The 50 best TV shows on Amazon Prime Video in October: 'The Rings of Power,' 'Friday Night Lights'
What do Tyra Banks, Jack Reacher and Soviet spies have in common? They're all on Amazon Prime Video.
The retail giant's streaming service, like rivals Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Peacock and Paramount+, updates its film and TV catalog monthly, bringing in new TV shows and movies and older series, including FX's "The Americans," while dropping others. Paired with occasional new seasons of Amazon original series, like "The Boys," "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," there are hundreds of TV shows to sort through when looking for something to watch on Prime. A new adaptation of material from the "Lord of the Rings" books will hit the streamer this September in "The Rings of Power."
We've curated the best of the TV shows Amazon Prime has available to stream as of October 2022 (in alphabetical order), from shiny new series to TV classics.
Before Jennifer Garner started playing romantic comedy leads and mothers in family films, she played Sydney Bristow in J.J. Abrams’ spy thriller, which ran on ABC from 2001-2006. The series is smart, fast-paced and has a stellar cast that includes Victor Garber and a pre-”Hangover” Bradley Cooper.
2. “The Americans”
Over six seasons, FX's Soviet spy drama boasted exemplary acting (particularly from Keri Russell), writing, directing, music, wigs and everything else. Thoughtful, insightful, thrilling and even funny at times, the series is the best show of the 2010s.
3. “America’s Next Top Model”
A few shows have tried to recreate the melodrama of “ANTM,” to no avail. A combination of Tyra Banks’ outsized personality, the outsized demands of the fashion industry and the outsized conflict that comes from sticking young wannabe models together for weeks combined to create magic in this 2003-18 series, which began on UPN and later aired on CW and VH1.
4. "As We See It"
This young adult dramedy centers on a group of 20-somethings on the autism spectrum as they explore the anxieties, challenges and personal breakthroughs of post-adolescence, heightened by the idiosyncrasies of life on the spectrum. The series' humor and unexpected heart are sure to amuse and uplift. Members of the show's cast – Rick Glassman, Albert Rutecki and Sue Ann Pien – are on the autism spectrum, giving the show a refreshing realism.
5. “Being Erica”
In this charming Canadian series, a woman (Erin Karpluk) who feels as though she has made all the wrong choices in life is given the chance by a magical “therapist” to go back in time and change them, although those trips to the past don’t always have the result she intends. It may sound hokey, but it’s an insightful character portrait.
Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis anchor this Showtime series about the uber-rich and the government forces meant to keep them in check. Darkly comedic and full of delicious twists and turns, the series is a juicy melodrama that delights in poking fun at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel make a magnetic pair in Fox's drama about an FBI agent and the forensic anthropologist who helps him solve murders where the remains are often just, well, bones. The long-running series drags near the end, but the first few seasons are the epitome of a good will they/won’t they relationship.
Perennial supporting actor Titus Welliver gets a starring role in this detective drama, based on the character from Michael Connelly's books. The series is a solid cop show that leans dark, gritty and somber.
9. “The Boys”
A superhero series that asks what would happen if the people endowed with terrific powers were also terrific jerks. Full of graphic (but not gratuitous) violence, the series puts a dark spin on the comic book story.
10. “Burn Notice”
The USA espionage dramedy starring Jeffrey Donovan is good for picking up some spy tips, good for watching while you fold laundry and a good reminder why you want to live in a beach town.
11. “The Carol Burnett Show”
There are a multitude of series from the mid-20th century available to stream, many of which have a classically upbeat energy. One of the best is the timeless CBS sketch comedy of Burnett, an American treasure.
For fans of dry British humor who feel stable in their marriages, this sitcom from Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan is a beautiful portrait of a relationship that begins with an unplanned pregnancy but becomes so much more.
Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski lead this NBC action comedy, which aired from 2007-2012, about an ordinary nerd who gets the United States’ most classified secrets accidentally uploaded into his brain. Part silly, part sweet, the series was a great starting block for its appealing stars.
Wacky, weird and often wonderful, NBC’s comedy about a diverse group of friends at a community college defies genre and label in its first few excellent seasons to create engrossing television. The later seasons are fine, but never as good as the first three.
J.K. Simmons works wonders in this underrated Starz series about an unassuming office worker who discovers a parallel world in which his doppelganger is a cold, calculating operative in a deadly cold war.
16. “Downton Abbey”
What makes the PBS period drama – about an upper-class British family in the early 20th century and its "downstairs" household staff – so riveting is the way it dresses up soapy drama in high-class clothes: a little trashy, a little classy and a lot of Maggie Smith asking what a "weekend" is.
Even more TV to stream: 50 best shows to watch on HBO Max right now: From 'Friends' to 'Big Bang' to 'Insecure'
This delightful Syfy series creates a world in which the greatest minds on Earth are gathered in one small Pacific Northwest town to work their scientific miracles, turning the little hamlet of Eureka into a futuristic enclave. The town sheriff (Colin Ferguson), who's merely average on the IQ scale, is tasked with cleaning up all the messes caused by out-of-control experiments.
18. “The Expanse”
Epic, whip-smart and addictive, Amazon's near-future sci-fi series marries politics and space battles in the story of a future when we populate the solar system but remain culturally divided.
Hilarious, emotional and utterly surprising, the British comedy created by (and starring) Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a struggling young woman, deserves the hype (and all those Emmys).
20. “Friday Night Lights”
The drama on NBC's acclaimed high school football series undeniably makes it one of the best shows to binge-watch, equally entertaining for teens and adults. The series is also available on Hulu, NBC Universal's Peacock streaming service and Netflix.
21. “Good Omens”
Adapted from a 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the apocalyptic miniseries has a quirky British comedic tone: The Antichrist is a mischievous middle-schooler and the only beings trying to save the planet are an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) who are best friends and terrible at their jobs. A second season that goes beyond the original novel is currently in the works.
If you love the TV genre known as "provincial British people solve murders," try PBS's "Grantchester," in which a local Anglican vicar (James Norton, "Little Women") assists an inspector (Robson Green) with murder investigations. The writers' approach to social issues and the episodic mysteries are nuanced for a show that appears twee on the surface.
Fairytale villains meet police procedurals in this horror series, in which Portland police detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he is a “Grimm,” aka a mystical figure tasked with keeping otherworldly threats at bay.
"Girls Trip" writer Tracy Oliver is behind this comedy series inspired by friendship, city life and Black Girl Magic. The show follows postcollege grads Camille, Tye, Quinn and Angie as they navigate the ups and downs of their professional and personal lives. The mixture of witty humor and undeniable heart will have you linking arms with your friends and striving for your best life. Actor and "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg also makes a guest appearance.
Julia Roberts anchors the moody, gripping first season of this mystery series about a suspicious rehabilitation center for soldiers returning from combat abroad. In Season 2, Janelle Monáe ably steps into her shoes, and Season 1 stand-out Hong Chau gets the bigger role she deserves.
Hugh Laurie’s turn as the misanthropic, wise-cracking doctor struggling with addiction has become an iconic television role. Combining the relationship drama and life-and-death stakes of the medical procedural with the mysteries of a cop show, “House” was a huge hit for Fox and remains a one-of-a-kind show.
27. “Howards End”
Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”) winningly leads this 2017 Starz adaption of the 1910 novel by E. M. Forster. The British period piece has everything: family drama, exquisite costuming and social change no one is ready for.
Based on comics by Robert Kirkman (“The Walking Dead”) and Cory Walker, “Invincible” is a dark, violent superhero series with a lot to say. Invincible is the superhero name of young Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), the teen son of noted and ultra-powerful Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). Mark gained his powers late and struggles with the sad reality of hero work. The old-school animation, married with deep character work and a thoughtful plot that sticks with you, make the series stand out proudly among the comic book crowd.
29. "The Jeffersons"
Norman Lear's CBS sitcom is "movin' on up" to Amazon Prime, with all 11 seasons now streaming. The "All in the Family" spin-off offered a progressive take on race relations, following George and Louise Jefferson's social transition from working class to luxury. 'The Jeffersons' frank humor and charm make navigating some of the show's uncomfortable topics a smooth, pleasant experience.
30. "Lizzo's Watch Out For The Big Grrrls"
In this reality competition series, executive produced by pop star Lizzo, 10 plus-size women move in together and vie for a spot as backup dancers on the singer's upcoming world tour. The series' body-positive tone, coupled with the contestants' outsized personalities, makes it the perfect lighthearted addition to your watchlist.
31. "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"
Frodo and friends are nowhere to be found in Amazon's new adaptation of appendix material from J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal "The Lord of the Rings" series, but that's perfectly fine. Set 4,000 years before the films, the prequel series is the most transportive current series on TV. technology has advanced to a degree that makes this version of Tolkien's world feel gargantuan. Every frame is packed with detail, and there is a magical quality to the cinematography.
This revelatory docuseries explores Lorena Bobbitt's own story of sexual assault and domestic violence by her ex-husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, whose penis she infamously severed in 1993.
33. “The Man in the High Castle”
Although current events can sometimes make this alternate history series – about what would have happened had the U.S. lost World War II – hit differently, it's still a smart take on what life might have been, with a little fantasy thrown in.
34. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
With mile-a-minute dialogue, impeccable costumes and an incredible cast, this dramedy about a 1950s housewife (Rachel Brosnahan) turned stand-up comic is a pastel pink-covered treat. Season 4 arrives Feb. 18.
For those who like to mix their comedy with murder-of-the-week cop dramas, Tony Shalhoub's performance as a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder in this USA Network comedy is a true classic.
36. “Mozart in the Jungle”
Gael García Bernal is charming as ever in this dramedy as Rodrigo, a brash new conductor for the New York Symphony. The zippy series is a delightful binge-watch.
37. “Mr. Robot”
Rami Malek played a loner hacker messing with the fate of the country long before he ever won an Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury in 2018's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Dark, disturbing and full of twists and turns, the series became USA’s breakout drama for a reason.
38. “The Night Manager”
Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman anchored AMC's 2016 miniseries adaptation of the John le Carré novel, in which a hotel manager is pulled into international espionage and undercover work after he helps a guest involved in the weapons trade.
39. “Orphan Black”
Later seasons fizzled, but the first few outings of BBC America's light science fiction drama were a revelation, and not just because of star Tatiana Maslany’s Emmy-winning performance as multiple clones with distinct personalities.
All detective stories in which an outside detective and his sidekick help police are riffs on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and USA's “Psych” is the best and the most hilarious. A faux-psychic (James Roday Rodriguez) is just a hyper observational investigator, but he prefers to make jokes and have fake visions.
41. “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams”
While Netflix's “Black Mirror” gets a lot of hype as a “Twilight Zone”-style science fiction anthology series, Amazon’s lower-profile “Electric Dreams” is often more thoughtful, intriguing and scary. Based on stories by the author of “Blade Runner,” the episodes tackle artificial intelligence, the nature of reality and other topics.
This quirky crime drama centers Jack Reacher, a veteran military police investigator who finds himself framed for a small-town murder. Alan Ritchson's wry performance as Reacher, based on Lee Child's best-selling book series, gives the show an unexpected yet satisfying undercurrent of dark comedy.
43. “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
The biggest, brightest and most sashaying reality series around is almost as good of a binge-watch as it is the first time around on VH1, when tweeting with superfans. Almost.
The sweet, silly comedy of NBC's (and later ABC's) long-running “Scrubs,” starring Zach Braff, Donald Faison and Sarah Chalke, is what we most often remember. But it's also a celebration of the doctors who work so hard to save lives, and a more realistic look at life in the hospital than high-drama soap operas.
An underachiever with a photographic memory (Patrick J. Adams) poses as a lawyer at a high-powered New York firm and wins big cases in this snappy USA legal drama. Once you get over seeing the former Meghan Markle without Prince Harry and the show's admittedly absurd concept, you can enjoy the soapy drama.
46. “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”
John Krasinski, stepping far away from his role as Jim on "The Office," does a serviceable interpretation of the famous Clancy character in this espionage thriller, which mixes its action with solid character work.
47. "The Underground Railroad"
Brutal, hopeful and epic, Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a superb miniseries. The story centers Cora (Thuso Mbedu), an enslaved woman who takes a train on a literal underground railroad toward freedom, but finds horrifying facets of America along her way. With Mbedu’s performance, the haunting score and Jenkins’ direction, “Underground” is a worthy journey.
As deeply emotional and affecting as it is unsettling, this animated series gets under your skin, in a good way. The series' rotoscoping technique, in which animation is drawn over live footage, provides an eerie edge as it tells a magic-realist story of a stagnant twenty-something (Rosa Salazar) who can travel in time and communicate with her dead father. Season 2 finally arrives April 29.
“Upload” is one of the rare shows that's so compelling and addictive, it made me desperately crave a second season after finishing the first. Starring Robbie Amell as a man who uploads his consciousness to a digital afterlife, “Upload” balances its humor with a sweet romance and an enticing mystery.
50. "The Wheel of Time"
This fantasy series is based on the 14-book series by author Robert Jordan (and, after his death, Brandon Sanderson) and takes place in a fantasy world in which certain women and men are able to perform magic. War and chaos loom when a messiah known as the "Dragon" is reincarnated into one of a handful of young adults from a tiny village, who must go on the run from dark forces. Starring Rosamund Pike and a group of diverse and talented young stars, "Wheel" seems able to satisfy new viewers and superfans alike, creating an inviting and rich world that isn't too confusing to understand.
Contributing: Edward Segarra
Have a different streaming service? Here are the shows worth checking out:
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 best TV shows on Amazon in October 2022: 'Rings of Power'