci). The plotline tells the story of her marriage to the not-then-famous author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. The tensions that arose from their party lifestyle are laid out in graphic detail.
After initially commissioning a second series, Amazon canceled the renewal in late-2017.
Comrade Detective is another comedy series. It uses the “buddy cop” format that was popular in the 1980s.
The show’s premise is clever. The footage is presented as a lost Romanian television show that was trying to promote the Communist agenda.
The show was filmed in Romania with Romanian actors who speak in the local language. After shooting, Channing Tatum and Jon Ronson provided the dubbed English voiceovers.
Wishenpoof is another children’s program. Again, preschoolers are the target audience.
The star of the show is Bianca, a young girl with a magical ability to grant wishes and go on magical adventures.
Throughout the two 13-part series, Bianca’s mum is ever-present as a strong female role model.
Kamen Rider Amazons is a Japanese tokusatsu series. For those who don’t know, tokusatsu is the Japanese term for a show that features a heavy reliance on special effects.
The series is about Haruka Mizusawa, a young man who becomes infected with “Amazon Cells.” The two seasons tell the story of Haruka striving to reassert his humanity.
The show is only available in Asia at the moment. It’s due to become available in the US and UK in mid-2018, so keep your eyes peeled.
The Korean entertainment industry has developed a fierce reputation for being even more cut-throat than the American and European markets.
The Idolmaster KR is set in that environment. It tells the story of 11 girls who dream of becoming pop stars. The show also marks Amazon’s first venture into original programming for its Asian markets.
If you enjoy reality TV programs like The X-Factor and The Voice, this will be a must-watch.
12. You Are Wanted
This is the last foreign-language show on our list is You Are Wanted. The German thriller is arguably the most enjoyable of the three we’ve discussed.
It tells the story of Lukas Franke, a hotel owner who’s the victim of a hacking attack. The incident makes him appear responsible for a cyber-attack on Berlin. Throughout the six episodes, Lukas must fight to clear his name and uncover the truth.
Amazon has renewed the program for a second season. In the meantime you should check out these foreign-language films on Netflix.
The Dangerous Book for Boys is a comedy series based on the book of the same name. Its creator is Breaking Bad star, Bryan Cranston.
The series begins with the death of Wyatt McKenna’s father, then tells the story of how Wyatt and his brothers reconnect with their departed relative through the powers of a book he created for them.
14. Red Oaks
Red Oaks is a comedy-drama that tells the story of David, a college student who finds himself working at a New Jersey country club during his summer vacation in the mid-1980s.
The first series aired in 2015, and there have been two further installments. Sadly, Amazon has confirmed that the third season was the last.
15. The Last Tycoon
We’ll end the list with The Last Tycoon. The show uses F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel—also called The Last Tycoon—for inspiration.
Set in Hollywood in 1936, the plot sees rising star Monroe Stahr battle his veteran boss Pat Brady for control of their studio.
The show is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and an increasingly influential Nazi Germany, thus providing plenty of dark undertones and historical intrigue.
The show only ran for one season.
And There Is More to Come…
Amazon doesn’t have as many original shows as Netflix, but this list of 15 still only scratches the surface. At the last count, Amazon Studios has produced more than 50 original shows, with at least another 15 in production at the time of writing.
And Amazon can also rival Netflix in the amount of licensed content. It offers shows such as Community, Mr. Bean, Two and a Half Men, and it even bought the rights for a Lord of the Rings TV show for $1 billion in late 2017.
If you’re still not sure whether Amazon Prime Video is the right video streaming service for you, check out our Amazon Prime vs. Netflix vs. Hulu comparison.