The Ultimate Guide to the Best TV Series on HBO: Exploring The Wire, The Sopranos, and More!
Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of captivating storytelling and unforgettable characters as we dive into the realm of the best TV series on HBO. From the gritty streets of Baltimore in "The Wire" to the cutthroat world of mobsters in "The Sopranos," HBO has consistently delivered groundbreaking shows that have become cultural touchstones. Whether you're a fan of supernatural thrills, compelling dramas, or dark comedies, this list has it all – from ghosts and succession battles to assassins and scandalous secrets. Join us on a journey across genres as we explore the must-watch shows that have captivated audiences and made HBO synonymous with top-tier television excellence.
For fans of: Gritty stories about America, classic TV, participating in the argument about the best TV show everNumber of seasons: 5
Wendell Pierce and Dominic West star in The Wire.
Created by David Simon, The Wire is widely regarded as one of the greatest shows of all time. The crime drama is set in Baltimore and delves into the city's drug trade. However, with each season, it uncovers a new layer of the city, exploring aspects such as the local government and educational system. It's a fearless and captivating series, shining a light on the darker side of American society. But above all, it is simply an exceptional show. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
The Sopranos is arguably one of HBO Max's most iconic and prestigious shows. Created by David Chase, the series follows Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, an Italian mobster based in New Jersey, as he navigates his dual roles of family man and criminal. The show's narrative unfolds through Tony's therapy sessions, offering viewers an intimate glimpse into his psyche. The Sopranos consistently ranks among the best TV shows of all time and is a must-watch for any television enthusiast.
From the UK, Ghosts is a brilliant comedy starring Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Charlotte Ritchie. The story revolves around a couple who inherit a home infested with the spirits of people from different time periods. These spirits are the previous inhabitants who died on the property. The show has received critical acclaim for its outstanding performances and clever, timely humor. If you enjoy light-hearted slapstick comedy, Ghosts is the perfect choice.
For fans of: Cruelty, insults, business, sad and pathetic menNumber of seasons: 3
Jeremy Strong stars in Succession.
Succession, created by Jesse Armstrong, delves into the power struggles within the wealthy Roy family. The family's patriarch is the CEO of a billion-dollar media conglomerate. While the show revolves around the business world, it primarily focuses on the twisted dynamics within the family and the detrimental effects of wealth and power. The clash of personalities, from the brooding Kendall to the cunning Shiv, makes for compelling storytelling. It's no wonder that Succession has inspired numerous memes. Sometimes it's just entertaining to watch morally corrupt individuals behave badly in a fictional TV show. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
For fans of: Murdering, actingNumber of seasons: 3
Bill Hader stars in Barry.
Merrick Morton/HBOBarry follows the story of a depressed hitman named Barry, portrayed by Bill Hader, as he navigates a career shift from murder to acting in Los Angeles. The series seamlessly blends comedy and drama, delivering moments both funny and intense. It stands as a remarkable character study of damaged individuals and their complexities. The talented ensemble cast, including Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Anthony Carrigan, and Stephen Root, elevates the material to create a consistently engaging and compelling show. Barry is a true gem that never fails to deliver. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
For fans of: Twentysomething actors playing badly behaving teens, sparkly makeup, ZendayaNumber of seasons: 2
Zendaya stars in Euphoria.
HBOEuphoria is a riveting show that explores the journey of Rue, a high school student fresh out of rehab, played by Zendaya. Set against the backdrop of a vibrant and chaotic teen culture, Euphoria delves into themes of addiction, friendship, and identity. The series masterfully captures the unique despair of adolescence while showcasing stunning cinematography. It's a show that balances real-life horrors with Lovecraftian monsters, resulting in a mesmerizing and unforgettable viewing experience. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
House of the Dragon
Game of Thrones fans were relieved to discover that House of the Dragon was a far cry from the disappointing final season of the original series. This prequel, set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, delves into the power-hungry Targaryen family and the beginning of their decline. With compelling performances by Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, and Emma D'Arcy, the series has captivated audiences and garnered record-breaking viewership upon its debut.
For fans of: The horrors of real life mixed with Lovecraftian monster horrorsNumber of seasons: 1
Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, and Courtney B. Vance star in Lovecraft Country.
Eli Joshua Ade/HBO
Based on Matt Ruff's novel, Lovecraft Country is a thrilling series set in 1950s Jim Crow America. The story follows a young Black man's quest to find his missing father, uncovering a world populated not only by racists but also by otherworldly creatures inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It's a unique blend of genres, combining elements of sci-fi horror and social justice drama. Lovecraft Country delivers a riveting adventure that explores both real and imagined monsters. Despite its short-lived run, it left a lasting impact on viewers. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
The Righteous Gemstones
For fans of: Danny McBride's comedy style, Succession for ChristiansNumber of seasons: 2
Adam Devine, Edi Patterson, and Danny McBride star in The Righteous Gemstones.
Ryan Green/HBODanny McBride has a knack for creating shows centered around morally flawed and obnoxious characters. His latest series, The Righteous Gemstones, is a dark comedy that revolves around the world-famous televangelist family led by patriarch Eli, portrayed by John Goodman. Eli has amassed a fortune preaching the word of God and establishing megachurches across the country. The show follows his three adult children, played by Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, and Adam DeVine, as they compete for their father's favor and vie for control of the family empire. Walton Goggins adds to the stellar cast as Eli's loathsome brother-in-law. The Righteous Gemstones is a hilariously twisted exploration of family dynamics, sprinkled with absurdity and sharp comedic moments. Despite the characters' deplorable behavior, the show remains a captivating and entertaining watch. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
For all the Batman fans out there, Pennyworth stars Jack Bannon as the titular character, Alfred Pennyworth. The series explores Alfred's early life before his service to the Wayne family, set in London. Ryan Fletcher and Dorothy Atkinson join the cast as Wallace "Daveboy" MacDougal and Mary Pennyworth respectively, providing a deeper understanding of the spy-turned-butler's backstory. Pennyworth is a standalone show that has been well-received by audiences and critics alike.
Mare of Easttown
For fans of: Wawa, Philadelphia accents, family tension with a side of murderNumber of seasons: 1
Kate Winslet stars in Mare of Easttown.
Michele K. Short/HBO
At first glance, Mare of Easttown may seem like just another crime show with a hardened detective solving a murder case. However, it is so much more. The series follows Mare, portrayed by Kate Winslet, a Pennsylvania detective investigating the murder of a local teen girl while dealing with her own personal trauma. Mare of Easttown is a captivating mystery that also delves deep into the complexities of its damaged characters. It even has moments of humor that resemble a mother-daughter sitcom. The show keeps viewers hooked until the very end, when Mare finally confronts the most difficult part of her past. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a rare example of a game-to-series adaptation that surpasses expectations. The post-apocalyptic drama has garnered praise from both gamers and binge-watchers. Starring Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie, the show explores their journey through a world devastated by a pandemic. Joel, a smuggler, must protect Ellie, a teenager who is immune to the virus. Co-created by Craig Mazin (known for Chernobyl) and Neil Druckmann (director of the original game), The Last of Us has been hailed as the best video game adaptation to date.
For fans of: Murder mysteries, great performances, owlsNumber of seasons: 1
Colin Firth and Toni Collette star in The Staircase.
The Staircase joins the ranks of true crime cases that have been adapted into scripted miniseries. Colin Firth delivers an impressive performance as Michael Peterson, an author who was accused of murdering his wife in 2001. Peterson initially claimed that she fell down the stairs, but the truth is far more complex. The star-studded cast also includes Toni Collette, Parker Posey, Sophie Turner, and Michael Stuhlbarg. This adaptation adds a fresh perspective to the story, even exploring the making of the original documentary. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
The Flight Attendant
For fans of: Questioning reality, communicating with the dead, the general spirit of Alfred HitchcockNumber of seasons: 2
Kaley Cuoco stars in The Flight Attendant.
Sometimes all you need is to watch people make bad choices, and The Flight Attendant delivers. This darkly comedic thriller stars Kaley Cuoco in a mesmerizing performance as Cassie, a flight attendant with a penchant for trouble. After waking up next to a dead body following a night of heavy drinking, Cassie embarks on a journey to clear her name, all while confronting repressed memories from her past. The show combines fizzy, addictive storytelling with a Hitchcockian flair. Cuoco's portrayal of Cassie's spiraling life makes it impossible to look away. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer | Season 2 Review]
White House Plumbers
White House Plumbers features a talented cast that brings humor to the Watergate scandal. Woody Harrelson portrays E. Howard Hunt and Justin Theroux portrays G. Gordon Liddy. The series has received positive reviews for its witty and slapstick approach in depicting how Nixon's closest allies ultimately ended his presidency. The show stays true to the original narrative, resulting in an authentic and absurd portrayal of the events. The creators of the hit political satire Veep, Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, have once again delivered another successful production.
The Gilded Age
For fans of: Downton Abbey, fancy hatsNumber of seasons: 1
Carrie Coon stars in The Gilded Age, a new HBO series created by Julian Fellowes, the mastermind behind Downton Abbey. Whether you're a fan of period dramas in general or specifically of Downton Abbey, this show is bound to captivate you. The cast is exceptional, featuring talented actors such as Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon. The series is set in 1880s New York City and revolves around the conflicts between old-money sisters and their new-money neighbor. With its alluring plot and star-studded lineup, The Gilded Age promises to be a delight for viewers.
For fans of: Nathan for You, challenging the parameters of realityNumber of seasons: 1
Nathan Fielder, known for his social experiment TV shows like Nathan for You, has a new series called The Rehearsal. In this intriguing show, Fielder helps individuals plan for significant moments in their lives through elaborate rehearsals. However, as the series progresses, it becomes much more than just a simple rehearsal. Fielder's deadpan character and the unpredictable nature of the show make it a must-watch for fans of his previous work.
For fans of: Muscles, violence, perverted jokesNumber of seasons: 1
John Cena brings his character from The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker, to the small screen in the HBO Max series. With James Gunn writing and directing multiple episodes, the show maintains the same tone as the film. It combines muscles, violence, and perverted humor to create an entertaining and action-packed experience. While superhero purists may have reservations, fans who enjoy the unique blend of humor and action will thoroughly enjoy Peacemaker.
For fans of: Poking fun at millennials, incompetent people doing crime, genre-bendingNumber of seasons: 5
Search Party originally aired on TBS before finding a new home on HBO Max. The satirical comedy follows the story of Dory, a young woman in Brooklyn who decides to find a missing college classmate, setting off a series of audacious and dark events. Each season takes on a different genre, including elements of crime thrillers and court dramas. With its clever sense of humor and genre-bending storytelling, Search Party offers a thrilling and engaging viewing experience.
For fans of: Tense thrillers, stylish crime, AustraliaNumber of seasons: 1
The Tourist is a gripping mystery thriller starring Jamie Dornan. The show follows a British man who wakes up with amnesia after a suspicious car accident in Australia. As he tries to uncover the truth behind his identity and why people want him dead, the story takes thrilling twists and turns. With its stylish direction and compelling performances, The Tourist offers an enthralling viewing experience for fans of tense thrillers.
For fans of: The omniscient voice of Kristen Bell, flip phonesNumber of seasons: 6
Gossip Girl is a beloved TV show from the late 2000s that revolves around a group of wealthy teenagers attending a prestigious Manhattan high school. The show explores their scandalous lives as they are observed and exposed by an anonymous gossip blogger. With its mix of drama and humor, Gossip Girl became a cultural phenomenon and launched the careers of actors like Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, and Penn Badgley. HBO Max released a revival of the series in 2021, focusing on a new group of characters. It's a must-watch for fans of this iconic show.
From gripping crime dramas like The Wire and The Sopranos to mind-bending series like Lovecraft Country and Euphoria, HBO has truly carved a niche for itself in the realm of exceptional television. With a diverse range of genres and compelling storylines, HBO continues to deliver top-notch entertainment that keeps viewers hooked. As we eagerly anticipate the release of upcoming series like House of the Dragon and The Last of Us, it's safe to say that HBO's legacy of producing groundbreaking TV shows is far from over. So, grab your popcorn and prepare for an unforgettable journey through some of the best series HBO has to offer.
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