HBO was the first premium cable channel we subscribed to.
“Dream On” ran 1990 to 1996 and taught us we could see nudity on cable.
HBO On Demand used to be simple. It was a benefit from your cable subscription. Now you need HBO Max with your cable or independently. Or get your HBO through Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Sling or DirectTV. No one liked the confusion that ensued with HBO Max after ATT bought HBO but that has finally settled down in 2021.
Be sure to scroll down for my recommendations for my girlfriends – for those times when you’re watching without your guy.
HBO Series We Recommend
* The White Lotus – Sicily (2022) Created by Mike White. Beautiful photography of Sicily. Season 2 of Series that began in Maui in 2021 (below). Starring Jennifer Coolidge, the only carry over from actor from Season 1; F. Murray Abraham (aging gracefully born 1939), Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli (Good Fellas), Theo James (Time Travelers’s Wife) + all around great cast. SNL did cute “Black Lotus” take off in Jan 2023: https://youtu.be/kdDK7_M59os
* Minx (2022) Dramedy. 1970’s LA (San Fernando Valley). First erotic magazine for women. Jake Johnson (New Girl).
* The Staircase (2022): Docudrama starring Colin Firth, Toni Collette, Juliette Binoche
* Made for Love (April 2021): Black comedy sci-fi starring Cristin Milioti (from the excellent Palm Springs on Hulu); Ray Romano as her father; Billy Magnussen as the reclusive owner of Gogle.
* The White Lotus Season One – Maui (July 2021): Quirky but entertaining enough. Starring Steve Zahn, Connie Britton, Murray Bartlett (Physical Season 2), Jennifer Coolidge. Shot at the Four Seasons in Maui.
* Mare of Easttown (2021): Cop, mystery starring Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, Guy Pearce and Easttown, PA.
* Hacks (2021): Star vehicle for Jean Smart. Intergenerational drama with touches of comedy.
* Raised by Wolves (2020): sci-fi. Androids “Mother” and “Father” tasked with raising human children on the nearby Kepler-22b planet. Dystopian earth has warring atheists and sun believers, the sun worshipers send arks into space. “Mother” is the power woman central figure in this excellent drama.
* Insecure (2016 – ) Dramedy co-created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore. Starring Issa Rae. Season 5 is green-lighted and they are working on virtually. Unknown when they can film. R rated for strong sexual content. Includes spoilers – don’t read unless you have finished season 4: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a32861120/insecure-season-5-news-cast-spoilers-date/
* My Brilliant Friend (2018 – ) Season 3 started in 2020. Beautiful series with important things to say about women, taking place in the south of Italy. Italian with subtitles. From the books by Elena Ferrante.
* The Plot Against America (2020 – ): Based on the book by Philip Roth. Starts in 1940 in a Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey. Winona Ryder, Morgan Spector (Homeland), Zoe Kazan (The Deuce), Ben Cole (Sense 8) plays Charles Lindbergh
* The New Pope (2019 – 2020): Follow-up to The Young Pope. Jude Law, John Malkovitch. Sexy, dark humor yet poignant pope story. Sofi Tukker’s “Good Time Girl” is introduced with dancing nuns at the beginning of episode 2.
* Avenue 5 (2020 – ): Space comedy (rather dark) starring Hugh Laurie, Zach Woods (Silicon Valley). 30 minute episodes. Apparently we like it better than the IMDB average. Great supporting cast including Laura Chrichlow and Nikki Amuka-Bird. Ethan Phillips was Nelix, the alien cook on Voyager (Star Trek).
* Mrs. Fletcher (2019): Dark comedy starring Kathryn Hahn, Cameron Boyce (first 6 episodes), Owen Teague.
* Watchmen (2019 -): Alternate reality, sci-fi, based on graphic novel starring Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Don Johnson, Jeremy Irons
* Catherine the Great (2019): Docudrama starring Helen Mirren
* Barry (2018 – 2022): Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Laura San Giacomo, D’Arcy Carden (the Good Place). Dark comedy. Three seasons.
* The Deuce (2017 – ): Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco are terrific as is the full ensemble. Times Square back in the day: Season One is set in 1972; Season 2 in 1977.
* Big Little Lies (2017 – ): Starring Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz. Critically acclaimed. Season 2 brought in Meryl Streep.
* The Young Pope (2016): Follow-up The New Pope came out in 2020.
* Westworld (2016 – ): sci-fi. Still going in 2022.
* Silicon Valley (2014 – ): Comedy. Season 5 completed in 2018.
* Crashing (2017 – ): Based on life of author and star, comedian Pete Holmes. Comedy. Currently in Season 2
* VEEP (2012 – finale 2020): Comedy.
* The Night Of (2016): Nine episode mini series is complete.
* Vinyl (2016): Music business. Starring Bobby Cannavale (who is also in HomeComing with Julia Roberts)
* True Detective (2014 – ) Season 3 (2018) stars 2018 Mahershala Ali.
There are classics from the past like Entourage and Hung but for the current shows, we are down to the above.
The Newsroom (2012 – 2014): created by Aaron Sorkin. Available on Amazon Prime.
Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (2020 – 2021) Comedy. 2 seasons co-starring Lori Tan Chinn as grandma, BD Wong and Bowen Yang.
HBO Original Films
Talk Shows We Enjoy on HBO
Real Time: Bill Maher
Last Week Tonight: John Oliver
HBO Original Documentary Films
In the Same Breath (August 18, 2021) HBO Max Original. Government propaganda, experience of healthcare workers and citizens in Wuhan China (Jan 1 2020) and USA (March 2020) during the breakout of COVID-19. Female Director Nanfu Wang. Rotten Tomatoes rating 96 / 83
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (March 18, 2019): The story of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos fraud
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (March, 2018): Five hours in two parts. Extremely well done. Great editing of archive footage and Shandlings personal diaries presented by Judd Apatow. With a plethora of celebrity appearances by his comedian friends. Garry died of a heart attack in March 2016.
If not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (2017): Aging well. Carl Reiner
On HBO Now and HBO Go with Extras. NOT on Cable HBO On Demand
rough-portrait-of-new-yorker-cartoonists – this page includes a display of cartoons from the show.
HBO Original Docudrama Films
King Richard (Nov 19, 2021): Plenty of tennis in this well-executed 2.5 hour HBO Original film of Richard (Will Smith), Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams. Aunjanue Ellis plays mom. Nice matching in appearance of well known characters. Jon Bernthal as Rick Macci.
The Special Relationship (2010): docudrama about Bill Clinton and Tony Blair
Not currently available On Demand. Available on Netflix DVD.
HBO Original Films and Series for my Girlfriends
Gentleman Jack (2017, season 2 2022): Story of Anne Lister. LGBTQ.
Time Traveler’s Wife (2022): Fantasy/Sci-fi, romance 6 episodes. Theo James for the ladies.
Young Sheldon (2017 – ): Still going in 2022. Chuck Lorre comedy – dependable light entertainment
Rainy day in New York by Woody Allen (2020): starring Elle Fanning (The Great), Timothée Chalamet, Liev Schreiber, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Cherry Jones
Flight Attendant (2020 – ): Kaley Cuoco. Dark Comedy thriller. Season 1, don’t need Season 2 from 2022.
Let them all talk (2020): Solid cast led by Meryl Streep but the guy in your life will probably not appreciate it. Plays like a play. Almost entirely on a QE2 Cruise.
HBO Shows We Watched So You Don’t Have To
The Third Day (September, 2020) We love Jude Law but not this. Be aware we are not fans of the horror genre (though we loved Get Out) but this is just tedious. IMDB has it at 6.something so we aren’t the only ones who didn’t like it.
I Know This Much is True (2020, May 10): Great cast with Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Kathryn Hahn and more but the first one hour episode was so dark, we refuse to go back for more. Yes Mark Ruffalo gave a great performance. Usually we will watch anything with Juliette Lewis but she is so entirely unlikeable at least in the first episode. Book it is based on by Wally Lamb was a best seller.
Films Available Through HBO-Go
HBO is constantly retiring films from this library. I recommend that you check regularly to see “coming soon” and “leaving this month”. If you are already paying for HBO, it is worth checking. I am only updating this when I happen to newly watch a film that I found here.
Free Guy (2021 – streaming in 2022): Entertaining PG sci-fi comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Taika Waititi (screenplay writer JoJo Rabbit), Joe Keery (Stranger Things); Chris Evans cameo; Tina Fey voice of Mom. Also on Disney Plus.
Promising Young Woman (2020): About consent. 2021 Winner Oscar Best Original Screenplay, Oscar nominations: Best Leading Actress, Best Motion Picture, Best Directing, Best Editing. Available on HBO since September 2021. written and directed by Ms. Emerald Fennel, starring Carrie Mulligan, Alison Brie, Laverne Cox, Jennifer Collidge, Connie Britton, Max Greenfield.
Just Mercy (2019): Docudrama starring Michael B Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson. Story of Bryan Stevenson and his work freeing death row prisoners in Alabama.
Motherless Brooklyn (2019 on HBO August 2020): written directed by and starring Edward Norton with Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin (as a thinly disguised Robert Moses who had a dramatic impact on the development of NYC from 1945 to 1965), Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bruce Willis
Yesterday (2019): Alternate Timeline. Beatles Music. Kate McKinnon (SNL) is the only high profile actor in this group. Pleasant love story.
Game Night (2018): Starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams
Beguiled (2017): Civil War drama starring Collin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning
Atomic Blonde (2016): Charlize Theron. VERY violent. Comic book story. Plus: Female Power .
Films Currently Available Through HBO On Demand
Note that On Demand is limited, to access the HBO library you need to set up HBOgo – free with your HBO subscription.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Watch on HBO Max unless noted. Limited availability through HBO On Demand (see below)
Beware “Watch now on Amazon” HBO listings on IMBD. Unless it says “Watch Now on Amazon Prime” these are Pay per View links or invitations to add an HBO subscription to your Amazon Prime subscription for $14.99/month.
UPDATE December 2021: IMDB now has a decent where to watch list.
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