The 10 Best Miniseries on Amazon Prime

Updated June 27, 2024 • Staff

From docuseries to historical dramas and investigative shows, miniseries are a wonderful, diverse format. In this list, we count down the best miniseries on Amazon Prime. 

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10.

The Night Manager

Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie (House) star in this espionage mini-series based on a John le Carré novel.

A quick mini-series that spans six episodes, it’s about a former soldier (Tom Hiddleston) who, while working as a night manager for a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, ends up getting hold of very sensitive information. He is then recruited by an intelligence officer (Olivia Colman) to bring down a corrupt businessman (Hugh Laurie.)

A highly-acclaimed TV show not to be missed by lovers of spy stories, John Le Carré films (A Most Wanted Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), or just anyone who appreciates excellent acting.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Actor: Adeel Akhtar, David Harewood, Douglas Hodge, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Laurie, Michael Nardone, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hollander
Rating: TV-14
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9.

River

This six-chapter British miniseries stars the ever-reliable Stellan Skarsgård as an erratic London police detective. He starts seeing visions or “manifests” of his recently murdered colleague and tries to solve her case even though he was excluded from it. River blends reality and illusion in a thoughtful and original police thriller.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Adeel Akhtar, Eddie Marsan, Georgina Rich, Lesley Manville, Nicola Walker, Owen Teale, Sorcha Cusack, Stellan Skarsgård, Steve Nicolson, Turlough Convery
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch River on Amazon Prime for free
8.

Small Axe

This impressive body of work defies any classification: it’s a collection of five films that have been put together into a miniseries. Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) collected a timeless set of stories set from the ‘60s to ‘80s about London’s West Indian community and their struggle with rampant racism.

The first film, Mangrove, bears the name of the restaurant at the center of the story. As a sanctuary for the community, the restaurant quickly becomes the target of a racist police division that employs various tactics to disrupt  its popularity. The local chapter of the Black Panthers and its charismatic leader (played by Letitia Wright) get involved.

Mangrove and Lovers Rock, the next episode, were in the selection of the Cannes Film Festival that got canceled because of the pandemic.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama

Free Watching Options:

Watch Small Axe on Amazon Prime for free
7.

A Very English Scandal

Led by fine-tuned performances from Ben Whishaw and Hugh Grant at the top of their game, this three-episode series dives headfirst into the sex scandal between Norman Scott and former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe with devastating wit. Neither character is treated as morally superior over the other, as both become consumed by the media frenzy surrounding the English justice system's thirst for controversy. And Russell T Davies' writing and Stephen Frears' direction allow the show's tone to pivot from brilliantly timed notes of humor to profoundly sad stretches of tragedy and drama. Given its short length, A Very English Scandal seems to be designed for binge-watching, but it should still reward patient and attentive viewing.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alex Jennings, Ben Whishaw, David Bamber, Hugh Grant, Jason Watkins, Jonathan Hyde, Monica Dolan, Naomi Battrick, Patricia Hodge

Free Watching Options:

Watch A Very English Scandal on Amazon Prime for free
6.

The Underground Railroad

As is only appropriate for a limited series about such a horrific period in human history, The Underground Railroad isn't meant to be easy viewing. Thanks to uncompromising direction from Barry Jenkins (the director of the Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight) and unforgettable images from cinematographer James Laxton, this approaches a level of confrontational storytelling that almost seems inappropriate for the comforts of television. But it's essential viewing nonetheless, and Jenkins makes sure to transform this into a much stranger, more thought-provoking tale beyond the brutality of its first episode.

The Underground Railroad is speculative fiction: instead of being a historical account of the real-life network of routes to help free African-American slaves, it imagines a literal train that swiftly transports Cora (a powerful Thuso Mbedu) from one dystopian vision of white America to another. With every new setting, Jenkins doesn't just talk about slavery; he talks about how America talks about slavery, and how the stories of these Black slaves are constantly reappropriated by white supremacists.

Our staff rating: 8.2/10
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, History
Actor: Joel Edgerton, Thuso Mbedu

Free Watching Options:

Watch The Underground Railroad on Amazon Prime for free
5.

Black Snow

Black Snow has the sleek style of a modern murder mystery, but its concern with Australia’s colonial past that sets this show apart. As a neo-noir series centered on a murder, the show has all the classic elements: the hardboiled detective, the suspicious townsfolk, and the murder. As the murder is set in 1994, nostalgic summer-tinged high school scenes make it easy to root for justice for the show’s young victim.

But the series stands out as it's always mindful of Isabel Baker, always concerned with her and her dynamics with her friends, family, and her South Sea Islander (ASSI) community. Supported by the strong performance of newcomer Talijah Blackman-Corowa, and even consulting the ASSI community personally in the show’s development and production, Black Snow is excellent not just as a murder mystery but also as a depiction of a community that's rarely portrayed on screen.

Our staff rating: 8.3/10
Genre: Crime
Actor: Alexander England, Jemmason Power, Rob Carlton, Talijah Blackman-Corowa, Travis Fimmel
Director: Sian Davies
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4.

Modern Love

This is one of those reviews where it’s probably enough to say: watch the pilot. There is no better proof of how good Modern Love is than its first episode. The show is based on true stories that were shared in The New York Times column by the same name. That first episode is about the relationship between a doorman and a New Yorker. But, plot twist, Modern Love isn’t just about romantic relationships. It’s also about friendships, family links, and all displays of love and affection. The second episode is with Dev Patel and Catherine Keener, which I found to be also excellent. There are other ones with Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, and many other big names, but the first two episodes are still my favorites. The power of Modern Love is in the riveting true stories it tells. It might as well have been called “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Our staff rating: 8.5/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Actor: Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Cristin Milioti, Dev Patel, Laurentiu Possa, Tina Fey
Rating: TV-MA
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3.

Forever

Something happens in Forever episode three that I can’t tell you about. If I did it, I would spoil the show up for you. I don’t want to do this. So I will try very hard to sell you on the first two episodes, just remember, the show gets very different afterward. Both in premise, general vibe, and humor.

Here’s my best pitch: Fred Armisen. That face, that tone, that voice. How can you resist a TV show that doesn’t have many characters and yet he’s the main one.

Pitch No. 2: Maya Rudolph. She is funny, expressive, and whenever she looks at something, that thing instantly gains a lot of interest. This is the best performance of her career so far, I would wager.

Our staff rating: 8.6/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Catherine Keener, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph
Rating: TV-MA
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2.

This Is Going to Hurt

In the dark comedy This Is Going to Hurt, Ben Whishaw stars as junior doctor Adam, who's barely keeping it together in the understaffed and under-equipped ob-gyn ward of Britain's NHS hospital. We see, often in sad and graphic detail, what goes on in a public hospital and the heavy toll this takes on both the patients’ and medical staff’s personal lives. It's hard to look away, especially when Adam addresses us in the first person. 

Even more upsetting? The miniseries is based on a memoir. Former medical trainee Adam Kay wrote a best-selling book detailing his horrific time at the NHS, and now he serves as executive producer and writer of the series.

Our staff rating: 8.8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Alex Jennings, Ambika Mod, Ashley McGuire, Ben Whishaw, Kadiff Kirwan, Michele Austin, Rory Fleck Byrne
Rating: TV-14

Free Watching Options:

Watch This Is Going to Hurt on Amazon Prime for free
1.

War & Peace

Leo Tolstoy's most famous book, on which this was based, defies summarization but this powerful, sumptuous, and head-spinning BBC production might have done just that.

In 1805 St. Petersburg, the illegitimate son of the richest man in Russia (played by Paul Dano) finds himself at the center of his country's downfall as it faces another Napoleonic invasion. As it follows several interconnected characters, romance intertwines with war, tragedy, and greed.

Directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders), this series has it all: great acting, beautiful locations, and breath-taking action. It also stays true to the philosophical nature of the written material, capturing the glamour, deceit, and insanity of its time – as well as the sweeping scope of the original Tolstoy tome. This is TV of cinematic proportions!

Our staff rating: 9.6/10
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Adrian Edmondson, Aneurin Barnard, Brian Cox, Gillian Anderson, Greta Scacchi, Jack Lowden, James Norton, Jessie Buckley, Jim Broadbent, Lily James, Mathieu Kassovitz, Olivia Ross, Paul Dano, Rebecca Front, Stephen Rea, Tom Burke, Tuppence Middleton
Rating: TV-14
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