Now that Warner Bros. Discovery has mashed up HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one single streaming service, there’s far more content to sift through. For all of the subscribers with decision paralysis, scrolling through TV shows and movies on Max is more overwhelming than ever. That is why we figured now would be the perfect time to share our ten favorite miniseries and single-season shows on Max. Not only are these shows excellent, but they don’t require a huge time commitment. In fact, you can stream most of them in a single weekend.
Band of Brothers
In 2001, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks teamed up to create a war drama miniseries that is still to this day one of HBO’s best. Based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book of the same name, Band of Brothers is a dramatized telling of the history of Easy Company throughout World War II. The miniseries follows the soldiers from training camp to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge and beyond. It won seven Emmys and a Golden Globe.
Before creating a fictional apocalypse in The Last of Us, Craig Mazin wrote the historical drama Chernobyl for HBO. The five-part series centers around the explosion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union on April 26, 1986, the chaos and confusion in the aftermath of the disaster, and the months-long cleanup that followed.
Stephen Merchant might always be best known as the co-creator of The Office alongside Ricky Gervais, but his career has taken plenty of exciting twists and turns since then. He had a starring role in Logan, voiced Wheatley in Portal 2, wrote and directed the wrestling flick Fighting with My Family, and more. But one of his first projects without Gervais was the HBO comedy series Hello Ladies, adapted from his stand-up show. It’s a silly, witty series with plenty of laughs, and if you still want more when it’s over, HBO made a Hello Ladies movie to wrap it up.
I May Destroy You
In this black comedy, Michaela Coel (creator, writer, co-director, and executive producer stars as Arabella, a social media star struggling to write a second book. One night, while out with friends, Arabella’s drink is spiked, and in the following days, she realizes she was sexually assaulted. In the wake of that epiphany, she has to figure out how to face the trauma without falling apart. If you can handle the subject matter, I May Destroy You is an essential watch.
Mare of Easttown
Kate Winslet stars as Marianne “Mare” Sheehan, the titular Pennsylvania detective who is in the midst of reopening an investigation into a missing girl she could not find when a single mother is found dead in a creek in Easttown. She attempts to keep her personal life from imploding as the two cases begin to converge into one terrifying mystery.
The Night Of
The Night Of is an eight-part miniseries based on the first season of the British crime series Criminal Justice. Riz Ahmed plays a Pakistani-American college student named Nasir Khan, who has been accused of murdering a woman in New York City. The cast also features John Turturro as the lawyer representing Khan, Bill Camp as the lead detective on the case, Michael K. Williams as a prisoner at Rikers Island, and Sofia Black-D’Elia as the victim.
If you enjoyed the 2004 docuseries The Staircase but would prefer to see Hollywood stars in all the roles, the HBO miniseries of the same name should be right up your alley. The show reenacts the real-life story of the mysterious death of Kathleen Peterson, whose husband, Michael, claimed she fell down the stairs. Colin Firth stars alongside Toni Collette as the couple.
Patrick Somerville’s miniseries adapting the Emily St. John Mandel post-apocalypse novel is my favorite show on this list, for what it’s worth. The pilot, in which a pandemic causes our society to collapse (sound familiar?), had me on the edge of my seat for 46 minutes straight, and the series doesn’t let up from there. Surrounded by an outstanding cast, Himesh Patel (Jeevan Chaudhary) steals nearly every scene he’s in, bringing warmth and humanity to a cold, dying world by simply giving a shit and pressing on, even if he can’t save everyone.
Despite writer Alan Moore’s repeated objections, DC refuses to leave Watchmen well enough alone. The award-winning comic book series has become a full-fledged franchise with prequels, sequels, a big-budget film adaptation, and a TV series. For my money, the only one that lives up to the legacy of the comics is the HBO series, which picks up 34 years after the original storyline ends. Creator Damon Lindelof imbued the characters with deep, complex inner lives and shined a light on the horrific Tulsa massacre, all while telling a gripping, original story.
Years and Years
Years and Years is a six-part miniseries from Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, It’s a Sin) about the tumult surrounding the Lyons family in Manchester from 2019 to 2034 as Britain changes rapidly around them. Concurrently, the controversial businesswoman Viv Rook (Emma Thompson) begins her ascent to power in the United Kingdom.