Netflix is the undisputed king of original content, boasting hundreds of original shows. But is Netflix’s reputation deserved? Amazon Prime Video has plenty 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 Amazon Original series? What gems are lurking in the Amazon Prime Video library?
In this article, we take a look at the best Amazon Originals you’ve probably never 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 recurring plotlines connect the episodes together. Subject matters include disease, mental illness, spiritualism, and werewolves.
The first and second series both featured six episodes.
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 bring America’s best-selling magazine to the small screen.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, the show offers a mix of documentaries, short films, comedy, poetry, animation, and cartoons.
There has only been one season. It aired in 2016 and was comprised of 11 episodes, each lasting 30 minutes.
All or Nothing is an award-winning sports documentary show. It is one of the best originals on Amazon Prime.
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 show lays out the tensions that arose from their party lifestyle in graphic detail.
After initially commissioning a second series, Amazon canceled the renewal in 2017. There are 10 episodes in the first season.
Comrade Detective is another comedy series on Amazon Prime. 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.
Season 1 only featured 13 episodes, but Season 2 has 25 episodes and counting. The episodes have been released in batches, starting in 2017.
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.
There’s also a movie called Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement. It is set after the end of season two and concludes the storyline. The film promises to be one of the best Amazon Prime Original movies.
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 is a must-watch.
12. You Are Wanted
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 and is widely regarded as one of the best Amazon Originals.
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 two seasons and 12 episodes, Lukas must fight to clear his name and uncover the truth.
If you enjoyed You Are Wanted, you should check out some of the best 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.
Unfortunately, the show only ran for one season.
The Best Amazon Originals Are Yet to Come
Amazon doesn’t have as many original shows as Netflix, but this list of the best Amazon Originals still only scratches the surface. At the last count, Amazon Studios has produced more than 80 original shows, with at least another 50 either planned or 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 has even bought the rights for a Lord of the Rings TV show for $1 billion.
If you’re still not sure whether Amazon Prime Video is the right video streaming service for you, check out our look at Amazon Prime vs. Netflix vs. Hulu to help you decide.