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The top 45 best HBO Max shows you can watch now
HBO Max is now available on various platforms. The streaming service not only has the many award-winning TV series from HBO, but it also has several other shows available just for the service, either as exclusives or classic library shows like Friends. Which HBO Max shows are the best ones to stream and watch today? These are our picks for the best HBO Max shows currently available on the streaming service.
If you don’t already have it, you can sign up for the streaming service at the link below. There are some ways to even get the service free, if you are eligible. If these free options don’t apply to you, you’ll be able to subscribe for $14.99 a month without ads, or $9.99 with ads.
The 45 best HBO Max shows
- Station Eleven
- Doctor Who
- I May Destroy You
- Harley Quinn
- The Big Bang Theory
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- The Sopranos
- The Righteous Gemstones
- The Flight Attendant
- The Leftovers
- Babylon 5
- The Larry Sanders Show
- Adventure Time
- Falling Skies
- The Gilded Age
- Ghosts (UK)
- Rick and Morty
- Raised by Wolves
- The White Lotus
- South Park
- The Wire
- Sex and the City
- Game of Thrones
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Last Week Tonight
- Batman The Animated Series
- Doom Patrol
- The Comeback
- His Dark Materials
- The Newsroom
- Flight of the Conchords
- True Blood
- Reno 911
- Wellington Paranormal
Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this list of the best HBO Max shows as new ones make it to the streaming service.
Succession has been a huge, buzz-worthy hit for HBO. The drama follows the Roy clan, a family of spoiled rich kids vying to take over the family media conglomerate from their father. Succession feels like it captures everything wrong with the world, all condensed into one over-privileged family. And somehow, it’s still tremendous fun to watch.
Looking for more shows like this one? We have a guide to the shows you should watch if you can’t get enough of Succession.
Station Eleven (HBO Max original)
After a pandemic wipes out most of humanity, survivors do their best in a new and transformed world. We follow a traveling theater group and its members as they face off against a mysterious cult leader, choose how best to stage Hamlet, and make their way to a museum of civilization, where other survivors have built a shrine to the world that was.
Station Eleven is refreshing in its depiction of a devastating future in which people come together — the mini-series offers a hopeful portrait of humanity, not a bleak one, and is one of the best HBO Max shows.
Hacks (HBO Max original)
When a legendary stand-up comic’s social cachet starts to wane, she works with a younger comic facing her own image issues after an insensitive tweet gets her into hot water. The show offers a thoughtful and hilarious look at generational differences, the often volatile world of stand-up comedy, and the value of punching up. Jean Smart is an absolute gem in this HBO Max show. You can watch the first two seasons now, and a third is in the works.
Doctor Who (2005)
The BBC took a huge risk by reviving its once-popular sci-fi TV show in 2005. In retrospect, it wasn’t that big of a risk after all. Russell T. Davies took the best from the original show, about a time and space-traveling alien-fighting doctor, and added a lot of humanity and pathos. It’s a worthy addition to the exclusive HBO Max TV shows, and US audiences can finally stream the most recent seasons starring the current Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker.
What can be said about this 1990s sitcom that hasn’t been said already? Well, we can try. Friends remains on top of the pop culture zeitgeist for one main reason: it’s still funny to watch. The misadventures of Joey, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica in New York City may not be realistic, but they are highly entertaining. You can also finally watch the long-awaited Friends reunion special on HBO Max.
I May Destroy You
Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, an HBO and BBC co-production, is a raw look at a woman taking stock of her life, relationships, and career after she’s sexually assaulted in a nightclub. It’s smart, moving, devastating, funny, and brilliant. It’s also one of the best HBO Max shows by a wide margin.
Harley Quinn (HBO Max original)
Based on the iconic DC Comics character, HBO Max’s Harley Quinn sees the animated anti-hero, newly single, working to become the criminal queenpin of Gotham City. The series is funny, action-packed, refreshingly queer, and features some stellar voice work, including Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Ron Funches, Tony Hale, Jason Alexander, J. B. Smoove, and Alan Tudyk. You can watch the first two seasons now, and the third should launch in July.
The Big Bang Theory
It’s hard to believe that this show had not appeared on a premium streaming service before becoming part of the HBO Max TV series library. The sitcom is supposed to be about four brilliant and hopelessly nerdy scientists who get some lessons in life from their very un-nerdy new female addition. It’s really about how nerd culture slowly but surely turned into mainstream comedy entertainment. We suspect that The Big Bang Theory could get a big boost with its inclusion among the HBO Max shows.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Here’s another show that hasn’t had much streaming video love before HBO Max. Will Smith was already a huge music star when he got the lead in this sitcom. It follows his character, also named Will, who is sent from the tough Philadelphia streets to LA’s safe and rich Bel-Air neighborhood.
While there are some dated bits in this 1990s series, it’s still fun to watch Smith and the show’s other cast of characters have some fun. You can also watch an exclusive reunion of the show’s cast now on HBO Max.
There’s no way we would leave out perhaps the best HBO TV series from this HBO Max shows list. David Chase’s mob crime drama rises above the typical cliches as we see how the leader of a crime organization has to balance his work with his family life. There are twists and turns in this show you won’t see coming, including one of the most controversial endings of a TV series ever.
The Righteous Gemstones
Created by funnyman Danny McBride, The Righteous Gemstones is one of the most hilarious things on TV, and it’s easily one of the best HBO Max shows. The series follows a family of televangelists who run successful megachurches and live lavish lifestyles. For all its success, though, the family is absurdly dysfunctional, with each of the adult children vying for the love and respect of their cold and controlling father. You can watch the first two seasons now, and a third season has been ordered.
HBO’s hit show about troubled teens and their families has slowly turned into more of a mainstream hit. This is unlike any teen-based show on television, as it goes into some pretty dark but also honest places. It’s also led by Zendaya, who shines as the show’s main character Rue, who has left rehab for drug addiction but has lots of temptation surrounding her. The first two seasons, plus two specials, are available to stream now, and a third season is coming.
The Flight Attendant (HBO Max original)
One of the first original series on the service, The Flight Attendant remains one of the best HBO shows to watch. A flight attendant wakes up next to a dead body, seemingly murdered while she slept soundly beside him. Suddenly, she’s swept up in a major mystery in this dark, witty, and fun modern-day send-up of Hitchcock classics like The 39 Steps and North By Northwest. The first two seasons are available now.
What would happen if 2% of the world’s population disappeared all at once? It’s a small number, but everyone would be affected. Would you lose your closest loved ones? Might you be spared major pain? How would different industries be changed? Would the rest of the world learn to move on without knowing why it happened?
HBO’s The Leftovers, one of the best shows of the last decade and one of the best HBO Max shows, explores these questions, telling a smart and deeply human story of grief and communal recovery.
This sci-fi syndicated series from the 1990s still works today for several reasons. The main one is its overarching storyline based mainly on the Babylon 5 space station, which serves as a neutral space for humans and other alien races to work out their differences.
This show was one of the first to have story arcs that had a beginning, middle, and end, and it had some very unexpected twists and turns in its five seasons. It also was one of the first shows to use CGI visual effects extensively, and they (mostly) hold up.
The Larry Sanders Show
The late and great Garry Shandling created and starred in this classic HBO comedy. Shandling plays Larry Sanders, a Johnny Carson-like host of a popular late-night talk show. The series benefits from all the major celebrities who popped up to play versions of themselves as guests of the show. But the main attraction was all the behind-the-scenes peeks into the lives of Sanders and his many team members.
First shown on the Cartoon Network, this surreal animated series also became a hit with adults. The show, about the adventures of a boy named Finn and his shape-shifting dog Jake in a magical post-apocalyptic land, was inspired by, among other things, the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. However, the show has its own humor and wonder about it, and is perfect for family viewing.
One of the biggest TV shows of the 1990s and 2000s, ER was written differently and looked different than the flood of medical TV shows available at the time. Most episodes felt like you were in that Chicago emergency room, where the doctors and nurses had no time to fix a trauma patient. You can watch all 15 seasons on HBO Max, including an episode that was filmed live for broadcast. Oh, and the show made George Clooney, among others, a star.
One of ER’s alums, Noah Wyle, is the star of this sci-fi series. Originally aired on TNT, it depicted life after an alien invasion and the human resistance that formed to combat it. The show was notable for showing how such an attack would likely almost destroy humanity and how not all surviving humans would want to fight back.
J.J. Abrams co-created this TV series that had elements of The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, and Abrams’ own Lost. The series depicts a sometimes reluctant team at the FBI that investigates cases involving “fringe science” themes. The show quickly got into deep conspiracies, alternate timelines, and parallel worlds, but it remained highly entertaining to watch through five seasons.
The Gilded Age
The Gilded Age comes from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. It’s set in New York City in the late 19th century and focuses on the battles between the “old money” social community of the town and the “new money” citizens who are moving into the city. It’s fascinating to look at this time in history when certain people in the US started to accumulate a lot of wealth and how that affected both them and society. The first season is available now, and a second season is now filming.
You may have seen the US remake of this supernatural sitcom on CBS and Paramount Plus. However, the original BBC version is actually much funnier. Both shows do have the same premise: a young couple buys an older home, but the wife later starts to see various ghosts from different time eras that are also living in the home. It’s very funny and worth your time, whether or not you have seen the US version.
Rick and Morty
This adult animated show may have started as an over-the-top parody of Back To The Future, but it quickly evolved into its own pop-culture phenomenon. The adventures of Rick and his grandson Morty truly go into storylines never seen before in any show, animated or otherwise. It’s also extremely funny.
Raised by Wolves (HBO Max original)
Set in the future, androids land on a distant planet to raise human children. Refugees from a war with anti-robot religious fundamentalists, they hope for a better future for their children but must readjust when their foes arrive on their new home planet. Produced by science-fiction master Ridley Scott, Raised by Wolves is one of the best HBO Max original series. You can watch both seasons of the show now.
When HBO announced they would do a Watchmen TV series and a sequel to the classic superhero comic book, many believed it was dead on arrival. Leave it to Damon Lindelof, the show developer, to prove them wrong. This series is a worthy successor to the comic by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, and also an excellent look at the past and current state of race relations. It only lasted for one season (for now), but it’s one of the best HBO Max series.
The White Lotus
What can happen in a paradisiac beach hotel? A lot more than relaxing and drinking margaritas by the beach. The White Lotus follows the story of visitors and staff during a week in Hawaii. The six-episode mini-series adds a touch of darkness to an otherwise cheerful place with the promise of one character’s eventual death. It’s a very interesting show that won’t take over your life, as it has very few episodes. It’s been renewed for a second season, so you can look forward to more.
After years of being on Hulu, one of the best TV shows of all time is now on HBO Max. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s creation remains one of the most topical and funny TV shows on the air. The foursome of school kids Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny never grow old, but thankfully, neither does this show. This group of characters and the many recurring cast members give their funny takes on various issues.
From author and former police reporter David Simon comes The Wire. Set and produced in Baltimore, Maryland, the series explores law enforcement and its relationship to different parts of the city’s institutions, introduced one at a time in each season. These include the illegal drug trade, the port system, city government, education, and media. The Wire is a critically acclaimed television classic.
Sex and the City
One of HBO’s flagship shows in the early days of the golden age of cable TV, Sex and the City has had major ups and downs, with two movies and a reunion show currently airing. You can catch up on the original series about a group of friends in New York City in the 2000s navigating their careers, love lives, and sex.
Issa Rae stars in this HBO comedy-drama that she co-created with Larry Wilmore. Insecure is about a friendship between two Black women who deal with their vulnerabilities and insecurities as they approach everyday life. The series explores racial and social issues related to the two main characters.
Deadwood remains one of the best shows of all time. It tells a fictionalized version of the real-life foundation of a frontier town in South Dakota. With it comes lawlessness, violence, corruption, and the formation of a fascinating community on the fringes of American life. You can also catch the more recent Deadwood movie on HBO Max. Set over a decade after the events of the final third season, the film continues the story with all the main characters.
Game of Thrones
Once known as the most pirated TV series globally, Game of Thrones is a hit you can’t ignore. Based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the complex medieval fantasy story is full of action, suspense, and complex characters that will intrigue viewers. If that’s not enough, common topics also include murder, treason, dragons, ice zombies, and more. You can watch the complete series now, and the first spin-off show, the prequel House of the Dragon, has started its first 10 episode season
There are a lot of DC Comics-based TV shows you can watch, but Peacemaker on HBO Max blows them all away. John Cena reprises his role from 2021’s movie The Suicide Squad as a highly dangerous assassin who is also a bit crazy. With the help of a rag-tag team thrown together by Task Force X’s leader Amanda Waller, Peacemaker has to stop what looks like an alien invasion of Earth.
However, this show also takes some satirical jabs at racism, government control, and more. Oh, and it’s funny and always has a huge cliffhanger at the end of every episode. You can check out the first season now, and a second season has been ordered.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays a fictional version of himself, fumbling through the various irritations of his life while coming up against social conventions he’d rather ignore. If you liked Seinfeld, you’re likely to get a kick out of this critically-acclaimed, award-winning HBO series.
If you want another Seinfeld alum, Julia Louis-Dreyfus brings the laughs in Veep. Former senator Selina Meyer adjusts to her new life and career when elected Vice President of the United States. The job isn’t what she expected, and she has to work with an absurd assortment of aides and colleagues to make her mark and help her constituents.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
British funnyman John Oliver has become an unlikely news source for many Americans and even non-Americans worldwide. Following in the footsteps of The Daily Show, where Oliver got his start, he recaps current events but with a humorous spin. While he injects plenty of laughs and satire, Oliver also offers thoughtful, in-depth analysis, giving his viewers context for what’s happening in the world.
Batman The Animated Series
Many Batman fans believe, with some justification, that this show remains the best adaptation of the DC Comics character. It’s not hard to argue that the show’s storylines, visuals, and voice acting performances, particularly from Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill as The Joker, retain the best parts of the look and feel of the best Batman comics.
You can also watch other spin-off shows from HBO Max, including Batman Beyond and the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited series.
Doom Patrol (HBO Max original)
This DC Comics-based series is also one of the oddest live-action series currently in production. Based on the Grant Morrison-written issues of the super team, this collection of misfit heroes includes a woman who has many personalities, each with their own superpower, and a man with his brain encased in a robot body. The show adapts Morrison’s absurd storylines and themes very well and is worth checking out. Three seasons are available to watch now, and a fourth is in the works.
After her success playing Pheobe on Friends, Lisa Kudrow could have made any type of show. She chose to make this uniquely meta HBO comedy. She plays Valerie Cherish, an actress who starred in a popular 1980s TV sitcom, but has since fallen on hard times. She finally gets a minor regular role on a modern sitcom but also agrees to be filmed for a companion reality show. This show shows off Kudrow’s acting talents in a way that she could never do on Friends.
His Dark Materials
This HBO-BBC co-production is based on a trilogy of novels by Philip Pullman. While the show’s first season mainly depicts an alternative Earth where people have animal “souls” as constant companions, the second season expands this setting to include more parallel worlds.
The main focus is on a young girl, Lyra (Dafne Keen), who some in this setting believe to be a person destined to change their world. The show has excellent visual effects and production values, and Ruth Wilson is perfectly cast as the main villain. Two seasons are available now, and the third and final season is coming soon.
After depicting the behind-the-scenes work of The White House in The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin turned to the TV news business in this HBO series. Jeff Daniels had one of his best roles as the lead anchor for a CNN-style cable news network, which tried to report the truth while dealing with issues like ratings, other news personalities, and more.
Flight of the Conchords
This HBO comedy series depicts the fictional adventures of the real-life New Zealand two-member comedy musical band. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are shown as struggling musicians in New York City, and their tales are punctuated with some great original songs. It’s a funny show about music, and that’s hard to do.
Creator Alan Ball used the Southern Vampires novel series by Charlaine Harris as the basis for this show. In the True Blood universe, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures are not only real, but they try to co-exist with humans. The very adult series used vampires, who are trying to get the same rights as humans, as a metaphor for modern-day racial and sexual discrimination. Oh, and it had some pretty bloody horror sequences.
It started out as a parody of “ride-a-long” reality police shows like Cops. However, Reno 911 slowly became as popular, if not more so, than the shows it made fun of. The Reno, Nevada-based Washoe County Sheriff’s Department is shown tackling all sorts of very different criminals, while also dealing with problems and odd character traits in their own lives. If you have never seen it, give it a try.
Like Reno 911, this import comedy series from New Zealand follows cops in the city of Wellington, documentary-style, as they try to keep the peace. The difference? These cops have to deal with supernatural crimes and creatures. It’s as funny as you would expect from a spin-off series made by the same folks as What We Do In The Shadows.
Many other HBO Max shows are great but didn’t make the cut. Here are just a few of the series you should check out once you’ve checked the others out:
- Girls — Lena Dunham’s comedy series about millennial women coming to terms with adulthood in New York is a clever and engaging watch.
- True Detective — Season two may have soured a few viewers on this anthology detective series, but True Detective is a total knockout at its best.
- Titans — A dark and gritty look at DC Comics’ Teen Titans.
- Westworld — This adaptation of the classic sci-fi film is a dark, philosophical look at a theme park where customers get an immersive peek into old west living, enabled by robots unaware of their true natures.
- The Middle — One of the most underrated sitcoms of all time, about a working-class family in a small Indiana town.
- The West Wing — Aaron Sorkin’s classic show about life inside the White House is fun to watch, even with the “walk and talk” sequences.
Yes, quite a few of these series can be bought in a physical disc format.
Yes! Many of these shows can be purchased on digital stores like iTunes, Google TV, Vudu and others.
Paramount has already said that South Park will depart HBO Max for Paramount Plus, but that won’t happen until 2025.
You can expect to see all the new shows from the CW debut on the service after they run on the network, including All American: Homecoming.
That’s a look at the best HBO Max shows. We will update this post when new shows debut on the service.