10 Best HBO Max Shows to Watch Now

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Another day, another new streaming service to barrel through in the hopes of escaping reality for a few hours. HBO Max is the latest to enter the arena, following debuts from Quibi and AppleTV+. The WarnerMedia digital offering launched today, but began quietly gearing up for its service years ago.

WarnerMedia started by cutting checks early for coveted libraries of classic TV shows. Among its haul was all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory (a reportedly multi-billion dollar deal) and all 23 seasons of South Park ($500 million). Next, the service lured away highly-streamed shows from Netflix for exclusive runs on HBO Max, including Friends and The West Wing. Big Bang and Friends are both available to stream now for $14.99 per month, with other titles dropping throughout the service’s first year. (Current HBO subscribers can access HBO Max at no additional cost and AT&T customers with select bundles will also get it for free.)

In addition to snatching up beloved catalogues (a full breakdown of which can be found here), the service is unveiling several splashy originals. Right now, you can watch Love Life, a rom-com anthology starring Anna Kendrick, or On the Record, a documentary detailing the sexual assault accusations against music mogul Russell Simmons. Down the line, the hotly-anticipated Gossip Girl reboot, an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and Selena Gomez’s quarantine cooking show will be available.

While the pandemic has not left the service unscathed (Variety reports more than 30 projects were shuttered), 10,000 hours of content is available today.

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Original Shows Streaming Now

Love Life

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Taking a page out of High Fidelity‘s book, this rom-com anthology series recounts “the journey from first love to last love.” Anna Kendrick plays Darby, searching for “the One” while meeting a string of other someones along the way. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), Dan Magnante (Someone Great), Sam Boyd (In a Relationship), and Bridget Bedard (Ramy) produce Love Life, which debuts its first three episodes at launch. Beginning the following week, the next seven installments will drop each Thursday. (Most of HBO Max’s original series will debut on a weekly basis.)

On the Record

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“I’ve been a victim for 22 years. I’m tired of being a victim,” music executive Drew Dixon says in the first trailer for On the Record. The film, directed and produced by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War), details the stories of women who have publicly accused hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault. Accusers including Sil Lai Abrams and Sheri Sher relive how sexual harassment was “considered the price of admission” into the music industry and why women of colors’ voices are often ignored when they speak out about sexual assault.

Legendary

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First there was 1990’s Paris Is Burning. Then there was 2018’s Pose. Now comes Legendary, a reality-competition style look at ballroom culture. Voguing houses will compete in order to make history or become it. The art form, which incorporates fashion, performance, and identity, will be judged by celebrity hosts including Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado, and Megan Thee Stallion. The criteria is simple: If you slay, you stay.

Craftopia

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This one goes out to all you pure souls teaching yourself to crochet or DIY a face mask. Craftopia is a kids crafting competition show guaranteed to both inspire and intimidate. Hosted by YouTuber Lauren Riihimaki, 9- to 15-year old artists craft their creations in an outlandish studio, hoping to avoid craftastrophe during a series of challenges. If Chopped Junior or Nailed It! is your reality comfort food of choice, Craftopia is a worthy next course.

Legacy Shows Streaming Now

Friends

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A reunion special featuring the original cast is on hold, but all 236 episodes of the sitcom will collide into your quarantine as scheduled. It’s been roughly four months since the show left Netflix, which is just enough time to properly miss the Central Perk gang. Nothing soothes current anxiety quite like watching Phoebe belt “Smelly Cat” or Ross shriek “PIVOT!” for the 10,000th time.

The Bachelor

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Although one of the most popular reality shows of all time, this long-running franchise has largely evaded streaming services. Beyond a few retro seasons on Netflix, this will be the first time you can stream rose-hungry contestants fighting for a chance at love (and free Neil Diamond sparkler). As we await the fate of The Bachelorette‘s next season, HBO Max will curb your craving.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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Will Smith’s star-making role will head straight from West Philadelphia to its exclusive new streaming home. The NBC sitcom aired for six seasons in the ’90s and found new life in re-runs for years after. Come for that earworm of a theme song, stay for the surprisingly poignant moments between Will and Uncle Phil.

The O.C.

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Shows like Netflix’s Outer Banks can thank this soapy teen drama of the early ’00s for paving the way. Now, all four seasons of the series, which follows the misadventures of West Coast teens Ryan Atwood, Seth Cohen, Marissa Cooper, and Summer Roberts, are headed to HBO Max. Relive the magic of Chrismukkah and that unforgettable Spiderman kiss between Seth and Summer from the comfort of your own couch.

Pretty Little Liars

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Social distancing allows for plenty of time to re-litigate the merits of “A”‘s identity. The show left Netflix back in July 2019, so a return to Rosewood is long overdue. All seven seasons of the twisty teen drama will be available to dissect, as well as Lucy Hale’s new CW series, Katy Keene.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

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Bourdain’s legacy lives on, as all 11 seasons of his CNN travel and cooking show head to HBO Max. Throughout its award-winning run, the renowned chef shared his singular view of the world and its food with his fans. In any given episode, he might get a tattoo after grabbing street food in Thailand or down beers and noodles with Barack Obama in Vietnam. Right now, you may not be able to trek beyond your own backyard—but, for a moment, Bourdain can offer you a taste.

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