Best Amazon Original series to watch on lockdown

  • The List
  • 24 April 2020
Best Amazon Original series to watch on lockdown

Good Omens

Including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Transparent and Jack Ryan

As we all become more closely acquainted with the many streaming platforms out there, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming having all that choice right in the palm of our hands. Amazon Prime Video alone has hundreds of series to choose from, with new shows added all the time. To help you decide what to watch, we've put together a list of recommendations featuring some of our favourite Amazon Original series.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Those of us who grew up with Amy Sherman-Palladino's fast-talking brunettes in Gilmore Girls were ecstatic when she blessed us with even more fast-talking brunettes in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which follows young 1960s housewife Miriam 'Midge' Maisel (played with aplomb by Rachel Brosnahan), whose carefully cultivated life is turned upside-down when her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) leaves her for his secretary. Upset and horrified at being part of such a cliche, Midge gets drunk and, mid-breakdown, unleashes her caustic wit upon an audience at the famed New York venue The Gaslight Cafe, catching the eye of Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein). The two women become determined to turn Midge's gift of the gab into a comedy career, despite the challenges of being a female comic back in the day (which are, unfortunately, not that terribly different from being a female comic now). The dialogue is as fast and the humour is as quick as you'd expect from a Sherman-Palladino venture, and though the spotlight is firmly on Brosnahan's star turn, the supporting cast of Midge's conservative Jewish parents Abe and Rose, played by Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle, are as colourful and delightful as Midge's many gorgeous frocks. A panacea to all the Louis CKs that are (unfortunately) still out there hogging the mic, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is refreshing in its celebration of funny women who make no apology for being unabashedly marvelous. (Deborah Chu)

Modern Love

Based on The New York Times' weekly column of the same name, Modern Love is a romantic comedy anthology series all about relationships, love and heartbreak. The star-studded series features eight half-hour episodes which are all set in New York City and adapted from various published stories in the newspaper column. Irish writer/director John Carney (Once, Sing Street) takes the lead on some of the strongest episodes of the series including one about a young woman (Cristin Milioti) who develops a special bond with her building's doorman; a woman struggling with bipolar disorder (Anne Hathaway); a young dating app founder (Dev Patel) who shares his story of lost love with a journalist (Catherine Keener); and a gay couple (Andrew Scott, Brandon Kyle Goodman) who are matched with a homeless expectant mother (Olivia Cooke) by an open adoption agency. Modern Love certainly doesn't break any new ground in the romantic comedy genre, but it's an entirely charming and feel-good show that feels like a warm blanket during these uncertain times. (Megan Forsyth)

Best Amazon Original series to watch on lockdown

Modern Love

Mozart in the Jungle

As one of the early Amazon Originals, Mozart in the Jungle (2014) helped set the precedent for the shows that followed. The multi-award winning comedy-drama follows the life of Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke), a talented oboist who is trying to make it in New York's classical music industry. Like any good on screen career climb, her attempts at success – in this case into the New York Symphony Orchestra – start right at the bottom. Hailey becomes the personal assistant to the flamboyant maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) and the duo remain the focal point throughout all four seasons. Bernal and Kirke have an endearing on screen chemistry which drives their believable and alluring portrayal of friendship and courtship. Whether you're a music buff or not, Mozart in the Jungle cracks open and explores a fascinating industry that is not a typical subject for stage or screen. From abstract moments with Mozart himself wandering the streets of New York to hilariously awkward moments, the show entwines human experience with beautiful concert scenes, rough rehearsal sessions all with the magnificent city of New York as its backdrop. (Becki Crossley)

Good Omens

When it was announced that Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's much-adored 1990 novel Good Omens was finally to be adapted for the screen, the Internet went ballistic – as it did again when images surfaced of David Tennant in tight leather trousers. Good Omens follows unlikely pals Crowley (Tennant), a demon, and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) who work to prevent Armageddon and the final clash between the forces of Heaven and Hell, having grown quite fond of their lives on Earth. The miniseries does an excellent job of bringing to life Gaiman and Pratchett's wry, irreverent humour with a light touch of camp, and Sheen and Tennant are in suitably fine form as the Biblical frenemies. The dizzying large supporting cast also features the likes of Nick Offerman, Anna Maxwell Martin, Frances McDormand as the voice of God, Miranda Richardson and Jack Whitehall, but the real stand-out is Jon Hamm in another comedic turn as the Archangel Gabriel, incorporating elements of the book's never-finished sequel. A fun, fantastical gallop through a beloved classic. (Deborah Chu)

Best Amazon Original series to watch on lockdown

Transparent

Transparent

Premiering back in 2014, writer and director Jill Soloway's show Transparent was one of first hugely popular Amazon Prime originals. It garnered multiple accolades including two Emmys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award among others. The show follows the Pfeffermans: a Jewish family residing in LA who are coming to terms with their father's transition from male to female. Though the show centres around Maura Pfefferman, masterfully played by Jeffrey Tambor (And Justice for All, Arrested Development), family members played by Gaby Hoffman, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker and Judith Light are distinctly different, self-absorbed and to a point, dysfunctional. This combination, paired with Soloway's darkly hilarious quips, hooks the audience's attention from Seasons 1–5. A window into the lives of another family dynamic often peaks intrigue and with the characters Soloway has crafted, the show quickly becomes unmissable. (Becki Crossley)

The Man in the High Castle

Based on Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel of the same name, The Man in the High Castle explores an alternative reality, following a world post-WWII, where the Allied Powers have lost and Japan and Germany rule the United States. Set in the 1960s, the series has some big names behind it, including creator Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) and executive producer Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), with a cast that includes a brilliant Rufus Sewell as high-ranking SS officer John Smith, Alexa Davalos as martial-arts lover Juliana and Rupert Evans as her boyfriend Frank. The story starts off in 1962, where the US is divided into three regions: the Greater Nazi Reich in the east, with New York City as its regional capital, the Japanese Pacific States to the west, with San Francisco as the capital and a neutral zone in the middle, which encompasses the Rocky Mountains. The title refers to a mysterious figure who is believed to have created films that show an alternative history in which Germany and Japan lose the war, which is central to the work of the American Resistance, and eventually, central to Juliana's storyline. A somewhat surreal dystopian fantasy, The Man in the High Castle is a great if slightly bleak watch, thanks in part to its intriguing premise and arresting visuals. (Arusa Qureshi)

Best Amazon Original series to watch on lockdown

Tales from the Loop

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan

Following his star-making turn in The (American) Office, John Krasinski went on to become a critically acclaimed blockbusting director (A Quiet Place) before taking on the role of Tom Clancy's iconic CIA operative Jack Ryan, formerly played by heavyweights Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and, er, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. Krasinksi's portrayal is more reminiscent of the everyman heroics essayed by Ford and he's just as convincing as a desk jockey as a frontline fighter. The series is much more politically conscientious than 24, with action sequences deployed sparingly for maximum effect. And kudos for casting Wendell Pierce (The Wire's 'the Bunk') as Krasinski's ball-busting boss. (Murray Robertson)

Tales from the Loop

The digital paintings of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag provide an eerie inspiration for a quietly atmospheric, understated and meticulously drawn live-action sci-fi series. Created by Nathaniel Halpern (previously a writer for Noah Hawley's Legion), Tales from the Loop is breaking new ground as the first television show to be adapted from the medium of digital illustrations. This eight-parter is based on Stålenhag's Tales from the Loop art book which presented images of 1980s Swedish country life coalescing with future technology. Stålenhag's online art amassed a big cult following, his work recalling the imagery of science-fiction titans such as Ralph McQuarrie and Syd Mead, best known for Star Wars and Blade Runner respectively. Contained tales about love, loss, grief and loneliness are wonderfully acted by a diverse cast, with the script acknowledging those from all walks of life. Tapping into universal anxieties, this beautifully constructed series paints a timeless and compelling portrait of humanity. (Katherine McLaughlin)

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