Best shows to watch on HBO right now

Home Box Office, now more commonly known as HBO, started out in 1972 as a channel where you could watch replays of your favorite previously-released movies and major boxing events. In the decades since then, the premium cable channel has expanded into high-quality original programming that is exclusively available on the company’s streaming platforms: HBO Go, HBO NOW and the upcoming HBO Max.

HBO originals are consistently some of the most-talked-about, award-winning options out there. HBO also has a kids version of the channel, but as you’ll notice in the list below, the network’s most buzzed-about shows are generally darker fare aimed at adults.

If you’d like to learn more about HBO and everything it has to offer, you can visit our HBO NOW review, our comparison of HBO Go and HBO NOW, or our HBO Max review.

Shows everyone is talking about

Succession (2018)

Aging media mogul Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, is forced to reluctantly consider which of his grown adult children will eventually take over his company. Fortunately for him, the apples do not fall from the tree. The four Roy siblings are just as ruthless and cunning as their father, willing to do whatever it takes to be ultimately chosen as their father’s favorite — and as his successor.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 91%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 2
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Nicholas Braun

Euphoria (2019)

Recovering teen addict Rue, played by Zendaya, returns from rehab and rejoins her dysfunctional group of high school friends. Rue refuses to shed her old habits, but then she finds solace in a newcomer to the group who gives her hope for a better life.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 83%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 1
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Zendaya, Jacob Elordi, Hunter Schafer, Barbie Ferreira, Sydney Sweeney, Algee Smith and Alexa Demie

Westworld (2016)

Westworld is a fictional, Wild West-themed amusement park in the future where absolutely nothing is what it seems, and everything must be questioned.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 83%
  • Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Number of seasons: 2
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden and Tessa Thompson

Insecure (2016)

Issa, played by Issa Rae and Molly, portrayed by Yvonne Orji, are friends in their 20s. The series follows the characters as they navigate relationships and discover the world. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 77%
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Number of seasons: 3
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Issa Rae, Jay Ellis, Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce and Natasha Rothwell

Award-winning shows

Game of Thrones (2011)

In the fictional Westeros, the king or queen sits on the Iron Throne and rules over the entire kingdom. Several families stake their claim to the throne in a worldwide struggle filled with dragons, war and revenge. As one of the family patriarchs of the series famously said, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” The drama won 59 Emmys during its 8-season run.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 86%
  • Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Number of seasons: 8
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie and Peter Dinklage

Big Little Lies (2017)

Based on the novel by Liane Moriarty, the series follows five different women whose unexpected bond is tied to a huge secret in the scenic coastal town of Monterey, California. The drama won eight Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series in 2017.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 88%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 2
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz

Chernobyl (2019)

This is an Emmy-winning dramatization of the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 98%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 1
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson and Paul Ritter

Barry (2018)

A hitman named Barry, played by Bill Hader, accidentally finds himself in a Los Angeles acting class and, soon, he develops a passion for the craft. Hader won two Emmys for his portrayal of the title character.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 90%
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Number of seasons: 2
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Bill Hader, Henry Winker, Sarah Goldberg and Stephen Root

Shows you will want to rewatch

The Wire (2002)

This critically-acclaimed series, created by former journalist David Simon, is a stunning portrait of Baltimore as told through a large cast of characters in the drug trade, law enforcement, politics, education, the docks and the media. Each season focuses on a different sector of the city.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 97%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 5
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, Andre Royo and Michael K. Williams

The Sopranos (1999)

When mob boss Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, has an anxiety attack, he starts seeing a therapist to help him balance his high-stakes job and dysfunctional family. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 98%
  • Genre: Drama
  • Number of seasons: 6
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Steve Buscemi

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000)

Larry David plays himself in this neurotically funny comedy series as he gets into (and out of) awkward situations and dissects the social conventions of our daily lives. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 96%
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Number of seasons: 10
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman

Silicon Valley (2014)

The comedy series explores the hilarity of a Northern California startup that is developing a revolutionary app.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 92%
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Number of seasons: 6
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Featured actors: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods

The takeaway

This powerhouse service is home to tons of popular entertainment options, including HBO shows like Big Little Lies and Game of Thrones. HBO NOW has a free seven-day trial you can sign up for to get a better idea of what the channel has to offer. Some cable and streaming TV providers also have free or discounted HBO trials — your ultimate cost will depend on your TV provider. If you are interested in watching award-winning HBO TV shows and movies, it is worth giving the service a try. And if movies are more your speed, then visit our guide to the best movies to watch on HBO.

Mallory Carra