Best HBO Max shows: the best TV series on HBO Max, from The White Lotus to The Sopranos

Best HBO Max shows - Joel and Ellie walking in The Last of Us TV show
(Image credit: HBO)

When searching for the best HBO Max shows to indulge in, you're faced with quite a choice. The HBO Max library has become quite a contender in the streaming space thanks to the vast range of movies from the Warner Bros back catalogue set alongside iconic TV shows made by HBO over the last 25 years.

Like Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu the HBO Max vault includes some huge names. Here, you'll find everything from The Sopranos to Game of Thrones, The White Lotus and, very recently indeed, headline-grabber The Last of Us. Add to that, content from DC Comics such as Peacemaker and Watchmen, and hit animated comedy Rick and Morty, and you're in for a real treat.

At present, the streamer is mostly geared to the US, with other territories being added all time time. The price is a little steeper than some of the other services on the market (though with recent price rises at Disney Plus and Netflix, it's more comparable). For the 13,000+ hours of content, you'll pay $14.99 a month and for With Ads viewing, it’s $9.99 a month. You can sign up for an HBO Max subscription (opens in new tab) here. 

So, whether you're already signed up and want to find out what TV series you should watch next, or you're intrigued by the possibilities aboard HBO Max, keep reading for our list of the best shows on HBO Max right now.

The best HBO Max shows

The Last of Us

Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us is a TV adaptation of the smash hit PlayStation game of the same name. We follow Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) as they cross post-apocalyptic America, which has been ravaged by a fungal outbreak that has turned the population into crazed cannibals, known as "the infected". What ensues is a grisly journey, full of eye-opening insights to the pair's complicated pasts, and grim encounters with the infected.

Widely praised both by fans of the game and by those who have never played it, The Last of Us has been very well received indeed. In our The Last of Us review, we enjoyed the remarkable production design and the powerful story but felt the premise feels a little tired and the pace could be quicker. But why not watch to find out for yourself?

Industry

watch industry online

(Image credit: BBC)

Industry follows a group of young graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at Pierpoint & Co, a prestigious investment bank in the heart of the city of London. Desperate to win the job, the young pretenders push themselves to absolute extremes to win the approval of clients and their superiors, regularly crossing the line as they do so. 

Led by a handsome cast, Industry fizzes with intrigue and energy and is well worth an investment of your time. 

House of the Dragon

Matt Smith on the throne in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO went through a multitude of options as it looked to find the right Game of Thrones spin-off, but executives eventually settled on House of the Dragon. They made the right choice.

A 10-episode series based on Fire and Blood, author George R. R. Martin’s 2018 "history" of the Targaryen dynasty,  the show tells the backstory of the dragon-riding family, and the war of succession that breaks out after kindly King Viserys (Paddy Considine) names his daughter as his heir.

Starring Matt Smith, Emma D'Arcy, Olivia Cooke, Rhys Ifans and Steve Toussaint, the show keeps many of the traditions that made Game of Thrones so enthralling, while offering up its own fiery twist on the world of Westeros. 

The Sopranos

The Sopranos on HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO)

In 1999, The Sopranos changed the face of HBO forever. The iconic show tells the story of mafia head Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), as he navigates family life and criminal business, all of which is intertwined with conversations with his therapist, Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). 

Even though the show ended in 2007, it’s still talked about for its ability to balance intricate relationships and organised crime with sensitivity and wit. All six seasons have a home on HBO Max and continue to resonate as truly today as they did back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  

Barry

Bill Hader's Barry stares at an object off screen in the HBO Max show's third season

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Saturday Night Live graduate Bill Hader is co-creator and star of this HBO Max TV show about a professional hitman who moves to Hollywood and joins an acting class. The titular Barry tries to put his criminal past behind him to embrace a career as a performer but – as is usually the way with these things – finds his old life catching up with him. There’s plenty of drama to be found in Barry’s (often drastic) efforts to keep his two lives separate, but the show’s comic edge keeps things (and Barry himself) from getting too dark.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Nikon

(Image credit: Helen Sloan / HBO)

Over the course of its eight seasons, Game of Thrones was the hugely popular adaptation of George RR Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire novels, that proved a long-running fantasy drama could keep the world engrossed.

Set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the show sees warring families fighting for control over the Iron Throne, in a saga filled with immense battles, unlawful romances, and something nasty north of the Wall. Whether you’ve watched it before or you’re looking to come to the show for the very first time, HBO Max has every single episode to enjoy.

Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet stars in HBO Max TV show Mare of Easttown

(Image credit: HBO)

Kate Winslet heads up Mare of Easttown as protagonist, Marianne “Mare” Sheehan, a police detective from Pennsylvania investigating a mysterious murder of a teenage mother while also balancing her own troubled home life. 

Once known for being the town superstar of her high school basketball team, Mare has to deal her small town’s opinions of her as the murder remains unsolved for over a year. Meanwhile, her personal life of divorce, her son’s suicide, and a battle for custody of her grandson from her former daughter-in-law is aired and judged publicly. 

The White Lotus

The cast of The White Lotus TV series on HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Arguably the most talked about TV show on the planet at the moment, Mike White’s comedy-drama is essential viewing. Set in a luxury Hawaiian resort, The White Lotus assembles a quality cast to poke a satirical finger at the disparities between the haves (the guests) and the have nots (the staff who work to make sure their stays are suitably memorable). 

White (whose previous filmography includes School of Rock and – weirdly – The Emoji Movie) ensures there’s a dark edge to many of the laughs, in a show that extends HBO’s impressive track record in prestige TV. Season two relocates the vacation to Sicily.

Hacks

Jean Smart's Deborah looks solemn as Hannah Einbinder's Ava talks to her in Hacks season 2

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Jean Smart, who almost stole the show in Mare of Easttown (opens in new tab), finally gets to enjoy the limelight in this  comedy from HBO. 

Smart plays Deborah Vance, a once hugely successful stand-up comedian, who’s unhappy to discover that the head of the Las Vegas casino where she performs wants to pare back her performance schedule. Desperate to win over new fans, Smart is introduced to Hannah Einbinder’s Ava, a young comedy writer who’s found herself unable to find work after being fired from her job over an insensitive tweet. 

As you might imagine, the two don’t get along initially, but as both Vance’s material and her attendances begin to improve, they find a way of working together. 

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm

(Image credit: HBO)

After he’d co-created all-conquering sitcom “about nothing” Seinfeld, few would have predicted Larry David’s next move – backed by HBO money, he made a fictionalised version of himself (and Hollywood friends such as Ted Danson) the center of a semi-improvised comedy. 

While Curb Your Enthusiasm is frequently so cringeworthy it makes you want to hide from your TV, David turns the comedy of embarrassment into an artform – if there was ever a superhero whose power was putting their foot in it, his screen self would be the blueprint.

Succession

Brian Cox as Logan Roy in Succession season 3

(Image credit: HBO)

Since British writer/creator Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show, Fresh Meat) introduced us to the Roy family, we've shared the boardroom with a family so dysfunctional it's a wonder they became giants of the business world. To make matters worse, patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) – owner of media conglomerate Waystar RoyCo – isn't exactly a shining example of a loving father figure.

Over three seasons of Succession, Logan fights with his offspring over who will eventually take control of the company, while they continuously worry about his health and ability to do so. Each sibling has their own unique personality that intertwines with business negotiations, personal relationships, and constant power struggles, which creates a show that has viewers constantly conflicted on whose side they would take. 

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty season 6, episode 7

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Rick and Morty may not be as prolific as The Simpsons, South Park or Family Guy – it’s managed just 61 episodes in nine years – yet it deserves a place in the pantheon of great TV animation. 

After starting out as an NSFW twist on Back to the Future’s Marty McFly and Doc Brown, the story of an ordinary kid and his genius grandfather has evolved into a unique mix of sophisticated sci-fi gags, intricate plotting and family soap opera. As with The X-Files, the jury’s out on whether it’s better when it’s telling standalone stories or advancing its increasingly complex arc plot, but Rick and Morty remains the jewel in Adult Swim’s crown.

Peacemaker

Peacemaker

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Peacemaker is one of the more recent additions on our best shows on HBO Max list, having debuted in 2022. We were first introduced to Peacemaker – a violent red-white-and-blue antihero/villain with questionable morals – in The Suicide Squad, and this HBO Max original provides the DC Comics character with his very own TV show. 

Series creator James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) has described Peacemaker as "the world's biggest douchebag", but here he's forced to team up with government agents to take down some pretty gnarly parasites with world domination on their minds. His primary goal remains peace, however, and he doesn't care how many men, women and children he needs to kill to get it.

Station Eleven

Mackenzie Davis in the HBO Max TV adaption of Station Eleven

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Station Eleven (opens in new tab) is a miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel which depicts a very dark dystopian future. 

Set 20 years after a flu pandemic that causes a worldwide apocalypse, the show follows a group of people working as traveling performers to get by until they come across a violent cult led by a man with a link to one of the group. HBO Max took on this 10-part series in a fantastic fashion that truly brings Mandel's dystopian world to life. A great addition to HBO’s line-up. 

Gomorrah

Gomorrah

(Image credit: Viaplay)

Vicious Italian drama Gomorrah has become a global hit, with the show ending up in over 190 territories around the world. 

The crime drama follows Ciro Di Marzio (Marco D’Amore) in the Naples underworld as he navigates life as part of a crime family struggling between power of the young and power of the old. Gomorrah’s last season aired in 2021 yet continues to shine as a great example of TV tackling organised crime in warring families on the brink of anarchy.  

Minx

Minx on HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Minx, a new HBO Max Original comedy, made its debut in 2022. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the show follows young feminist Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond) as she sets out to launch an erotic magazine by women for women. Joyce wants to change the way the industry represents and provides for women and it leads her to an unlikely bond with editor Doug (Jake Johnson). 

Paul Feig (of Bridesmaids and The Heat fame) is on board as executive producer, and he’s no stranger to women-led comedy, making him an ideal fit for translating this pro-feminist comedy to TV screens. 

Watchmen

Watchmen

(Image credit: HBO)

Another of the best HBO Max shows inspired by DC Comics is limited series Watchmen. It's not the first time viewers have seen Watchmen on their screens, following the 2009 movie of the same name, but it’s a whole new story picking up 34 years after the events of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal graphic novel.

With masked vigilantes now outlawed, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof's intelligent story delves into the racial politics of the United States, while providing a worthy continuation of one of the most influential works in comic-book history.

The Wire

The Wire

(Image credit: HBO)

When it comes to The Wire, you probably fall into one of two camps. Either you’ve watched it and have spent a large chunk of the last 15 years telling everyone you know that they should watch David Simon’s ambitious cop drama because it’s the greatest TV show ever made. Or you’ve spent the last decade and a half listening to people telling you The Wire is the greatest TV show ever made and you should therefore watch it right now. 

The good news is that, whether you’re a fan keen for a rewatch, or a newbie looking to see what the fuss is about, all five seasons are available on HBO Max.

Chernobyl

A promotional image for Chernobyl on HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO)

In 2019, HBO brought the historical tragedy of Chernobyl Power Plant in Ukraine to life in this heartbreaking drama, retelling the story of how one of the worst nuclear disasters ever came about. 

The five-part miniseries depicts stories of the disaster and the devastating aftermath in which many sacrificed their own lives to save many others. The show received critical acclaim for its dramatization of events, with powerful acting and a team of equally powerful writers to boot. 

I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel stars as Arabella Essiedu in I May Destroy You on HBO Max

(Image credit: Showmax)

A collaboration with the BBC, I May Destroy You – written by and starring Michaela Coel – won universal praise when it debuted in 2020. 

Coel plays Arabella, a young woman who awakes from a night out unaware of what happened to her. She then comes to the devastating realization that she was drugged, asking the question, “If you can’t remember it, how could you consent?”

In a single season filled with incredibly frank and brave moments, I May Destroy You uses dark humour and poignant questions to tell Arabella’s story. Some scenes are incredibly hard to watch, but it's also incredibly important viewing.

Six Feet Under

A promotional image for Six Feet Under on HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO)

Six Feet Under is the aptly-named series depicting the lives of the Fisher family after their father, Nathaniel Fisher Sr, leaves behind his funeral home business in LA for his offspring to run. 

The show isn’t just about the family struggles of running a business with conflicting voices, but – perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it’s set in a funeral home – it also pays close attention to the topic of death. For viewers, the show is an opportunity to tackle existential issues balanced with dark humor and an ending that many still talk about today. 

Westworld

Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO took dystopian 1973 sci-fi movie Westworld, and turned it into a TV show that took full advantage of the ability to utilise modern day TV wizardry. 

In the show's futuristic theme park, visitors explore the Western-themed areas and interact with android Hosts programmed to deliver their wants and needs. Until, that is, the robots begin to malfunction and develop a sense of their own self which conflicts with the world they’ve been built to serve. 

This incredibly popular HBO TV show featured a star-studded cast and ever-evolving storylines set from inside and outside the park. Unfortunately for fans, however, Westworld's story will remain unresolved, as HBO confirmed in November 2022 that its fourth season will be its last.

Girls

Girls

(Image credit: HBO)

Created by and starring Lena Dunham, this iconic show follows four 20-something girlfriends in New York as they struggle through their day-to-day lives. That means juggling career decisions and complicated relationships, while leaning on their inner circle for support. 

The comedy primarily revolves around Lena’s character, Hannah, a writer looking for her shot at the big time but intertwines with each unique story of her friends; Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna. Girls also tackles some topics that have left viewers divided, but remains poignant and truthful to this day. 

Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers

(Image credit: HBO)

Based on the true stories collected in historian Stephen E Ambrose’s book of the same name, Band of Brothers dramatizes the exploits of WWII US paratrooper unit Easy Company during the war.

With Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as executive producers and a cast list including Tom Hardy, Damian Lewis, and Michael Fassbender, it’s no surprise this miniseries has received rave reviews and continues to stand out as one of HBO’s best TV shows. 

The Pacific

The Pacific

(Image credit: HBO)

Another great war series from HBO, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg is The Pacific, which follows three marines from different regiments as their stories intertwine during the WWII battle between US and Japanese forces in the Pacific. An incredible follow-up from Band of Brothers, the show picks up the torch to continue the stunning visuals, great acting, and sublime retellings of some of the war’s most heroic and heartbreaking stories. 

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

(Image credit: HBO)

Boardwalk Empire started with a bang when it hit HBO in 2010, as legendary movie director Martin Scorsese took the helm for the pilot. It then ran for five seasons on HBO, depicting political figure Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) as he climbs the political rankings and takes control of Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

But his rise to power isn't without constant run-ins with other opposing politicians aiming to take him down at every turn, not to mention the gangsters he builds relationships with to take advantage of prohibition era bootlegging.

Euphoria

Lexi in Euphoria season 2

(Image credit: HBO)

While Euphoria is set in a high school following a group of students navigating their teenage lives, the storylines that weave their way through this HBO drama are incredibly serious and tackle topics that not many teen dramas have dared to take on before. 

Most prominently, Euphoria follows Rue (Zendaya) and her constant struggle with drug addiction; Nate (Jacob Elordi) and his troubled relationship with his macho father; and Jules (Hunter Schafer) and her battle to find belonging with her transgender identity. 

Adapted for US audiences from an Israeli show of the same name, Euphoria has received critical acclaim for its hard-hitting subject matter and emotional performances. 

It's a Sin

A promotional image of the cast of It's a Sin on HBO Max

(Image credit: HBO Max/Channel 4)

It’s a Sin is a five-part British drama which first appeared in the UK on Channel 4 and is now streaming in its entirety on HBO Max. It closely follows a group of friends during the AIDS epidemic as it first began in 1980s London. Each one has their own heart-rending story to tell, in a show that strives to explore what life was like when people were suffering from a disease that was initially ignored. 

This hard-hitting drama is brought to life by the incredible writing of Russell T Davies as well as the acting of the cast led by Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years & Years.  

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO is no stranger to depicting true stories in original TV shows on the platform and Winning Time is another thriving example of that. 

Looking closely at the on- and off-court lives of iconic basketball team the LA Lakers in the 1980s, Winning Time is based on a book by Jeff Pearlman, around what’s known as the ‘Showtime’ era for the players. It charts the defining moments of the players’ fame including both the successes and failures. The pilot episode directed by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice, Don't Look Up). 

Interested in other platforms' top content? Find out which series made our best shows on Netflix cut.

Grace is a freelance writer for TechRadar, with past work at sites like GamesRadar, Metro and The Loadout. 

With contributions from