The Ultimate Guide to the Best TV Series on HBO Now
Are you ready for a binge-watching extravaganza? Look no further than HBO Now, home to some of the best TV series that will captivate your senses and leave you craving for more. From the iconic mob drama of "The Sopranos" to the gripping power struggles in "Succession," and the darkly comical misadventures of "The Flight Attendant," HBO Now boasts a stellar lineup that will keep you glued to your seat. In this article, we'll dive into the world of these irresistible shows, exploring the captivating narratives, brilliant performances, and the sheer brilliance that make them the absolute best TV series on HBO Now. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the small screen's most compelling tales!
The Sopranos (1999-2007)
The Sopranos, which premiered in 1999, marked the beginning of a new era for television. While it wasn't HBO's first great show, it became the blueprint for a wave of dark, character-driven dramas on the network. This series set the stage for shows like Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and The Wire. The story revolves around Tony Soprano, a mob boss from New Jersey, and his complicated relationships with his family, friends, and therapist. The show isn't just important; it's also incredibly entertaining. Alongside the intricate plots and well-developed characters, viewers can enjoy dream sequences, humor, and exceptional performances from the ensemble cast, including James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, and Steve Buscemi. All six seasons are a must-watch, although the prequel film released in 2021, The Many Saints of Newark, isn't necessary viewing. — Judy Berman
The inclusion of Succession on this list is essential, especially as the fourth and final season recently concluded. The show follows Logan Roy, the chairman of a powerful media company called Waystar RoyCo, which bears similarities to Fox News. As Logan ages, his children compete for the position of CEO. Over the course of four seasons, the show explores themes of betrayal, family dynamics, and corporate maneuvers. The performances are outstanding, with Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, and Sarah Snook leading the cast. Succession combines drama and comedy to deliver a compelling narrative about power and ambition. Don't miss out on this series. It's a masterpiece.
Creator and star Rose Matafeo portrays Jessie, a socially awkward millennial from New Zealand who resides in London and works at two jobs that she's not passionate about. In an attempt to have some fun, her best friend takes her to a club on New Year's Eve, where she has a chance encounter with a charming man named Tom (Nikesh Patel), resulting in a one-night stand. It soon becomes clear that Tom is a famous movie star. Despite their efforts to date, their relationship faces numerous obstacles due to their poor communication skills. This lighthearted comedy features a delightful ensemble cast of characters within Jessie's circle of friends and offers clever dry humor.
Broadway star Jonathan Groff gained recognition beyond live theater in the early 2010s with his appearance on Glee and leading roles in films such as Frozen. In 2014, he starred in HBO's Looking, a series that only lasted for two seasons but became a trailblazing representation of the LGBTQ+ community, culminating in a 2016 film that tied up the characters' storylines. Groff portrayed Patrick Murray, a determined video game developer living in San Francisco with a close-knit group of gay friends, including Murray Bartlett and Frankie J. Alvarez. The show resonated with viewers because it portrayed queer characters without relying on tragedy and avoided reducing their identities to mere plot devices. As a review from TIME in 2014 noted, "The characters' lives are shaped by their sexuality, but not solely defined by it."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus delivers a career-defining performance as Selina Meyer in Veep. The critically acclaimed series, spanning seven seasons, follows Vice President Selina and her clumsy staff, deriving humor from their knack for exacerbating each mistake and making every situation worse. Selina, an ambitious politician, aspires to become president but must navigate her own incompetence and the deeply ingrained misogyny of American politics to leave behind a lasting legacy akin to FDR's or JFK's. Louis-Dreyfus is surrounded by a stellar cast, including Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Timothy Simons, and Gary Cole, whose chemistry elevates the comedy to new heights.
Industry, set to return for a third season, immediately grabs viewers' attention with its captivating drama. The first season follows a group of recent graduates working as interns at a prestigious investment bank in London, racing against each other to secure a limited number of permanent positions. Harper Stern (Myha'la Herrold) serves as the audience's entry point into this high-stakes world, as her character weaves a web of deception and manipulation to navigate the cutthroat environment, often at the expense of others. The storylines of her fellow graduates intersect and collide, revealing the consequences of their morally questionable actions from the first season.
Issa Rae, the creator and star of this critically acclaimed five-season series, shines as the main character, also named Issa. Set in Los Angeles, the show revolves around the life of a Black woman in her 30s who yearns for both love and a more fulfilling career. Her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) appears to have it all together, but as the series progresses, it becomes apparent that both women face challenges and cracks within their lives, impacting their friendship and relationships with other friends, Tiffany (Amanda Seales) and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell). While the show explores Issa's on-and-off relationship with her boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis), it ultimately centers around the powerful bonds of friendship. Notably, the series features exceptional music selections, including standout tracks like Mýa's "Case of the Ex."
For fans of: Bruce Lee, Peaky Blinders by way of Gangs of New YorkNumber of seasons: 2
Warrior revolutionizes Asian representation on screen with its action-packed drama. Originally on Cinemax, the series now finds a new home on HBO Max (with Season 3 being an HBO Max original). Based on the writings of Bruce Lee and brought to life by his daughter Shannon, Warrior presents a brutally depicted portrayal of the Tong Wars in late 1800s San Francisco. It skillfully navigates through a time, place, and community that has often been overlooked by television, combining elements reminiscent of Peaky Blinders with the high-stakes conflicts of Gangs of New York. The show stands as an original story of immigrants fighting against the prejudice and hatred they faced in their pursuit of the American Dream. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
For fans of: Difficult women, complicated family dynamicsNumber of seasons: 2
Frayed, set in the late '80s, is a sharp-witted dramedy created by and starring Sarah Kendall. The series follows a woman who, after the death of her husband leaves her family in financial ruin, must move herself and her two children from London back to her hometown in Newcastle, Australia. Returning to live with her alcoholic mother forces her to confront unresolved issues from her past, starting with the fact that she has been hiding her British accent. Frayed delivers a perfect blend of humor and drama, anchored by compelling and complex characters and sharp writing that will leave viewers wishing for more than just its two seasons. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
For fans of: Murder, actingNumber of seasons: 3
Barry, a dark comedy-drama, showcases Bill Hader's versatility in his role as the show's titular depressed hitman endeavoring to pursue a career in acting. This series, either TV's funniest drama or its most dramatic comedy, has consistently delivered over its three seasons. It stands as a compelling character study, exploring the lives of individuals who have endured various forms of damage. Its clever blend of sly, absurd humor prevents it from becoming overly bleak, and its exceptional ensemble cast, including Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Anthony Carrigan, and Stephen Root, elevates the material to remarkable heights. Barry is a show that consistently fires on all cylinders. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
For fans of: Murder mysteries, outstanding performances, owlsNumber of seasons: 1
Colin Firth and Toni Collette, The Staircase
In 2022, true crime cases received widespread attention through scripted miniseries, and The Staircase seamlessly joined those ranks. Colin Firth delivers an outstanding performance as author Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife after claiming her death resulted from a fall down the stairs. The star-studded cast also includes Toni Collette, Parker Posey, Sophie Turner, and Michael Stuhlbarg. This adaptation provides a fresh perspective on the case, including the making of the documentary. Even if you've already seen the original documentary, this series offers new insights and remains engaging. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
For fans of: TV shows that resemble very cool movies, meta commentaryNumber of seasons: 1
Alicia Vikander, Irma Vep
Irma Vep, a limited series adaptation of Olivier Assayas's 1996 film of the same name, stands out as one of the coolest shows in 2022. Stylish and layered, the series stars Alicia Vikander as a disillusioned actress filming a remake of a classic French silent film called Les Vampires in France. Irma Vep incorporates meta commentary on the film industry, offers great music, and showcases fashionable costumes. Alicia Vikander's performance reminds us that she is an Academy Award-winning actress. It exudes a tres chic vibe. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
Our Flag Means Death
For fans of: Adventures on the high seasNumber of seasons: 1
Rhys Darby and Nathan Foad, Our Flag Means Death
Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max
The Tourist serves as a thrilling and stylish crime series set in Australia. Jamie Dornan leads the cast, portraying a British man who wakes up with amnesia after a suspicious car "accident." As he tries to uncover the truth behind why people are after him and what brought him to Australia, the series offers a blend of suspenseful storytelling and subtle humor. Dornan's chemistry with Danielle Macdonald, who plays a local cop involved in his case, adds depth to the show. Discovering the talents of Macdonald, who delivers a wonderful performance, is an extra treat for viewers. Don't overlook this gem. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal
For fans of: Prehistoric times, stunning animation, unlikely friendshipsNumber of seasons: 2
Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal
Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal, an Emmy-winning series, offers a unique and visually stunning experience. While divided into two seasons, the show took its time with release dates, demonstrating its dedication to quality. The animated series follows the journey of a caveman named Spear and his unlikely yet unwavering friendship with a Tyrannosaurus named Fang as they navigate a brutal prehistoric world teeming with man-eating dinosaurs, primal primates, and eerie supernatural beings. Without actual dialogue, the emotional impact of Primal speaks volumes, showcasing Tartakovsky's exceptional storytelling and direction. This series stands among the best shows on television, whether animated or not. Episodes air on Adult Swim before streaming on HBO Max the following day. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
For fans of: Pretty Little LiarsNumber of seasons: 1
Malia Pyles, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max
Although it feels like just yesterday and ages ago that Pretty Little Liars ended, the series is making a comeback in the form of a reboot. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin introduces a new group of teenage girls who find themselves tormented by an anonymous figure seeking revenge for sins their parents committed two decades earlier. Set in a new town and featuring a fresh set of liars, this series remains connected to the original Pretty Little Liars universe. For fans of the original show, watching this reboot is a no-brainer. However, everyone else should take note that Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin has received solid reviews. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]
For fans of: Tense thrillers, stylish crime, AustraliaNumber of seasons: 1
Jamie Dornan, The Tourist
Ian Routledge/Two Brothers Pictures
The Tourist may have flown under the radar for many, as it was already released overseas. However, it's a show that shouldn't be missed. Jamie Dornan continues to impress audiences with his range in this mystery thriller, playing a British man who wakes up with amnesia after a suspicious car "accident" in Australia. As he untangles the mystery of why people are after him and what brought him to Australia in the first place, the series delivers slick direction, subtle humor, and standout performances from Dornan and Danielle Macdonald (Unbelievable), who portrays a local cop entangled in the case. Macdonald's superb talent deserves recognition. Don't overlook this hidden gem. -Tim Surette [Trailer]
The Gilded Age
Recommended for: Fans of period dramas, such as Downton Abbey.
Number of seasons: 1
Carrie Coon in The Gilded Age
If you enjoy period dramas, particularly Downton Abbey, then you're likely to be captivated by The Gilded Age, a new HBO series created by Julian Fellowes, the mastermind behind Downton Abbey. Even if you're not typically a fan of this genre, the star-studded cast might change your mind. It features talented actors like Carrie Coon, Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, and a lineup of Broadway's finest, including Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Kelli O'Hara, Donna Murphy, and Michael Cerveris. The show is set in 1880s New York City and revolves around two wealthy sisters (Baranski and Nixon) who clash with their nouveau riche neighbor (Coon). Get ready for a glamorous and entertaining ride through the Gilded Age! -Kelly Connolly [Watch the Trailer]
The Way Down
Recommended for: True crime enthusiasts and those interested in cult leaders.
Number of seasons: 1
The Way Down is a gripping true crime series that delves into the story of Gwen Shamblin Lara, the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church. Lara, who wrote the bestselling book The Weigh Down Diet, created a controversial movement that combined religious devotion with a weight-loss program. However, accusations arose that the church operated as a cult. The series explores Lara's rise to power, her influence as an author, and the controversies surrounding the church's practices. It sheds light on the emphasis the church placed on appearance, the creation of a community reminiscent of Stepford Wives, and the use of religion for financial gain. -Kelly Connolly [Watch the Trailer]
Scenes From a Marriage
Recommended for: Viewers interested in exploring complex relationships and introspective monologues.
Number of seasons: 1
Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in Scenes from a Marriage
Prepare to be captivated by the performances of Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as they portray an unhappily married couple in Scenes from a Marriage, a remake of Ingmar Bergman's 1973 miniseries. This miniseries, also available for streaming on HBO Max, unfolds over five melancholic and dialogue-driven hours. Isaac and Chastain's chemistry breathes life into every moment of their characters' shared history, showcasing the complexities of their love-hate dynamic. The constant ebb and flow of their relationship keeps viewers guessing, blurring the lines between staying together or breaking apart. It's an emotionally raw and relatable exploration of human connection. -Allison Picurro [Watch the Trailer]
Recommended for: Julia Child fans, individuals passionate about French cuisine, and admirers of women overcoming adversity.
Number of seasons: 1
Seacia Pavao/HBO Max
Did you know that Nora Ephron's last film, Julie & Julia, would have been even better if it focused solely on Julia Child? HBO Max brings you Julia, a half-hour comedy inspired by the life of the iconic celebrity chef Julia Child. Sarah Lancashire, known for her role in Happy Valley, embodies the spirit of Julia as she takes you on a journey through 1960s Boston. The series captures Julia's rise to television stardom as she introduces the art of French cooking to American audiences. It also examines the prevailing sexism and ageism she encountered along the way. With David Hyde Pierce portraying her husband, Paul Child, this show serves up a delicious blend of comedy and social commentary. Bon appétit! -Allison Picurro [Watch the Trailer]
Recommended for: Fans of twentysomething actors portraying complex teenage characters, enthusiasts of vibrant makeup looks, and followers of Zendaya's career.
Number of seasons: 2
Zendaya in Euphoria
HBO Euphoria is the type of show that will leave you exclaiming, "I am never having kids!" This semi-autobiographical series by Sam Levinson is a glorious and messy portrayal of the lives of Rue (Zendaya), a high school student fresh out of rehab with no intention of staying sober, and her toxic friendship with Jules (Hunter Schafer). They, along with their classmates, navigate parties, drugs, and various forms of debauchery while searching for their identities. Despite their troubled journeys, the show compassionately captures the unique despair of adolescence, all while boasting stunning cinematography. It's an unfiltered look at the challenges and triumphs of teenage life. -Allison Picurro [Watch the Trailer]
The Righteous Gemstones
Recommended for: Fans of Danny McBride's comedic style and those who enjoyed Succession from a Christian perspective.
Number of seasons: 2
Adam Devine, Edi Patterson, and Danny McBride in The Righteous Gemstones
Ryan Green/HBO Danny McBride has a knack for creating shows centered around thoroughly unlikable and obnoxious characters. His latest venture, The Righteous Gemstones, is a dark comedy that revolves around a world-renowned televangelist family led by patriarch Eli (John Goodman). Eli amassed his wealth by spreading the word of the Lord and establishing a chain of megachurches, often at the expense of smaller congregations. McBride, Edi Patterson, and Adam DeVine portray Eli's three adult children, each vying to become the favorite and inherit the empire. Think of it as Succession but with a Christian twist. Walton Goggins also stars as Eli's detestable brother-in-law. While every comedy seems to have dramatic elements these days, The Righteous Gemstones places comedy at the forefront, providing plenty of laughter despite its characters' deplorable actions. -Allison Picurro [Watch the Trailer]
Recommended for: Fans of cartoons that offer incisive social commentary and those who appreciate Regina King's voice acting talents.
Number of seasons: 4
Aaron McGruder's satirical cartoon, The Boondocks, follows a precocious 10-year-old named Huey (voiced by Regina King), who resides in a predominantly white suburb with his younger brother Riley (also voiced by Regina King) and their grandfather (voiced by John Witherspoon). The show masterfully sheds light on various aspects of the Black experience in the United States. Huey's character carries the weight of the world on his young shoulders, possessing a level of knowledge and insight that surpasses that of the adults around him. He constantly challenges a flawed system but often faces defeat. Despite first airing in 2005, The Boondocks remains remarkably relevant, tackling issues of race, class, identity, and politics with unyielding fervor. -Allison Picurro [Watch the Trailer]
With a diverse lineup of captivating TV series, HBO Now continues to cement its status as the go-to streaming service for quality content. From the iconic drama of "The Sopranos" to the gripping power struggles of "Succession," HBO Now has provided viewers with an array of memorable and thought-provoking shows. Whether you're craving thrilling mysteries like "The Wire" and "The Flight Attendant," or seeking comedic brilliance in favorites like "Veep" and "Barry," HBO Now has something for everyone. With upcoming releases like "Scenes From a Marriage" and "The Gilded Age" on the horizon, there is no doubt that HBO Now will continue to dominate the television landscape, delivering the best in storytelling and entertainment for years to come.
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