I love HBO. It is practically the grandfather of original programming and has grown to become the pinnacle service of substance over the years. Although I didn’t have the chance to appreciate all of their iconic shows when I was younger, because they were way too sensational for my adolescent mind, I have grown to possess a deep admiration and appreciation for the entertainment they provide to the public. Today, I will be providing my readers with a list of my favorite HBO shows that are still currently in production. You may have heard of these shows, you may have not, but either way, I hope you enjoy.
Comedy| Crime| Drama| 1 Season| 30m
Created by: Alec Berg, Bill Hader
Starring: Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Glenn Fleshler, Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler
Barry is a clever black-comedy about an assassin, Barry Berkman, who decides he wants to quit his life of crime and become an actor. Inspired by Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad in more ways than one, this series basically follows a quintessential bad guy who breaks good and tries to acquire talents beyond those of murder. With strong writing, direction and standout performances by veteran actors Henry Winkler and Stephen Root, this series had a great first season which racked up a bunch of awards for its star, Bill Hader. If you know me personally then chances are I have probably already recomended this series to you on more than one occasion.
Comedy| 2 Seasons| 27-33m
Created by: Pete Holmes
Starring: Pete Holmes
This endearing, semi-autobiographical comedy series stars Pete Holmes as an aspiring comedian, who is technically homeless and has to crash on various friends’ couches while he tries to make a living following his passion. Produced by Judd Apatow, this show has that familiar feeling of comfort we recognize from other works he is involved in. Although it has flown under the radar for many, I was fortunate enough to stumble across Crashing earlier this year after seeing copious trailers on HBO Go. For a show so jam-packed with guest appearances (Hannibal Burress, Bill Burr, John Mulaney), Crashing is surprisingly low key in terms of its mainstream appeal.
Comedy| Drama| 1 Season| 56-61m
Created by: Jesse Armstrong
Starring: Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Peter Friedman, Natalie Gold, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, Parker Sawyers, Sarah Snook, Hiam Abbass
I’m going to start this pick by admitting this series isn’t for everyone. Not only is it a slow burn, but it is written and directed in a vulgar way that can be quite off-putting for some. However, I believe those creative decisions were made in an effort to represent the brash society in which the story takes place. Succession follows the Roys, a prominent family who control one of the largest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world and have more dirty laundry than a college dorm laundry room. This creative take on what is essentially an American royal family features a roller coaster of backroom deals and backstabbing that revolves around a son trying to take over as head of his father’s company.
Comedy| Drama| 2 Seasons| 2- 40m
Created by: Katja Blichfeld, Ben Sinclair
Starring: Ben Sinclair
This pick is a real mellow high. Adapted from the YouTube web-series of the same name, High Maintenance is apart of the long list of popular shows that got their start online. In most cases, going from a two minute to a thirty-minute format would be quite jarring, but not here. This anthology series features a weed dealer known simply as “The Guy” and his wide array of wacky clientele. This liberal showcase features characters from all walks of life and does a great job of representing marginalized groups. With each unique story, we are reminded that even with all our differences, some people are united by one thing and that’s grass.
Big Little Lies
Drama| Mystery| 1 Season| 52-58m
Created By: David E. Kelley
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, Zoë Kravitz, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling, Laura Dern
If you haven’t seen Big Little Lies already, then I am shocked because it was all anyone was talking about last year. Not only does it consist of an all star cast, it tells a great story about a group of women involved in a murder in suburban Monterey, California. This series does a great job of exploring the dynamics of female relationships, and dissecting how little lies can effect people in a big way. Although this was originally billed as a mini-series, it was so popular that HBO decided to green light it for another season. The next season is slated to premiere sometime next year and will feature the Supreme herself, Meryl Streep. I can’t wait to see how that all plays out.
Comedy| 5 Seasons| 28-30m
Created by: Mike Judge, John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky
Starring: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Christopher Evan Welch, Amanda Crew, Zach Woods, Matt Ross, Suzanne Cryer, Jimmy O. Yang, Stephen Tobolowsky, Chris Diamantopoulos
For some reason I avoided watching Silicon Valley for years. I’m not sure if there was any specific reason for that choice, other than my assuming its comedy wouldn’t be for me. However, I could not have been more wrong. When I finally decided to check it out, I spent about two weeks working my way through each season, unable to click the next episode fast enough. The series follows the exploits of Richard Hicks, a coder who becomes a tech golden boy after creating a revolutionary data compression algorithm. This series is a balls to the wall hilarious dissection of the tech industry and its role in society. With a cluster of well thought out characters and a clever story line that never lets up, Silicon Valley quickly became one of my favorite shows.
Comedy| Drama| 3 Seasons| 27-41m
Created by: Issa Rae, Larry Wilmore
Starring: Issa Rae, Jay Ellis, Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales, Y’lan Noel
After finding success with her YouTube web-series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, Rae became a mainstream sensation with her next project, Insecure. This story follows best friends, Issa and Molly, as they attempt to balance their professional lives with their relationship problems. This is a fresh take on the genre with enough pop culture references to make your head spin. Rae and company seem more than a tad in touch with the current social media sphere, as they always seem to hit the nail on the head in terms of what their diverse audience is thinking and tweeting.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Comedy| 9 Seasons| 26-42m
Created by: Larry David
Starring: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Susie Essman, J. B. Smoove
Larry David is a comedy veteran. He created Seinfeld, the quintessential 90s show that just so happened to be about nothing, and based the character of George on himself. In each episode of the fore mentioned series, the character who would experience the most misfortune was George. That iconic series redefined the concept of the sitcom, but it was relatively tame in comparison to David’s later creation. Curb your Enthusiasm acts as a raunchier version of Seinfeld, except that it solely focuses on a fictionalized version David and all of the complicated misunderstandings he finds himself in due to the fact that he can never get out of his own way. It makes for a smart comedy that will have you noticing all the painfully ironic situations that occur in your own day-to-day life.
Game of Thrones
Drama| Fantasy| 7 Seasons| 50-80m
Created by: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss
Starring: Lena Heady, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and About a Billion More Names
Duh. This is a series that broke all the rules of television week after week, season after season. With it’s tendency to kill off fan favorites within the blink of an eye, Game of Thrones quickly rose to the top as the series everyone was talking about. If you’re not hooked by the end of the theme song, then you’ll definitely be hooked by the end of the first season. This show about warring families only increases in fantasy and storytelling during its progression. I shouldn’t even have to go into detail about this one, because if you aren’t watching by now then chances are you have no intention of doing so anytime soon. You’re really missing out if that’s the case.