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The 6 most popular HBO shows right now

house of the dragon

HBO’s long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon came storming out of the keep on Sunday night, returning viewers to the cold and dragon-filled land of Westeros. You can read my recap of Episode 1 right here, but suffice it to say — OG Thrones fans were well-rewarded for their patience, three years after the much-maligned finale of one of the most important HBO shows of all time.

With just a little over a week left to go in August, meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of where things stand in terms of HBO’s most popular TV shows at the moment. Starting with the long-awaited Thrones spinoff, set some two centuries before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen yet still adhering to the franchise’s tried-and-true formula of boobs, blood, and dragons.

A ranking of the sentiment around the six titles listed below, by the way, comes via Rotten Tomatoes. Likewise, we’ve also broken out each title’s “Tomatometer score,” as well as the audience score. Both of which provide a snapshot of what critics and viewers think about each title at the moment.

House of the Dragon

  • Tomatometer score: 89%
  • Audience score: 85%

As I noted in my Episode 1 recap, all of the familiar Thrones ingredients are present and accounted for here. Sumptuous visuals, palace intrigue, bloodbaths, raunchy sex, and fearsome dragons (attended to by the white-haired Targaryens who ride them). Welcome to HBO’s high-stakes gambit to expand the Game of Thrones universe.

house of the dragon episode 1
A production still from “The Heirs of the Dragon,” Episode 1 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon.” Image source: HBO

As noted, this prequel takes us a couple of centuries into the past, long before the events of the original series. In Episode 1, there are already whispers of a foreboding, oncoming “winter.” The Targaryen family occupies King’s Landing, and the series begins by showing us how King Viserys came to power.


The Rehearsal

  • Tomatometer score: 93%
  • Audience score: 87%

HBO has already renewed this critically acclaimed comedy from Nathan Fielder for a second season.

Here’s the logline for this title, another of the newest HBO shows. “The Rehearsal explores the lengths one man will go to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life. With a construction crew, a legion of actors, and seemingly unlimited resources, Fielder allows ordinary people to prepare for life’s biggest moments by ‘rehearsing’ them in carefully crafted simulations of his own design. When a single misstep could shatter your entire world, why leave life to chance?”


Succession

  • Tomatometer score: 94%
  • Audience score: 85%

This cult favorite HBO show is basically House of the Dragon, minus the dragons. Okay, that’s a gross oversimplification, but if you’re up-to-date with the three existing seasons then you probably get the idea. Warring factions of a powerful household, a massive empire at stake, relatives stabbing each other in the back …

Sorry, we’re still talking about Succession here.

Production got underway on the fourth season of this Emmy-winning HBO show in New York City in June. Created by Jesse Armstrong, the series explores themes of power and family dynamics through the eyes of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his four grown children. They’re Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Connor (Alan Ruck).


Moving right along, the Rotten Tomatoes ranking of the biggest HBO shows as of August 2022 also includes some additional buzzy gems that have wowed both critics and fans, like Westworld and Industry. As well as yet another spinoff series.

Westworld

  • Tomatometer score: 80%
  • Audience score: 73%

This Emmy-winning HBO show returned for its 8-episode fourth season on June 26. The series, per the network, is a “dark odyssey about the fate of sentient life on earth.” And the season four cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan, and James Marsden.


Industry

  • Tomatometer score: 88%
  • Audience score: 50%

Randy young professionals try to survive the cutthroat world of high finance in London in this sex- and drug-filled drama, season two of which debuted on August 1.

In the new season, the young graduates are no longer “allowed to hide behind their graduate status.” The market is sizzling, and the London office of international bank Pierpoint & Co. has instituted a back-to-work (or else) mandate. One that’s ensured a highly motivated and supremely paranoid trading floor.


Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

  • Tomatometer score: 88%
  • Audience score: 77%

2022 was already chock full of prequels. No sooner had Breaking Bad’s near-perfect Better Call Saul prequel taken its finale bow, for example, than other such prequel series like House of the Dragon, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and Andor started filling up the streaming calendar. To revisit the world of Pretty Little Liars, HBO perhaps wisely chose to go a different route — something that feels like a cross between a sequel and a reboot.

The logline, from HBO:

“Twenty years ago, a series of tragic events almost ripped the blue-collar town of Millwood apart. Now, in present day, a disparate group of teen girls — a brand-new set of Little Liars — find themselves tormented by an unknown Assailant and made to pay for the secret sin committed by their parents two decades ago … as well as their own.”


More HBO Max coverage: Want to know what’s streaming on HBO Max now? Be sure to check out the list of new releases on HBO Max for August.

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Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.