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HBO has always been known for great shows, ever since its breakout hit drama “Oz” in the ’90s. Since then, it has produced some of the best series of the last few decades, several with outsized cultural impact. Its merger with Warner Bros. expanded and rebranded the streaming service as Max, so now there’s even more great TV to choose from. Max is truly the streaming service for TV lovers, as the quality of shows in our list will demonstrate.

We’ve curated our favorite 25 shows from the streamer’s long history of outstanding TV. Expect to see the best Max series of the last few years and plenty of HBO classics in a range of genres to suit anyone's taste. We’ll be updating this list frequently to include fresh new content.

‘The White Lotus’ (2021 to Present) — Editor’s Top Pick

Two young women lounge and read by the pool in this image from Rip Cord Productions.
The ensemble cast in “The White Lotus” makes it worth watching. (Image: Rip Cord Productions)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Dark Comedy-Drama | Length: 2 seasons, 13 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10 | Metacritic Rating: 82

Cast: Jennifer Coolidge, Sydney Sweeney, Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli

Watch the trailer for “The White Lotus”

At the opulent White Lotus resort, a deep unsettling feeling festers under the breeze-blown palms. Vacationers, seeking solace and rejuvenation, find themselves ensnared in a web of ever-intensifying eerie occurrences. Each season of “The White Lotus” begins with an unidentified death, followed by the mysteries, evolving relationships, and intricacies of human interaction leading to the pivotal moment. The series seamlessly weaves dark comedy with incisive societal observations on class, privilege, imperialism, and the thin veneer of civility. Emotional range, a fantastic ensemble cast, and relevant themes make “The White Lotus” hands-down one of the most riveting series of recent times.

Watch “The White Lotus” on Max

'The Regime’ (2024)

A woman sits in front of flags in this image from HBO Entertainment.
This brand-new miniseries is getting rave reviews. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Political Satire | Length: 1 season, 6 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10 | Metacritic Rating: 56

Cast: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Guillaume Gallienne

Watch the trailer for “The Regime”

This year has already brought us a new hit miniseries on Max. Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet stars in “The Regime,” a dark comedy that takes on modern dictatorship with no holds barred. The series’ six episodes take us behind a Central European palace's magnificently ornate but increasingly paranoid walls, where former physician Chancellor Elena Vernham (Winslet) finds her grip on power weakening as dissent simmers in the country. Elena appoints Herbert Zubak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a disgraced soldier with a volatile personality, as her personal “water diviner.” He soon becomes her confidant and wields surprising influence within the palace, while Elena’s erratic behavior and reliance on Herbert push her country into further turmoil.

Winslet’s voice and nuanced expressions create a captivating protagonist that is both tender and fragile — as well as violent and unpredictable. The web of political intrigue will have you bingeing this smart satire in a day.

Watch “The Regime” on Max

‘The Last of Us’ (2023 to Present)

A man examines a young girl on a hospital bed in this image from Sony Pictures Television.
Based on the critically acclaimed video game, “The Last of Us” was one of TV’s most-anticipated shows in 2023. (Image: Sony Pictures Television)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Drama-Thriller | Length: 1 season, 9 episodes

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10 | Metacritic Rating: 84

Cast: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Lamar Johnson, John Getz

Watch the trailer for “The Last of Us”

Following a world-shaking pandemic event, smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal) embarks on a dangerous mission to escort a Cordyceps-immune teenager, Ellie (Bella Ramsey), to a facility where the doctors can produce a vaccine. The duo travel from the quarantine enclave and across a ravaged, postapocalyptic U.S. Their journey is rife with stark survivalist challenges, multifaceted allies and adversaries, and imminent infected (humans taken over by the fungal infection) lurking around every corner.

While “The Last of Us” TV series draws its roots from a popular 2013 video game of the same name, the resonance of the show has been magnified against the backdrop of our recent real-world pandemic ordeals. It paints a compelling tapestry of endurance and fragile survival, the ephemerality of life and the inevitable decay, and the myriad shades of human nature, making it a standout entry in the postapocalyptic genre.

Watch “The Last of Us” on Max

'Tokyo Vice’ (2022 to Present)

Two men walk through a park in this image from Boku Films.
Season 2 of “Tokyo Vice” is causing a huge buzz. (Image: Boku Films)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Crime Thriller | Length: 2 seasons, 18 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10 | Metacritic Rating: 76

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe, Rachel Keller

Watch the trailer for “Tokyo Vice”

In 1999 Tokyo, Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) is an American journalist determined to break into the Japanese organized crime syndicate (Yakuza) despite cultural barriers and skepticism from his Japanese newspaper colleagues. He finds himself under the wing of Detective Hiroto Katagiri (Ken Watanabe), a veteran cop navigating the line between duty and corruption on the Tokyo police force. Jake’s descent into the underworld throws him together with a fellow American, the captivating hostess Samantha (Rachel Keller). The brand-new second season picks up in the aftermath of the Season 1 finale: Jake presents Detective Katagiri with evidence against a powerful politician, Samantha faces financial ruin, and the power struggle within the Yakuza threatens to draw everyone into its hurricane.

“Tokyo Vice” is a neon-lit tale of moral ambiguity, where ambition, loyalty, and tradition weave a tangled web that leaves viewers questioning who the heroes and villains really are.

Watch “Tokyo Vice” on Max

‘The Gilded Age’ (2022 to Present)

A group of lavishly dressed women in a sitting room in this image from Universal Television
“The Gilded Age” is America’s answer to “Downton Abbey” (Image: Universal Television)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Period Drama | Length: 2 seasons, 17 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8/10 | Metacritic Rating: 70

Cast: Carrie Coon, Morgan Spector, Louisa Jacobson

Watch the trailer for “The Gilded Age”

Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) is a young woman left penniless after the death of her bankrupt father. She leaves her rural Pennsylvania life behind to live with her wealthy Aunt Agnes (Christine Baranski) in the opulent halls of her 1885 New York manor. An outsider in the world of high-society balls and fierce rivalries, Marian does her best to conform to her Aunt Agnes's rigid expectations. Meanwhile, across Fifth Avenue, the nouveau riche Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) and her ambitious husband, George (Morgan Spector), strive to infiltrate the established elite, clashing with Agnes's old-money traditions.

“The Gilded Age” dives into the stark societal divide of the era, looking at ambition, social climbing, and the changing tides of wealth and power that often closely reflect our society today. History fans will love the lavish costumes, intricate set designs, and historical details; drama fans will be impressed by performances brimming with wit and intelligence in this must-see period drama.

Watch “The Gilded Age” on Max

‘House of the Dragon’ (2022 to Present)

A young woman stands in front of a tactical map table in this image from HBO.
In this prequel spin-off, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) is the leading character. (Image: HBO)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Fantasy | Length: 1 season, 10 episodes

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10 | Metacritic Rating: 69

Cast: Milly Alcock, Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy

Watch the trailer for “House of the Dragon”

Fans of “Game of Thrones” find themselves transported back to the realm of Westeros in this prequel spin-off. Two centuries prior to the events of “Game of Thrones,” the land is already caught up in intoxicating power struggles and cutthroat politics. “House of the Dragon” delves into the rise of House Targaryen and the seismic civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. Tensions rise and family ties fray following King Viserys I’s (Paddy Considine) choice to defy age-old customs, designating his dragon-riding daughter, Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy), as his rightful successor. In true Westeros fashion, her claim is far from accepted without a battle. Returning to this rich fantasy world with its raw depiction of societal prejudices, insatiable thirst for power, and intricate, savage politics is a feast for any “Game of Thrones” aficionado.

Watch “House of the Dragon” on Max

‘Our Flag Means Death’ (2022 to Present)

A man looks glum while hanging on a ship’s ropes in this image from Gentleman Pirate Productions
Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) plays the “Gentleman Pirate.” (Image: Gentleman Pirate Productions)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Historical Comedy Adventure | Length: 2 seasons, 18 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 | Metacritic Rating: 72

Cast: Rhys Darby, Joel Fry, Matthew Maher

Watch the trailer for “Our Flag Means Death”

“Our Flag Means Death ” returned to Max on Oct 5 with its highly-anticipated second season. (Very) loosely based on the life of the Gentleman Pirate, Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), the show tells the story of Bonnet abandoning his family and comfortable life as a landed gentry of Barbados to go pirating. His misadventures with his dysfunctional crew include avoiding run-ins with naval forces and other brutal pirates, as well as navigating the choppy waters of queer love, including the unlikely romance between Bonnet and the famed but unfulfilled pirate Captain Blackbeard (Taika Waititi). The show has been celebrated for its representation of gay, non-binary, and POC characters interwoven into the lives of real figures, challenging historical stereotypes about race and sexuality. “Our Flag Means Death” is a coming-of-age story for those who bloom late in life, celebrating the love, friendship, and adventure that can come from following your heart.

Watch “Our Flag Means Death” on Max

‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ (2021 to Present)

Two girls looking surprised in ridiculous costumes in this image from 3 Arts Entertainment
The girls of Essex College are getting a shocking amount of education (Image: 3 Arts Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Comedy | Length: 2 seasons, 20 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 | Metacritic Rating: 75

Cast: Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp

Watch the trailer for “The Sex Lives of College Girls”

At prestigious Essex College, four freshmen roommates, Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet), Leighton (Reneé Rapp), Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott), and Bela (Amrit Kaur), weather the ups and downs of midterms, hormones, ambition, and heartbreak. Demanding academics, blossoming friendships, and steamy hookups make college life as exhilarating as it is messy as the girls’ experiences show them how often sex is used as a tool to get ahead.

This smart comedy has been praised for its refreshingly frank and witty look at female sexuality, consent, queer desire, and modern relationships. “The Sex Lives of College Girls” uses relatable characters, sharp humor, and nuance to spark conversations and challenge stereotypes; it tells a story that is authentic to the college experience while remaining relatable to anyone who has ever experienced a transitional time in their lives.

Watch “The Sex Lives of College Girls” on Max

‘Abbott Elementary’ (2021 to Present)

Three women sit in a school assembly in this image from Warner Bros. Television
Educators have the toughest job being a role model for the kids while dealing with less-than-desirable circumstances. (Image: Warner Bros. Television)

Rated: TV-PG | Genre: Mockumentary Sitcom | Length: 2 seasons, 35 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10 | Metacritic Rating: 83

Cast: Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter

Watch the trailer for “Abbott Elementary”

“Abbott Elementary” is a mockumentary-style sitcom that follows a group of hilariously mismatched teachers in an under-resourced, predominantly Black, Philadelphia elementary school. The result is a binge-worthy mix of chaotic classrooms, water cooler moments, and enough bureaucratic tape to wrap the school thrice over. Juggling shoe-string budgets, mountains of paperwork, student squabbles, challenges in their own personal lives, and the intricacies of their workplace dynamics, these educators give a master class in making lemonade out of lemons. Lighthearted and wholesome, “Abbott Elementary” is proof that, while you can’t do all the good the world needs, the world needs all the good you can do.

Watch “Abbott Elementary” on Max

‘Hacks’ (2021 to Present)

A woman smiling in a flamboyant outfit in this image from 3 Arts Entertainment.
An aging comedian reinvigorates her act in “Hacks.” (Image: 3 Arts Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Comedy Drama | Length: 2 seasons, 18 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10 | Metacritic Rating: 85

Cast: Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, Carl Clemons-Hopkins

Watch the trailer for “Hacks”

Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), a legendary, aging Las Vegas comedian, finds her career at a crossroads when threatened with losing her residency at the Palmetto Casino. Struggling to stay relevant, Deborah’s agent sends her an arrogant, out-of-work comedy writer for fresh material. Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder) is fresh from being canceled, and Deborah is struggling with the idea of working with a writer. However, they discover they have good creative rapport, tweaking the joke that got Ava canceled until it’s funny. The pair form an unlikely bond as they take on the comedy scene, tackling generational conflicts, evolving comedy, and their complex personal lives. With the sharp wit you would expect from smart and snappy women in comedy, “Hacks” challenges stereotypes and breaks barriers, showing us that growth and reinvention can happen at any age.

Watch “Hacks” on Max

‘Euphoria’ (2019 to Present)

Two teens lay on the ground outside in this image from HBO Entertainment
“Euphoria” is darker than most teen dramas, providing an unapologetic and realistic lens into everyday lives. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Teen Drama | Length: 2 seasons, 18 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10 | Metacritic Rating: 70

Cast: Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney, Jacob Elordi

Watch the trailer for “Euphoria”

“Euphoria” captures the raw essence of the Gen Z ethos like no other show before it, presenting a poignant exploration of the turbulent waters of modern adolescence. In the corridors of East Highland High School, characters grapple with self-identity, evolving sexuality, substance abuse, dysfunctional families, harrowing trauma, and the omnipresent allure of social media. The narrator, Rue Bennett, portrayed with captivating depth by Zendaya, whose performance earned her the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2020, is a young girl ensnared in the complexities of drug addiction. Amidst her battles with family turmoil and intricate love dynamics, she observes the painful yet hopeful parallel journeys of her high school peers. Deeply emotional and beautifully written, “Euphoria” is one of the best TV teen dramas of all time.

Watch “Euphoria” on Max

‘The Righteous Gemstones’ (2019 to Present)

A man outdoors looking furious in this image from HBO Entertainment.
“The Righteous Gemstones” exposes the dark underbelly of a world-famous televangelist. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Comedy Drama | Length: 3 seasons, 27 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 | Metacritic Rating: 73

Cast: John Goodman, Danny McBride, Adam DeVine

Watch the trailer for “The Righteous Gemstones”

Believers the world over know widowed televangelist Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) to be a righteous man of God. From his shopping mall churches to Christian time-shares, Eli and his family turn a healthy profit from the faith of their followers. While his immature children live lavish lifestyles on church donations, Eli keeps some very ungodly behavior under wraps, doing whatever’s necessary to stave off nosy journalists and rival churches. A gleefully wicked social commentary with a standout performance from Goodman, “The Righteous Gemstones” satires the world of megachurches and the absurd nature of organized religion with biting black comedy and complex characters torn between faith, money, and power.

Watch “The Righteous Gemstones” on Max

‘His Dark Materials’ (2019 to 2022)

A young girl looks at a strange instrument with a white weasel on the table in this image from New Line Productions.
“His Dark Materials” is based on the book trilogy of the same name by Philip Pullman. (Image: New Line Productions)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Fantasy Drama | Length: 3 seasons, 23 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 | Metacritic Rating: 71

Cast: Dafne Keen, Kit Connor, Ruth Wilson, Amir Wilson

Watch the trailer for “His Dark Materials”

“His Dark Materials,” an adaptation of Philip Pullman's revered dark academic fantasy trilogy, elevates the TV fantasy genre, bringing to life its literary origins. Unfolding across a multiverse of intertwined realms, we follow the audacious and inquisitive orphan Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen) and her animal daemon Pantalaimon (Kit Connor), an outer manifestation of part of her soul. As she ventures beyond the majestic spires of her alternative Oxford University home, Lyra finds herself unraveling the enigma of a powerful cosmic substance named Dust. Along the way, she meets fellow dimension-hopper Will Parry (Amir Wilson), a youth marked by a fate as profound as hers. Traversing worlds filled with witches, armored polar bears, elusive spirits, and shadowy factions, the pair eventually finds themselves in a world with dangers closer to home.

Watch “His Dark Materials” on Max

‘Succession’ (2018 to 2023)

A man sits behind a desk in this image from HBO Entertainment
After four seasons, “Succession” ended its run this year. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Satirical Comedy-Drama | Length: 4 seasons, 39 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.9/10 | Metacritic Rating: 85

Cast: Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox, Peter Friedman, Alan Ruck

Watch the trailer for “Succession”

“Succession” looks at the tumultuous undercurrents, Machiavellian machinations, and intimate vendettas that swirl within the lavish realm of the Roy family, lords of one of the world's most influential media conglomerates. As the once-indomitable patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox) contends with his waning health and looming mortality while the question of the succession of his colossal empire becomes the crucible of conflict. The battle of ambition between each of his four children leads to subterfuge, aspiration, and convoluted familial ties that threaten to fracture both their bonds and their empire's foundations. With a combination of biting humor and incisive examinations of corporate hegemony and affluence, “Succession” offers a window into the sanctums of the elite, laying bare the staggering lengths to which people will go to fortify their legacies and shape their futures.

Watch “Succession” on Max

‘Barry’ (2018 to 2023)

A man kneels in front of a young boy while a woman looks on in this image from HBO Entertainment.
“Barry” is another TV series that ended its run this year. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Black Comedy Crime Drama | Length: 4 seasons, 32 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10 | Metacritic Rating: 88

Cast: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler

Watch the trailer for “Barry”

Shackled by the weight of loneliness and depression while grappling with guilt for his actions in Afghanistan, Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) went from an ex-Marine to a modestly paid hitman. During a take-down job in Los Angeles, a twist of fate ushers Barry into the enigmatic sphere of the theater, sparking a love of the performing arts. Adopting the nom de guerre “Barry Block,” he dares to reimagine a life in the spotlight, though the consequences of his tumultuous past prove relentless. As he balances dual realities, Barry is torn between the murky allegiances of his underworld ties and the allure of the stage, leading to a series of events both hilarious and tragic. “Barry” is an insightful and witty tale of morality and our capacity for change.

Watch “Barry” on Max

‘True Detective’ (2014 to Present)

Two police women in parkas search a snowy field in this image from Anonymous Content.
A dark new chapter in the critically acclaimed police drama hits Max this month. (Image: Anonymous Content)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Crime Thriller | Length: 4 seasons, 30 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.9/10 | Metacritic Rating: 75

Cast: Jodi Foster, Kali Reis, Fiona Shaw, Christopher Eccleston

Watch the trailer for “True Detective”

The critically acclaimed crime anthology “True Detective” returns to Max this month with an ice-cold mystery and an impressive new ensemble cast. The fourth season, “True Detective: Night Country,” takes us to the isolated town of Ennis, Alaska, shrouded in full darkness for half the year. When the staff of the Tsalal Arctic Research Station mysteriously disappear, Alaska state detectives Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) are sent to investigate. The bodies are found, telling an incomprehensible story — a mysterious symbol, a tongue, and the unsolved death of a Native woman lead the detectives into the world of the town’s dark secrets.

The first season of the show was particularly well regarded, featuring performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and dealt with a sinister Louisiana murder case. The show spans decades and takes viewers into gripping mysteries across the country, led by a stellar new ensemble cast each season. Moody cinematography, intricate plotting, and psychological depth make “True Detective” a must-watch for crime fans.

Watch “True Detective” on Max

‘Rick and Morty’ (2013 to Present)

An animated scientist looking serene by an otherworldly lake in this image from Williams Street
“Rick and Morty” takes us through a multiverse of our flaws and failures in a biting new season. (Image: Williams Street)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Animated Sci-fi | Length: 7 seasons, 71 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 9.1/10 | Metacritic Rating: 85

Cast: Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke

Watch the trailer for “Rick and Morty”

This imaginative and irreverent animated sci-fi about an alcoholic scientist moving in with his anxious teenage grandson is an Adult Swim cult classic you don’t want to miss. From the mundane day-to-day of daily dinners, laundry, school bullies, and family therapy to multiverse-spanning adventures like cities full of alternate versions of themselves and lifetimes simulated into alternate realities, Rick (Ian Cardoni) and Morty’s (Harry Belden) lives are never boring. The show uses its bizarre plotlines as a vehicle for satire and deep philosophical questions. Cynical Rick creates clever comedic contrast with morally grounded Morty, making the characters as deep as they are entertaining.

Watch “Rick and Morty” on Max

‘Game of Thrones’ (2011 to 2019)

A woman with white-blonde hair stands in front of a river in this image from HBO Entertainment.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is one of the most recgonizable faces of the TV series. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Fantasy Drama | Length: 8 seasons, 73 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 9.2/10 | Metacritic Rating: 86

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Sean Bean, Sophie Turner

Watch the trailer for “Game of Thrones”

Despite a controversial final season, “Game of Thrones” had a good run as the best fantasy TV show. Breathtaking visuals and special effects transport viewers into the rich, sprawling landscapes of Westeros and Essos, realms brimming with political intrigue and fated quests for the coveted Iron Throne. We follow different families as they strategize, form precarious alliances, and grapple with unforeseen betrayals. While human ambition rages, a chilling, ancient menace, the White Walkers, stirs in the North, casting a foreboding shadow over the world's protective barriers. This epic saga is marked by multifaceted characters, intricate plots, and battles of legendary scale. More than just a fantasy series, “Game of Thrones” is an artful exploration of power, loyalty, passion, treachery, and the intricate moral compass guiding, or misguiding, its characters.

Watch “Game of Thrones” on Max

‘Girls’ (2012 to 2017)

A young woman stares pointedly in this image from Apatow Productions.
Lena Dunham is the showrunner and main character in “Girls.” (Image: Apatow Productions)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Comedy-Drama | Length: 6 seasons, 62 episodes

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 | Metacritic Rating: 80

Cast: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet

Watch the trailer for “Girls”

What “Euphoria” has done for Gen Z, “Girls” did for millennials, capturing the heartbeat of a generation and laying bare the uncomfortable realities they grapple with daily. This slice-of-life series follows four flawed women in their 20s in the ever-challenging rat race of New York City as they wrestle with life’s relentless curveballs via relationships and fledgling careers. Despite being criticized for the lack of diversity, the series paints a poignant picture while exploring the murky waters of contemporary womanhood, evolving identities, and the tumultuous journey to maturity. Through its unapologetic depictions of imperfections, aspirations, and tangled romances, “Girls” captures the nuanced struggles of a generation searching for purpose and connection in an ever-changing society and technological landscape.

Watch “Girls” on Max

‘Boardwalk Empire’ (2010 to 2014)

A man sits in a garden with a pensive expression in this image from HBO Entertainment.
“Boardwalk Empire” is for fans of period dramas and gangster films. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Period Crime Drama | Length: 5 seasons, 56 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10 | Metacritic Rating: 83

Cast: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon

Watch the trailer for “Boardwalk Empire”

Amidst the dry echoes of the Prohibition Era in Atlantic City, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) emerges as a commanding political titan, moonlighting as a bootlegger following alcohol's banishment. Straddling the shadows of the underworld and the luminous corridors of the elite, Nucky's charisma and intricate web of alliances provide a fragile shield against the grasp of federal oversight and the threat of looming rivals. “Boardwalk Empire” intertwines historical events and figures with fictional narratives, portraying the rise and fall of criminal dynasties against a rich backdrop of political intrigue, intimate treacheries, and a nation in flux. Celebrated for its immersive detail, captivating multifaceted personas, and layered depiction of the Prohibition Era's societal complexities, “Boardwalk Empire” is a must-see for both period drama and gangster movie fans alike.

Watch “Boardwalk Empire” on Max

‘The Wire’ (2002 to 2008)

A man and a woman stand outside talking in this image from HBO Entertainment.
“The Wire” opens up conversations about urban life and its systemic failures. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Crime Drama | Length: 5 seasons, 60 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 9.3/10 | Metacritic Rating: 91

Cast: Dominic West, Lance Riddick, Idris Elba

Watch the trailer for “The Wire”

Often cited as one of the best crime dramas of all time, “The Wire” is a complex and enduringly relevant portrayal of crime and punishment in modern America. In Baltimore, we are painted a gritty picture of urban life and the systemic failures of institutions spanning from the drug trade to the police department, the school system, the media, and the political arena. Each season focuses on a different facet of the city’s institutions, with the drug trade forming a consistent, intertwining thread. The show’s ensemble cast demonstrates career-making commitment to their roles, and unconventional cinematography creates a dark, immersive world. “The Wire” gives us a nuanced, realistic portrayal of the trials and complexities of urban life and our individual and collective struggles for survival and change.

Watch “The Wire” on Max

‘Six Feet Under’ (2001 to 2005)

A man and a woman attend a funeral in this image from HBO Entertainment.
For a nuanced depiction of grief, watch “Six Feet Under.” (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Black Comedy Drama | Length: 5 seasons, 63 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.7/10 | Metacritic Rating: 74

Cast: Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Peter Krause, Lauren Ambrose

Watch the trailer for “Six Feet Under”

The dysfunctional Fisher family runs a funeral home in Los Angeles, dealing with death every day. Yet, when their own family patriarch (Richard Jenkins) unexpectedly passes away, they find their cozy world of coffins disrupted. The family's funeral parlor falls to the befuddled sons, Nate (Peter Krause) and David (Michael C. Hall), who, with the company of their grieving mother Ruth (Frances Conroy) and artsy sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose), tread a chaotic path of self-discovery, tricky relationships, and the relentless challenge of keeping the family business afloat. Every episode kicks off with a death, setting a darkly comedic tone for a show that explores the myriad ways people cope with life, love, and loss. “Six Feet Under” is a lethal blend of character nuances, humor, and a candid look at life and death.

Watch “Six Feet Under” on Max

‘The Sopranos’ (1999 to 2007)

Two men talk in a car in this image from HBO Entertainment
In the vast catalog of crime dramas, “The Sopranos” remains one of the best. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Crime Drama | Length: 6 seasons, 86 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 9.2/10 | Metacritic Rating: 94

Cast: James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Watch the trailer for “The Sopranos”

“The Sopranos” was incredibly influential and should be included in any list of the greatest TV shows. Mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) confides his mental struggles to his therapist (Lorraine Bracco) as he juggles the demands of running a criminal empire. Tony’s New Jersey “family” is engaged in daily battles of loyalty, power, and betrayal in the Mafia world, while Tony comes to terms with his own personal vulnerabilities and complex psyche. Mixing dark humor, gritty crime narratives, and deep character exploration, “The Sopranos” examines and satirizes modern American society, familial tugs of war, the necessity and absurdity of criminal empires, and the complexities of the human psyche — all while defiantly flipping TV norms on their head.

Watch “The Sopranos” on Max

‘Sex and the City’ (1998 to 2004)

Two women drink martinis in this image from HBO Entertainment.
Some might argue “Sex and the City” is the definition of a rom-com for TV. (Image: HBO Entertainment)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Romantic Comedy-Drama | Length: 6 seasons, 94 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10 | Metacritic Rating: 64

Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon

Watch the trailer for “Sex and the City”

Amid the high heels and high-rises of New York City, “Sex and the City” takes us into the glamorous whirlwind lives of four women as they balance love, friendship, and career ambitions — like “Girls” but sprinkled with a dash more sparkle and a tad less angst. As our main gal, journalist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), and her glamorous posse conquer the Big Apple’s dating maze, glitzy galas, and fashion frenzies, every situation is punctuated with wit, humor, and plenty of steamy romance. Long before many dared to put it on the screen, this show wore its conversations about sex and modern love like a badge of honor. “Sex and the City” is an era-defining, stiletto-clad glimpse into the exhilarating roller coaster that was urban single life at the turn of the millennium.

Watch “Sex and the City” on Max

‘Oz’ (1997 to 2003)

Two men stand in front of prison bars in this image from HBO Original Programming.
“Oz” paved the way for HBO. (Image: HBO Original Programming)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Prison Drama | Length: 6 seasons, 56 episodes total

IMDb Rating: 8.7/10 | Metacritic Rating: 73

Cast: Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters

Watch the trailer for “Oz”

Immediately setting HBO apart from the crowd during its debut, “Oz” is the grandfather of hour-long HBO dramas (a format that it’s credited with creating). Set behind the foreboding walls of the Oswald State Correctional Facility, or “Oz”, the story pulls back the bars on a dangerous world bursting with gang tiffs, power plays, and the ever-present undercurrent of racial tension. The series is colored by moral ambiguity as we examine the complex moralities and survival tactics of drug dealers, violent criminals, law enforcers, and the wrongly accused. With its unflinching portrayal of the American prison system and its gritty, brutal, and unconventional storytelling, “Oz” etched its mark on TV and set the golden standard for its successors.

Watch “Oz” on Max

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