Netflix and Hulu tend to steal the spotlight when it comes to streaming services, but Amazon is working hard to give those platforms a run for their money. Case in point: Amazon Prime now houses a vast array of original comedies, dramas, crime thrillers and period pieces, many of them groundbreaking and critically acclaimed. Popular series from other networks are also available to stream—hello, Downton Abbey and The Sopranos—making this a true one-stop shop for all TV-bingeing needs. We took a look at the top shows to watch right now, plus an exciting sneak peek of what’s to come.

Done but Not Forgotten
English writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge first garnered a small but devoted fan following with the 2013 premier of Fleabag, her one-woman play, which Amazon picked up in 2016. The first season follows a London café owner struggling to regain control of her hilariously messy life following the death of a friend, but it’s the second season (2019) that nearly broke the internet while stealing critics’ hearts as the first British show to win an Emmy for Best Comedy Series.

From dark humor to grim reality, Small Axe (2020) takes a stark look at Britain’s racist past. Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen shares stories of London’s Afro-Caribbean communities from the 1960s to mid ‘80s. At the time, English schools segregated West Indian children from their white counterparts. McQueen—who’s both Grenadian and Trinidadian—examines the ensuing rebellions and police brutality in this anthology series.

Ongoing Options
Across the pond, America is still struggling to reconcile the lingering trauma born of slavery. The Underground Railroad, which debuted in May, is a fantasy historical drama adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. It tells the story of Cora Randall, a slave who flees antebellum Georgia via a literal locomotive that makes stops to release freed Blacks. Magical realism blends with too-real horrors, which Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins helped address by having on-set therapists counsel the actors starring in this superb show.

Season two of Flack kicked off June 11, featuring actress Anna Paquin as Robyn, an American PR flack working in London. While saving her celeb clients from a torrent of hair-curling debacles, viewers get to watch her own life fall spectacularly apart in this dark humor series that shines light on some of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes dirt.

Get Excited For
Actress Emily Mortimer wrote and directed The Pursuit of Love, set for a July 30 release. The three-episode romantic drama is based on an eponymous 1945 novel by writer Nancy Mitford. Set in Europe between the two World Wars, it tells the story of cousins Linda Radlett (Lily James) and Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham) as they pursue their search for perfect husbands. While one settles for security and the other follows her heart, social and political upheavals sweep across a turbulent continent.

Finally, production is underway for Amazon’s long-awaited adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings, following fits, starts and Covid-related delays. The series was originally announced in 2017 and won’t premiere until 2022. Events take place during the “Second Age of Middle-earth,” thousands of years prior to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films, though some familiar characters will make a reappearance. The first season has an estimated budget of $450 million (compared to a typical Game of Thrones season that cost roughly $90 million), and Amazon has reportedly already committed to five seasons that may total a whopping $1 billion to produce. From old favorites to upcoming arrivals, Amazon has options to keep consumers entertained throughout the sultry days of summer. Happy viewing!

Amit Jagwani
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