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Amazon Prime's Best Original Shows Of 2022 So Far

What started out as something of a side perk to having an Amazon Prime subscription, the company's video streaming service has really made a name for itself in the last few years. In 2022 the service debuted the long-awaited prequel series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," which arrived just in time to steal some of the fantasy thunder away from HBO's "Game of Thrones" prequel "House of the Dragon."

Amazon Prime Video's original series seem to finally be striking the right balance of genres, in addition to a good mixture of adaptations and completely original properties. The service still seems to struggle in terms of letting more series have second seasons, continuing to cancel one fan-favorite series after another. Even so, it's amassing a library of phenomenal television be it by way of shows that go on for several seasons or shows that had one amazing season before being given the axe. 

Overall, 2022 was one of the strongest years in Amazon Prime Video's history, marking a number of promising debuts as well as seeing several returning shows having their strongest seasons yet – not to mention the stellar return of one of the most beloved sketch series of all time nearly 30 years since originally ending its run. Here are the best original shows on Amazon Prime Video of 2022.

The English

A co-production with the BBC, "The English" stars Emily Blunt as a woman named Lady Cornelia Locke who travels from England to Kansas in 1890 seeking revenge for the murder of her son. She meets a Pawnee native named Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) who is about to set out to fight for a piece of Nebraska land he was promised for serving in the US Army but has now been told he will no longer receive. The two strangers join forces to help each other out but soon discover that their respective pasts might actually be intertwined.

Despite only having just debuted in November, "The English" has already established itself as one of Amazon's best original series of 2022. The most common areas of praise from critics are the performances of the two leads and the beautiful cinematography on display. Panjiba calls it "one of the most beautifully shot TV shows I've seen in a long time," high praise indeed considering the bar that streaming services have set in that regard over the last half-decade or so. All six parts of "The English" were made available immediately, so it's currently available to stream in full. 

Outer Range

Though "Outer Range" might seem like a standard Western at first glance, it doesn't take long before the sci-fi elements begin to show up and announce that this show is anything but standard. Josh Brolin stars as lead Royal Abbott, a Wyoming rancher who allows a mysterious stranger named Autumn to camp on his land. Soon after, a large and seemingly bottomless hole shows up on Abbott's ranch. At the same time, the Abbotts are having to deal with the neighboring Tillerson family, who are claiming ownership over a part of Abbott's land and are threatening legal action over it.

The eight episodes of Season 1 — which arrived on Amazon between April and May of 2022 – follow Royal's investigation of the hole, his feud with the Tillersons, his growing resentment of Autumn's presence, and other secrets that eventually come to light. Calling it the best new show of 2022, Inverse also says that "Outer Range" is "one of the boldest, weirdest, and most affecting sci-fi shows of the 21st century." Season 2 was ordered in October.

As We See It

Amazon shows aren't all cinematic dramas. In fact, the service has released a number of successful comedies over the years, and 2022's "As We See It" is worthy of mention among the best comedies of the year on any platform. The show follows three housemates – Jack, Violet, and Harrison – who all fall on the autism spectrum and have to deal with all of the social and professional struggles that come with that. Admirably, all three characters are played by actors — Rick Glassman, Violet Wu, and Harrison Dietrich, respectively — who themselves are on the autism spectrum (per Distractify). 

Despite incredibly strong critical praise, including CNN, who called the show "heartbreaking and touching in its central characters' vulnerability" and proclaimed that "this Amazon series deserves to be seen and celebrated," Amazon confirmed in October that the show would not receive a second season (per Deadline) without providing any details as to why. Still, Season 1's eight episodes are well worth watching and here's hoping another platform picks it up so it can live on like it deserves to.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Author Jenny Han took her young adult romance novel "The Summer I Turned Pretty" and its two sequels and adapted them into an Amazon original series in 2022. It tells the story of a teenage girl named Isabel Conklin (Lola Tung) – nicknamed Belly — who has spent several consecutive summers at her family's beach house. The house is near Belly's mom's best friend, but also that best friend's son, Conrad. Things get messy throughout the summer as a result of Belly's longtime crush on Conrad, Conrad's feelings towards another girl, and Belly's newly developing feelings for Conrad's brother, Jeremiah.

It's fairly standard fare for a coming-of-age series, but Nerdophile says that "despite its pitfalls and cliches, the series is addictively enjoyable." Amazon clearly liked what they saw before the series even officially debuted, as the streamer had already ordered a second season before the first premiered (per Deadline). Hopefully, it launches in June of whatever year it comes out in, as Season 1 hitting in June made it the perfect breezy binge to kick off the summer of 2022 with. 

Paper Girls

Given the success that Amazon had with "The Boys," it stands to reason that the studio would try out other lesser-known comic book properties to adapt. In 2022 that came by way of "Paper Girls," based on the award-winning Image Comics series of the same name that ran for 30 issues between 2015 and 2019. The premise of both is essentially the same — four girls with an early-morning paper route find themselves in the midst of warring time travels as they are delivering papers the morning after Halloween in 1988.

The show was a big hit with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but apparently Amazon was going to accept nothing less than to have it be an instant smash like "The Boys" and gave it only about five weeks to get there, announcing its cancellation on September 9 after having only been launched July 29. However, production company Legendary Entertainment isn't willing to give up on it and is looking for another platform to pick it up (per Deadline). 

Reacher

Lee Child's "Jack Reacher" series had previously tried to be a long-running AAA movie series, with Tom Cruise playing the title character in a 2012 film and its 2016 sequel. While a third movie is at this point unlikely, for now, the franchise has shifted gears to the small screen and with a different actor in the lead role. Following the adaptation of "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan," Amazon is hoping to repeat that success with the simply-titled "Reacher."

Alan Ritchson of "Smallville" and "Titans" takes on the role of the former Army policeman who is now looking to expose corruption in law enforcement and politics. Season 1 of the show started from the beginning of the novels, focusing mostly based on the story told in the first Jack Reacher book, "Killing Floor" (per TV Line). While the movies were only accepted by critics lukewarmly at best, "Reacher" has been very highly acclaimed. Amazon has already ordered a second season, but The Wall Street Journal declared in their review that they "can imagine this one going on forever."

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

By all accounts, "Game of Thrones" prequel "House of the Dragon" has been a hit with critics and fans alike. There isn't much that had the name recognition or fanbase to directly challenge it, but if anything can, it's Tolkien. With both "House of the Dragon" and Amazon's prequel series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" being in development for years and facing multiple delays, it's unlikely that either one was planned to be released alongside the other as direct competition. Still, that's how it worked out, and with so much medieval fantasy goodness on our screens this year, we all win.

It's debatable which one is better, which is another way of saying that "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is fantastic. Ambitiously set several millennia before the events of "The Hobbit" and based on the appendices of the "The Lord of the Rings" novels, the series takes place in that universe's Second Age which saw evil beginning to rise again in Middle-Earth after a period of peace. The show will have both new characters as well as younger versions of fan favorites, and Season 2 has long since been greenlit (per Deadline). 

A League of Their Own

While generally well-liked, especially at the time, 1992's "A League of Their Own" obviously had to speed through the history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War 2, as movies often do. But given more room to breathe, Amazon's series of the same name is able to dig a lot deeper, give more characters the spotlight, and also go places that a family-friendly movie in the early-'90s wouldn't have gone — including addressing the racism and LGBTQ-based bigotry that were prevalent in the AAGPBL.

Actor and comedian Abbi Jacobson co-created the series and also plays its de facto lead, a catcher named Carson Shaw. Like the movie, Season 1 primarily focuses on the league's formation and its first season, centering on the Rockford Peaches specifically. A cast member from the movie even shows up for a fun cameo we won't spoil. Vox said it best in their review when they called the series, "A shining example of what an adaptation of a classic can be and rarely is. It is affectionate to its source material and true to its spirit, while at the same time aiming for an entirely new idea."

The Boys Presents: Diabolical

This is obviously open for debate — and only Amazon itself can officially confirm it one way or another — but "The Boys" seems to be the marquee show on the service right now. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time before it got a spin-off of some kind, coming in 2022 by way of "The Boys Presents: Diabolical." The animated anthology series sees each episode as its own entirely self-contained story that takes place in the universe of the main show, with each one having its own unique writers, directors, tone, and even animation style.

Among the big names that have shown up to write their own episodes so far are Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Ilana Glazer, Garth Ennis, Justin Roiland, Aisha Tyler, and Andy Samberg, with animation styles that range from anime to Roiland's unique "Rick and Morty"aesthetic to Ennis' episode which replicates the look of the original "The Boys" comics. It's been almost as well-received as the original show, already nominated for two Primetime Emmys and winning one for outstanding individual achievement in animation.

The Devil's Hour

Executive produced by Steven Moffat of modern-era "Doctor Who" fame, "The Devil's Hour" sees Moffat once again working with 12th Doctor portrayer Peter Capaldi as a criminal who seems to have a supernatural relationship with time. This brings him into the orbit of social worker Lucy Chambers (Jessica Raine), who has an especially unusual type of insomnia that wakes her up at exactly 3:33 am every day. We won't say anything more as this is the type of show that's best to go in knowing as little as possible, but suffice it to say that you quickly discover layer upon layer of mystery to unravel over the show's six episodes.

Both lead actors have earned raves from critics for their performances, but particularly Raine, previously best known as lead Jenny Lee from the BBC series "Call the Midwife." If you like a good psychological mystery, the kind that sometimes necessitates watching episodes multiple times to figure things out, you won't regret checking out "The Devil's Hour."  

Chloe

Another of Amazon's 2022 co-productions with the BBC, "Chloe" poached Erin Doherty from Netflix's "The Crown" and has her starring as Becky Green, a woman who struggles to get over her childhood friend Chloe's death. Rather than deal with it in a healthy manner, Becky creates an alter ego for herself named Sasha that she uses to infiltrate Chloe's social circle, initially almost as a lark — but she soon ends up enjoying being Sasha a little too much and takes things way too far in the process.

Only intended to run for a single season, "Chloe" was lavished with praise by critics. The Detroit News said, "'Chloe' is an intriguing tangle of lies and obsession, a well-made striptease of a show that slowly reveals all over six episodes of cringey psychological suspense." Likewise, The Guardian gushes, "There is not one false note in this fierce, fresh murder mystery" in their five-star review and, like many other outlets, gave extremely high praise for Doherty's performance as well. 

The Legend of Vox Machina

Amazon hasn't quite fully dived into animation as Netflix or Disney+ have, but it tends to make it count when it does. In addition to "The Boys Presents: Diabolical," 2022's debut of "The Legend of Vox Machina" absolutely knocked it out of the park for the service and is a serious contender for one of the best animated shows of the year on any platform. Based on the popular "Dungeons & Dragons" web series "Critical Role," "The Legend of Vox Machina" was first pitched as a Kickstarter funded 22-minute special but smashed through all of its stretch goals — including one to turn the project into a full animated series (per CNBC). 

Kickstarter projects often leave fans and backers disappointed, but the complete opposite happened with "The Legend of Vox Machina." Not only did Season 1 impress critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Season 2 was ordered before the Season 1 even premiered, which was then followed by Amazon already having ordered a third season ahead of Season 2's planned 2023 debut (per Variety). 

Lizzo's Watch out for the Big Grrrls

It took a little while before streaming services figured out that they could easily pad out their programming lineups with reality shows. The downside is that some services – Netflix, we're looking in your direction – go a little overboard with its reality shows, producing just as much empty junk food as legitimately fulfilling fare. Amazon has definitely had some duds in this arena but has also been careful not to flood its market with them — not to mention having one of the best streaming-exclusive reality shows of the last few years.

Singer Lizzo is one of the biggest musicians around, and attaching her name to a reality show is automatically going to give it some cache. As with anything Lizzo does, "Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls" is a unique spin on reality-based competition shows that also brings her signature charm and flare to the proceedings. The premise is that 13 women are competing for a spot to be one of Lizzo's dancers, but rather than have it be a cutthroat competition, everyone is supportive of one another and they're just as happy to see their friends advance as if they would've advanced themselves. 

In addition to universal acclaim, "Lizzo's Watch out for the Big Grrrls" also won this year's Primetime Emmy for outstanding reality competition, beating out tough competition from big names such as "The Amazing Race," "The Voice," and "Top Chef."

The Kids in the Hall

As evidenced by various cameo appearances over the years, not all "Saturday Night Live" veterans retain their comedic timing or sensibilities after having not done sketch comedy on a regular basis in many years. Yet, all five cast members of "The Kids in the Hall" have managed to come back together for the first time since 2010's "Death Comes to Town" — not to mention 27 years since their original show ended — for Amazon's revival of their classic sketch show as if they've continuously been rehearsing together this entire time.

Critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes found a lot to like about the revival of "The Kids in the Hall." Surprisingly Amazon's first Canadian series (per Amazon), what is technically the 6th Season of the show sees the kids still in top form, whether they're bringing back fan-favorite classic characters or introducing new ones. Whether they continue on or leave this as a single-season victory lap, it's bound to delight fans for years to come who will have no trouble rewatching these alongside the classic episodes — which, as of now, are all available on Amazon Prime as well.

The Boys

It's not a coincidence that "The Boys" is the only show on this list that wasn't in its first season in 2022. Amazon shows have a tendency to have great first seasons and then fizzle out — or just never have the luxury of additional seasons at all. However, "The Boys" was both popular enough with audiences and acclaimed enough by critics to not only earn three seasons and counting, but also managed to maintain consistent quality and have its 3rd Season be just as strong as its 1st Season. In fact, it has the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of the show's three seasons so far.

In a year where Disney+'s Marvel shows and HBO Max's DC shows have been fairly hit or miss, "The Boys" is arguably the best comic book show on television this year and is a nice feather in Amazon's cap in that regard — especially when paired with "The Boys Presents: Diabolical." A year after the events of Season 2, Season 3 sees the Boys and the Seven's truce coming under fire when certain truths are brought to light. It's an amazing season that has fans chomping at the bit for the confirmed fourth season (per Variety).