20 Best Shows on HBO Max of All Time, Ranked

6 months ago

Embarking on a cinematic journey through the vast treasure trove of the premium cable network, we delve into the 20 Best Shows on HBO Max of All Time, meticulously ranked for your viewing pleasure. From groundbreaking dramas that have left an indelible mark on television history to uproarious comedies that have kept audiences in stitches, HBO Max boasts an unparalleled lineup. Whether you’re a seasoned subscriber or a newcomer to this streaming giant, our curated list promises an unforgettable binge-worthy experience.

20. Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley offers a hilarious and satirical glimpse into the tech-centric landscape of California’s high-stakes innovation hub. Created by Mike Judge, the HBO series follows a group of socially awkward yet brilliant software engineers navigating the competitive startup scene. Led by Thomas Middleditch’s Richard Hendricks, the group faces absurd challenges, from corporate politics to comically catastrophic coding mishaps.

The show brilliantly skewers the tech industry’s culture, egos, and eccentricities while delivering sharp humor. With a talented ensemble cast and a clever blend of wit and insight, Silicon Valley is a comedic tour de force, offering a witty critique of Silicon Valley’s fast-paced world.

19. Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords is a musical comedy gem that chronicles the misadventures of the eponymous New Zealand folk-parody duo, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, as they navigate the quirky challenges of pursuing fame in New York City.

This HBO series blends deadpan humor with catchy musical numbers, showcasing the duo’s offbeat charm. As they tackle odd jobs, eccentric neighbors, and romantic escapades, the show delivers witty satire and infectious tunes. The unique fusion of humor and music, coupled with the duo’s endearing performances, cements Flight of the Conchords as a cult favorite that charms audiences with its distinctive comedic flair.

18. Watchmen

Watchmen redefines superhero storytelling, bringing Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel to life in a gripping HBO series. Set in an alternate reality where masked vigilantes are outlawed, the show unfolds a complex narrative of masked detectives, moral ambiguity, and a world on the brink of collapse.

Creator Damon Lindelof crafts a thought-provoking exploration of power, racism, and societal fractures, seamlessly blending action with deep character studies. Exceptional performances from Regina King and Jeremy Irons enrich this visually stunning and socially relevant masterpiece, making Watchmen a bold and resonant reflection on contemporary issues through the lens of superhero mythology.

17. Angels in America

Angels in America unfolds as a transcendent exploration of love, loss, and identity in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic. Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is brought to life in this HBO miniseries, directed by Mike Nichols.

The narrative weaves together the lives of diverse characters, grappling with political, social, and personal turmoil. Exceptional performances by a stellar cast, including Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, elevate this emotionally charged odyssey. With its poignant storytelling and surreal elements, Angels in America remains a landmark portrayal of a pivotal era, provoking profound reflection on the complexities of the human experience.

16. Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers is a landmark miniseries that stands as a testament to heroism and camaraderie. Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, this HBO masterpiece follows Easy Company, part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, from their rigorous training to the pivotal battles of Normandy, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge.

Based on real-life accounts, the series provides a gripping portrayal of the bond forged among these soldiers. With stellar performances, authentic cinematography, and emotional depth, Band of Brothers is an immersive and poignant tribute to the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.

15. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire a compelling television series that graced screens from 2010 to 2014, transports viewers to the glamorous yet treacherous world of Atlantic City during the Prohibition era.

Led by Steve Buscemi’s captivating portrayal of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, the series intricately weaves politics, crime, and ambition. With meticulous period detail and a stellar ensemble cast, including Michael Pitt and Kelly Macdonald, the show immerses viewers in the Roaring Twenties’ lavishness.

Navigating a world of power dynamics and moral ambiguity, Boardwalk Empire delivers a riveting narrative, exploring societal upheaval against a backdrop of corruption and change. This HBO drama, executive produced by Martin Scorsese, is an unforgettable journey into America’s tumultuous past.

14. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm a critically acclaimed television series that premiered in 2000 and continues to captivate audiences to the present day, is a brilliant creation by the comedic genius Larry David. As the mastermind behind the show, David brings his unique and unapologetic brand of humor to the forefront, weaving a fictionalized version of his own life into the fabric of the narrative.

The series follows Larry David, portrayed by the man himself, as he navigates the intricacies of everyday life in Los Angeles. What sets Curb Your Enthusiasm apart is its semi-improvised format, offering a realistic and often cringe-worthy portrayal of social interactions. David’s character, a curmudgeonly and socially oblivious version of himself, consistently finds himself embroiled in awkward situations, inadvertently offending those around him with his unfiltered honesty and lack of social grace.

13. Deadwood

Deadwood is an American Western television series that aired on HBO from 2004 to 2006, spanning three seasons and comprising 36 episodes.

The narrative unfolds in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, both before and after the region’s annexation by the Dakota Territory. The series traces Deadwood’s transformation from a camp to a town. Created, produced, and predominantly written by David Milch, Deadwood boasts a substantial ensemble cast led by Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane, who portray real-life Deadwood residents Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen, respectively.

Numerous other historical figures, including George Crook, Wyatt Earp, E. B. Farnum, George Hearst, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Sol Star, A. W. Merrick, Jack McCall, and Charlie Utter, make appearances. The plotlines involving these characters blend historical truths with significant fictional elements. Milch drew inspiration from actual diaries and newspapers of 1870s Deadwood residents to shape the characters, events, and the overall atmosphere of the show.

12. Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet delivered a powerful portrayal as Mare Sheehan, a seasoned detective in a small-town in Philadelphia investigating the murder of a teenage girl. The series is a mix of a slowly unfolding mystery, nuanced character exploration, and a depiction of a community grappling with the challenges of poverty and addiction. Throughout, the narrative is punctuated by surprising and impactful plot twists.

11. Barry

Possibly the most overlooked TV series, this dark comedy-drama unfolds the story of a former Marine turned hitman who discovers his unexpected passion within the Los Angeles amateur drama scene. Balancing intense action with nostalgic comedy, the role of the protagonist seems tailor-made for Bill Hader. Can our conflicted main character break free from his shadowy past and transform into a legitimate actor?

10. The Larry Sanders Show

Top ten of Best shows on HBO Max of all time opens The Larry Sanders Show. It’s an American sitcom that unfolds in the behind-the-scenes world of a fictional late-night talk show, both in its office and studio. Created by Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein, the series aired on the HBO cable television network from 1992 to 1998.

Starring Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rip Torn, the show features celebrities portraying exaggerated and parodic versions of themselves. Its origins trace back to Shandling’s stand-up comedy background, his stint as a guest host on The Tonight Show, and his previous sitcom, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. The program has left a significant and enduring impact on HBO and has influenced television shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, and The Office.

9. The Leftovers

Showrunner Damon Lindelof skillfully adapted Tom Perrotta’s post-apocalyptic novel, where 2% of the global population inexplicably vanishes, into a boldly intricate drama exploring themes of love, loss, and a community’s quest for rebuilding. Despite a gradual beginning, the series continually improved. While Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, and Christopher Eccleston delivered impressive performances, Carrie Coon was undeniably extraordinary.

8. Game of Thrones

Ten years after revolutionizing the television landscape with The Sopranos, HBO accomplished a comparable feat with an uncompromising fantasy epic that evolved into a cultural sensation. Despite stumbling in the final stretch, the peaks of this high-budget blockbuster remain unparalleled. Competing networks have invested millions in attempts to emulate the success of Game of Thrones. Not surprisingly, HBO itself has come closest to replicating it by revisiting Westeros with the prequel House of the Dragon.

7. Sex and the City

Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte did more than just introduce a generation to Manolo Blahniks, Cosmos, and lively bottomless brunches. Their series of dating adventures challenged the notion that “older” women should adhere strictly to marriage and monogamy. This groundbreaking portrayal of female friendship, complete with witty one-liners, reshaped perceptions.

Despite the struggles of two spin-off films and the sequel series And Just Like That to recapture the magic, the original remains a landmark series.

6. Chernobyl

Writer Craig Mazin brought the harrowing 1986 nuclear disaster to vivid life in his chillingly realistic miniseries. Co-produced with Sky, the five-part series was a thoroughly researched and relentlessly paced narrative, delving into a tale of incompetence, corruption, and cover-ups. The soundtrack, featuring wailing sirens and clicking Geiger counters, added to the ominous atmosphere. The outstanding ensemble cast, including Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Jessie Buckley, and the late Paul Ritter, delivered impeccable performances. However, Jared Harris’ portrayal of the whistleblowing scientist Valery Legasov is what lingers in the memory.

5. I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel, a powerhouse of creativity, delivered on the implicit promise in the title of this limited series, which she not only created but also wrote, directed, and starred in.

Arabella, portrayed by Coel, is a London resident living the millennial dream, boasting a successful writing career amplified by her status as a social media influencer. However, Arabella’s seemingly flawless life on Instagram starts to unravel when, following a night out with friends, she begins to recollect—in fragments—experiencing an assault. Eventually, the imperative to reconstruct the details of the incident and identify the perpetrator consumes her entirely, bringing the past to her doorstep.

4. Six Feet Under

Who would have anticipated that a series centered on death could exude such life-affirming qualities? Six Feet Under Alan Ball’s drama set in a funeral parlor, was both haunting and profound, with unexpected moments of humor. Beyond exploring the challenges faced by the Fisher family, the show made waves with its groundbreaking portrayal of gay characters and thoughtful reflections on the inevitability of mortality. The peculiar and captivating accidental deaths featured at the beginning of each episode were noteworthy in themselves. In contrast to several other shows on this list, the series managed to conclude on a high note, delivering an extraordinary seven-minute farewell montage.

3. Succession

Succession, an American satirical comedy-drama television series created by Jesse Armstrong, originally aired on HBO from June 3, 2018, to May 28, 2023. Despite the unpredictable nature of media empires led by dysfunctional families, Succession stands as a constant in the TV landscape.

The Emmy-winning series wrapped up its four-season run in early 2023, leaving a lasting legacy as one of the most unexpected gems in prestige TV with unforgettable moments. In an era saturated with TV shows exploring the lives of the wealthy, whether real or fictional, Succession distinguishes itself by skillfully combining biting humor with poignant tragedy.

This darkly comedic family drama follows the Roy family and their associates, all vying for control of Waystar RoyCo, the family-operated global media conglomerate, whether through succession or more aggressive means. Think of it as a blend of “King Lear” and Rupert Murdoch’s family story, infused with humor.

2. The Wire

The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002, and concluded on March 9, 2008, with a total of 60 episodes spanning five seasons.

The concept for the show originated as a police drama loosely inspired by the experiences of David Simon’s writing partner, Ed Burns, who is a former homicide detective and public school teacher. The series gained acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the city of Baltimore and its exploration of various institutions, including law enforcement, schools, and the media.

1. The Sopranos

The leader of our compilation Best shows on HBO Max of all time becomes The Sopranos. Approved for production in 1997, the series aired on HBO from January 10, 1999, to June 10, 2007, encompassing six seasons and a total of 86 episodes.

David Chase’s iconic mob drama played a pivotal role in establishing HBO as a leader in the golden age of prestige television. From a fateful college diversion to a now-infamous cut-to-black ending that continues to spark intense discussions, the intricately layered narrative of The Sopranos subverted traditional gangster stereotypes.

Charting the struggles of antihero Tony Soprano, portrayed by James Gandolfini, as he grappled with the dual demands of his domestic family and criminal enterprise, the series delved into the complexities of his deteriorating mental health, escalating adversaries, and a rising body count. While

HBO boasts an impressive library of content, The Sopranos remains unparalleled in its impact and influence.

Before you go, read another article about 14 TV shows that missed their chance at a great finale.


Get notifications

Game of Thrones at #8 and Silicon Valley at #20 and Chernobyl at #6? Whoever wrote this list must be a misogynistic homophobic racist as these shows treat their women nonehite characters and lgbt characters like a trainwreck


Related Reads