By now we are all familiar with the charms of Made In Heaven, Four More Shots and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But there is more to Amazon Prime than meets the eye on social media. Since it is going to get too hot to step outdoors for a while (and also bring in those vacations for the lucky ones), this is prime time (see what I did there) to bookmark a few of the lesser known jewels. Here are some of the best Amazon Prime original series you may not have heard much about.
Tokyo Girl is a Japanese drama which will make you think with its social commentary and inspire you to book tickets and pack your bags for Japan with its beautiful visuals. The show takes viewers on a virtual tour of Tokyo as it follows its protagonist, Aya, growing up, living in and navigating her way through different neighbourhoods in the city. The 11 episodes see her grow from a young 18-year-old to a mature 45 year old woman. The show is a portrayal of women’s lived experiences in a city and tackles the subject of urban space and life, especially their effects on aspects like the personal ambition and expectations of Japan’s youth.
Mozart In The Jungle
Mozart in the Jungle is a charming little show with Gael Garcia Bernal (a very charming little man himself) as one of its leads. Adapted from a memoir written by an actual New York-based oboist, the show revolves around Hailey, a talented and ambitious oboe player and the maestro Rodrigo (Garcia Bernal), the disruptive new conductor of the fictional New York Symphony. Besides the two, there is a whole set of other characters that must keep up with Rodrigo’s eccentricity, keep their beloved orchestra afloat, and take care of their personal goals and lives. The show is four seasons long and a very pleasantly watchable. Big bonus: it will do wonders for your daily playlists thanks to every single episode containing some great pieces of music!
Created by comedienne Tig Notaro and Diablo Cody (of Juno fame), One Mississippi is a darkly humorous take on dealing with personal tragedies and twisted families. Set against the American Deep South in the present, this Amazon Prime original show deals with mastectomies, molestation and memories – but with generous compassion and just the right amount of comedy. With likeable characters, smart dialogue and just two seasons, One Mississippi is short and bittersweet, and definitely worth a binge sesh.
If true crime, court dramas and documentaries sound like your kinda thang, this Amazon Prime original series will appeal to you. With just four episodes, this docu-series chronicles the infamous 1993 case of Lorena and John Bobbitt (no spoilers) which generated a lot of buzz in the USA. The show throws light on the scandal, using footage from the 90s and new interviews with the Bobbitts and other people involved in the case and the media circus it had led to. With Jordan Peele as an executive producer, Lorena does not just revisit the trial but also the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault that it had brought to the public eye.
This Amazon original show came to an end just earlier this April after its two seasons culminated in a satisfying series finale (complete with “the sexy priest” played by Andrew Scott). In a nutshell, the British comedy, Fleabag is a wild story about its mess of a heroine – who is simply referred to as, well, Fleabag. The show has garnered critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase thanks to its sharp writing and sharper performances. What’s better is that it features the wonderful Olivia Colman (remember her adorable Oscars speech?), as the Godmother, who delivers hilarious quips throughout the show.
Breathe is a thriller about a father turning into a murderer to secure an organ donation for his 6-year-old son who needs an urgent lung transplant (this is not a spoiler – the premise was revealed in the season trailer itself). Although the show suffers from a couple of clichéd characters (e.g. alcoholic cop with family issues, frustrating superior who does not see reason) and the occasional head-scratcher (why are there no CCTVs when you need them?), Breathe is not bad. Basically, if you like your crime dramas cooked Bollywood-style but do not want the complexity of a Sacred Games, you might want to try out this one for size.
Led by the solid presence and performance of Julia Roberts, Homecoming is a psychological thriller which has garnered rave reviews since its premiere in November last year. And the Amazon original show derives its story from a relatively unusual source – a podcast! Homecoming spins a web of intrigue for its audience as the central character of Heidi Bergman (Roberts) tries to get to the bottom of what exactly her former place of work, the Homecoming Transitional Support Center is really up to. The show deals with the interpretation of reality and truth through its plot and narrative style, but does so in snappy 30 minute episodes. If the first season leaves you wanting for more, worry not because a second one is currently in the making.
The Man In The High Castle
Based on Philip K. Dick’s book by the same name, The Man in the High Castle imagines an alternate reality where the Axis Powers (which were primarily Germany, Italy and Japan, in case you have forgotten your middle school history) have won the World War II and the USA has been divided as a result. The portrayal of an oppressive totalitarian regime with characters trying to survive it has invited comparisons with current governments around the globe, and also put the Amazon original series in the ranks of other critically acclaimed ones like The Handmaid’s Tale. Watch if you like alternate histories and political fiction.
If you are familiar with the talent of Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph (SNL is a great place to see them in action together), you know their charm. As Oscar and June, the pair offers a sneak peek into the banality of marriage, but with a big helping of good humour. Forever has its own twists and turns to look out for, which adds depth to the narrative, keeps you hooked, and gives you plenty of points to discuss with your friends after you have gotten them into the show too.
While The Expanse did not start as an Amazon Prime Original, it was rescued by the streaming service and renewed for a fourth season when fans launched an intense round of petitions after it was cancelled by Syfy. The Expanse is based on the series of novels by the same name, authored by the writer duo that goes by the pen name, James S. A. Corey. The show is a heady combination of science fiction, space facts, international (or should it be inter-planetary?) relations, conspiracy drama, and of course, cool visual effects. Start bingeing at the earliest if any of these factors sounds like your cup of tea.
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