Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service doesn’t always get the same level of attention from critics and consumers that its rivals like Netflix and HBO Max enjoy, and I’d argue that’s partly by design. Most people, for example, probably don’t even consider themselves “subscribed” to Prime Video at all, in the sense that it’s largely an add-on benefit to an Amazon Prime subscription which you can pay for once a year. Furthermore, the streamer’s offering is nowhere near as robust or consistent as that of an alternative like Netflix.
Having said that, don’t make the mistake of assuming that Prime Video is some also-ran in the Streaming Wars and that it lacks sufficient content to enjoy. Shows like the Lord of the Rings prequel series The Rings of Power as well as Reacher, Jack Ryan Season 3, Daisy Jones & the Six have reminded everyone that Prime Video is absolutely a home for great TV. And in the list below, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the other fantastic titles it has available — by highlighting several underrated series and hidden gems (both movies and TV shows) that belong on your watchlist.
Hidden gem TV shows and movies on Prime Video
From gripping crime sagas to international dramas and reality series, there’s so much great content to enjoy on Prime Video that I’d argue is criminally overlooked. Here are some of those hidden gems, in no particular order — including library titles worth seeking out or rewatching.
We’ll start with a Prime Video Western, starring Emily Blunt, that easily hooked me from the trailer alone.
In The English, Blunt plays an aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke, out for revenge after the death of her child. Underneath her veneer of nobility, there’s a woman who’s seething with rage and who intends to kill. “Someone killed my child,” she later says, her tear-stained face the only hint of emotion as she whispers the threat. “And now I’m gonna kill them.”
She addresses a taciturn Pawnee ex-cavalry scout. “Will you help me?”
“Can you shoot?”
“If I have to.”
“Oh … you’ll have to.”
The Englishwoman and the scout come together in the Middle America of the 1890s, setting out on what amounts to a long chase across a violent landscape built on dreams and lawlessness.
This next Prime Video title is for anyone who needs a comfort watch right now.
Massively popular South Korean actor Park Seo-joon and his friend Kim Tae-hyung (aka V) of BTS are each fabulously wealthy global superstars, with millions of adoring fans — as well as paparazzi and a universe of blogs that track and attempt to capture their every move. In their reality series Jinny’s Kitchen, however, there’s not a trace of any of that to be found. This hidden gem on Prime Video is a serene, wanderlust-inducing series set in Bacalar, which is a serene, gorgeous locale in Mexico, near the Mexico-Belize border.
The basic premise: The “Jinny” in the title refers to Lee Seo-jin, an actor who is nominally put in charge of running a Korean street food restaurant in Bacalar. Working for him are Korean celebrities, including V and Park Seo-joon (who’s headed to the big screen later this year, by the way, thanks to his confirmed appearance in The Marvels). This was one of the most Zen-inducing streaming shows I’ve watched in quite a long time, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
This next Prime Video series, needless to say, is the complete opposite of Zen-inducing.
If, like me, you’re a fan of HBO’s mafia drama Gomorrah, ZeroZeroZero is an absolute must-watch — especially since, as with Gomorrah, it’s based on a book by investigative journalist and writer Roberto Saviano. Prime Video’s sprawling crime drama unfolds across six countries and three continents, following the journey of a cocaine shipment from the moment an Italian cartel decides to buy it until the cargo is paid for and delivered.
This series is extremely violent, with brutal gunfights and plenty of civilians who die amid the bloodshed. But if sprawling crime narratives are your thing, they don’t get more satisfyingly immense than this anatomy of a single drug sale and all the lives it touches.
Class of 07
Imagine a funnier, Australian version of Showtime’s Yellowjackets and you’re halfway toward an idea of what this next seriously underrated Prime Video series is all about.
The gist of Class of ’07 is that a group of young women get together for their high school reunion, reminiscing about a period of their lives that sometimes felt so dramatic it was comparable to the end of the world. While they’re inside enjoying their reunion, meanwhile, the outside is undergoing the literal end of the world, thanks to climate change. Somehow, the storytelling combo of a high-school reunion and an “Earth is dying” sermon ends up fitting together pretty well.
Based on the best-selling graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughan, this one sort of feels like Prime Video’s attempt at a Stranger Things. From the official synopsis:
“In the early morning hours after Halloween 1988, four paper girls — Erin, Mac, Tiffany, and KJ — are out on their delivery route when they become caught in the crossfire between warring time-travelers, changing the course of their lives forever.
“Transported into the future, these girls must figure out a way to get back home to the past, a journey that will bring them face-to-face with the grown-up versions of themselves. While reconciling that their futures are far different than their 12-year-old selves imagined, they are being hunted by a militant faction of time-travelers known as the Old Watch, who have outlawed time travel so that they can stay in power. In order to survive, the girls will need to overcome their differences and learn to trust each other, and themselves.”
The simplest way to describe this next Prime Video series is Yellowstone meets the supernatural.
From the show’s official description: “At the onset of the series, the Abbotts are coping with the disappearance of daughter-in-law Rebecca. They are pushed further to the brink when the Tillersons (the gaudy owners of the neighboring profit-driven ranch) make a play for their land.
“An untimely death in the community sets off a chain of tension-filled events, and seemingly small-town, soil-bound troubles come to a head with the arrival of a mysterious black void in the Abbotts’ west pasture. Wild revelations unfold as Royal fights to protect his family; through his eyes, we begin to see how time contains secrets held in the past and unsettling mysteries foreshadowed.”
Night Sky is an 8-episode Prime Video gem that stars Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons as Irene and Franklin York — a retired couple who maintain a fascinating secret.
Buried in their backyard is a portal to another planet. Obviously, the show is about more than that, but I honestly could have watched an entire series built solely around the way this couple, in the twilight of their lives, slowly shuffles out to their backyard and steals away to that other planet through the portal, as if they were nothing more than an old couple settling into a rocking chair on their porch.
I love quiet, understated movie dramas where two lovely, ordinary people just spend a little bit of time together — and that’s more or less all the movie consists of, as if they’re letting us spy on their encounter.
The Prime Video original Photograph, from director Ritesh Batra, is just such a movie. The story here is of a struggling Mumbai street photographer who’s feeling pressure to marry. He stumbles across a shy stranger and convinces her to pretend to be his fiancee at a family gathering. They develop a sweet connection, no surprise, and the wistful melancholy at the heart of this simple, unpretentious movie utterly captivated me from start to finish.
Critics hated Prime Video’s Samaritan, but audiences overwhelmingly loved it — and I’m definitely in the latter category. Starring Sylvester Stallone as the reclusive “Mr. Smith,” this feel-good action drama involves a 13-year-old boy named Sam who suspects that his mysterious neighbor Mr. Smith is actually a legendary superhero — the very one, in fact, who 25 years ago was a vigilante going by the name Samaritan and who supposedly died after a fiery battle with his arch-rival named Nemesis.
The city today is teetering on the brink of chaos, crime is on the rise, and Sam takes it upon himself to convince his neighbor to come out of hiding and save the city before it’s too late.
The Way of the Gun
If you’re in the mood for an older drama, this next standout from way back in 2000 stars Ryan Phillipe and Benicio del Toro as gun-toting criminal drifters who get more than they bargained for when they kidnap a pregnant woman (played by Juliette Lewis) who’s connected to a shady money launderer.
We can quibble over whether or not this is a great movie. But The Way of the Gun is absolutely an entertaining one, a neo-Western with a fantastic climactic gun battle that’s sort of reminiscent of the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The dialogue is whip-smart, full of memorable one-liners, and the two leads could not have been more perfectly cast.
The Devil’s Hour
Stars of The Devil’s Hour include Jessica Raine, who plays Lucy — a woman woken every night at 3:33 a.m. by terrifying visions during what’s known as “the devil’s hour.” She’s also the mother to an emotionless 8-year-old son, and her own mother speaks to empty chairs.
“When Lucy’s name is inexplicably connected to a string of brutal murders in the area,” Prime Video’s summary for the series explains, “the answers that have evaded her all these years will finally come into focus. Peter Capaldi plays a reclusive nomad, driven by a murderous obsession. He becomes the prime target of a police manhunt led by compassionate detective Ravi Dhillon, played by Nikesh Patel.”