5 Breakout TV Show Performances You Might be Missing

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I wasn't planning on holding onto my Amazon Prime account when the renewal period came up recently, but after taking a quick peek at some of the TV shows available for free streaming, and as someone always on the hunt for my next new favorite series, I opted to keep my subscription. Considering several of the following shows aren't available on Netflix or Hulu, I'd like to recommend the following 5 shows specifically for their excellent performances (and please feel free to share a few of your own).

An even closer look revealed many shows with breakout performances that can't be missed. Full seasons of these shows can be streamed now on Amazon Instant:

1. Awkward
I almost can't believe the same network that airs 16 and Pregnant also airs this hilariously campy show. Awkward perfectly captures so much of the pain and silliness endured during high school and while growing up. The show induces lots of eye rolls, but they're appreciable eye rolls. However, the entire cast is hilarious to watch in each of their roles, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.

Who to watch out for: each and every one of the students, but especially Ashley Rickards as central character Jenna.

2. The Wire
There are many who believe this show ended too soon. I'd have to agree. The multi-season urban drama is often cited as some of the best television ever broadcast, and many of HBO's staple actors offer career-defining performances during this intense and interwoven Dickensian drama of Baltimore life, documenting and connecting the police, criminals, school children, dock workers, politicians, and newspaper reporters in a fascinating baroque web of grey decisions affecting one another.

Who to watch out for: Dominic West as Det. James 'Jimmy' McNulty, Idris Elba as Russell 'Stringer' Bell, and most often beloved, Michael K. Williams as Omar Little.

3. Copper
This British period drama isn't necessarily historically accurate, but it's really a lot of fun. Think of Copper as a modern crime show, but transferred to the rough and tumble western era of 1864 serving as the setting. The mix is gritty, bold, and entertaining. Ato Essandoh, who plays Doctor Matthew Freeman, is easily the highlight, adding nuance and wit to the dark show.

Who to watch out for: Tom Weston-Jones as Detective Kevin Corcoran, Franka Potente as Eva Heissen

4. Betas
Ok, so technically, there are only two episodes of this new Amazon Original produced show about Silicon Valley start-ups to stream, but there's a lot to love in just that pair of shows alone. Of particular note: Karan Soni who plays Nash. He was a highlight of 2012's Safety Not Guaranteed ,and is just as much fun to watch here. The rest of the team behind the show share an esteemed pedigree: Michael Lehmann (True Blood, Dexter) directed and produced the pilot along with Emmy Award winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen (King of the Hill), and Academy Award nominee Michael London (Sideways).

Who to watch out for: Karan Soni as Nash

5. Luther
With the second season underway now, it's not too late to get caught up with this incredible BBC production. Idris Elba, who also offered an unforgettable performance as Russell 'Stringer' Bell in The Wire, is back in a magnetic starring role as a not-by-the-books murder detective who pushes the boundaries of the complicated cop character.

Who to watch out for: charismatic Idris Elba, as DCI John Luther

(Images: YouTube/Amazon)