Saturday, August 12, 2017

Top 25 Shows on Netflix and Amazon

25 Best shows on Netflix and Amazon

Coming out on the eve of the final conclusion of #1 on this list.

Looking for the best shows on Netflix and Amazon?  Look no further than this list.  These are some of my favorite shows on Netflix and Amazon, and some of my friends' favorite shows Netflix and Amazon.  The numbering on this list isn't exactly true of rank, but some Netflix and Amazon shows are definitely better than others.

Click the titles to see the trailers

  1. Turn: Washington's Spies - This is almost without competition as my favorite show, and some of the seasons can be very difficult to find on Netflix and Amazon.  AMC has some of the greatest cinemetography found on tv series, and Turn: Washington's Spies is no exception, but it is the quality of the show that really sets this apart.  Turn: Washington's Spies focuses on the first American spy ring and their efforts to win the American Revolution.  The series gets off to a slow start (another aspect of AMC's shows), but it builds into one of the most compelling dramas you will find.  The dress, accents, and historical precedence are sumptuous, but what really makes this series stand out is the marvelous acting.  There are a few famous actors, like Jack Sparrow's lieutenant in Pirate's of the Caribbean, but for the most part, these are new, and quite fabulous actors.  
  2. Suits - I'm not sure if Suits should be 2nd on the list of best shows on Netflix and Amazon, but it is hard to argue against this compelling drama.  The series follows the struggle of a young man with a photographic memory, who wants to change his life from early bad choices in life, so naturally, he becomes a fake lawyer.  Once again, this drama comes with marvelous acting, but it really stands out in its character development.  You start just absolutely hating characters, from their brash and bold arrogance, to the know-it-alls, the series has you choosing sides early on, and marvelously molds the characters and your opinions of them as it goes on.  Indeed, it almost seems too real.  People are rarely static in real life, why should they be in series?
  3. The Grand Tour - For those fans of Top Gear that were distraught over the news that Jeremy Clarkson had been fired by the BBC, this was a welcome pickup by Amazon in one of their greatest original series.  It has already broken many streaming records, and Amazon was even using free episodes of it over Christmas to draw in new prime members.  It has the same old feel of Top Gear, but admittedly, it is much better!  Gone are the slow interviews of celebrities and the reasonably priced car.  It's been replaced with more explosions, camios of the trio goofing off, and of course, their inappropriate jokes.
  4. The Crown - Another of the new original series from Amazon and Netflix.  This is probably one of the better shows I've seen.  The historical drama focuses on the latest Queen Elizabeth.  It's only on its first season, but so far, the plot is quite well-written, and the acting is quite compelling. This is definitely one of the best shows to be found on Netflix and Amazon.
  5. Poldark - Arguably one of the easiest and most predictable shows.  This is a remake of an earlier PBS show from the 70's. It follows Captain Poldark, a returned captain of British forces during the American revolution as he tries to rebuild his shattered home built on the fortunes of copper mining.  While the shows pageantry and plot are somewhat predictable and overly romantic, the show itself features great acting and stunning visuals.  In the end, this is one of our favorite shows on Netflix and Amazon.
  6. The Man in The High Castle - If you missed the first season of this, you need to catch up!  This is one of the most interesting shows available.  The plot follows the possibility of a German and Japanese victory to WWII, and follows a few select American resistance fighters that are protecting propaganda materials produced by a mysterious "Man in the High Castle."  The first season is quite good, but the second season that was just released, and I'm still catching up on, is mind-blowing!  It is a beautifully written plot, woven deep into a tapestry of surrealist thought.
  7. Sherlock - If you're looking for probably the best plot and acting on the entirety of Netflix and Amazon, Sherlock is what you're looking for.  I have yet to see the newest episodes from this season, and critics were relatively disappointed, but my wife and I loved the earlier seasons of Sherlock.  The series finds ways to put you into Sherlock's mind that none before had succeeded at doing.  
  8. Downton Abbey - My wife and I avoided this series for a long time.  We heard good things from the older generation, but we hadn't heard much from the younger cadre.  And then we started it by chance one day and fell in love.  The genius of this series is its ability to portray border crossings.  The borders in this case are between the servants and the lords and ladies of the house.  Whereas in the past you would only see the gentry in shows like Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey opens up your view to a completely different world of what life would have been like.  
  9. The Walking Dead - This was one of my favorite shows for a very long time, but it follows the plot written by a comic book writer, and the comic books really seem like the writer even didn't expect success, and now that he has it, he'll just continue mindlessly writing until people stop reading (that or he's trying some stupid existential plot).  That coupled with AMC's endless struggle to win awards and build character depth makes for a disappointing length to the show.  Don't get me wrong, The Walking Dead is as intense a show as you can find, and you're going to love it for the first few seasons, but then the plot just gets lost.  The writer kills off nearly everyone but two main characters, and it gets hard to watch full episodes of people AMC build into strong characters and then kill off the next episode.  In short, this is a great Netflix show because you're going to eventually need a fast forward to skip the boring middle and just watch the beginning and end.  And if you do get hooked, don't ever bother watching the show when it's aired on tv.  You'll be so bored by 15 minute commercials followed by 2 minute segments of the show that you may become patient enough to wait for the next season on Netflix.
  10. Band of Brothers - Another of my favorite series.  Band of Brothers follows a parachute company through WWII.  Filled with historical interviews from the men who fought, and great actors, many of which became famous from this series, Band of Brothers is absolutely riveting. This doesn't make it higher in the list purely because it is only one season, but if you're looking for a great historical drama based on historical accounts, this is the series for you.  I'm not the greatest fan of Stephen Ambrose as many of his historical works are a little too one-sided for my taste, but that being said, I still absolutely love this series.
  11. The Blacklist - The Blacklist follows one of the FBI's most wanted criminals, who surrenders himself to the FBI and says he has a Blacklist of the top criminals that the FBI doesn't even know exist.  James Spader is cast as this eloquent and foreboding criminal, and his personality alone could carry the show into a great drama.  The Blacklist, however, also comes with this amazing subplot that keeps the show moving even though the purpose of the show - catching bad guys on the blacklist - starts to get relatively redundant as time goes on.  
  12. Madam Secretary - I work in international affairs, so it's little surprise that Madam Secretary makes my list.  The drama follows a former CIA operative and professor, who is chosen to become the Secretary of State.  From the outset, this show reeks of feminist thought.  In the first season alone, Madam Secretary singlehandedly solves around 20 international impasses that have flummoxed seasoned diplomats for centuries (ok maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration).  The first season does, however, lack the depth one would hope for in such a drama, but later seasons make up for that.  Other characters start to play a more important role, and it takes on a more realistic flavor.  That being said, from an international affairs standpoint, the series is quite realistic and well-written and if you're in IA nerd, this is the show for you.
  13. The Musketeers - This was probably my favorite show until the last season.  The Musketeers follows the adventures of the famous group throughout 16th century France.  This is what you wish every musketeers movie ever written had been!  The first season is fantastic.  So good, in fact, that they had to kill of the archenemy of all Musketeers - Cardinal Richelieu - the first episode of season 2 because he got put on as the new lead in the BBC's flagship show - Doctor Who (which I kind of detest, sorry UK).  The last season also kind of kills the show.  It's very dark, and while each season was extremely well written as a stand alone show, so you feel happy at the end of every season, the last season kind of takes it away.  I feel like the writer got angry and decided to destroy the series.  The official account is that production was taking way too much time, but I mean honestly, you're getting paid to produce the Musketeers!  How bad can it be?  Anyway, great show, sad to see it go, especially so soon and in such a poor manner.
  14. Reign - I took a little while to get into Reign.  The plot follows Mary Queen of Scots as she seeks to marry into the French royal line and the adventures that follow her.  The first season is basically Pretty Little Liars set in the 16th century.  My wife loved the first season....I was a little more skeptical.  Fortunately, the show moves on and becomes a great drama.  The plot and storyline carry the series and make it quite worthwhile, even if the acting and script never truly catch up.  Another problem with the series is it is focused on rather tragic events in history, and so a lot of the main characters you know will die in short time periods, and it is difficult for the series to keep things going on such terms.  As a historian, I have appreciated their push to stick to at least some historical fact, but sometimes I wish they would just part ways, so they could make a drama that you could really sink your teeth into.
  15. How I Met Your Mother - I'm guessing most people will have already seen this show, so it doesn't make highlights on this list, but it is definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen.  It follows a group of friends throughout their lives as the main character searches for a wife.  It pulls on your heartstrings and makes you laugh.  I actually watched the entire series twice.  Once by myself and then once when I convinced my wife to watch it after we got married.  The first time, I loved it, love it, loved it, and then the last season made me hate it!  It was just such a terrible ending.  But then I watched it again, and all of a sudden I appreciated the story so much more, and I started to wonder why I ever thought it would end differently.  Although at the end of the day, I am still disappointed that the story is all about change and how characters mature and change, but then in the end, they all revert to their same old habits.  Anyway, long story short, great show, watch it, and if you hated the ending, watch it again.  It really is one of the treasures on Netflix.
  16. Once Upon a Time - This show is truly magical and advertising genius on Disney's part.  Once upon a Time is a way to modernize all the old Disney shows for the new generation.  Basically, it follows a woman discovering her past in a magical town of Storybrooke, where the evil queen from Snow White's tale has frozen time.  Once again, this show exhibits a largely feminist push.  It is a woman, who solves everything and everyone else seems quite powerless at the beginning.  It has matured a little over time to allowing other characters to contribute.  It is also a little hypocritical in its way of allowing some people to change while keeping others static.  That being said, it's a great show for the first few seasons, but eventually it just gets too cyclical, and it's the same story over and over again with new Disney characters thrown into the mix.
  17. New Girl - New Girl is one of our favorite shows.  This one ranks lower in the list because it's basically How I Met Your Mother or Friends 2.1.  The series follows a girl, who moves into an apartment with three other men, and they become best friends.  The series is quite feminist as well, but it takes a much more even stance on the issue and the other characters play quite a large role as well.  The acting is lacking at times, but the series is hilarious and worth a watch.
  18. The Patriot - This is another of Amazon's original series shows, and it is one of the more interestingly artistic shows you'll find on this list.  It follows a spy trying to get money to an Iranian candidate to influence the election.  While the plot is predictable, and based mainly on counting on everything going wrong that could go wrong, it is pure genius in getting a look at depression on screen without being so dreary or slow that no one would watch it.  Instead it becomes this beautiful look into a man's sad life and what better way to do it than to look through the eyes of someone who works a job that you probably wish you had when you reached your middle life crisis.  The series is only one season so far, but I sure hope they continue it.  There are a couple nude scenes though, so beware of that, but besides that it is a great show to watch on Amazon.
  19. Homeland - Homeland comes from Showtime originally, so you can keep a wary eye for lots of sex scenes and a lot and I mean a lot of swearing.  It follows a CIA agent as she works to stop terrorist plots to attack America. The plot is usually quite compelling and the acting and action can be quite good.  That being said, the main character is about as annoying as they come as they play with this idea of her being bipolar, and there is this rather large hole that she seems to be the only one who can solve all major problems at the CIA.  My only other complaint with this series is that they start almost a new series every season as they just get rid of all but a couple main characters, so don't get too attached to anyone in this show.  But that being said, it's quite an addicting show, and can engross a lot of your spare time.  Find it on Netflix.
  20. The Vikings - For history buffs, this can easily be one of the favorite shows on Amazon.  This series follows Viking warlords as they pillage and plunder the coasts of France, Great Britain and war at home.  It is very historical, and the battles and plot are very well done along standards of historical fiction.  Probably because of this, however, the plot moves slowly and it is a hard show to really get involved in unless you can watch the whole first season in a day.  In the end, it is a great show, just be prepared to be bored at times.  Find it on Amazon and the History Channel.
  21. The Americans - The Americans is an absolutely brilliant recasting of spy games.  It follows an in-depth undercover Russian spy group hidden deep in the US and follows FBI agents sent to root them out.  Because it's set in the 70's and 80's there is a lot of realism built into the background of the plot and it flows very well.  But beware as this show is just plain dark.  I felt myself getting depressed after watching a lot of the show.  That being said it is a gem on Amazon and worth a look at.  Also beware of nudity on this show as well.
  22. The Borgias - You can find two different series of the Borgias on Netflix. The best one features - guess who - Jafar from Aladdin!  That's right, he's back as one of the most controversial popes to ever be pontiff.  This show is based on the book The Prince by Machiavelli. And overall, the pageantry, the plot, the twists are absolutely astounding.  Beware a ton of nudity and promiscuity, however.  This still ranks quite well on the best shows on Netflix and Amazon.
  23. Grey's Anatomy - I don't think I really need to go into what's good or bad about Grey's Anatomy  Basically it follows a woman who becomes a doctor and surgeon, and her career and life.  It's on Season 14!!!  So when I say life, I mean this is basically this actor's life.  Anyway, it can be a great show at times and also just maddening, but definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen any episodes at all.
  24. The Paradise - Based on books by Zola, this great show follows the play of one of the first large store owners and his battle against the gentry and smaller traders.  In the end, it is a beautiful show, but can be a little too Pride and Prejudice at times, if you know what I mean.
  25. Riverdale - Sneaking into the last spot, this is one of the most ridiculously easy plots to create. It follows high school students as they try to get to the bottom of a murder in their quiet town.  I know it sounds stupid, but the show is actually quite good, and what's worse - rather addicting!  Find the first and only season on Netflix.

So there you have it, my top 25 shows you can waste endless hours watching on Netflix and Amazon.  Happy hunting!

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