The Best Shows on HBO Max Right Now

When HBO Max launched, it came with an advantage that Disney+ and Apple TV+ didn't have: Beyond flagship original series like Love Life and The Flight Attendant, there is also the full weight of Warner Bros. legacy — specifically, the decades of producing amazing film and television. On the TV side, this is especially exciting, because thanks to the prestige network which makes up 50 percent of this service's name, that means a ton of exciting series.

In addition, there are also a lot of TV shows which have been in streaming flux for a while. Some of them, like Doctor Who and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's original version of The Office, are now coming to HBO Max thanks to a deal made between Warner and the BBC. Some of them, like Friends and Pretty Little Liars, you might not have ever known were owned by Warner Bros., thanks to the way deals between networks and studios work. In short: There's a lot of great TV shows to watch on HBO Max.

Below are over 50 of the best series currently available to stream on HBO Max, with a special emphasis on the HBO original series that have helped the network win dozens and dozens Emmys over the course of its lifetime. And things are only going to get better from here, as there are a ton of other classic series which will eventually join the service, plus a number of exciting originals that, fingers crossed, will be finished in time to join this list.

Editor's note: Last updated on November 12 to add "Dawson's Creek."

RELATED: Here's What's New on HBO Max in July 2021

Dawson's Creek

Created by: Kevin Williamson

Cast: James Van Der Beek, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes, Kerr Smith, Meredith Monroe, Busy Phillips

Dawson's Creek not only defined the teen drama for a generation; it was the teen drama. There might be nothing else that compares for those of us who tuned in with our favorite teens from Capeside every week as they navigated life, love, loss, and everything in-between — even once they left for college and had to deal with a whole host of new adult problems. The most exciting part of this show being on streaming again, however, is the fact that HBO Max has actually ponied up the cash to get the famous Paula Cole theme song back (albeit a slightly different recorded version). If you don't wanna wait to revisit the ups and downs, highs and lows, Dawson and Joey versus Pacey and Joey of it all, well now you don't have to. - Carly Lane


Created by: Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden

Cast: Rose Matafeo, Nikesh Patel, Minnie Driver, Emma Sidi

Starstruck isn't just a pitch-perfect comedy show — although that's one of the best things this series has going for it. Written by Matafeo (who's also known for her stand-up) and Snedden, Starstruck tells the kind of story that flips the script on the classic rom-com while giving us the same level of fuzzy feelings throughout. Matafeo stars as Jessie, a twenty-something New Zealand ex-pat living in London who feels aimless in her life; when she unexpectedly hooks up with famous movie star Tom Kapoor (Patel), the two are forever linked on a path that seems compelled to keep bringing them together across the seasons. Starstruck will undoubtedly deliver on both the rom and the com, and thank goodness it's already been renewed for a Season 2. - Carly Lane


Created by: Russell T. Davies

Cast: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori, Gareth David-Lloyd, Kai Owen

While the entirety of this adult-skewing Doctor Who spinoff is a must watch for any devotees of the Doctor and his pals, Torchwood is being added to this list because the third season, subtitled "Children of Earth," is one of the best limited series of all time, a gripping, heartbreaking, and captivating thriller that features a devastating Peter Capaldi as a government official caught up in the chaos that ensues when a mysterious alien force begins to possess children all over the globe. There are scary aliens in this, but the humans are even scarier. You won't be able to look away. (But for your own sake, stop there. Torchwood: Miracle Day, the season that follows, is not on the same level.) - Liz Shannon Miller

Harley Quinn

Developed by: Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, Dean Lorey

Cast: Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Ron Funches, Tony Hale, Jason Alexander, J. B. Smoove, Alan Tudyk

One of the very best things about HBO Max is that it's been able to serve as a new home for shows which premiered elsewhere and never found an audience. At the top of the list of those shows is Harley Quinn, the gleefully anarchic animated take on the beloved Batman anti-hero that might honestly be one of the most flat-out enjoyable parts of the DCEU right now. Kaley Cuoco's take on the titular character is distinctive enough from both Arleen Sorkin and Margot Robbie's versions to make it feel unique, and the writing is jammed with fantastic jokes, sympathetic characters, and meta touches which elevate the show to a whole new level. Plus the love story that emerges over the first two seasons is both unexpected and genuinely touching. Every episode is packed with wonderful details and inspired voice casting — it's hard to find the words to recommend a show more. Just watch it and see for yourself. - Liz Shannon Miller

Babylon 5

Created by: J. Michael Straczynski

Cast: Bruce Boxleitner, Michael O'Hare, Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Richard Biggs, Andrea Thompson, Bill Mumy, Jason Carter, Tracy Scoggins, Stephen Furst, Patricia Tallman, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, Robert Rusler

Groundbreaking in its day and still remarkably relevant now, the sci-fi series Babylon 5 is a must-see for anyone who likes a bit of grit and grime in their tales of the future, focused in this case on a space station created to keep the peace in a galaxy filled with warring aliens. The effectiveness of diplomacy is only one of many complex topics explored in this show, which also covers the rise of authoritarianism when you least expect it, the realism of being a hero in a complicated galaxy, and the enduring appeal of Bugs Bunny cartoons. Never a bad time to revisit this one, or discover it for the first time. (Especially now that it's streaming in HD on HBO Max. - Liz Shannon Miller

I May Destroy You

Created by: Michaela Coel

Cast: Michaela Coel, Weruche Opia, Paapa Essiedu

A searing, raw, fully realized work from the incredible Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You stands out as one of the best attempts television has ever made to explain the impact of sexual assault on the human soul. Raw and riveting, this Emmy-winning limited series isn't an easy watch, but also manages to be truly captivating. - Liz Shannon Miller

Made for Love

Created by: Alissa Nutting & Dean Bakopoulos and Patrick Somerville and Christina Lee

Cast: Cristin Milioti, Billy Magnussen, Dan Bakkedahl, Noma Dumezweni, Ray Romano, Augusto Aguilera, Caleb Foote

A romantic dramedy flavored with a touch of Black Mirror, this unconventional series focuses on the very dysfunctional relationship between Hazel (Cristin Milioti) and Byron (Billy Magnussen). Perhaps their odds as a married couple would have been better before Byron imprisoned her in a technologically advanced prison from which Hazel has to make a daring escape, but now that Hazel's back in the real world, she's forced to confront how her past has brought her to this place — specifically, hiding out with her father (Ray Romano) in a small desert town, never fully free from Byron's surveillance. Made for Love might take place in a slightly reality from our own, but its examination of love and relationships makes it painfully relatable to us all. - Liz Shannon Miller

Final Space

Created by: Olan Rogers

Cast: Olan Rogers, David Tennant, Coty Galloway, Steven Yeun, Tom Kenny, Tika Sumpter, Fred Armisen, Ashly Burch, Claudia Black, Ron Funches, Conan O'Brien, Jane Lynch, Keith David, Vanessa Marshall, Jasmin Savoy Brown

Its bold cartoon-y design might remind you of shows like Rick and Morty, but the better comparison to make for Final Space is the original Star Wars. The animated series, which has danced from network to network but can now be streamed on HBO Max, features the adventures of an hapless young man named Gary (voiced by creator Olan Rogers) who encounters an adorable space creature named Mooncake... who turns out to be a little bit of a planet-killer. The events that follow range from hilarious to epic to downright tragic, with plenty of thrills and adventure along the way. Even though the show won't be continuing past Season 3, the two seasons currently available on this platform make for a fantastic binge experience — all the excitement of a space opera, with a diverse and fascinating voice cast which represents the show's equally wide range. - Liz Shannon Miller

Happy Endings

Created by: David Caspe

Cast: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson

One of the best modern examples of a show that became an enduring favorite as soon as it pulled back on its original premise and just focused on quality ensemble hijinks, Happy Endings lasted for three gloriously rewatchable seasons. It's hard to explain what made this show so special, except to say that the wit and imagination packed into the ongoing adventures of six Chicago 30-somethings trying to sort out their love lives with some help from their friends went a long way towards distinguishing this show from the many, many other short-lived series that might sound familiar. Just the show's love/hate relationship with the many, many catchphrases of Penny (Casey Wilson) make it worth discovering — do yourself a favor and enjoy. - Liz Shannon Miller

Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens

Created by: Awkwafina & Teresa Hsiao

Cast: Awkwafina, Lori Tan Chinn, BD Wong, Bowen Yang

While Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens originated on Comedy Central (where a second season is currently airing now), HBO Max has the streaming rights to Season 1, and that's a godsend to anyone who might have missed it in its original run. For, before Awkwafina was starring in Marvel movies, the talented comedian was living a somewhat ordinary life as a New York millennial, and her off-the-wall comedy series, co-created by Teresa Hsiao, reflects how even the most ordinary life can be a source of truly hilarity. Anchored by a great supporting cast and pure imagination, Nora From Queens manages to pack in a ton of great jokes and fun meta commentary; plus, Season 1 includes a K-drama-inspired episode starring Simu Liu which is must-see TV. - Liz Shannon Miller

The Other Two

Created by: Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider

Cast: Heléne Yorke, Drew Tarver, Case Walker, Ken Marino, Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes

There is both a staggering amount of great comedy and a remarkable amount of heart packed into HBO Max's The Other Two — and it also offers a truly ruthless take on this business of show which occupies so much of our attention. The series stars Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke as the older siblings of Chase (Case Walker), a Bieber-esque teenage pop star who acquires instant fame and brings his family along for the ride. Created by former SNL head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, The Other Two is joke dense in the grand tradition of series like 30 Rock, but at its core is a show about family, relationships, and ambition, anchored by an award-worthy performance by Molly Shannon as their good-hearted mother Pat, who gets swept up in the mayhem. - Liz Shannon Miller

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

If it's current events you're interested in, each new episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver hits HBO Max the same time it airs on HBO on Sunday nights. This Emmy-dominated late night series finds the former Daily Show correspondant covering a few of the week's most topical issues with a humorous bent before moving into a 15-25-minute deep-dive on a single subject. The latter is the cornerstone of the series and what makes it special — Last Week Tonight's writers perform actual investigative journalism, boiling down confusing or complicated topics into engaging, informative, and actionable pieces for each episode. - Adam Chitwood

Miracle Workers

Created by: Simon Rich

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan, Karan Soni, and Jon Bass

The anthology comedy series Miracle Workers is an absolute delight, and is guaranteed to improve your mood. Each season is a different story and setting, but with the same cast. Season 1 finds Steve Buscemi playing God, while Daniel Radcliffe is an angel trying to prove to God that Earth is still worth saving in the face of almost certain destruction. Season 2 takes the story to the Dark Ages, and finds Radcliffe playing a spoiled prince while Buscemi plays a lowly worker outside the castle. And Season 3 tackles the Oregon Trail, currently airing on TBS. Through it all, the show delights in a modern sense of humor while also showing the best of humanity. — Adam Chitwood

The White Lotus

Created by: Mike White

Cast: Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, Alexandra Daddario, Fred Hechinger, Jake Lacy, Brittany O’Grady, Natasha Rothwell, Sydney Sweeney, and Molly Shannon

Imagine if Midsommar and Hereditary filmmaker Ari Aster made Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and you have an idea of what The White Lotus is like. This HBO limited series launched in the summer of 2021 and across six episodes, follows various guests at the tropical White Lotus resort during a weeklong stay. In the vein of Downton Abbey, the show also covers the point of view of the resort’s staff, contrasting the attitudes and biases of the wealthy guests with those who are paid to serve them. There’s an anxiety running throughout the whole season (the first episode reveals that someone dies, but you don’t find out who until the finale), but it’s all darkly funny and wildly compelling. – Adam Chitwood

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Created by: Larry David

If you’re in the mood for something that’s hilarious and a little embarrassing, well Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the best comedy series ever made. The show was created by Larry David not too long after he left Seinfeld, and finds him playing a fictionalized version of himself in relatively mundane yet relatable situations. Each episode is entirely improvised, and the plot is usually something silly – Larry gets roped into helping a stranger move, or Larry says something rude to his best friend’s wife – and yet David’s reaction and performance is so funny it hurts. Come for the comedy, but stay for Season 7’s staging of a Seinfeld reunion that actually works as a genuine Seinfeld reunion episode. – Adam Chitwood

The Nevers

Created by: Joss Whedon

Cast: Laura Donnelly, Ann Skelly, Olivia Williams, Tom Riley, James Norton, Pip Torrens, and Dennis O'Hare

This one flew under the radar a bit (for reasons that are kind of obvious), but if you're into female-driven sci-fi then The Nevers is a must-watch. Launched in 2021, the series takes place in Victorian-era London a few years after people suddenly started exhibiting supernatural powers for reasons unknown. The vast majority of these people turn out to be women, and Laura Donnelly plays a woman who runs a home that serves as a place of refuge for them — a Professor X to the X-Men, of sorts. Mystery abounds as to where these powers came from and who's trying to snuff them out, but a shocking twist in Episode 5 recontexualizes everything you've just seen and really solidifies exactly what this show is. It's best to go in blind, but if the idea of a Victorian-era superhero-type sci-fi drama led by wonderfully complex female characters sounds up your alley, give this one a go. - Adam Chitwood

The Knick

Created by: Jack Amiel and Michael Begler

Cast: Clive Owen, Andre Holland, Jeremy Bobb, Juliet Rylance, Eve Hewson, and Michael Angarano

If you're a fan of Steven Soderbergh and have never seen The Knick, now's the time to catch up on one of the best things he's ever done. The Ocean's filmmaker directed every episode of this two-season series, which is set in 1900 New York City and revolves around a surgeon who, with his team, is trying to push the boundaries of modern medicine. This is a visceral "medical drama" unlike any you've seen before, as Sodberbergh puts you right in the middle of the action while Clive Owen gives one of his best performances as a genius hindered only by his self-sabotage. Be forewarned, however, that the surgery scenes are extremely graphic. - Adam Chitwood


Created by: Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky

Cast: Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins

If you’re into the idea of a female-fronted comedy series set within the stand-up comedy world that tackles the generational divide between Gen Z/Millennials and Boomers and stars one of the best actresses of all time, then check out Hacks. The series hails from the creators of Broad City but is quite a bit more grounded than that show, as it revolves around a twentysomething burgeoning comedy writer (Hannah Einbinder) who gets “cancelled” for a tweet and is forced to take the only job available: working with a once-famous TV star and standup (Jean Smart) who’s now doing regular gigs in Las Vegas for a much older crowd. The chemistry and interplay between Einbinder and Smart is brilliant and hilarious, and the show is able to smoothly switch from biting dark comedy and wit to raw emotion on a dime, with Smart giving a phenomenal performance as a woman who’s been through the ringer and has found a way to survive (and thrive). This HBO Max original is really funny, but it’s also got a lot of heart and a really compelling serialized story – and it’s already been renewed for Season 2. – Adam Chitwood

Mare of Easttown

Created by: Brad Ingelsby

Cast: Kate Winslet, Evan Peters, Guy Pearce, Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, David Denham, Angourie Rice, and Cailee Spaeny

You surely saw the buzz surrounding HBO's limited series Mare of Easttown as it was airing in the spring of 2021, but if you didn't watch it, now's your chance. The seven-episode show was written entirely by Brad Ingelsby (The Way Back) and revolves around a quiet, strong-willed detective named Mare (Kate Winslet) who works in a small Pennsylvania town. The story kicks into gear when a young girl is murdered, and the backbone of the series is solving that mystery. But what sets Mare of Easttown apart from other murder mystery shows is how deep and complex and rich all the characters are, to the point that you care about what happens to every single one of them. Mare's own trauma drives her decisions throughout the series, and even the finale (which is hard to nail in shows like this) lands perfectly. It's simply one of the best murder mystery shows in recent memory, and well worth seven hours of your time. - Adam Chitwood

The Flight Attendant

Created by: Steve Yockey

Cast: Kaley Cuoco, Michiel Huisman, Rosie Perez, Zosia Mamet, T.R. Knight, and Michelle Gomez

The Flight Attendant is not just the best HBO Max original series thus far, it’s one of the best TV shows of 2020. It’s a mystery-thriller whodunit with a strong character hook, as Kaley Cuoco plays a flight attendant who has a one-night-stand with one of her passengers, only to wake up the next morning to find his throat slit. Instead of calling for help, she cleans it up and gets the heck out of there, setting into motion a series of events that will put her and her friends and family in serious danger. But while the mystery is wildly compelling, the show also offers a strong character arc for Cuoco as she plays an alcoholic in denial. She spirals and battles her own demons while also fighting for her life and trying to unravel this mystery, and Cuoco is absolutely incredible in the role. This 7-episode limited series is a very easy – and satisfying! –binge-watch. – Adam Chitwood

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