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The 55 Best TV Shows on HBO Max to Watch Right Now (May 2022)

Including Season 2 of Hacks, Season 3 of Barry, and The Staircase

screen-shot-2020-04-02-at-8-50-16-am.png
Allison Picurro

The Time Traveler's Wife, an adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's novel, recently premiered on HBO, and it's not very good. It didn't make our list of the best TV shows to watch on HBO Max right now, but you know what did? The certifiably great second season of the streaming platform's best original series, Hacks. The Colin Firth-Toni Collette scripted true crime series The Staircase is also included here, as is We Own This City, from the creators of The Wire. Plus, we're recommending the current seasons of Barry (now in its third season and recently renewed for a fourth) and The Flight Attendant, as well as the delightful Julia, which recently wrapped up its first season. All of this is to say you can watch The Time Traveler's Wife if you really want to, but there are much better shows to occupy your time with.

A note about how this list was made: In the interest of keeping it relevant, we're emphasizing new releases, shows recently added to HBO Max, and HBO/HBO Max originals, but we've also made sure to add the shows we personally can't stop recommending to our friends. We'll be updating this list regularly.

Last updated May 20; most recent additions at the top


Hacks

For fans of: JEAN SMART, odd couple pairings, comedy
Number of seasons: 2

Jean Smart, Hacks

Jean Smart, Hacks

Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max

Jean Smart is a living legend, and we owe it to human civilization to do everything we can to protect her, starting with watching everything she's in. Smart stars in what's easily HBO Max's best original comedy, now in its second season, as Deborah Vance, an aging Las Vegas comedian whose time at the top is nearing its end, so circumstance teams her up with an entitled young comedian (Hannah Einbinder) recently canceled for a joke she made on Twitter. Watch this to cackle at Smart dropping delicious one-liners and chucking iPads into a pool. The cast also includes Kaitlin Olson and co-creator Paul W. Downs. -Tim Surette [Trailer



The Staircase

For fans of: Murder mysteries, great performances, owls
Number of seasons: 1

Colin Firth and Toni Collette, The Staircase

Colin Firth and Toni Collette, The Staircase

HBO Max

It's a banner year for true crime cases getting turned into scripted miniseries, so The Staircase is comfortably slotting right in among the rest. Colin Firth, in one of the more impressive performances of the year so far, plays the author Michael Peterson, who in 2001 was accused of murdering his wife after claiming she died by falling down the stairs. The starry cast also includes Toni ColletteParker PoseySophie Turner, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Before you say, "Well I've already seen the documentary, I don't need to see this," know that this adaptation adds enough to make it interesting, including the making of the documentary. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]    



We Own This City

For fans of: The Wire, corrupt cops, Jon Bernthal
Number of seasons: 1

Jon Bernthal and Jamie Hector, We Own This City

Jon Bernthal and Jamie Hector, We Own This City

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

The Wire is the greatest show of all time (maybe)! Two of the men behind it, David Simon and George Pelecanos, return to Baltimore with We Own This City, a limited series tracing the real rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force and — say it with me — corruption in the police department as a symptom of a city's institutional decay. Jon BernthalJamie Hector, and Josh Charles star. Bernthal is a delightful S.O.B. in this. -Liam Mathews [Trailer   



Barry

For fans of: Murdering, acting
Number of seasons: 3

Bill Hader, Barry

Bill Hader, Barry

Merrick Morton/HBO

Barry last aired in 2019. 2019! That's a long time to stew over the revelations of Season 2, when Bill Hader's hitman showed his true self in a finale that saw Barry popping caps and Gene (Henry Winkler) realizing who Barry really was — a murderer first, community theater actor second. Season 2 saw the dark comedy firing on all cylinders and distilling tragedy into one of the best shows of that year. Season 3 is like that, but even better. -Tim Surette [Trailer   



The Flight Attendant

For fans of: Questioning reality, communicating with the dead, the general spirit of Alfred Hitchcock
Number of seasons: 2

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Phil Caruso

Sometimes you just want to kick back and watch people make bad choices. The Flight Attendant delivers. The darkly comedic thriller stars Kaley Cuoco, never better, as a hot-mess flight attendant named Cassie who wakes up after a boozy night in Bangkok next to her fling's dead body. Cassie's fumbling quest to clear her name forces her to face what's screwed up in her, confronting memories she's repressed for decades. It's a fizzy, addictive caper with a Hitchcockian flair, and Cuoco makes it impossible to look away as her character spirals. Plus, Michelle Gomez spends most of the first season killing people on the periphery of the action. More shows should have that. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer | Season 2 Review]


More recommendations:

Tokyo Vice

For fans of: Moody crime thrillers, gorgeous visuals
Number of seasons: 1

Ansel Elgort, Tokyo Vice

Ansel Elgort, Tokyo Vice

Eros Hoagland/HBO Max

For some of us, the most exciting thing about Tokyo Vice is that it marks the great Michael Mann's (Miami Vice, Heat) return to TV for the first time in over a decade. This crime drama series, which Mann directs, is based on the memoir by American journalist Jake Adelstein, set during his years covering the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department for one of Japan's biggest newspapers and documenting the web of corruption happening just under the surface. Adelstein is played by Ansel Elgort, and he's joined by Rinko Kikuchi, Ken Watanabe, and Rachel Keller. -Allison Picurro [Trailer | Review]



Julia

For fans of: Julia Child, French food, women succeeding despite the odds
Number of seasons: 1

Sarah Lancashire, Julia

Sarah Lancashire, Julia

Seacia Pavao/HBO Max

People love to forget that Nora Ephron's last film was Julie & Julia, which is by no means a terrible movie, but would've been much better had it simply been called Julia. HBO Max decided to do just that with this half-hour comedy based on the life of the iconic celebrity chef Julia Child, played here by Happy Valley's Sarah Lancashire. The series, set in 1960s Boston, follows Child's ascent to TV stardom as she brought the art of French cooking to American audiences, and it does something intriguing by exploring the rampant sexism and ageism she faced along the way. Lancashire is really great, with David Hyde Pierce co-starring as her husband, Paul Child. Bon appétit! -Allison Picurro [Trailer]



Minx

For fans of: Jake Johnson, Jake Johnson in '70s clothing, feminism
Number of seasons: 1

Minx

Minx

Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

If the promise of getting to see Jake Johnson's chest hair in high-def isn't enough to entice you to watch Minx, it also happens to have a great premise. Set in 1970s L.A., Minx follows Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), a young second-wave feminist with the radical dream of launching a women's magazine that doesn't make its readers feel stupid. When she's turned away by the old men who control the publishing world, she teams up with a porn magazine editor (Jake Johnson) to create the first erotic magazine targeted at women. Minx is cool, groovy fun, a zippy and tightly paced comedy that will make you feel good when you watch it. The series also proves once and for all that a touch of good-natured male objectification makes everything better. -Allison Picurro [Trailer | Review]



Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

For fans of: That late '70s/early '80s energy, basketball, Michael Cooper
Number of seasons: 1

Quincy Isaiah, Winning Time

Quincy Isaiah, Winning Time

Warrick Page/HBO

Los Angeles Lakers fans have been spoiled with multiple NBA championships and hall of fame players over the last 40 years, and now they get spoiled with an HBO series about their team's success. The first season follows the Lakers' Showtime era beginning with the drafting of Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) and the purchase of the team by Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly), and the whole thing is shot with filters that make it look like footage from that era, which will be amazing to some and annoying to others. It's Boogie Nights, but with basketball instead of pornography. -Tim Surette [Trailer | Review]



The Tourist

For fans of: Tense thrillers, stylish crime, Australia
Number of seasons: 1

Jamie Dornan, The Tourist

Jamie Dornan, The Tourist

Ian Routledge/Two Brothers Pictures

This is one show that will fly under the radar for most because it already came out overseas, but don't be a dummy — just watch it. Jamie Dornan continues his "I am not Christian Grey" tour with this mystery thriller, playing a British man who gets amnesia after a car "accident" and must figure out why people want him dead and what he was doing in Australia in the first place. In addition to being slickly directed, it's got some sly comedy and winning performances from Dornan and Danielle Macdonald (Unbelievable), who plays the sheepish cop who gets involved in his case. She's wonderful, and more people should know who she is. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Our Flag Means Death

For fans of: Planks and pranks
Number of seasons: 1

Rhys Darby and Nathan Foad, Our Flag Means Death

Rhys Darby and Nathan Foad, Our Flag Means Death

Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max

Call it What We Do on the High Seas? Taika Waititi produces and stars in this pirate comedy from David Jenkins, the creator of People of Earth, and while it isn't as good as Waititi's and Jenkins' previous works, it most certainly is the finest pirate comedy to come out in recent memory (pretty specific qualifier, I know). Rhys Darby stars as an aristocrat whose midlife crisis leads him to leave his family behind and fulfill his dream of being a seafaring bandit, except he sucks at it because he's too nice. It has some work to do to reach the levels of What We Do in the Shadows, but the show's persistent silliness is a welcome reprieve during these times. -Tim Surette [Trailer



Raised By Wolves

For fans of: Androids, religious philosophy, giant frickin' hovering lampreys
Number of seasons: 2

Travis Fimmel, Raised by Wolves

Travis Fimmel, Raised by Wolves

Coco Van Oppens / HBO Max

In its first season, Raised By Wolves raised the bar of odd science-fiction with its story of two androids raising children on a barren planet after humans destroyed Earth in a civil war. There's simply nothing like it on TV. But behind the oddness were real engaging questions about religion, artificial intelligence, and parenting, as well as gorgeous cinematography that will transport you to another world. Season 2 somehow maintains that weirdness and enriches the story with a whole new side of the planet and even more twists. This show isn't for everyone, but it's 100% for me. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



The Gilded Age

For fans of: Downton Abbey, fancy hats
Number of seasons: 1

Carrie Coon, The Gilded Age

Carrie Coon, The Gilded Age

Alison Rosa/HBO

If you're into period dramas in general and Downton Abbey specifically, you're probably going to be into The Gilded Age, a new HBO series from Downton creator Julian Fellowes. And if you're not usually a fan of that kind of thing, you might be after you see this cast list. It's got Carrie Coon! It's got Christine Baranski! It's got Cynthia Nixon! And it's got a lineup of recurring and guest stars that reads like a who's who of Broadway, including Nathan LaneAudra McDonaldKelli O'HaraDonna Murphy, and Michael Cerveris. NEW YORK CITY, BABY! I think I love period dramas now. Anyway, the plot, if it matters, revolves around a pair of old-money sisters (Baranski and Nixon) warring with their new-money neighbor (Coon) in 1880s New York City. Everybody raise a pinky. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer]



Somebody Somewhere

For fans of: Finding yourself, feeling so good you might burst
Number of seasons: 1

Bridget Everett, Somebody Somewhere

Bridget Everett, Somebody Somewhere

HBO

Comedian Bridget Everett stars in this indie-com about a woman named Sam learning to find herself in Kansas after the untimely death of her sister. But it's not a sad show! In fact, Somebody Somewhere is about relishing the joys of friendship, expressing yourself, and embracing what makes you unique, but in that weird way that the choir club at high school used to do. Everett's chemistry with Sam's new BFF Joel (Jeff Hiller) is going to be a highlight of 2022. Plus there are fart jokes and party invitations written on ketchup packets. What's not to like? -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Peacemaker

For fans of: Muscles, violence, perverted jokes
Number of seasons: 1

John Cena, Peacemaker

John Cena, Peacemaker

HBO Max

John Cena brings his The Suicide Squad DC Comics character Peacemaker — a buff guy who wants peace so badly he's willing to be extremely violent about it — to the small screen, with James Gunn writing all the episodes (it was a COVID "fun" project for him) and directing five of them. If you saw the surprisingly great The Suicide Squad (not to be confused with but of course it's going to be confused with the dud Suicide Squad), you know the tone of this, with Gunn riding the gross-out humor of The Suicide Squad into an origin tale of the best character from the film who wasn't a walking weasel and Cena showing off his magnetic star power as a doofus meathead. The first episode starts off a little rocky, but by the time someone explodes and Cena is in his underwear near the end, it finds its groove. Superhero purists may scoff at this, but those who love muscles, violence, and perverted jokes will lap it up. Three episodes will be available to start, with new episodes coming weekly. [Trailer]



My Mom, Your Dad

For fans of: Parents getting their groove back
Number of seasons: 1

My Mom, Your Dad

My Mom, Your Dad

HBO Max

MILFs meet DILFs in this cutesy twist on dating reality shows in which Gen Z kids push their single 50-ish parents to live in a house with each other to find love. What the parents don't know is that their kids are watching their every move from a house down the street and meddling in their dates to help their parents spit game and not be totally lame. It's the ultimate in "Mommmmmm, you're embarrassing me!" but it's held together by the kids' genuine interest in seeing their parents happy (and the natural love triangles and unnatural eliminations that grow from the environment). [Trailer]



Euphoria

For fans of: Twentysomething actors playing badly behaving teens, sparkly makeup, Zendaya
Number of seasons: 2

Zendaya, Euphoria

Zendaya, Euphoria

HBO

Euphoria is the kind of show that'll make you say, "I'm never having kids!" Sam Levinson's gloriously messy, semi-autobiographical series centers around Rue (Zendaya), a high school student fresh out of rehab who has no intention of staying sober, and her toxic friendship with Jules (Hunter Schafer). Rue, Jules, and their classmates party, do drugs, and engage in general debauchery as they struggle to find themselves, but the show is so lovingly empathetic of their uniquely teenage despair while also having some of the best cinematography on television. Few shows on TV can promise an Emmy-winning performance from Zendaya and a storyline involving One Direction fanfiction. [Trailer



Search Party

For fans of: Poking fun at millennials, incompetent people doing crime, genre-bending
Number of seasons: 5

Alia Shawkat, John Early, John Reynolds, and Meredith Hagner, Search Party

Alia Shawkat, John Early, John Reynolds, and Meredith Hagner, Search Party

Mark Schafer/HBO Max

Search Party originally aired on TBS, where it was generally ignored for its first two seasons, but thankfully, HBO Max rescued it from getting lost in the shuffle of cable TV. The satirical comedy stars Alia Shawkat as Dory, an aimless twenty-something living in Brooklyn who decides to assign purpose to her life by tracking down an old college classmate who has recently gone missing. That's how it starts out, anyway. Since Season 1, Search Party has gone to all kinds of audaciously dark places, boldly switching genres every season by adding in elements of crime thrillers and court dramas, and continuously upping the dramatic stakes all while retaining its signature sharp sense of humor. It's the kind of show that keeps you on your toes, the kind of show that never reveals what direction it's headed in. It's a trip, but if you're willing to go along with it, you're in for a great ride. [Trailer



The Righteous Gemstones

For fans of: Danny McBride's comedy style, Succession for Christians
Number of seasons: 2

Adam Devine, Edi Patterson, and Danny McBride, The Righteous Gemstones

Adam Devine, Edi Patterson, and Danny McBride, The Righteous Gemstones

Ryan Green/HBO

Danny McBride is so good at making shows about awful, obnoxious people. His latest, The Righteous Gemstones, is a dark comedy about a world-famous televangelist family whose patriarch, Eli (John Goodman), has made his fortune by preaching the good word of the Lord to the public and opening a string of megachurches, often at the cost of smaller churches. McBride, Edi Patterson, and Adam DeVine play his three horrible adult children, all of whom are in constant competition with each other to see who can become Daddy's favorite and take over the empire (seriously, it's Succession), and Walton Goggins plays his loathsome brother-in-law. Every comedy is actually a drama these days, but The Righteous Gemstones is, thankfully, first and foremost occupied with making you laugh, even as its characters do and say absolutely despicable things. [Trailer



Station Eleven

For fans of: Dystopian worlds, pandemic stories, the city of Chicago
Number of seasons: 1

Himesh Patel and Matilda Lawler, Station Eleven

Himesh Patel and Matilda Lawler, Station Eleven

Parrish Lewis/HBO Max

For better or worse, many shows have already addressed the pandemic, but Station Eleven is a little different than the rest, if only because the book it's based on (also called Station Eleven, written by Emily St. John Mandel) was written years before COVID (the miniseries also started filming before the pandemic). It centers around a group of survivors in the wake of a global pandemic that has ravaged much of the world as they work to figure out how to go on in the face of so much devastation, with the story often switching back and forth between the pre-virus past and the post-virus future. The series stars Gael García Bernal, Mackenzie Davis, and Himesh Patel, and is brought to the screen by Maniac and Made for Love's Patrick Somerville. [Trailer



Insecure

For fans of: Talking to yourself in the mirror, female friendships, emotionally messy men
Number of seasons: 5

Insecure

Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae, Insecure

Merie W. Wallace/HBO

Issa Rae's opus centers around her alter-ego Issa Dee and Issa's best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), who are both trying their best in their careers, their relationships, and their lives. Insecure is so good at so many things: presenting nuanced looks at the friendships between Black women, making life's everyday hardships alternately funny and heartbreaking, and of course, having a never-ending rotating door of handsome dudes. It's quite simply one of the smartest comedies of the past few years. [Trailer



Succession

For fans of: Cruelty, insults, business, sad and pathetic men
Number of seasons: 3

Jeremy Strong, Succession

Jeremy Strong, Succession

David Russell/HBO

Who's doing it like Succession? Jesse Armstrong's series about the power struggles of the members of the exorbitantly rich Roy family, whose father is the CEO of a billion-dollar media conglomerate, is worth every bit of the hype surrounding it. Yes, it's about the business stuff (though I don't really know anyone watching it because they're super passionate about business), but it's mostly about the truly horrifically twisted family dynamics, and about the awful things wealth and power do to people. Considering the clashing personality types at play — from miserable, power-hungry Kendall (Jeremy Strong) to slimy, immature Roman (Kieran Culkin) to cold, calculating Shiv (Sarah Snook) — it's not difficult to understand why it's inspired so many memes. Sometimes it's just fun to watch bad people behave badly, when it's all happening within the confines of a fictional TV show. [Trailer



The Sex Lives of College Girls

For fans of: The comedy stylings of Mindy Kaling, embarrassing college exploits
Number of seasons: 1

Reneé Rapp, Alyah Chanelle Scott, Pauline Chalamet, and Amrit Kaur, The Sex Lives of College Girls

Reneé Rapp, Alyah Chanelle Scott, Pauline Chalamet, and Amrit Kaur, The Sex Lives of College Girls

HBO Max

I'm a simple person, and if you tell me Mindy Kaling is producing a show about weirdo teen girls, I will absolutely be watching that show. With The Sex Lives of College Girls, we get a break from reliving the mortification of high school to reliving the mortification of college. It follows a quartet of friends who are thrown together when they become freshman year roommates and begin to navigate their newfound freedom together. As the title promises, it does, in fact, deal with sex quite a lot, but in a fun, refreshing way that explores all the fumbling awkwardness of those in-between years where you're not quite adolescent but not quite an adult either. And because this is a Kaling show, many of its best moments come when it focuses on the friendships between its core four. What's better than that? [Trailer



How to with John Wilson

For fans of: Kooky characters, the mundanity of everyday life, New Yawk City
Number of seasons: 2

John Wilson, How to With John Wilson

John Wilson, How to With John Wilson

Thomas Wilson/HBO

There's lots of "see the world through my eyes" programming out there, but the correct response to most of it is, "Thanks, but my own eyes would have sufficed there, pal." Not so with How to With John Wilson, a philosophizing Peeping Tom series that undergoes two sets of different "through my eyes" filtration. First, through its creator John Wilson, an introverted master of observation who distills complex social interactions to their simplest explanations, and second, through the lens of the camera he carries around New York City (as well as Idaho, Florida, and other spots his investigations take him), which concentrates his viewpoint into a single image, like that weirdo from American Beauty. It's all edited together to tell his story in ways no one expects. This makes How to With John Wilson sound like some pompous film student project, but it's anything but. It shares the same humor and hope of Nathan for You (Nathan Fielder is an executive producer) in the way it shines a light on those who rarely get seen, like that guy who makes a living selling kits to restore foreskin (and was all too eager to demonstrate it), or Wilson's elderly landlord, the subject of the dazzling Season 1 finale in which he tries to cook her risotto as New York City enters COVID-19 lockdown. Wilson is able to take these ill-fitting themes and massage them into a cohesive, touching rumination on existence. It's a show that is impossible to explain, but one watch, and you'll get it. -Tim Surette [Trailer



Sex and the City/And Just Like That...

For fans of: Classic, beloved shows and their inevitable reboots
Number of seasons: 6 (of Sex and the City), 1 (of And Just Like That...)

And Just Like That...

And Just Like That...

HBO Max

Even if you haven't seen Sex and the City, you know about Sex and the City. Four best friends in New York City! Navigating love, navigating life, navigating the transition from late '90s fashion (fun) to early 2000s fashion (horrendous)! It's always been enormously popular, but hasn't always gotten credit as a quote-unquote important show, as is usually the case with a lot of things that are quote-unquote "for women," but it really is a great show, even for all of its many faults. Its 2021 reboot, And Just Like That..., which catches up with three out of four of the women now that they're in their 50s, is not as great, but if you're a fan (like I very much am), it's hard to resist. [Trailer] 



Ten Year Old Tom

For fans of: Animation for adults, adults voicing children
Number of seasons: 1

Ten Year Old Tom

Ten Year Old Tom

HBO

Not many remember The Life & Times of Tim, an awkwardly drawn and deliriously funny animated series on HBO (three seasons, 2008-2012) that followed a sheepish 20-year-old adult-in-training and the wild cast of characters orbiting his life, but I sure do because it's gosh darn hilarious (and because I like his name). Creator Steve Dildarian finally returns to show biz with a new series, and he's really not changing much except a letter here and a generation there. Ten-Year-Old Tom retains Tim's unique animation and perspective, but I'm guessing there will be less hookers in this one. UPDATE: I was wrong! -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Landscapers

For fans of: Very polite British people doing murder, twisty genre-bending
Number of seasons: 1

Olivia Colman, Landscapers

Olivia Colman, Landscapers

Stefania Rosini/HBO

If you've recently found yourself looking around at all the TV shows airing right now and thought, "Needs more prestige miniseries based on real crime cases," I have some good news for you. Inspired by the actual story of Christopher and Susan Edwards, Landscapers stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis as a married couple sentenced to life in prison for murdering Susan's parents and subsequently burying them in their backyard. Personally, I'd be captivated watching Olivia Colman read a really long CVS receipt, and you can rarely go wrong with an HBO crime series (The Undoing need not interact). [Trailer



Curb Your Enthusiasm

For fans of: Larry David and curmudgeons of that nature
Number of seasons: 11

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm

John P. Johnson/HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm is the show that needs no introduction, but I'll give one anyway: In case you somehow haven't heard of it, Larry David plays a version of himself and the show follows him as he goes through life being inconvenienced by normal, everyday things. In 11 seasons, nothing has really changed, and that's the whole point. It's actually kind of incredible that this show is still funny after all these years. [Trailer



Selena + Chef

For fans of: Watching Selena Gomez wield a knife, saying "I could totally make that"
Number of seasons: 3

Selena Gomez, Selena + Chef

Selena Gomez, Selena + Chef

HBO Max

I don't think I'm going out on a limb here by saying the pandemic has been a steaming pile of poo, but one good thing to come out of it was watching a pop star try to cook. Selena + Chef fully embraced the simplicity of pandemic TV production, asking Selena Gomez to do just about everything, from turning on the cameras to bringing in the deliveries to prepping the food, giving viewers the rare opportunity to see Selena in her natural habitat and dressed down in sweats. The entertainment was twofold: Not only did we learn how to cook some great meals, but Gomez's combination of inexperience (almost every chef was terrified of her slasher-film knife skills), incompetence (she started a fire in Season 2), coolness (the fire didn't faze her AT ALL), and commitment (she was never afraid to get her hands VERY dirty) were inspirational. If she could do it, so could you. Going even further to cure our loneliness, Gomez and her roster of guest chefs — who all Zoomed in and gave step-by-step instructions — were all charming to the point that watching the show was like hanging out with friends when we needed it most. Let's cure this virus, but let's also please keep future seasons of Selena + Chef untouched. -Tim Surette [Trailer



Gossip Girl

For fans of: The omniscient voice of Kristen Bell, flip phones
Number of seasons: 6

Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl

Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl

The CW

The crown jewel of late aughts TV, Gossip Girl revolves around a group of rich kids who go to an elite Manhattan high school, all while their scandalous inner lives are tracked and put on display by the mysterious Gossip Girl. It's silly, it's stupid, it's perfect, and it catapulted people like Blake LivelyLeighton Meester, and Penn Badgley to stardom. HBO Max also put out a, to be nice about it, not as perfect revival in 2021 that focuses on an all-new cast. [Trailer]  



The White Lotus

Number of seasons: 1
For fans of: Upstairs/downstairs stories, Jennifer Coolidge

Natasha Rothwell and Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus

Natasha Rothwell and Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus

Mario Perez/HBO

Mike White's riveting dramedy is set at an exclusive billion-star Hawaiian resort, but it's hardly relaxing for any of its characters, whether they're there for vacation or working to meet the needy needs of the resort's wealthy clients. White is happy to let his well-written and truly diverse characters pinball off each other in passing while wrapping them up their own drama, making for a dark comedy that is a joy to watch even when it seems as though the stakes are low. Easily one of 2021's very best, The White Lotus is the vacation we needed. -Tim Surette [Trailer



David Makes Man

For fans of: Coming-of-age stories, magical realism
Number of seasons: 2

Isaiah Johnson and Akili McDowell, David Makes Man

Isaiah Johnson and Akili McDowell, David Makes Man

Rod Millington/OWN & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Nothing else on TV moves like David Makes Man, a tender coming-of-age drama from Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. The first season is told through the eyes of 14-year-old David (powerhouse talent Akili McDowell), who can't reconcile the person he is at his magnet school with his home life in the projects. As he deals with academic pressure, his mother's struggle to make rent, and the local boys who are eager to recruit him to the drug trade, each world he inhabits is written with equal empathy and humanity. When Season 2 jumps ahead to find David (played as an adult by Kwame Patterson) in his 30s, it only underlines the way adults still carry their youth with them. David Makes Man is a remarkable show, suffused with magical realism and drenched in the sunlight and sweat of South Florida. The impression it leaves is vivid and unforgettable. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer]



Mare of Easttown

For fans of: Wawa, Philadelphia accents, family tension with a side of murder
Number of seasons: 1

Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Michele K. Short/HBO

On the surface, Mare of Easttown seemed like any other crime show about a grizzled cop solving a case. The series followed the titular Mare (Kate Winslet, giving one of the best performances of her career), a Pennsylvania detective, as she investigated the killing of a local teen girl while simultaneously coping with her own deeply set trauma. But despite how many dark murder dramas are out there, Mare was special: It was an enthralling mystery; it was a character study of damaged people; it was, occasionally, a mother-daughter sitcom. Mare was a showcase for an outstanding group of actors — not just Winslet, but also Evan Peters as Mare's partner, Jean Smart as her mother, and Julianne Nicholson as her best friend, all doing their best Delco accent work. It was an example of how to effectively world-build, how to make a TV small town feel like a real small town. It was the show that gave us Jean Smart playing Fruit Ninja on an iPad. There were a few weeks when Mare was the only thing I and everyone I knew could talk about — maybe the closest thing to a quote-unquote watercooler show we've had in a while. It was such an expertly crafted series that even when it kind of missed (ahem, Guy Pearce's ultimate red herring of a character), you barely cared; this just became another detail to unpack. I'm still thinking about the show's last shot, which allowed Mare to finally begin dealing with the piece of her past she had the most difficulty accepting. Like I said, it was something special. [Trailer



Scenes From a Marriage

For fans of: Unhappy people in unhappy relationships, beautiful people monologuing at each other
Number of seasons: 1

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, Scenes from a Marriage

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, Scenes from a Marriage

Jojo Whilden/HBO

Certified beautiful people Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain play an unhappily married couple in this remake of Ingmar Bergman's 1973 miniseries (which is also streaming on HBO Max). Isaac and Chastain make all five melancholy, dialogue-heavy hours of this show worth it, their crackling chemistry bringing every moment of their characters' history together to life. They hate each other, they love each other, they should break up, they should stay together – it changes by the minute, and it all feels real. [Trailer



Love Life

For fans of: Rom-coms, the Paul Feig touch
Number of seasons: 2

William Jackson Harper, Love Life

William Jackson Harper, Love Life

Sarah Shatz/HBO Max

Executive produced by Paul Feig, Love Life is a charming series about people trying to find, you guessed it, love, centering around a new protagonist every season. Its first season, which featured Anna Kendrick in the title role, was an easy, sweet watch, but its second season, following William Jackson Harper's Marcus, is where it really found its footing, following him through a divorce and his re-entry into the world of dating. It's cute, it's fun, and its anthology format keeps it fresh. [Trailer



The Other Two

For fans of: Molly Shannon, making fun of the entertainment industry
Number of seasons: 2

Drew Tarver and Helene York, The Other Two

Drew Tarver and Helene York, The Other Two

Greg Endries/HBO Max

Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider's showbiz comedy is one of the funniest shows on TV, period. It follows forgotten older siblings Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke) who have to deal with the fact that their teen brother has become a world famous pop star overnight. As his star rises, they flail forward, trying to forge their own career paths despite the world constantly kicking them down at every turn. It's a satire that isn't cynical or smug, and it's the surprisingly rare comedy of today that is primarily focused on making its audience laugh. You will absolutely walk away with "My Brother's Gay (And That's Okay)" stuck in your head. And that's OK. [Trailer



South Side

For fans of: Hangout comedies, wigs, the White Sox
Number of seasons: 2

Sultan Salahuddin and Kareme Young, South Side

Sultan Salahuddin and Kareme Young, South Side

Comedy Central

South Side follows two friends in Chicago who are trying to become venture capitalists but are stuck working boring day jobs until it happens, and in two seasons has created a delightfully singular little world. This is the ultimate hangout show in that nothing really "happens," but the jokes are laugh-out-loud funny and the characters are excellent. It's the kind of show you watch and wonder why you didn't start watching it sooner. [Trailer



The Way Down

For fans of: True crime, cult leaders, tall hair
Number of seasons: 1

The Way Down

The Way Down

HBO Max

This true crime series looks at Gwen Shamblin Lara, the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church, which mixed the worship of Jesus Christ with a weight-loss program and was accused of being a cult. Lara parlayed her status as a best-selling author for her book The Weigh Down Diet into the leader of the church, which she founded in 1999 and led all the way up to May of 2021 when she [spoiler!!!]. The church was criticized for emphasizing looks and creating a Stepford Wives-like community of women and using religion to boost business. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer



Starstruck

For fans of: Notting Hill, charming characters falling in love
Number of seasons: 1

Rose Matafeo, Starstruck

Rose Matafeo, Starstruck

Mark Johnson/HBO Max

The rom-com isn't dead; it just moved to television. Like a reverse Notting Hill, the endearing series Starstruck follows Jessie (played by creator Rose Matafeo), a New Zealander living in London who spends a boozy New Year's Eve with a guy named Tom (Nikesh Patel), only to wake up to the realization that he's a famous movie star. The whole thing – Season 1 zips by in six half-hour episodes – plays like an old-school screwball comedy. They just can't quit each other. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer



Frayed

For fans of: Difficult women, complicated family dynamics
Number of seasons: 2

Sarah Kendall, Frayed

Sarah Kendall, Frayed

HBO Max

Set in the late '80s, the spiky dramedy stars (and was created by) Sarah Kendall as a woman who is forced to relocate herself and her two children from London to her hometown of Newcastle in Australia after the death of her husband leaves the family broke. She moves back in with her alcoholic mother and is forced to contend with things from her past she hasn't dealt with in years — starting with the fact that she's been faking her British accent. It's as funny as it is dramatic, with lovably complex characters and sharp writing that will make you wish it was longer than two seasons. [Trailer



I Hate Suzie

For fans of: Hot messes, the trappings of fame
Number of seasons: 1

Billie Piper, I Hate Suzie

Billie Piper, I Hate Suzie

HBO Max

It's OK to watch someone during the worst time of their life, really! It's good for learning from their mistakes and enjoying a little schadenfreude, and in the SkyTV series I Hate Suzie, it's also very funny. Billie Piper delivers an award-worthy performance as she absolutely becomes Suzie Pickles, an actress whose career and family get blown to bits when her phone is hacked and racy photos are leaked on the internet. The scramble to save face and her marriage is a bumpy one for Suzie, who goes through the wringer in the dark comedy that isn't afraid to mix raunch with sharp observations about celebrity. There's an element of horror to the show as the walls close in on Suzie and she retreats into some self-destructive behavior in strange places, and the anxiety it produces is almost too much, in a great way. -Tim Surette [Trailer]



Warrior

For fans of: Bruce Lee, Peaky Blinders by way of Gangs of New York
Number of seasons: 2

Andrew Koji, Warrior

Andrew Koji, Warrior

David Bloomer/Cinemax

Warrior is a breakthrough in Asian representation on the screen, but that's just a bonus of this action drama that's finding new life on HBO Max after toiling in obscurity on Cinemax (the forthcoming Season 3 will be an HBO Max original). Based on the writings of Bruce Lee and brought to the screen by his daughter ShannonWarrior's depiction of the Tong Wars in San Francisco in the late 1800s is appropriately gruesome and takes more turns than Lombard Street, showing a time, place, and people that television somehow always overlooks. It's Peaky Blinders with an added layer of racial issues. It's Gangs of New York with more flying kicks. But it's also wholly original as a story of immigrants making their way in a country that only barely tolerated them and fighting back against that hatred. -Tim Surette [Trailer



Perry Mason

For fans of: Grizzled, hard-drinking detectives, reboots
Number of seasons: 1

Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

HBO

You probably remember Perry Mason as an imposing defense attorney somewhere inside that imposing suit as he boiled down murder cases and, like clockwork, wrung out a confession from someone who wasn't his client to prove his client's innocence. Throw most of that out the window, as HBO reboots Perry Mason with The AmericansMatthew Rhys – who's absolutely terrific – playing the iconic TV character as a slightly disheveled, grumpy, boozing, f---ing malcontent who's working a case about a murdered baby in a dirty, grimy 1930s Los Angeles. The eight-episode season of private-eyeing and courtroom drama is bolstered by a wonderful cast, which includes Tatiana MaslanyJohn Lithgow, and Stephen Root, and a robust budget that brings Depression-era L.A. to gorgeous life under the watchful direction of Game of ThronesTim Van Patten. This is how prestige television is done – even if the story ultimately comes up a bit short, the performances and visuals are enough to keep you watching. -Tim Surette [Trailer



Lovecraft Country

For fans of: The horrors of real life mixed with Lovecraftian monster horrors
Number of seasons: 1

Lovecraft Country (HBO)

Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, and Courtney B. Vance, Lovecraft Country

Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Misha Green adapted Matt Ruff's book about a young Black man who goes searching for his missing father in 1950s Jim Crow America, not knowing that the turf he explores is not only populated by racists, but creatures torn out of the pages of literature. A mash-up of genres including a sci-fi horror and a social justice drama, Lovecraft Country is a riveting adventure about monsters both real and imagined. -Tim Surette [Trailer



Six Feet Under

For fans of: Feeling the full spectrum of human emotion, family dramas
Number of seasons: 6

Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Freddy Rodriguez, Six Feet Under

Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Freddy Rodriguez, Six Feet Under

HBO

I can only hope that one day we as a society give Six Feet Under the energy we give that other classic HBO drama about all those dudes in the mob. Alan Ball's series follows the lives of the Fisher family, who take over the Los Angeles funeral home that was left to them by their recently deceased father. You may or may not know that Six Feet Under is best remembered for its iconic series finale sequence, but most everything that happens before that is incredible too. The Fisher family is dysfunctional and troubled, and the show is unique for its willingness to have frank, complicated discussions about the many facets of dying and grief. While you should probably know before going in that this one is pretty dark (each episode literally begins with a different death), don't let that deter you from watching. It's something special. [Trailer]



The Leftovers

For fans of: Confronting the unknown, purposely mysterious mythology
Number of seasons: 3

Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux, The Leftovers

Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux, The Leftovers

Van Redin/HBO

Co-created by Lost's Damon Lindelof and author Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers could be read as a direct response to the controversy around the Lost finale: On The Leftovers, the lack of answers was the point. Set in the dazed aftermath of the sudden vanishing of 2 percent of the world's population, the series evolved past its bleak first season to tell a story more expansive, and more quietly magical, than anything else on TV. But while the unrelenting anguish of the first few episodes turned some viewers off, it wasn't a flaw in the big picture. The distance between where The Leftovers began and where it ended was part of what made the second and third seasons so effective: It was thrilling to watch the show break its own rules. When the characters found their own ways to heal, it felt like rebellion. The Leftovers didn't capture life exactly as it is but as it feels. It will be looked back on as a snapshot of a chaotic decade striving for grace. -Kelly Connolly [Trailer



The Wire

For fans of: Gritty stories about America, classic TV, participating in the argument about the best TV show ever
Number of seasons: 5

Wendell Pierce and Dominic West, The Wire

Wendell Pierce and Dominic West, The Wire

HBO

Created by David SimonThe Wire is rightfully lauded as being one of the greatest shows of all time. Set in Baltimore, the crime drama focuses largely on the city's drug trade, but with each season it peels back another layer, expertly exploring other facets of the city, from the local government to the educational system. It's unflinching and fascinating, set on exposing the American underbelly, but more than anything, it really just is that good. [Trailer



The Sopranos

For fans of: Italians, New Jersey, complicated men
Number of seasons: 6

The Sopranos

The Sopranos

HBO/Getty Images

Have you heard of this one? David Chase's groundbreaking drama is about as popular now as it was when it first aired, and for good reason. It is quite simply one of the best to ever do it, following James Gandolfini's mafia man with feelings, Tony Soprano, as he tries to reckon with the weight of the horrifically violent things he's done as a mob boss while balancing his role as a husband and father. It's an absorbingly vibrant story about America, the things capitalism does to a person's soul, and track suits. If you love any show made after The Sopranos, there's a pretty good chance it was, in some way, inspired by The Sopranos. [Trailer



Enlightened

For fans of: Canceled-too-soon greats, the genius of Laura Dern
Number of seasons: 2

Laura Dern, Enlightened

Laura Dern, Enlightened

HBO

One of the best series HBO has ever produced, Mike White's half-hour dramedy Enlightened stars Laura Dern — in arguably her greatest TV performance — as a former corporate exec who heads to a spiritual retreat after a mental breakdown. There, she becomes a new age, eco-friendly goddess who rejoins her company at the bottom, where she plots to take down the corporation. Extremely touching and hilarious, Enlightened was ahead of its time. [Trailer] 



Watchmen

For fans of: Superheroes but not the Marvel kind
Number of seasons: 1

Regina King, Watchmen

Regina King, Watchmen

HBO

Based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel and created by Damon Lindelof, Watchmen is the rare superhero story that resonates with people who love superheroes and people who hate superheroes. Set in an alternate version of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where cops conceal their identities to protect themselves, it picks up 34 years after the original Watchmen story. Regina King gives a powerhouse performance as Angela Abar, who is unexpectedly drawn into a mysterious conspiracy after the death of a colleague. The show is an incredible showcase for actors like King, Jean Smart, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, while also serving as a history lesson, bringing the 1921 Tulsa race massacre to greater public consciousness. It also notably manages to make such a sprawling story digestible to people who aren't familiar with the original Watchmen. From start to finish, it's an expertly crafted series. [Trailer



Genera+ion

For fans of: Lovably dramatic teens, Gen Z, pop music
Number of seasons: 1

Chase Sui Wonders, Justice Smith, and Uly Schlesinger, Generation

Chase Sui Wonders, Justice Smith, and Uly Schlesinger, Generation

Jennifer Clasen / HBO Max

Genera+ion knows it's a lot. It basks in its flashy color palette and fast-paced dialogue and pop-heavy soundtrack. It lets its young characters be kind of annoying in that specifically teenage way, and it lets their big, brightly burning emotions burn as big and bright as they deserve to. A lesser show might be tempted to turn its cast of Gen Z-ers into punchlines, but Genera+ion correctly reminds its audience — through themes of identity and self-discovery, and by showing just how comfortable today's kids have to get with horrifying things like school shooting drills — that growing up is extremely difficult, and anyone going through it is worthy of compassion. [Trailer



I May Destroy You

For fans of: The genius of Michaela Coel, mixing sly humor with tragedy
Number of seasons: 1

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

HBO

Rising super-talent Michaela Coel created, writes, directs, and stars in this timely and unflinching drama made in partnership with the BBC. She plays Arabella, an author who is drugged and sexually assaulted in a bar, and comes to with a vague memory that something bad happened to her, but she's not sure who's responsible. She tries to find out who did it, while also maintaining her friendships and finishing her book. The series deals with some intensely heavy topics, but it has a sly sense of humor that will make you laugh when you're least expecting it. -Liam Mathews [Trailer



Rick & Morty

For fans of: Dimension-hopping, idiot men, shows too smart for normies
Number of seasons: 5

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty

Adult Swim

Adult Swim's animated series is a sci-fi/comedy adventure, following psychotic scientist Rick, who ropes his clueless grandson Morty into his adventures across the universe. People who love this show really love it, and are quick to point out it's more than just a gross-out cartoon full of aliens. To their credit, the show takes time fleshing out the histories and inner workings of its characters, and goes beyond the temptation to make every episode a goofy sci-fi parody. It's fun! It will probably run forever! [Trailer



The Boondocks

For fans of: Cartoons with a huge dose of social commentary, the vocal stylings of Regina King
Number of seasons: 4

The Boondocks

The Boondocks

Adult Swim

Aaron McGruder's satirical cartoon follows Huey (Regina King), a wise-beyond-his-years 10-year-old who lives in a predominantly white suburb with his younger brother, Riley (also Regina King!), and their grandfather (John Witherspoon), and it does a singular job of highlighting the many facets of the Black experience in the United States. Huey is a kid with the weight of the world on his shoulders — he knows too much, he sees right through the adults around him, and he's perpetually trying to push back against a broken system, usually unsuccessfully. One of the best things about The Boondocks is its enduring relevance, presenting takes on race, class, identity, and the government that have aged shockingly well, considering this show first aired in 2005. [Trailer



Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

For fans of: Complex brother relationships, MAGIC
Number of seasons: 1

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

FUNimation Entertainment

HBO Max has an expansive anime library, but if you don't know where to start, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a solid jumping off point. Frequently named among fans as one of the best of the genre, the series centers around brothers Edward and Alphonse, whose bodies were destroyed when they attempted to resurrect their deceased mother, as they go on a hunt for the mythical Philosopher's Stone, which they hope will reverse the damage they've done. It's a great example of how to execute stellar character arcs, and how to balance action and drama with humor. [Trailer

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