Oz is an award-winning American crime drama that ran on the HBO network for six seasons. Now you can watch Oz streaming. The series debuted July 12, 1997 and the finale aired February 23, 2003; there are 56 episodes. Created by Tom Fontana, Oz starred Lee Tergesen, Ernie Hudson, B.D. Wong, and Christopher Meloni. “Oz” is the nickname for Oswald State Correctional Facility, where the series takes place; many of the storylines are set in the fictional “Emerald City” which is an experimental prison unit that focuses on rehabilitation during the inmates’ incarcerations. The series was a critical success, though some viewers have said that Oz episodes were unnecessarily gruesome at times. Over the series run, Oz won 14 awards and was nominated for 53, including two Emmys and a Writers Guild of America award. The series landed on several “best of” lists including Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
Here’s your guide to watch Oz online and enjoy the entire series — including simple streaming info, cast actors and characters, and best seasons and episodes:
How to Watch Oz Online & Stream the Complete Series
In the United States, all seasons of Oz are available on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Here’s how to watch via either service:
If you have Prime, or if you want to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime, you can watch every season of Oz on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
When signing up for Hulu, there are two different options. With either one, you’ll need to include the HBO add-on to watch every episode of Oz.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
When signing up for either of the above options, you’ll also need to add the HBO add-on to watch every episode of Oz. Once signed up, you can watch on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Oz Seasons Are There?
There are six seasons and 56 episodes of Oz, focusing on the prisoners of the fictional “Emerald City” unit of the Oswald State Correctional Facility. This is a guide to the seasons of Oz:
Oz, Season 1
8 episodes | July 12, 1997 – August 25, 1997
The experimental cellblock, “Emerald City”, is opened at Oz with the intention of focusing on the rehabilitation of the inmates, the death of an inmate sparks outrage and incidents from gang members within the prison, gangsters and mob types continue feuding after another inmate death, and the inmates grapple with the governor’s renewal of a capital punishment mandate. The staff tries to stem the flow of drugs into the prison but cannot, and inmate Said plans to start a riot.
Oz Season 2
8 episodes | July 11, 1998 – August 31, 1998
Devlin hires a law school dean to investigate the riot; when Emerald City reopens, the warden lays down harsher rules for the inmates, and one of the inmates decides to try digging out of the prison walls. The Aryan Brotherhood forces an inmate to accept responsibility for a murder, and Glynn and Schibetta joust for power within the cell block. That tunnel is found by the Aryan Brotherhood; two gang members are closed when the tunnel collapses on them.
Oz Season 3
8 episodes | July 14, 1999 – September 1, 1999
The governor’s deal with an pharmaceutical company has harsh results for the inmates. Beecher kills Metzger, making Sean Murphy the supervisor. Denied a victim/offender program, Alvarez attempts suicide, and Beecher befriends Schillinger’s son only to use the kid to get to Schillinger. The inmates start a boxing ring, with O’Reilly using stolen chloral hydrate to drug the participants. Alvarez meets with Rivera, who wants to know why he was attacked. One of the boxing matches leaves an inmate brain dead.
Oz Season 4
16 episodes | July 12, 2000 – February 25, 2001
Khan, who is brain dead following a boxing match, is taken off life support. Glynn is asked to run for Lieutenant Governor alongside Governor Devlin. A shooting at the prison forces Glynn to fire McManus. Busmalis manages to escape with Alvarez, but is later caught. Beecher’s kids are kidnapped, and Querns tries to open a “no violence” unit within the prison. Tensions between the gangs grow as more white inmates are transferred out of Emerald City. O’Reily falls for Clair Howell and Said kills Adebsi. New rules are set out for Emerald City, and Glynn uses Alvarez as an informant. Robson goes after Said. A plot to blow up Emerald City it hatched.
Oz Season 5
8 episodes | January 6, 2002 – February 24, 2002
Though the bomb threat was a dud, Emerald City is renovated. Solitary inmates are put into the General Population, and Alvarez reaches out to Rebadow. Alvarez has himself stabbed and Velez tries to kill Guerra. Some inmates are offered the chance to train guide dogs. Said confronts White about the drug trade without Em City, and the inmates stage a variety show. McManus goes on a hunt to find out who is supplying drugs, but Hill won’t squeal, and the Brotherhood rejects Robson, prompting him to mutilate himself.
Oz Season 6
8 episodes | January 5, 2003 – February 23, 2003
Said receives Augustus’ memoirs, Beecher is paroled and leaves Oz, and the Mayor is assassinated. Glynn investigates the murder and Beecher is betrayed and returns to Oz. New drug peddlers arrive at Oz, Glynn is killed, and Devlin is suspected in the murder of the Mayor and of Glynn. The prison is evacuated.
What Are the Best Oz Episodes?
From male rape to the inner workings of prison gangs, Oz tackled subject matter that made viewers think harder about how the correctional system in the United States works. Here are some of the episodes of Oz you shouldn’t miss:
Season 1, Episode 4 “Capital P”
When the governor reinstates capital punishment, the inmates react badly. Beecher aims for redemption and O’Reily becomes a double agent. “Capital P” was nominated for an Online Film and Television Award for Best Episode of a Cable Series.
Season 6, Episode 7 “Junkyard Dawgs”
Series lead, Glynn, is murdered while trying to uncover who murdered The Mayor, new drug pushers arrive in Em City, and McManus tries to save Omar.
Season 5, Episode 4 “Valhalla”
Velez tries to kill Guerra, and the prison begins a guide dog training class for the inmates, and the Aryans attack Lalar.
Season 4, Episode 10 “Conversions”
New rules for Emerald City set the inmates on edge; Said rejects Tidd’s attempt to convert to Islam, and Schillinger finds “salvation” in his relationship with a former televangelist inmate.
Season 3, Episode 5 “Oz: Us Male”
An underground boxing ring is established, with the inmates fighting one another for their various gangs. This leads to more disharmony between the various factions. The prison drug trade is responsible for Andrew’s overdose. This episode was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama.
Season 2, Episode 8 “Escape from Oz”
The Aryans find a tunnel in the prison and work their way into the cell from which it originated, hoping for their own escape. The tunnel collapses on the inmates. This episode was nominated for an Online Film & Television Award for Best Episode of a Cable Series.
Season 2, Episode 1 “The Tip”
Oz is still reeling from the aftermath of a riot; Devlin is intent on getting to the bottom of the incident. He hires a law professor who realizes the riot may have been planned to cover up a murder. Charles Dutton guest-starred on the episode and was nominated for an Emmy for the role of Alvah Case.
Who Are the Actors in the Oz Cast?
The ensemble cast of Oz was led by veteran actors Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, and Rita Moreno, who won several awards for her portrayal of Sister Peter on the series. Here are the actors remembered for their starring roles on Oz:
Glynn walks a tightrope between doing what is right for the inmates of Oz, and keeping his staff happy. Veteran actor Ernie Hudson has been active on film and television since the 1970s. One of his first big roles was as Zeddmore in the Ghostbusters franchise. Since starring on Oz he has gone on to a wide array of roles, starring in Franklin & Bash, Transformers Prime, and Grace and Frankie.
Schillinger is a leader of the Aryan Nation within Oz; his weapon of choice is intimidation. Actor J.K. Simmons has had a long career in Hollywood, though he may be most recognized as the spokesperson for Farmer’s Insurance. His other notable roles include the films Juno, La La Land, and Spider-Man.
Sister Peter offers counseling to the inmates and monitors their mental health; she also assigns conjugal visits. Rita Moreno is an award-winning actress, and is one of the few actresses to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy award. She is best known as Anita from West Side Story; some of her other notable roles include The King and I and Jane the Virgin. She won three ALMA awards, and a CableACE Award for her role on Oz.
Beecher was an attorney and led a privileged life before becoming an inmate at Oz. He isn’t prepared for the things he must do to survive. Lee Tergesen is an experienced character actor; his most notable roles include the films Monster and Generation Kill.
Ryan O’Reily is very smart and uses his connections with prison CO’s to get into Emerald City, where he works for Schibetta. Dean Winters is an experienced character actor, who is most recognized for his role as “Mayhem” for the Allstate Insurance company. He has held recurring roles on Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock, and has appeared in films including P.S. I Love You.
Said is the charismatic leader of the Muslim population within Oz, but he wants to control all inmates of color within the walls. Eamonn Walker is an award-winning actor best known for his roles in Lord of War and Tear of the Sun. In addition to Oz, his notable television roles include Captain Boden on the Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. series.
Devlin is a smart politician who wants to use Oz to continue his power within the state. Zeljko Ivanek is an award-winning actor best known for his roles in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Argo.
Alvarez has a decent life outside the prison walls, but his life inside Oz is filled with terror and attacks. Kirk Acevedo is a veteran character actor who has starred in film and television series including Band of Brothers and Invincible. In addition to Oz his notable television roles include Kingdom and Arrow.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on Oz?
The ensemble cast of was supported by many well-known Hollywood stars. These guests included B.D. Wong, Edie Falco, and Mark Margolis. Here are the actors remembered for their guest starring roles on Oz:
A close friend of Beecher, Keller protects him from other Aryans. Veteran actor Christopher Meloni is best known as Stabler from the Law & Order: SVU series; he has also appeared in 42, Runaway Bride, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill.
Hill is a former addict who is in jail because he was caught selling. Now reformed, he keeps his distance from the other prisoners, but tries to help those he can. Harold Perrineau is a veteran actor who has appeared in the filme 28 Weeks Later and The Edge; along with Oz he has starred in Claws and Criminal Minds.
Busmalis is convinced he can dig his way out of Oz. Tom Mardirosian is a character actor best known for his roles in the films Trading Places and Presumed Innocent.
Shirley is the only female inmate at Oz and is on death row for killing her daughter. She is mentally unstable. Kathryn Erbe’s first big break was in the television series Chicken Soup; since she has gone on to star in many franchises including Oz, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and The Sinner.
Poet performs his poetry for the other inmates often; his words reflect what is happening in Oz. Craig “Mums” Grant is an actor and performer best known for his roles in Side Effects and Oz. He has performed his poetry in the Def Poetry documentary.
Em City is McManus’ brainchild; he wants to focus the inmates on rehabilitation and returning to the outside world. His empathy for the prisons often clouds his judgment. Terry McManus is best known for his role on Oz; since the show wrapped he has gone on to appear in The Good Wife, Black Box, and Billions.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind Oz?
Oz was created by Tom Fontana, who shared executive producer roles with Hollywood veterans Barry Levinson and Jim Finnerty. Here are the producers and writers remembered for their part in Oz
Tom Fontana: Oz Creator, Executive Producer, Writer
Tom Fontana created the series Oz and either wrote or co-wrote all 56 episodes of the six season series. His other notable series include Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere, and The Philanthropist. Fontana created both Oz and Homicide, and has won three Emmy, three Writers Guild of America, four Peabody, and four Television Critics Association awards, along with many others.
Barry Levinson: Oz Executive Producer
Barry Levinson is a well-known producer, writer, and director in Hollywood. Among several other awards, Levinson won an Oscar for directing the film Rain Main. He is best known for his work on the films Diner and Wag the Dog. In addition to Oz, he has worked on series including Shades of Blue, Borgia, and Killing Fields.
Jim Finnerty: Oz Co-Executive Producer
Jim Finnerty is a Hollywood producer who is best known for his part in the production of both Oz and Homicide: Life on the Streets.
Where Oz Ranks in the Television Pantheon
Oz was a critically acclaimed crime drama that ran on HBO for six seasons; the series is listed at 99 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Shows of All Time, and was named by Vice as “the show that changed television forever”. Oz won 14 awards, including four ALMA Awards, for the performances of Rita Moreno and Luna Lauren Velez, a Cable ACE Award, and an Online Film and Television Association award. The series was also nominated for two Primetime Emmy awards. While most critics praise the show, they are also quick to let viewers know that Oz is a graphically violent and sexual series, which can be distressing to some. The sometimes brutal scenes made it through to the series air because, unlike advertiser-supported network television, Oz ran on cable’s HBO and didn’t have the same restrictions; this freedom to tell the stories of prisoners and prison workers is what sets Oz apart from other crime drama series.