Before Netflix became an online streaming giant, there was cable TV, the ultimate source of entertainment for the whole family. Home Box Office, or better known as HBO, kick-started the golden age of TV.  It pretty much dominated the cable network scene during its peak with its vast offerings of blockbuster movies, award-winning shows, and stand-up specials.

“It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” The premium cable TV’s slogan defined the network with its own air of authority and class. You can’t have cable TV without HBO.

Over the years, HBO has evolved but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it realized its potential to create original shows.  The success of Oz, the first original program released in 1997, convinced the network to produce more of its kind and this has so far worked to HBO’s benefit more than a decade after.

The medium has put out thousands of hours of original content since and doesn’t seem to slow down any time soon, especially when the competition (Netflix) is racking up the streaming charts. Ranking aside, HBO has already developed a sterling reputation not just with writers, talents, and directors but also with viewers for its production of quality programming.

HBO is not all about producing fantasy shows and murder mystery stories (which seem to get a lot of attention) these days. The cable balances it out with the release of drama, comedy, sitcoms, and any slice-of-life tales that make the audience resonate with the characters, thus providing HBO an edge over other networks.

It has most of the best original shows aired on TV, not including Oz. There’s Six Feet Under, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Westworld, and the recently-concluded epic fantasy series Game of Thrones. There is a lot more to the list and the titles you can find below.

Out of the many original shows that HBO has released, we have narrowed the list to twenty. These shows deserve your viewing attention not only because of their high entertainment value but also because of their creativity, influence, and importance to the outsider.

These are timeless shows and they stand out because they either give powerful morals or help us see the value of family and friends and help us realize our destiny. These HBO original shows prove to us viewers that we are merely humans who feel remorse, pain, love, compassion, joy, grief, and who inevitably only has one destination in the journey called life– death.

 

1

Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

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Game of Thrones is one of the popular, longest running, and by far the most successful series in HBO’s long history. The show is a live-adaptation of the series of books of the same name by George R.R. Martin.

It’s a fantasy series that features the fictional world of Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms, each ruled by respective kings and queens. It tackles everything from mystical and pre-historic creatures, witchcraft, incest, gratuitous sex scenes, betrayal, scandal, action, gore, and the list goes on.

If you fancy dinosaurs and medieval stories about nobles fighting over the throne then this show has that and more. It packs intense sword-based action, surprising plot twists, drama, mystery, romance, horror, suspense, and any other genre you can think of.

In summary, though, this epic series tracks the repetitive rise and fall of the Stark family as they battle the undead called White Walkers and fight off duplicitous allies and backstabbers. It’s a show about family legacy and its preservation (Targaryens and Lannisters alike) and about finding your true destiny (Jon Snow’s true identity).

Directors: David Nutter, Alan Taylor, Miguel Sapochnik – Screenplay: George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss– Cast: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Isaac Hempstead Wright – Run Time: 57m

2

Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)

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One of the best historical shows to air on TV albeit initially seen as an attempt at a Sopranos-type hit, Boardwalk Empire follows the intrigue surrounding the relationships of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) to mobsters and those in political power. He rubs shoulders with some of the big names in mobster history including Al Capone.

Set during the Prohibition Era, Nucky plays both sides of the law as he deals with illegal alcohol as discretely as possible. His outside dealings fuels his lavish lifestyle, which isn’t relative to his profession as a treasurer of Atlantic County. This eventually draws the interest of the Federal Government. 

This Golden Globes-winning series packs dark penetrating violence and unadulterated sex scenes. It’s a gangster drama with depth and filled with a talented cast, beautiful cinematography, tension-filled storytelling, and pristine historical and visual depiction of Atlantic City in the 1920s.  

Directors: Timothy Van Patten, Allen Coulter – Screenplay: Terence Winter – Cast: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon – Run Time: 55m

3

Westworld (2016 –)

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Nothing gives a good message about female empowerment than Westworld, an HBO original series about women fighting for fair treatment and equal rights and occupying positions of leadership in a male-dominated world. Masking this serious context though is the fantasy of a world where men can do practically anything they want with the opposite gender.

Welcome to Westworld, a theme park that attracts people from all walks of life who want to satiate their craving for adventure. It’s where adults can live out their wild west dreams and act on their deepest and darkest fantasies without consequences (or so it seems).

Westworld is a sci-fi series that you can’t ignore because of its intriguing and complex premise. It’s a brainteaser of a program that challenges your inner sleuth. It questions your morals about the ethical implications of combining consciousness with technology, to be precise, to extremely lifelike robots.

This show explores the limits of artificial intelligence and human emotions. It’s a smart and challenging series that’s generally not for everyone’s viewing pleasure as it can come off confusing and disturbing. Some may even find the succeeding seasons baffling and unimpressive, but over all, this show takes entertainment to a different level.

Directors: Jonathan Nolan, Richard J. Lewis – Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan, Michael Crichton, Lisa Joy – Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris,  Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, James Marsden –Run Time: 1h 2m

4

True Blood (2008-2014)

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Just when you think that shows or movies about vampires couldn’t get any more saturated after Twilight, HBO releases True Blood, a series that tackles just that – sharp talking, sexy, and beautiful men and women with pointy teeth.

Mind you though, this is not The Vampire Diaries by any stretch, which caters to the young audience. True Blood is for the mature viewers as it contains more gruesome and explicit scenes and is more complex in storytelling with its constant twists and turns. This show provides plenty of steamy romance, gore, and graphic thrills.

The story begins with the telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse whose life and that of her family is never the same again after she meets Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman who also happens to be a vampire.

Bill has just woken up from deep slumber and ready to mingle with the humans now that synthetic blood has made it possible for vampires to co-exist peacefully with the mortals. This blood, called “True Blood,” allows the vampires to survive without having to prey on humans.

Bill opens Sookie’s eyes to the strange new supernatural world in which he lives. Of course, this includes the dangers that come with dating a vampire. The story though doesn’t just focus on Sookie and Bill but on all the other host of vampires and humans they come across with.

Directors: Jonathan Nolan, Richard J. Lewis – Screenplay: Alan Ball – Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Alexander Skarsgård, Chris Bauer, Carrie Preston – Run Time: 55m

5

True Detective (2014 –)

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This anthology psychological crime drama digs into the personal and professional lives of those who uphold the law and those who break it. It explores and gives justice to both sides of their story, of the criminals and lawmen alike, and reveals the motive behind a crime.

Each season tackles a different story. Season 1 brings two detectives together to revisit an old homicide case they worked on in 1995. As they narrate their involvement with the investigation in 2012, the pair starts to learn about each other’s dark secrets that threaten to destroy their preconceived notions about each other’s morals.

Meanwhile, the narrative in Season 2 falls on four people whose involvement with a criminal investigation sparks a weave of betrayal and conspiracy. A police detective who also serves the mafia, a criminal bent on protecting his empire, a detective with unpopular ethics and a war veteran turned highway patrol cop with a dark past. In Season 3, a retired detective revisits the unsolved case about the disappearance of two children in 1980.

This show captures you and draws you in with its uncanny and talented blend of characters and unique and twisted subplots. These characters stir the drama, set the tone, mood, and propel the mystery plot to its intense tension and excitement. Suffice to say that True Detective supplies your weekly dose of compelling, engaging, and addicting murder mystery story.

Directors: Cary Joji Fukunaga, Daniel Sackheim  – Screenplay: Nic Pizzolatto – Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Vince Vaughn, Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo, Taylor Kitsch, Ray Fisher, Sara Gadon, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams – Run Time: 55m

6

Chernobyl (2019)

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Chernobyl is a relatively new HBO miniseries about the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union in 1986. It tells the stories of the men and women who tried to contain the human-made disaster and those who sacrificed their lives to prevent a subsequent worldwide catastrophe.

This show received mixed reviews from viewers especially from those directly connected with the accident. Regardless, the narrative is incredibly powerful and its cast equally captivating in their sincerity to tell the story about the explosion and the unprecedented clean-up efforts that followed.

Chernobyl is very realistic and breathtaking in its depiction of the Soviet Union at that time and very compelling in its dramatization of the horrors and chaos that transpired in the aftermath of the explosion.

There are some gory, heart-breaking, and really emotional scenes that may be too hard to take for some (I won’t go into the details).  Let’s just say that this drama series is unforgiving in its historical analysis of the nuclear accident. There are no subtleties and it did not tame its retelling of that infamous time in history.

Directors: Cary Joji Fukunaga, Daniel Sackheim – Screenplay: Craig Mazin – Cast: Jessie Buckley, Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Paul Ritter – Run Time: 70m

7

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

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Dubbed as the godfather of revolutionary HBO television, The Sopranos set the prerequisites for what a mafia drama should be on TV. It has stunning cinematography, riveting plot developments, sharp acting, smart and engaging writing, beautiful soundtrack, and appropriate setting, to name a few.

This show laid the groundwork for the release of other gang-related crime stories on HBO (Boardwalk Empire) or other networks for that matter. Suffice to say, this mob series sets the tone for modern, elevated television, as we know it.

Much of The Sopranos’ allure comes from the captivating lead performance of the late James Gandolfini, who portrays the anti-hero, Tony Soprano. Tony is a New Jersey crime boss and family man who struggles with personal and professional problems. The stress of his issues eventually affects his mental state and so he decides to resort to counseling. He goes through therapy sessions with a psychiatrist for some clarity and peace of mind.

Outside of Gandolfini’s gravitational performance, the side characters also give the show its surface-level fun and pleasure. The Sopranos has the ability to show humanity amid the violence, it’s moving, funny, it makes you cringe, cry, and laugh all in one episode. There’s just never a dull moment with this show.

Directors: Timothy Van Patten, John Patterson, Allen Coulter – Screenplay: David Chase – Cast: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese – Run Time: 55m

8

Barry (2018 –)

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Barry is HBO’s latest hit and for a good reason. This show is a perfect mix of crime and comedy and one that’s sure to keep your movie nights busy.

The narrative follows Barry Berkman (Bill Hader), a depressed assassin from the Midwest who seeks a way out of his profession. He gets caught up in the theater arts scene while on a mission in Los Angeles to take out his target who is an actor. Little did he know that acting would become his sanctuary.

Now, the melancholic Barry must try to balance his professional work with his newfound passion and mask his dark nature especially if it involves getting the affections of an aspiring actress. However, trouble is bound to surface when the deadly Barry comes knocking and clashes with his acting lessons in surprising ways (kind of reminds you of Dexter).

This show is funny and blends in crime-thriller tropes fluidly without missing its comedic nature. But this series can also be quite violent and suspenseful when assassin Barry takes over and Hader is brilliantly hilarious and intriguing in his dark role.

Directors: Bill Hader, Alec Berg, Hiro Murai – Screenplay: Alec Berg, Bill Hader – Cast: Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Anthony Carrigan – Run Time: 30m

9

The Leftovers (2014-2017)

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Based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perotta, this series explores the lives of those who remain in a small New York community after a mysterious global catastrophe called the “Sudden Departure” wipes out two percent of the human population.

The story takes place three years in the aftermath of the cataclysmic event and people are trying their best to move on with their lives and cope with the loss of loved ones. They go about their own way of dealing with the tragedy of the unexplained nature of the people’s disappearance, but a sheriff and a grieving mother are left to sort out the psychological and emotional ramifications.

It takes sheer willpower to power you through the first few episodes since they may seem confusing and convoluted for some. But carry on since the narrative only gets interesting and thrilling moving forward.

This series boasts real drama with thought-provoking scenes. It explores themes of religion, hopefulness, and hopelessness in a smart and exciting way while also being violent, smart, perplexing, and intriguing at the same time.

Directors: Mimi Leder, Carl Franklin, Keith Gordon – Screenplay: Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta, Nick Cuse – Cast Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Chris Zylka, Regina King – Run Time: 1h

10

Oz (1997-2003)

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The first original show ever to grace HBO TV screen was Oz in 1997. Since then, the network has produced several shows at par (and some not) with the level of creativity and greatness of this classic series that borders on crime, drama, and thriller.

Oz is no fairy-tale story, mind you. It’s the exact opposite. Set in a maximum-security prison, the show chronicles the lives of those who try to maintain peace inside the facility and keep control over the inmates, who range from gangsters, criminals, bikers, Muslims, Latinos, mafias, and more.

This show made noise during its release because of its violent and sexual content and its equally disturbing and profound storytelling.  It shows unpredictable violence and stressful living that are inherent to real aspects of incarceration in the United States.

Oz tells prison life as it is. There’s no sugar-coating it and no subtleties so it clearly isn’t pretty but rather horrific and painful. Yet, it’s a powerful show because it reveals the most wonderful qualities of the human spirit where you least expect to find them– in a room full of misery and darkness.

Directors: Adam Bernstein, Alex Zakrzewski – Screenplay: Tom Fontana – Cast: Ernie Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Terry Kinney, Dean Winters, Harold Perrineau, Christopher Meloni – Run Time: 55m

11

Band of Brothers (2001)

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From the duo who brought you Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg yet again gives us viewers something to be emotional about over a war-driven story. Band of Brothers is a dramatized series based on a true story.

This miniseries follows true accounts from historian Stephen E. Ambrose 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. It tells the bravery and heroism of the members of the “Easy Company” (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment) when they were assigned on a mission for the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division during the WWII.

Over the course of the ten episodes, the series chronicles their exploits from their initial training to actual combat missions up until the end of the war. The show features their exploits in Normandy, in Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and they were the first to enter Hitler’s retreat in Berchtesgaden. While the series features an ensemble of cast, each episode generally focuses on one character and follows his action.

Band of Brothers is a fitting tribute to the Easy Company with its engrossing, deeply moving, captivating and provocative storytelling about ordinary men who turn into heroes and about the camaraderie and bond that draws them together in times of conflict.

Directors: Adam Bernstein, Alex Zakrzewski – Screenplay: Tom Fontana – Cast: Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fassbender, Shane Taylor, Neal McDonough – Run Time: 1h 15m

12

Sex and the City (1998-2004)

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This female-driven story follows four women best friends (Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda) as they find ways to deal with being a woman in the 1990s. They either gossip about their sex life (or lack of it), talk about their relationships and about their jobs or gush about their recent shopping experience.

While this show is cliché-filled, to say the least, it’s nevertheless entertaining and provocative in the way it influenced television to open its doors to more complex stories about women and sex. It certainly was ahead of its time when it premiered during HBO’s heyday in the 1990s.

Despite its numerous flaws (misrepresentation of gay characters and characters of color, class and race issues, and gender and sexuality misconceptions), Sex and the City drew a massive audience for its funny dialogues, witty remarks, and gossipy ways women talk about their men (guys can take some hints about the female population from this show).

Although, don’t take the context of this series seriously. It’s purely for entertainment and for the sake of fantasy and for the value of telling a story about women who are not ashamed to live their life according to their terms.

Directors: Michael Patrick King, Michael Engler – Screenplay: Darren Star – Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon – Run Time: 30m

13

Veep (2012-2019)

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Veep has been consistent on its spot as one of HBO’s funny comedy series for the entirety of its seven-season run. This show features an entirely different facet of the White House, one that’s filled with profanity and insults.

At the center of all these raucous is former senator Selina Meyer who finds that being vice president is nothing like she expected and everything that the people she knows warned her about.  Her charisma goes unnoticed and her leadership falls into deaf ears as she puts out political fires in her dealings with useless staff.

A political satire at its core, Veep brims with insults but launched in a creative manner that they come off hilarious and somewhat witty. The characters fire insults at each other at a rapid-fire pace, so much so that it becomes an accepted norm of communication. They have perfected the use of derogatory remarks, to say the least.

This series downplays the seriousness of politics by focusing on the screw-up moments (Selina cares more about being liked by the masses than passing legislation). It shines a light on the people who would rather be close to power than make any real social impact.

Directors: Michael Patrick King, Michael Engler – Screenplay: Armando Iannucci – Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Matt Walsh, Timothy Simons – Run Time: 30m

14

Silicon Valley (2014 –)

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This sarcastic, scathing, witty, and hilarious approach to telling a story about what goes on inside Silicon Valley is another of Mike Judge’s finest works (Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill). Here he dives into the cliché that surrounds everyone’s notions about the high-tech world, including and not limited to the idea that college dropouts spearhead the industry (thanks Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg).

Judge knows what he’s doing here given as he’s no stranger to the lifestyle and culture of Silicon Valley. He worked at Palo Alto as an engineer in the late 1980s.  He knows how to intertwine humor and wacky slapsticks to create a satirical view of tech-world douchebaggery, which makes this series not cringe comedy but good comedy.

In Silicon Valley, the focus is on five dudes who are working on a start-up for a data compression app, and the genius engineer Richard Hendricks successfully coins the Pied Piper. The app grabs the interest of investors and competitors, and thus follows the hurdles and successes of the team as they encounter would-be-power-players and backstabbers in the industry.

Directors: Mike Judge, Alec Berg, Jamie Babbit – Screenplay: John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky – Cast: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Zach Woods, Amanda Crew – Run Time: 26m

15

The Wire (2002-2008)

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This show received critical acclaims but failed on the awards and suffered poor ratings, probably because its concept is far too relative to the realities of the outside world. It’s a challenging, smart, intricate, exciting, and innovative series about the urban war zone.

Every season tackles a different story but each plays around the theme of morality, in which the characters are neither good nor bad and that everyone is a little bit flawed, tainted, and conflicted.

The series opens with the Baltimore drug scene and explores the lives of the drug users and law enforcers. It dissects every part of the drug “food chain” from the users to the dealers, and from cops to politicians.

However, everything in The Wise is connected and the stories play out as a reminder that the system — political, education, and criminal system— is broken. It reminds us of the reality that human intervention in the face of these systematic failures can only do so much.

Directors: Clark Johnson, Joe Chappelle – Screenplay: David Simon, Ed Burns – Cast: Dominic West, Idris Elba, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, John Doman, Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick – Run Time: 59m

16

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000 —)

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Following his stellar appearance in Seinfeld, Larry David brings an equally loveable, hateful, and cringe-worthy character back on screen as he plays as himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm. The story follows Larry’s seemingly perfect life: he’s got a loving wife, a successful career, good friends, and a beautiful home. What could go wrong?

Well, a lot can go wrong as the series presents a self-deprecating and unwavering depiction of Larry’s life as he goes about getting himself in predicaments with his friends and with strangers.  In this show, anything worthy of a laugh can happen. It never runs out of good stories to tell as it continues to build storylines one after the other as if plucked out of thin air.

This show brings out all of Larry’s idiosyncrasies powered by an equally hilarious cast and countless of guest appearances (Wanda Sykes is a hoot) to bring home the central theme: Larry David can mess your day in creative ways but in a laugh-out-loud kind of way.

This series is about nothing and anything. But who would think that a show about nothing in particular can bring so much joy? Curb Your Enthusiasm is HBO’s trademark comedy, a laugh-till-you-cry sitcom that never fails to make you struggle to catch your breath amid all the laughter.

Directors: Robert B. Weide, Larry Charles, Jeff Schaffer– Screenplay: Larry David – Cast: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, Ted Danson, Vivica A. Fox, Richard Lewis – Run Time: 28m

17

Big Love (2006-2011)

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Big Love is a unique find on TV and on HBO at that because of the rare context of its story. It treads on a socially sensitive topic — polygamy— which is against society’s rules. It’s a sensational subject that the show approaches with restraint.

The series challenges the boundaries of a polygamous marriage and gives viewers a look at what could be a typical life of a successful polygamist through the life of the Henrickson family. They are like your typical suburban American family who deals with bills, hectic schedules, careers, grown-up children, and more. What makes them different is that they’re polygamists.

The patriarch (Bill Paxton) lives with his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin) under the same roof, which they share with their collective brood of seven children.

The show follows the highs and lows of the Henricksons’ life as the father tries to find ways to care for his big family by capitalizing on the family business. Meanwhile,  his wives go about their own ways of dealing with their situation.

The narrative doesn’t sugarcoat, put a comical spin, or deviate from realism in its depiction of the subject, which makes Big Love a profoundly compelling and entertaining family drama. The characters make you want to invest in their stories regardless if you can’t even begin to comprehend or accept their lifestyle.

Directors: Daniel Attias, Adam Davidson– Screenplay: Mark V. Olsen, Will Scheffer – Cast: Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Douglas Smith, Amanda Seyfried – Run Time: 60m

18

Six Feet Under (2001-2005)

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In this emotional series about life, Alan Ball deviates from the supernatural (True Blood) and deals with the natural and the inevitable — death.  This show attempts to find reason and order in mortality as seen through the eyes and actions of the Fisher family, who operates a funeral home in Los Angeles.

For the proprietors of Fisher & Sons Funeral Home death is not an exception but the norm. They deal with it on a daily basis so each episode starts with a fresh corpse (the premiere starts with the patriarch of the family’s death).

As they go about manning the business, they also have to deal with the fear of eventually having to confront death itself one way or another and of learning to overcome the grief that comes along with a loved one’s passing. They have to accept death as a constant factor in their lives, no matter how hard they try to put in on a pedestal and focus on the minor tragedies that afflict them.

Six Feet Under is a provocative family drama about going through the motions of life and the acceptance of death and grief. It can be sometimes melancholic and uncomfortable but never macabre or morbid.  It’s tender and heart-wrenching, so if you aren’t soaked in tears by the end of it all, then you better have your pulse checked.

Directors: Daniel Attias, Allan Ball– Screenplay: Allan Ball – Cast: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Richard Jenkins, Freddy Rodríguez, Justin Theroux – Run Time: 55m

19

Big Little Lies (2017—)

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This adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel about the dark secrets that the moms of Monterey society hide stars a powerful ensemble of female cast: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley. If you tune in to the show for the sake of these women then that’s good reason enough.

But the series itself deserves credit. After all, it so happens to be one of HBO’s tastiest TV in years. So much so, that the audience response led to a renewal, even if the first season already covered the entirety of the book.

At the forefront of the story is new-in-town single mom Jane (Shailene Woodley) whom Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) take under their wing. Little do they know that the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable son will affect them all and provoke their already-conflicted emotions.

The show goes beyond its gossipy front to tell a story about domestic abuse, schoolyard scandal, bullying, and the small lies shared amongst community, wives, children, husbands, and teachers that can turn lethal. It’s a drama, murder mystery, and soap, all rolled into one (think Desperate Housewives and Secret and Lies).

Directors: Jean-Marc Vallée, Andrea Arnold – Screenplay: David E. Kelley, Matthew Tinker – Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgård – Run Time: 60m

20

Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009)

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Before New Zealand entered the comedy movie scene (Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok), Flight of the Conchords made its way into TV. This show is about two Kiwi musicians who dream of stardom.

The series follows this awful folk duo from New Zealand who tries to make it big in New York. They literally have no following (except for one zealous fan) and they go through repeated failures even after they manage to successfully write a good song and tread in the footsteps of famous artists REM and David Bowie.

Their manager and friend, who works at the New Zealand consulate, doesn’t know how to make their situation any less bad. He is incompetent and clueless at his job.  The only place the wanna-be rock stars can book a stint is at the local aquarium.

Regardless, these two really take themselves seriously as musicians and this drives the story forward and makes the show funny. They have a knack for looking and acting silly without overdoing it. The humor in this series is subtle and sharp, something that fans of British comedy will find enjoyable.

Flight of the Conchords is not Broadway standards but it’s a musical comedy of a different kind. It’s highly entertaining with its catchy and hilarious songs that accompany every episode.

Directors: James Bobin, Troy Miller, Taika Waititi – Screenplay: James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie – Cast: Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Kristen Schaal – Run Time: 28m