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HBO rarely disappoints. This network has consistently pumped out engaging television that has some of the most honest storytelling and complex themes.
If you’re new to HBO, or just subscribed to HBO Max, you might be wondering which shows you should watch first. It’s hard to narrow down HBO’s long list of great shows, but we’ve tried to sort out the best-of-the-best in the list below.
15. True Blood
Back when vampires were included in almost every movie and TV show, True Blood was released. This raunchy, vampire-rampant series takes place in the deep south when vampires “come out of the coffin,” and reveal themselves to the world. Things start to get complicated when Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress, gets involved in a love triangle with two vampires.
14. Sex and the City
Sex and the City is one of the most iconic shows to come out of the HBO network. It chronicles the friendship and love lives of four upscale women living in New York City during the 90s. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda left a lasting impact on American culture, from the way we order cocktails, to the designer brands that we know and wear.
13. Silicon Valley
Everyone knows Silicon Valley as the technology capital of the United States, so it’s only right that Mike Judge would create a show that satirizes the struggles of its geeky inhabitants. Silicon Valley revolves around five quirky guys trying to push for the success of the music-matching app, Pied Piper.
12. True Detective
True Detective notably stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in its first season, both who play the show’s primary detectives. While all three seasons follow completely different storylines and characters, each self-contained mystery is as perplexing as the last.
11. Eastbound & Down
Danny McBride takes on the role of Kenny Powers, a washed-up major league baseball pitcher, who winds up as a middle school gym teacher. Eastbound & Down is shockingly hilarious and cringe-worthy at the same time, thanks to Powers’ egotistic personality and outlandish behavior.
10. Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under tells the story of a family-owned funeral home. When the father of the family unexpectedly passes away, all ownership of the funeral home is given to his two sons. The show takes an in-your-face approach to death, and still manages to inject humor into such a dark topic.
9. The Leftovers
The Leftovers imagines a world where 2% of the population has disappeared for some unknown reason. It’s based on Tom Perrotta’s book of the same name, and does a fantastic job portraying the dreary, uncertain lives of those who remain on Earth.
Barry places Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader in a darkly comedic role—he plays Barry, the deadpan ex-marine who makes a living as a hitman. When Barry travels to Los Angeles to take out a target, he decides to stay put to take part in an acting class. The show’s constant twists and turns, compelling moral dilemmas, and dark humor keep you wanting more.
Starring Julie Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice President of The United States, Veep is a hilarious, satirical representation of American politics. After having to settle for the role of Vice President, Selina Meyer must deal with a tense relationship with the President, and must also try to further her own agenda. The show’s neverending wit shines a light on real politicians, making it refreshingly relevant.
6. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry David is the creator, director, and star of the long-running HBO series, Curb Your Enthusiasm. This show follows the fictional version of Larry David, as he goes about his daily life as a semi-retired TV producer living in Los Angeles. David goes back to his Seinfeld roots, as he incorporates the same type of dry humor into yet another fantastic series about nothing.
Deadwood isn’t your typical western show—it breathes life into a genre that’s overrun by the same cowboy drama. The series takes place in 1876 at a South Dakota gold-mining camp that isn’t yet required to follow the same laws as the rest of The United States. This lawlessness leaves room for plenty of violence and chaos throughout the settlement.
4. Boardwalk Empire
Boardwalk Empire depicts the Prohibition era that rocked the nation in the roaring 20s. Steve Buscemi plays Nucky Thompson, the treasurer of Atlantic City, New Jersey. His ties with mobsters, bootleggers, and other people in power make him the target of an investigation by the federal government.
3. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones has reached a wider audience than any other HBO series ever created. Loosely based on George R.R. Martin’s novel, A Song of Fire and Ice, this well-known fantasy series follows the tumultuous vie for power in the land of Westeros. Although Game of Thrones has ended in 2019, it still remains a massive landmark in pop culture.
2. The Sopranos
In what’s considered one of the best shows in television history, The Sopranos tells the story of modern gangsters living in New Jersey. The show simultaneously addresses the struggles of Tony Soprano’s life as a gangster, as well as his strained relationship with his family.
1. The Wire
The Wire is undoubtedly HBO’s best work. Despite the fact that the show was released in 2002, it still remains relevant to this day. The show’s unmatched complexity, realism, and unique storytelling format portray the relationship between diverse groups of people and the Baltimore police. Each season may have a different focus, but it all flows and connects together.
What Will HBO Do Next?
HBO’s work is always highly-anticipated. It’s one of the few networks that you can count on to produce shows that leave a lasting impact on its viewers.
With the debut of HBO Max, HBO promises to release several Max Originals. Don’t know whether to subscribe to HBO Max? Find out everything you need to know about HBO Max, and whether it’s worth subscribing.