The best Max shows: 40 great series to stream in July 2024

House of the Dragon season 2 is one of the best Max shows with Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen going head-to-head
Targaryen and Hightower go head-to-head in House of the Dragon's second season (Image credit: HBO)

The best Max shows include cult classics, sci-fi hits, adult animations, quality imports from across the world, and many more genres. Previously HBO Max, the streaming service still boasts its connection with the TV behemoth. Despite the name change, that means it remains home to some of the greatest shows of all time.

Whether it’s some of the most talked about TV shows of the last few decades, or new original content that’s finding its own way to impress viewers, there’s a lot to choose from when it comes to Max’s offering. No wonder it's secured a place among the best streaming services with our list abundant with 40 TV shows you should consider watching next time you’re idling searching the platform. We'll be updating this list regularly, so make sure to keep stopping by.

Succession

Succession: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube Succession: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube
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Release date: June 3, 2018
Seasons: 4
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 95% (critics); 87% (audience)

Since British writer/creator Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show, Fresh Meat) introduced us to the Roy family in 2018, 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.

But Succession isn't just the story of the battle for control of a business. The show's mix of corporate backstabbing, feuding siblings, and some of the best writing in TV (it's worth watching for the insults alone) all combine to make it one of the best Max shows – nay, best TV shows – period.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube The Last of Us | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube
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Release date: January 15, 2023
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 96% (critics); 89% (audience)

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 a post-apocalyptic America, ravaged by a fungal outbreak that has turned the population into crazed, zombie-like 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 remains of humanity – both living and infected.

Widely praised by both fans of the game and newcomers to the story, The Last of Us has been incredibly well received. In our The Last of Us season 1 review, we enjoyed the remarkable production design and the powerful story but felt the Walking Dead-like premise was a little tired, and that the pace could be quicker. The Last of Us season 2 is currently in production.

House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube House of the Dragon | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube
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Release date: August 21, 2022
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 93% (critics); 85% (audience)

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

Based on 'Fire and Blood', author George R. R. Martin’s history of the Targaryen dynasty, the show (set two centuries before Game of Thrones) tells the backstory of the infamous 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 among others, 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. It is, without question, one of the best Max shows, and the enthralling saga continues with new episodes of The House of the Dragon season 2 currently out weekly and season 3 confirmed. Read our full review here. Fair warning, there's spoilers.

The Sopranos

The Sopranos - Trailer (1999) - YouTube The Sopranos - Trailer (1999) - YouTube
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Release date: January 10, 1999
Seasons: 6
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 92% (critics); 96% (audience)

When it launched in 1999, The Sopranos changed the face of HBO forever, kickstarting a golden age of serialized TV storytelling in the process. Created by David Chase, the iconic show tells the story of mafia head Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), as his family life and criminal business intertwine with conversations with his therapist, Jennifer Melfi (GoodFellas' Lorraine Bracco). 

Even though the series ended in 2007, it’s still talked about for its ability to balance intricate relationships and organized crime with sensitivity and wit. All six seasons have a home on Max, and continue to resonate as much as they did back at the start of the century.

Barry

Barry Season 1 Trailer | 'It's A Job' | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube Barry Season 1 Trailer | 'It's A Job' | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube
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Release date: March 25, 2018
Seasons: 4
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 98% (critics); 89% (audience)

Saturday Night Live graduate Bill Hader is both co-creator and star of this Max TV series about a professional hitman who moves to Hollywood and joins an acting class. The eponymous 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. A worthy and arguably underrated inclusion in our best Max shows list.

Game of Thrones

GAME OF THRONES - SEASON 1- TRAILER - YouTube GAME OF THRONES - SEASON 1- TRAILER - YouTube
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Release date: April 17, 2011
Seasons: 8
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 89% (critics); 85% (audience)

Over the course of its eight wildly successful seasons, Game of Thrones proved that a long-running fantasy drama could grab the world's attention. Adapted from George R.R. Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire novels and set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the show sees warring families fighting for control of the Iron Throne – a saga characterized by immense battles, forbidden romances, and something nasty north of the Wall. 

Whether you’ve watched it before or you’re looking to experience the show for the very first time, Max has every single episode to enjoy. You can also find out which Game of Thrones season we think is best while you're here.

Tokyo Vice

Tokyo Vice | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube Tokyo Vice | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube
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Release date: April 7, 2022
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 89% (critics); 92% (audience)

Showrunner J.T. Rogers (writer of Oslo, one of the best Max movies) adapts Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir into a labyrinthine 1999-set Tokyo crime drama. West Side Story’s Ansel Elgort plays a young American journalist who becomes the first foreign-born staffer recruited to a major Japanese newspaper. He starts working alongside a veteran cop (Batman Begins and The Last Samurai star Ken Watanabe) to investigate the dangerous world of organized crime, and finds that reporting on a city’s seedy underbelly can be tricky when the official line is that “murder does not happen in Tokyo”.

Heat’s Michael Mann directs the first episode, establishing the tone for an extremely stylish and captivating show. Unfortunately for fans, Max confirmed Tokyo Vice has been cancelled after two seasons.

Mare of Easttown

Mare Of Easttown | Trailer | Sky Atlantic - YouTube Mare Of Easttown | Trailer | Sky Atlantic - YouTube
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Release date: April 18, 2021
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 95% (critics); 94% (audience)

Kate Winslet heads up Mare of Easttown as Marianne 'Mare' Sheehan. She's a police detective from Pennsylvania investigating the mysterious murder of a teenage mother, while navigating her own troubled home life.

Once the superstar of her high school basketball team, Mare has to deal with her home town’s shifting opinions of her when the case remains unsolved for over a year. Meanwhile, events in her personal life (divorce, her son’s suicide, a battle for custody of her grandson from her former daughter-in-law) are aired and judged in public. 

A gripping and at-times emotional watch, Mare of Easttown is as riveting a drama as we've come to expect from HBO. Stick it on your best Max shows watchlist ASAP and then check out these six similarly gritty dramas worth streaming on Max.

The White Lotus

The White Lotus | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube The White Lotus | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube
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Release date: July 11, 2021
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 92% (critics); 75% (audience)

One of the most talked about TV shows on the planet in recent years, Mike White’s comedy-drama is essential viewing. 

Set in a luxury Hawaiian resort, the first season of 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). The similarly brilliant second season relocates the vacation (and the formula) to Sicily, and you can read our review on The White Lotus season 2 before you check it out.

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. 

Hacks

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Release date: May 13, 2021
Seasons: 3
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 99% (critics); 89% (audience)

Jean Smart, who almost stole the show in Mare of Easttown, finally gets to enjoy the limelight in this HBO comedy-drama.

Smart plays Deborah Vance, once a hugely successful stand-up comedian, who’s unhappy to discover that the head of the Las Vegas casino where she performs now 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 struggled to find work after being fired from her job for 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. 

Equally hilarious and heartbreaking, Hacks is another memorable offering from the HBO production line – and the story isn't over because the show has officially been renewed for a fourth season.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Release date: October 15, 2000
Seasons: 12
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 92% (critics); 91% (audience)

After he’d co-created all-conquering sitcom Seinfeld, few would have predicted Larry David’s next move. Backed by HBO money, he made a fictionalised version of himself (and Hollywood friends like Ted Danson) the center of a semi-improvised comedy. 

While Curb Your Enthusiasm is frequently so cringeworthy it makes you want to hide behind the sofa, David turns the comedy of embarrassment into an artform – if there was ever a comic-book hero whose superpower was putting their foot in it, David's screen self would be the blueprint.

Rick and Morty

5 Great Season 1 Moments | Rick and Morty | Adult Swim - YouTube 5 Great Season 1 Moments | Rick and Morty | Adult Swim - YouTube
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Release date: December 2, 2013
Seasons: 7
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 90% (critics); 83% (audience)

Rick and Morty may not be as prolific as The Simpsons, South Park, or Family Guy – it’s managed just 71 episodes in a decade – yet it deserves a place in the pantheon of classic 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 telling standalone stories or advancing its increasingly complex arc plot, but Rick and Morty remains the jewel in Adult Swim’s crown.

Peacemaker

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Release date: January 13, 2022
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 94% (critics); 89% (audience)

We were first introduced to Peacemaker – a violent red-white-and-blue antihero/villain with questionable morals – in The Suicide Squad movie. This Max original provides the DC Comics character with his very own TV show. 

Series creator and new DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) has described Peacemaker (played by John Cena) 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.

If you want to know more about screen adaptations of DC Comics, check out our guide to watching the DC movies in order. A second season, which is part of DCU Chapter One, is in development with a new cast member.

Station Eleven

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Release date: December 16, 2021
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 98% (critics); 74% (audience)

Station Eleven is a miniseries based on an Emily St. John Mandel novel that depicts a very dark dystopian future. Set 20 years after a flu pandemic that caused a worldwide apocalypse, the show follows a group of people working as traveling performers to get by. Then they encounter a violent cult led by a man with links to one of the group...

This impressive small screen adaptation truly brings Mandel's dystopian world to life, creating an intriguing, contrasting counterpart to fellow post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us.

Gomorrah

Gomorrah The Series - Season one UK Trailer (Gomorra La Serie) - YouTube Gomorrah The Series - Season one UK Trailer (Gomorra La Serie) - YouTube
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Release date: May 6, 2014
Seasons: 5
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 85% (critics); 93% (audience)

Vicious Italian drama Gomorrah became a global hit, with the series 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 organized crime in warring families on the brink of anarchy.

Watchmen

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Release date: October 20, 2019
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 96% (critics); 57% (audience)

Another of the best Max shows inspired by DC Comics is limited series Watchmen. It's not the first time viewers have seen the Watchmen universe on their screens – Zack Snyder directed a 2009 movie adaptation – but this is a whole new story that picks 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

Omar Little wields a shotgun in a screenshot from The Wire

The late Michael K. Williams was one of the many breakout stars of The Wire. (Image credit: HBO)

Release date: June 2, 2002
Seasons: 5
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 94% (critics); 96% (audience)

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 two decades telling everyone you know that they should see David Simon’s ambitious, Baltimore-set 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, but haven't got round to watching it yet.

The good news is that, whether you’re a fan keen for a re-watch or a newbie looking to see what the fuss is about, all five seasons are available on Max. Saying anymore about it would spoil what's on offer.

Chernobyl

Chernobyl (2019) | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube Chernobyl (2019) | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube
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Release date: May 6, 2019
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 95% (critics); 97% (audience)

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

The five-part miniseries depicts stories of the catastrophe and its devastating aftermath, in which many sacrificed their own lives to save 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

I May Destroy You | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube I May Destroy You | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube
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Release date: June 8, 2020
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 98% (critics); 74% (audience)

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 awakens from a night out unaware of what happened to her. She then comes to the devastating realization that she was drugged and raped, 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 humor and poignant questions to tell Arabella’s story. Some scenes are unbelievably hard to watch, but it's also incredibly important viewing. Truly one of the best Max shows ever.

His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube His Dark Materials: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube
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Release date: November 3, 2019
Seasons: 3
Age rating: TV-14
RT score: 84% (critics); 82% (audience)

After the attempted ’00s movie trilogy stalled after just one film, this impressively faithful BBC/HBO TV adaptation shows how to bring Philip Pullman’s classic fantasy saga to the screen. The complexity and nuance of the novels is much better suited to longform storytelling than movies, and the story’s major themes about organised religion, prejudice and totalitarian governments (watered down in 2007’s The Golden Compass) remain intact – alongside some very big ideas about the multiverse.

The show’s real trump card, however, is its casting. Dafne Keen is phenomenal as Lyra Belacqua, one of the great heroes of children’s literature. And the supporting players are pretty good, too, with Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Scott and their daemons joining forces to ensure this is a genuinely prestige production.

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube Big Little Lies: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO - YouTube
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Release date: February 19, 2017
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 89% (critics); 89% (audience)

Stars/producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, and creator David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, Ally McBeal) pull together a truly A-list cast for this memorable adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel. There’s been a murder among the well-to-do residents of Monterey, California, but Big Little Lies doesn’t tell you the identity of the victim or who did the crime. Cue plenty of flashbacks as events are gradually pieced together.

With a roll call that boasts Witherspoon, Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skårsgard, Adam Scott, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz, this would probably be captivating TV if they’d all just turned up to read the telephone directory. But, armed with Kelley’s script, a wicked sense of humor and plenty of twists and turns, this is undoubtedly one of the best Max shows. Season 2 adds Meryl Streep to the mix and is nearly as good as the first. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman hinted at a return for season 3 during an interview with Vanity Fair, although there's no official confirmation just yet.

Fringe

Release date: September 9, 2008
Seasons: 5
Age rating: TV-14
RT score: 90% (critics); 80% (audience)

Long before Marvel, DC, and Rick and Morty decided to explore the multiverse, this brilliant drama series from the JJ Abrams stable was blazing a trail through parallel worlds. Although it started out as a poor facsimile of The X-Files, Fringe quickly grew into something much more ambitious, as FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) teamed up with eccentric genius Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to study the weird events of “the Pattern”.

Made in the pre-streaming era, the show proves how brilliant network TV can be when studio executives give writers the freedom to tell the story they want to tell. The story evolves through each of its five seasons, loaded with memorable characters, ingenious ideas and iconic imagery – and we wouldn't mind betting it's the only one of the best Max shows to feature a cow as one of the recurring cast. A bona fide sci-fi classic.

Deadwood

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Release date: March 21, 2004
Seasons: 3
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 92% (critics); 96% (audience)

With a few notable exceptions (two of them directed by Quentin Tarantino), screen Westerns have been out of fashion for most of the 21st century. HBO’s timing arguably wasn’t the best, then, when it bankrolled creator David Milch’s ambitious trip to Deadwood, South Dakota between 2004 and 2006.

It was frequently celebrated as one of the best shows of its era, as Milch skilfully interweaved real American history with the fictional story of the eponymous town –populated by a memorable cast, including The Mandalorian’s Timothy Olyphant as sheriff Seth Bullock, and (in a role for the ages) Ian McShane as saloon owner Al Swearengen. It deserved to run much longer than its three seasons, though it did get a brief reprieve in 2019’s Deadwood: The Movie.

Industry

Industry | Trailer - BBC - YouTube Industry | Trailer - BBC - YouTube
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Release date: November 9, 2020
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 86% (critics); 51% (audience)

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 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. Season 3 arrives on August 11.

Six Feet Under

A promotional image featuring the cast of Six Feet Under.

Raise a glass to the brilliance of Six Feet Under. (Image credit: HBO)

Release date: June 3, 2001
Seasons: 5
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 81% (critics); 96% (audience)

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 series (created by future True Blood showrunner Alan Ball) isn’t just about the struggles of running a family business, and – perhaps unsurprisingly, given its setting – also pays close attention to the topic of death. The show embraces the opportunity to tackle existential issues with a healthy dose of dark humor, and builds up to an ending that's still part of the cultural conversation two decades later.

Girls

Girls - Season 1: Trailer - Official HBO UK - YouTube Girls - Season 1: Trailer - Official HBO UK - YouTube
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Release date: April 15, 2012
Seasons: 6
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 89% (critics); 75% (audience)

Created by and starring Lena Dunham, this iconic show follows four 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. 

Girls primarily revolves around Dunham’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 topics that have left viewers divided, but the show remains a poignant and truthful examination of 20-something life.

Band of Brothers

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Release date: September 9, 2001
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 97% (critics); 96% (audience)

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

With Saving Private Ryan veterans Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as executive producers and a cast list boasting future A-listers such as 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 the best Max shows. It's grisly, highly emotional, horror-infused, and – understandably – dramatically intense. 

The Pacific, which follows three marines from different regiments as their stories intertwine during the WWII battle between US and Japanese forces, is also available to stream. Spielberg and Hanks' new WWII series, Masters of the Air, is one of the best Apple TV Plus shows.

Boardwalk Empire

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Release date: September 19, 2010
Seasons: 5
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 92% (critics); 95% (audience)

Boardwalk Empire started with a bang when it hit TV screens in 2010, after legendary movie director Martin Scorsese took the helm for the pilot. The show then ran for five seasons on HBO, charting the rise of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) as he rises through the political scene and takes control of Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

But Nucky’s ascent doesn't always go according to plan, afflicted by run-ins with rival politicians, and the gangsters he works with, to take advantage of prohibition-era bootlegging. A period crime drama that encapsulates everything that’s great about HBO's impressive suite of content.

Euphoria

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Release date: June 16, 2019
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 88% (critics); 85% (audience)

While the high school-set Euphoria follows a group of students navigating their lives, the serious storylines that weave their way through this HBO drama tackle topics that few teen dramas have dared to visit before. 

Most prominently, Euphoria follows Rue (MCU Spider-Man star 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. Euphoria season 3 is still in development, despite rumors to the contrary.

It's a Sin

It's a Sin | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube It's a Sin | Official Trailer | Max - YouTube
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Release date: January 22, 2021
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 97% (critics); 92% (audience)

It’s a Sin is a five-part British drama that first appeared in the UK on Channel 4 and is now streaming in its entirety on Max. It closely follows a group of friends during the early stages of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s London. Each one has their own heart-rending story to tell, in a show that explores what life was like when people were suffering from a new disease that was feared, misunderstood and often considered a death sentence. 

This hard-hitting drama is brought to life by the energetic writing of Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who) as well as the acting of a brilliant ensemble cast led by Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years & Years. 

Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol Season 1 Extended Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube Doom Patrol Season 1 Extended Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube
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Release date: February 15, 2019
Seasons: 4
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 97% (critics); 92% (audience)

With Aquaman 2 bringing the DC Extended Universe to a close in late 2023, it's worth remembering that the comic book giant's TV output has frequently eclipsed its movies over the last decade. The Arrowverse deserves nearly as much credit as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for bringing complex shared universes to the mainstream, while this take on an unlikely team of DC superheroes embraces its weirdness in spectacular style.

Largely based on legendary writer Grant Morrison's run on the comic book, Doom Patrol brings together cyborgs, shapeshifters and even a villain who routinely breaks the fourth wall, to create a unique blend of comedy and pathos. It also features a former James Bond actor (Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder/The Chief) and The Whale Oscar-winner Brendan Fraser as the voice of Robotman.

I Hate Suzie

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Release date: August 27, 2020
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 97% (critics); 85% (audience)

Former Doctor Who star Billie Piper reunites with her Secret Diary of a Call Girl collaborator (and regular Succession writer) Lucy Prebble for this powerful satire on the entertainment industry. 

It’s the story of former pop idol and TV star Suzie Pickles (Piper), who finds her personal and professional lives unravelling after nude photos are leaked online by phone hackers. Both seasons of this UK drama are simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, while the fact that much of Suzie’s fictional career closely mirrors Piper’s own adds extra weight to her brilliant performance.

Scavengers Reign

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Release date: October 19, 2023
Seasons: 1
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 100% (critics); 94% (audience)

Familiar old franchises may have come to dominate the space opera landscape in recent years, but Scavengers Reign is a beautiful reminder that – when given an opportunity – new stories can thrive. Indeed, this animated series (which landed late in 2023) boasts a perfect RT critical score.

Based on 2016 Adult Swim short Scavengers, it's the story of the survivors of a crashed cargo ship trying to make their way on an alien planet. The 12-episode first season has been praised for both its world-building and its storytelling, and – while it's not among the highest profile shows on the platform – there's no question it already deserves its place among the best Max shows.

The Leftovers

Justin Theroux's Kevin Garvey in a forest in The Leftovers

Justin Theroux plays police chief Kevin Garvey in The Leftovers. (Image credit: HBO)

Release date: June 4, 2017
Seasons: 3
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 91% (critics); 90% (audience)

Lost co-creator/showrunner Damon Lindelof spun another high-concept mystery tale with this HBO drama, which ran for three seasons from 2014-2017. Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, it takes place in a world still reeling from the shock disappearance of 2% of the population three years earlier. 

As the supernatural show dives headlong into the spiritual consequences of a seriously unconventional situation, Justin Theroux's police chief, Kevin Garvey, finds himself caught between family issues and the various cults that emerge in the wake of the “Sudden Departure”. It’s a compelling, thought-provoking ride but, this being a Lindelof show, don’t expect The Leftovers to give you all its answers on a plate. 

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Season 1 Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Season 1 Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube
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Release date: March 6, 2022
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 83% (critics); 50% (audience)

HBO is no stranger to depicting true stories in original TV shows and Winning Time is another brilliant example. 

Looking closely at the on- and off-court lives of the iconic LA Lakers basketball team in the 1980s, Winning Time is based on a book by Jeff Pearlman, and focusses on what’s known as the ‘Showtime’ era for the Lakers. It charts the defining moments of the players' fame, including their successes and failures. One of the best Max shows for all of you sports fans out there, even if Winning Time was cancelled in September 2023.

Friends

The Opening Scene of Friends - YouTube The Opening Scene of Friends - YouTube
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Release date: April 28, 1995
Seasons: 10
Age rating: TV-14
RT score: 78% (critics); 93% (audience)

Like a coffee from Central Perk, it’s refreshing to know that Friends is there for you whenever you need a nostalgia blast from one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. 

Three decades after the show’s debut, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and the late Matthew Perry remain a winning ensemble, while the writing is sharp, fast-paced and frequently hilarious. That comes with the caveat that some of the gags feel dated and even insensitive these days, but when it’s on form, Friends shows why it was a smash hit in the ’90s and ’00s. See if you agree with our best Friends episodes selection once you've streamed it.

Flight of the Conchords

Trailer The Flight of the Conchords - YouTube Trailer The Flight of the Conchords - YouTube
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Release date: June 17, 2007
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 94% (critics); 97% (audience)

Considering they’re merely New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk comedy folk duo, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have done pretty well for themselves. In this HBO sitcom, the double-act play fictionalised versions of themselves, trying to make a success of themselves in New York – despite having only one fan, the obsessed Mel (Kristen Schaal), and an ineffectual (albeit “present”) manager (Rhys Darby). 

There’s a low-fi charm to the storytelling, but the real appeal of the show comes in hilarious comedy songs that parody everything from the Pet Shop Boys and Marvin Gaye to kids’ TV. While the tunes aren’t quite so good in the second season – the first set had been assembled over years on the stand-up circuit – Flight of the Conchords remains a comedy classic.

Pushing Daisies

Release date: April 12, 2008
Seasons: 2
Age rating: TV-PG
RT score: 96% (critics); 95% (audience)

Six Feet Under with a quirky, fantastical edge, Pushing Daisies tells the story of a piemaker with an unlikely power: if he touches anything dead, he can bring it back to life. His gift is a double-edged sword, however, because if he touches something he’s already resurrected for a second time, it’ll be dead forever.

Working from this sky-high concept, future Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller crafted an unlikely but winning mix of detective drama and romantic comedy, as piemaker Ned (Foundation’s Lee Pace) was doomed never to touch his back-from-the-dead childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel). If you have a low tolerance for whimsy it’s probably best to steer clear, but for everyone else Pushing Daisies is a minor fantasy classic that was cancelled way before its time, a victim of Hollywood's 2007-8 writers' strike.

Doctor Who

Release date: March 26, 2005
Seasons: 13
Age rating: TV-PG
RT score: 90% (critics); 64% (audience)

Despite being a British institution – pretty much anyone in the UK could identify a Dalek or the TARDIS – Doctor Who had been off air for 16 years when Russell T. Davies resurrected TV's most famous Time Lord in 2005. It was one of the greatest comebacks of all-time, as the rebooted series became a Saturday night institution (whether you were six or 60), and the subject of watercooler conversations around the country.

All 13 seasons of Who’s 2005 to 2021 comeback are available on Max, taking in the adventures in space and time of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, and Jodie Whittaker. The Tennant era is arguably the best of the bunch, which explains why the actor returned for three Davies-scripted 60th anniversary specials in late 2023. They're available to stream on Disney Plus, as is the Ncuti Gatwa era, which began last December with the 2023 Christmas special and whose first season is still airing on Disney's primary streamer.

True Detective

True Detective - Season 1: Trailer - Official HBO UK - YouTube True Detective - Season 1: Trailer - Official HBO UK - YouTube
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Release date: October 19, 2023
Seasons: 4
Age rating: TV-MA
RT score: 78% (critics); 57% (audience)

If you're looking for your latest TV fix but don't want to invest hours and hours waiting for a conclusion, True Detective could be the show for you. Like Fargo on Hulu, every season of this acclaimed and powerful police drama tells its own standalone story, with its own unique characters – six or eight episodes and you're done.

The show's original run is the standout, as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson's Louisiana detectives pursue a serial killer. After a less successful second season, the show returned to form with the Mahershala Ali-starring season three, while Night Country, the recent Alaska-set season fronted by Jodie Foster, also attracted rave reviews. HBO has confirmed a fifth season of True Detective is on the way following its streaming success.


For more Max-based recommendations, read our guides on all of the new Max movies, best Max movies, and the best Max documentaries to stream.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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