It’s not TV. It’s HBO.
That’s the moniker that graced pay cable screens throughout the 1990s, as the “Home Box Office” network began experimenting with original programming for the first time. Most of those early shows were comedies, and some were even groundbreaking (lookin’ at you The Larry Sanders Show), but it wasn’t until the late 90s and early 2000s that HBO became responsible for inventing what is now known as “prestige TV.”
The Wire and The Sopranos were unlike anything else on television, not only at the time, but in history. HBO’s subscription model allowed the content to be darker, sure, but also more creative. Writers weren’t working towards ad breaks, and bottle episodes of The Sopranos began to feel more like short feature films than television.
For decades now, HBO has solidified itself as a place for quality original TV shows. When a new HBO show is premiering on a Sunday night, you know it’s at least worth checking out to see if it’s for you. But the breadth of material may seem overwhelming. There’s a lot to choose from whether you’re watching HBO on demand or online—or even for free.
So we’ve put together a list of the best HBO shows ever made, which should hopefully serve as a viewing guide for the recently launched HBO Max. A starting point to help guide you to the absolute best that HBO has to offer. These shows range from historical dramas to sci-fi thrillers to unique comedies. There’s something for everyone here, and again, most of it is unlike anything else you can find on TV. But of course HBO isn’t just “TV” is it?