Showtime series may not get as much public recognition compared to series on HBO or Netflix. However, Showtime shows have consistently offered high-quality entertainment for many, many years. Showtime TV series have also received lots of Golden Globe and Emmy award nominations and wins. Let’s take a look at the best shows on Showtime that you can watch right now. plus a few honorable mentions. We even note a Showtime series that you can only currently watch on Netflix.
Read: Best Showtime movies
Where to watch Showtime shows
You can watch Showtime series the old fashioned way on your local cable or satellite provider. You can also watch directly via the Showtime streaming service. In order to access that service, you can sign up for a 30 day free trial at the link below. After the trial period ends, the service costs $10.99 a month.
Best Showtime series
One of the first major Showtime TV shows is still among its best. Based loosely on the series of Dexter novels. Michael C Hall plays the title character, who to most everyone else on the show is a forensic technician for the Miami Police Department. In reality, Dexter is a serial killer, with a difference. His adoptive father recognized the darkness inside Dexter, and trained him to not attack innocent people, but other serial killers. This unique look inside the mind of a killer who wants to do good remains one of the best Showtime series.
Another one of the best shows on Showtime is this very meta look at the making of a TV show. Two UK-based TV writers get the break of a lifetime; their British show is being remade in the US. However, their real trials start when they reach Hollywood and are forced by the network to accept a lead actor they don’t want. That lead actor: Matt LeBlanc, who is played by . . . Matt LeBlanc. It’s a funny look at how show business is not all glamour, all the time. It also has a terrific over-the-top performance by LeBlanc who clearly had fun played an exaggerated version of himself.
Another one of the great Showtime shows is Homeland. It’s made by some of the same people who previously wrote and produced for 24. Both shows deal with the US fighting terrorism, but 24 is much more of an action series. Homeland, however, tried its best to offer a more realistic and nuanced look at how terrorist groups work, and why they wish to attack the US. Claire Danes got the role of her career playing CIA Carrie Mathison, who not only has to deal with the bad guys but also her own problems with bipolar disorder.
4. Ray Donovan
Much like Dexter, this is another one of the classic Showtime TV shows that centers on an outsider character. Liev Schreiber perfectly plays the title character, who works for a law firm in Los Angeles, and later in the series in New York City. He’s not a lawyer, though; far from it. Ray Donovan is a “fixer”; a man who covertly cleans up the mess of the firm’s clients, who are usually rich and famous. This crime drama is dark and dirty as Ray Donovan has to do some questionable things for his employers. However, it still makes for one of the best Showtime series.
Here’s a Showtime original series that’s a bit on the lighter side, but still highly adult in nature. The show, based on the UK series of the same name, focuses on the extended Gallagher family who live in Chicago. The father figure, played terrifically by William H. Macy, is always drunk and is usually useless, so his six kids have to hustle and sometime steal to survive. It’s not the ideal family unit, but it is funny to watch these characters as they get into all sorts of different situations.
6. Twin Peaks: The Return
The original Twin Peaks was one of the greatest TV shows of all time when it ran for two seasons on ABC in the early 1990s. When co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost announced they would revive the spooky drama series at Showtime, many thought they could never bring back the greatness, and weirdness, of the original. They were wrong. Twin Peaks: The Return may actually be better than the original. Fans of the first series will get to see lots of returning characters from the original but Lynch and Frost bring in lots of new characters, storylines, and settings as well. Kyle MacLachlan, in particular, is a standout. He is back as FBI agent Dale Cooper, but he’s also playing several other characters as well. It may have only lasted one season (so far, anyway) but it’s definitely one of the best shows on Showtime.
Damian Lewis, who starred as the male lead in the first three seasons of Homeland, returned to Showtime to take the lead in Billions. His character, Bobby Axelrod, is a hugely successful hedge fund manager who wants to keep making more and more money. His tactics are not supported by Chuck Rhoades, a US Attorney played by Paul Giamatti. Rhoades things Axelrod is making his billions illegally and the show mostly centers on the conflict between these two strong characters. It’s a great fictional look at high finance and all of the characters and situations that go with it. It’s one of the best Showtime series.
8. The Affair
This drama series focuses mostly on four characters. Two of them, Noah Solloway, played by Dominic West, and Alison Bailey, played by Ruth Wilson, are married to other people, played respectively by Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson. However, Noah and Alison start seeing each other secretly, and that’s when their troubles really begin. The Affair sometimes takes some interesting narrative turns, with some episodes showing the same situations, but in the eyes and minds of other characters. It’s this narrative shift, and the great performances by the central actors, that makes The Affair one of the best Showtime TV shows.
9. Penny Dreadful/Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
We are combining these two series together as they take place in the same fictional universe. The original Penny Dreadful is a great supernatural mashup series, set in England in the late 19th century. The series follows a number of different characters as they battle evil forces. Park of the fun of the series is that it includes characters from horror literature of that period, including Dr. Franenstine and his creature, Count Dracula, Dorian Gray, and many more.
The new series is Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, which takes place in the same universe, but in 1930’s Los Angeles. It combines detective noir crime drama with the supernatural. This show centers on a murder mystery. The main characters not only have to deal with solving the crime, but also dealing with rising racial tensions in the city, Nazis, and a shapeshifting demon, played by Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer. This series is one of the best new shows on Showtime. However, the series only lasted one season.
What other shows are on Showtime?
Showtime also has a number of non-scripted TV shows you can watch, including the political-themed The Circus, and the late-night talk show Desus and Mero. There are also some limited series you can check out including the Emmy award-winning Escape at Dannemora and The Loudest Voice, which takes a look at the rise of the Fox News cable channel. There’s even a cartoon series on the show, the political satire The Cartoon President, that’s executive produced by late show talk show host Stephen Colbert.
Can you download shows on the Showtime app?
Yes, the Showtime app for iOS and Android does allow users to download shows for offline viewing. You can keep them stored on your smartphone or tablet. for as long as to are signed up for the service.
Can you watch Showtime on Hulu Plus Live TV?
Yes! You can add Showtime as an extra channel to your Hulu Plus Live TV subscription. As with the stand-alone streaming service, it costs $10.99 a month with a seven-day free trial.
Does Netflix have Showtime shows?
Netflix does have a number of Showtime shows on its service, including the original Penny Dreadful, Dexter, and Shameless. It also has a great Showtime show, the adult sitcom Weeds, that is not currently available via the Showtime service.
That’s a look at the best original Showtime shows that you can stream and watch right now. Check out some of our other streaming content below!