15 of the Best Shows on HBO Now

HBO, the longest-running premium service in the U.S., has been the gold standard in multiple content categories. Apart from its extensive movie catalog – its acclaimed original programming has racked up a bevy of awards and led the way for other premium offerings over the years. 

HBO Now, the current streaming option for cord cutters, grants access to the full HBO library without the need for a cable subscription. Now, as the network prepares to further expand its portfolio with a new streaming offering – HBO Max, let’s have a refresher of some of the best shows worth streaming on HBO Now.

Current Leaders of the Pack 

This first group of HBO shows are either currently airing or have recently wrapped and showing up on a lot of binge watch lists:

Succession

The volatile Roy family owns one of the world’s largest media and entertainment empires. As aging family patriarch, Logan Roy contemplates which of his four children will take over for him as head of the company – the lust for power brings out the worst in an already bad bunch. 

Number of seasons: 2 (*renewed for a 3rd)

Why stream it?

When you can call one of your youngest shows also one of your best, it’s a win. Succession boasts top-notch performances, led by the great Brian Cox; as well as smart and savage writing that the best HBO shows are known for.

Euphoria  

Rue, a highschooler who’s fresh out of rehab, is grappling with a lot of heavy realities. The largest of which may be that it’s hard to continue running from them. She and a group of other teenagers navigate sexuality, identity, addiction and peer pressure during the height of social media culture. 

Number of seasons: 1 (*renewed for a 2nd)

Why stream it?

As probably one of the most “adult” teen dramas in recent memory, Euphoria is not always an easy watch. But it does shine a well-directed light on some hard subjects that are easily ignored. Also, Zendaya’s performance is not to be missed.

Insecure  

Life for a twenty-something woman living in 21st century Los Angeles might sound like it should have glamour written all over it. But for best friends, Issa and Molly, where they live is just an incubator for their problems. Complicated racial dynamics, messy relationships and work politics are enough to make anyone feel a little insecure.

Number of seasons: 4 (4th season currently airing) (*renewed for a 5th)

Why stream it?

This HBO comedy is a brilliantly-shot (nominated for a 2018 Emmy for Cinematography) unique look at young adult life in LA. Issa Rae is a relatable underdog who brings truth and humor to the role based on her own 2011 web series. Nominated for multiple Golden Globes and an Emmy for her performance, you will see why.

Barry

A depressed former marine and current hitman is really dissatisfied with his life. After following a “mark” into a Los Angeles acting class, he gets swept up in the supportive thespian community and finds a new passion. But he quickly finds out that walking away from his old life isn’t so simple.

Number of seasons: 2 (*renewed for a 3rd)

Why stream it?

Barry drew a lot of acclaim right out of the gate. With an Emmy-winning lead performance from Bill Hader and an involving dual-life plot, this is a binge-worthy dark comedy.

Big Little Lies

Three women living on the California coast get a lot of practice pointing fingers while keeping their own secrets. But having their privileged lives upended by a murder investigation brings more trouble than they can cover with a smile. 

Number of seasons:

Why stream it?

This is yet another award-winning dark comedy in a strong list. Based on the novel of the same name, Big Little Lies was originally designed for just one season. But it got a second so audiences could follow the characters through more twisted secrets and explosive reveals. Great writing, great acting and great consequences from lies abound. 

Westworld

At a high-tech wild west-themed amusement park, high-paying guests can experience their wildest fantasies without fear of consequences. That is until the humanoid androids who populate the park start to rebel. 

Number of seasons: 3 (*renewed for a 4th)

Why stream it?

This sci-fi rubix cube of a show can be a tough nut to crack. Even with a hard reboot in its third season, it requires you to lock in pretty tightly on its intricate plotlines. But if you’re a fan of stories involving artificial intelligence, a lot of misdirection and great production design, this wild west rabbit hole might be worth a visit.

The Outsider

Detective Ralph Anderson is no stranger to tragedy. After a gruesome incident in his Georgia town exposes some old wounds, he struggles to put the case behind him. It turns out that even if he wanted to, the supernatural force at work may not let him.

Number of seasons: 1 (talk of a second season in the works)

Why stream it?

This slow-burning crime drama is somewhat in the same vein as HBO’s other procedural, True Detective. But The Outsider is an adaptation of the novel from Stephen King, which means it has more teeth. An unsettling mystery, moody cinematography and a show-stealing performance by Cynthia Erivo sells this one.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 

Television writer, Larry David lives life in LA with a lot of grievances. Airing them with friends and other celebrities who are along with him on his daily adventures is either therapeutic or adding to the problem. Either way, he’s not going quietly.

Number of seasons: 10

Why stream it?

10 seasons in, ‘Curb’ is still holding firm to its legendary comedy show status. Larry David is still having fun playing an (exaggerated?) version of himself, and HBO has said they’re pretty much giving him carte blanche to decide when to end the show’s run. If you’ve had even a passing interest to see what all the fuss is about, there’s 20 years worth of improvised comedy gold to stream. 

Also worth your streaming time:

  • Silicon Valley
  • True Detective
  • The Leftovers
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Stand-Out Limited Series

This next group of HBO shows had limited runs, but left a big mark: 

Watchmen (2019)

In an alternate America where police wear masks to protect their identities, it’s only natural that much more than that would be hidden. Detective Angela Abar finds herself thrown into the middle of a conspiracy that goes back generations. As she investigates, she uncovers new truths about herself and the people she thought she knew. 

Number of episodes: 9

What makes it stand out?

If any network was going to have the confidence to pull off a pseudo-sequel to an iconic graphic novel, HBO would be the one. This Watchmen is a bold, layered and well-made vigilante crime drama set in a gritty world. It doesn’t try to rewrite the story you know, but weaves some interesting continuations. Fans of the original might find at least one intriguing thread to pull on.

Chernobyl (2019)

When a nuclear power plant suffers a catastrophe that threatens countless lives, brave men and women work tirelessly to prevent damage from the fallout. Spreading just as fast as the physical threat is the threat of misinformation and lies. 

Number of episodes: 5

What makes it stand out?

Acting. Atmosphere. Accuracy. Chernobyl effectively portrays the sense of dread that hung over those who experienced the real life event of 1986. Many of its themes seem apt for today – particularly the need for facts to not be suppressed. It may just save lives. 

Years and Years (2019)

The Lyons family of British Manchester lives what they would consider to be normal 21st century lives – that is trying to find their place in a kaleidoscope of issues. When a controversial political figure unexpectedly gains power, the next 15 years becomes about living with the after effects.

Number of episodes: 6

What makes it stand out?

Simultaneously a hilarious satire and a frightening cautionary tale – Years and Years juggles a lot in six episodes. It holds up a mirror and projects the future when it comes to advancements in technology, how we interact with one another and even how we see families. It of course doesn’t expect you to agree with everything it’s saying, but it does get your attention.  

The Defiant Ones (2017)

Music legends, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine joined forces to complete one of the most influential business deals in history. This is the story of where they came from, how they came together and how they shook the culture.

Number of episodes: 4

What makes it stand out?

The best stories are told by the ones who lived them. This 4-part documentary features accounts from Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and a number of other music icons that were in the rooms during the monumental conversations that changed everything. Plus, who doesn’t like to hear music that sends you down memory lane?

Also worth your streaming time:

  • The Night Of
  • Band of Brothers
  • Sharp Objects

Classic No-Brainers

These next few shows are widely considered to be some of the best that HBO has ever aired. You’ve probably already seen most of them; but it’s never a bad time to re-stream some of your favorite episodes: 

Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

A classic for: Not just fantasy fans, but politics, palace intrigue, heavy sword violence and eclectic leadership styles

Number of seasons: 8

Classic episodes: “The Children” (Season 4, Episode 10), “The Rains of Castamere” (Season 3, Episode 9), “The Battle of the Bastards” (Season 6, Episode 9)

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

A classic for: Fans of tense crime family drama, unlikable but watchable protagonist, great dialogue and delicious-looking on-screen food

Number of seasons: 6

Classic episodes: “College” (Season 1, Episode 4), “Whitecaps” (Season 4, Episode 13), “Whitecaps” (Season 4, Episode 13)

The Wire (2002-2008)

A classic for: Fans of colorfully flawed characters, gritty crime investigations, labyrinthine plots and evenly-balanced perspectives

Number of seasons: 5

Classic episodes: “Middle Ground” (Season 3, Episode 11), “Late Editions” (Season 5, Episode 9), “Final Grades” Season 4, Episode 13

Also worth your streaming time:

  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Deadwood
  • OZ
  • Veep
  • Treme

Bottom line –  there are way too many great HBO shows, and more getting added to the list every year. Take this time to binge watch some of the hot titles and catch up on the classics.

Which shows have you been streaming on HBO Now? Let us know in the comments!

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