For many avid TV watchers and fans of limited series, HBO has long been associated with quality, engaging content. As a tweet from Wosny Lambre succinctly put it, “9/10 times I watch a Netflix original and think to myself ‘HBO would never air this shit.’” While Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (not to mention other newcomers like Peacock, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Paramount+) all have impressive libraries when it comes to scope and volume, it is HBO’s content that consistently shines when stacked against the rest.
One example of HBO’s quality scale is their original series Euphoria, the Zendaya-led Sam Levinson-directed whirlwind that returns for Season 2 on Sunday, Jan. 9. The series, which takes a unique look at addiction, modern teen life, and so much more, brought a lot to the table across its eight-episode first season run; two additional, holiday-themed episodes hit HBO Max during the quarantine-induced wait between seasons, and we’re left with a hard-hitting, risk-taking look at life through a dizzying array of problems. It's one of the few series out today that brings the intensity and has a banging soundtrack to boot. No wonder Zendaya took home her first Emmy for her work in the weekly series, which HBO and Levinson produce and create alongside the indie powerhouse A24.
Of course, with so much quality on the air, it can be difficult to prioritize which shows to watch on the streaming giant. This gets even trickier when you consider the additional offerings provided by HBO Max’s streaming acquisition of fan-favorites like South Park, Friends, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—plus collections from Adult Swim, Looney Toons, and Crunchyroll. If you’re late to the HBO party, you might have some serious catching up to do in order to be up to date on some of the most critically acclaimed cultural touchstones from the last few decades.
While the following list of series is by no means exhaustive, it’s certainly an excellent jumping-off point for anyone wanting to make sure they get the most out of their $14.99/mo. subscription (because let’s be real: you’re paying for the ad-free version). From The Sopranos and Game of Thrones to Rick and Morty and Entourage, here are the best series to stream on HBO Max.