Looking for the best HBO Max shows? You're in luck.
Streaming platform, HBO Max, launched in 2020 with something to say. Not only would they be offering their own TV and movies like competitors Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu, but they’d also be doing it alongside Warner Bros’ extensive library too. With a broad range of content then, it’s not surprising that there’s plenty of TV shows that could’ve found their way onto our best HBO Max shows list, but we’ve picked 20.
From flagship HBO shows like The Sopranos to DC Comic conversions such as Peacemaker and Watchmen, you might be surprised at what the HBO Max streaming service has to offer. Or, you might not, considering they’ve been in the original programming game since the 70s and have a mammoth hold on content creation.
With more than 13,000 hours of content available on HBO Max, the price point for viewers comes in a little steeper than that of its competitors. For Ad-Free viewing, you’re looking at $14.99 a month and for With Ads viewing, it’s $9.99 a month. You can sign up for an HBO Max subscription here.
Whilst the service is very much a US-based affair, it continues to roll out in other territories across the world. So, one to keep an eye out for if it’s not where you are just yet.
And, if you’re looking for more HBO Max content, let’s not forget it’s also the home of some excellent movies of which we’ve compiled the best HBO Max movies to watch right now.
In 1999, The Sopranos changed the face of HBO forever with this groundbreaking drama. The iconic show tells the story of mafia head, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), as he navigates family life and criminal business, which is intertwined in the show during discussions with his therapist, Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).
Even though it ended in 2007, it’s still a show often 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.
Game Of Thrones
Over the course of its eight seasons, Game of Thrones became the hugely popular fantasy-filled show that had millions of viewers around the world engrossed.
Based on the book series by George R. R. Martin, the shows was set in the fabled land of Westeros, where warring families fight for control over the Iron Throne with immense battles, unlawful romances, and we won’t even get into what lies 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 heads up Mare of Easttown as protagonist, Marianne “Mare” Sheehan, a police detective from Pennsylvania investigating a mysterious murder of a teenage mother whilst also balancing her own troubled home life.
Once known for being the town superstar of her high school basketball team, Mare tackles her small town’s opinions of her as the murder hangs unsolved for over a year whilst 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.
From the genius mind of British screenwriter, Jesse Armstrong, the world has been introduced to the Roy family, a bloodline so dysfunctional it makes you wonder how they proved to be so successful in the business world, especially given Logan Roy, the central figurehead of the family and owner of huge media conglomerate, Waystar RoyCo, isn’t exactly a shining example of a loving father figure.
Over multiple seasons of Succession, Logan fights with his offspring over who will eventually take control of the company, whilst 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.
Peacemaker is one of the more recent additions on our best shows on HBO Max list with a 2022 release date. We were first introduced to Peacemaker, a violent red-white-and-blue superhero/supervillain with questionable morals in The Suicide Squad, and this HBO Max original marks his conversion to his very own TV show.
Given life on screen by prolific writer, James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, this DC Comics spin-off tells the tale of Peacemaker, described by Gunn himself as “the world’s biggest douchebag,” which sees him teaming up to take down some pretty gnarly parasites no matter what it takes to get there.
Station Eleven 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 travelling 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 the dystopian world of Mandel’s mind to life. A great addition to HBO’s line-up.
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.
A new HBO Max Original comedy, Minx, made its debut in 2022. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, young feminist, Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond) 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).
With Paul Feig of Bridesmaids and The Heat fame signed on as exec producer, he’s no newbie to women-led comedy and makes for a perfect fit in translating this pro-feminist comedy to TV screens.
Another entry from the DC Comics universe is the limited series, Watchmen. Now, it’s not the first time viewers have seen Watchmen on their screens with the 2009 movie of the same name, but it’s a whole new story picking up 34 years after the events of the comics. In an alternate history, the superheroes of Watchmen are instead outlawed due to their violence and band together in hopes of changing the rhetoric.
In 2019, HBO brought the historical tragedy of Chernobyl Power Plant in Ukraine to life in this heartbreaking drama, which retold the story of how one of the worst nuclear disasters on Earth came about.
The five-part miniseries depicted stories of the disaster and the devastating aftermath that followed which saw many sacrifice their own lives to save many others. The show received critical acclaim for its dramatization with powerful acting and a team of equally powerful writers to boot.
I May Destroy You
A team-up with the BBC, I May Destroy You won universal praise when it debuted on screens. A real labour of love, the show was written and stars Michaela Coel.
Cole plays Arabella, a young woman who awakes from a night out unaware of what happened to her and devastatingly realising that she was drugged asking the question, “If you can’t remember it, how could you consent?” In a one other season filled with incredibly frank and brave moments, I May Destroy You uses dark humour and poignant questions to tell Arabella’s story with some scenes incredibly hard to watch, but also incredibly important.
Six Feet Under
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, unsurprisingly considering it’s set in a funeral home, it also deals incredibly closely with the topic of death. For viewers, the show is an opportunity to tackle existential issues balanced with dark humour and an ending that many still talk about today.
HBO took the 1973 sci-fi dystopian film, Westworld, and turned it into a TV show that benefits wholeheartedly from the ability to utilise modern day technology and TV wizardry. Set in a futuristic theme park, visitors visit the Western-themed areas and interact with the automated hosts that can assuage their wants and needs. That is until 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 continues to thrive with a star-studded cast and ever-evolving storylines set from within and without the park.
Created by and starring Lena Dunham, four girlfriends in New York struggle through their day-to-day lives juggling career decisions and complicated relationships in their 20s, whilst 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 very day.
Band of Brothers
Based on the true stories collected in historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s book of the same name, Band of Brothers dramatizes the WWII US paratrooper unit, Easy Company, and recounts tales of their time 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.
Another great war series from HBO and from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg is The Pacific, which follows three marines from different regiments as their stories intertwine during the WWII battle between the US and Japanese in the Pacific. An incredible follow-up from Band of Brothers carrying 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 started with a bang when it hit HBO in 2010 with prolific director Martin Scorsese taking control of 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, it’s not without constant run-ins with other opposing politicians set to take him down at every turn and the gangsters he builds relationships with to take advantage of the bootlegging of the prohibition era.
Whilst 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 warring troubled relationship with his macho father, and Jules (Hunter Schafer) and her battle to find belonging with her transgender identity, to name but a few. 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
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 follows closely the times of a group of friends during the AIDS epidemic as it first began in 1980s London. Each friend with their own heart-rending story to tell, which strives to explore what life was like when people suffered and yet it 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 not limited to but including Olly Alexander, lead singer for Years & Years.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
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 lives of the 1980s iconic basketball team, LA Lakers, both on and off the court, 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 with the pilot episode directed by Adam McKay (Succession).