Max: The 34 Absolute Best TV Shows to Watch – CNET

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Max has launched in the US, replacing HBO Max but still delivering HBO to the streaming masses. Fans of prestige series like Succession and The White Lotus will find them on Max, and viewers can tune in to Max originals like Hacks and The Sex Lives of College Girls.

Here are the highly rated shows you shouldn’t wait to watch, plus this month’s new releases. And here’s more on Max, which unites the HBO Max and Discovery Plus libraries.

Read more: The best movies on Max

What’s new on Max in July

HBO Max became Max in May in the US.

July 6

  • Shaun White: The Last Run, premiere (2023): Docuseries. It’s a revealing portrait of Shaun White, one of the greatest athletes in snowboarding and skateboarding.

July 7

  • My Adventures with Superman, season 1 premiere (2023- ): Animated series. It follows a 20-something Clark Kent (voiced by The Boys’ Jack Quaid) as he builds his secret identity as Superman and explores his own mysterious origins.

July 9

  • Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York, premiere (2023): Docuseries. It illuminates how, when a serial killer preyed on New York City’s gay men in the 1990s, the LGBTQ+ community fought to solve the murders and demand fair treatment of queer crime victims.

July 13

  • Full Circle, premiere (2023): Miniseries directed by Steven Soderbergh. An investigation into a botched kidnapping uncovers long-held secrets connecting multiple characters and cultures in present day New York City.
  • Project Greenlight: A New Generation, season 1 premiere (2023- ): Reboot executive produced by Issa Rae. It focuses on the next generation of talented female filmmakers who are given the chance to direct a feature film.

July 16

  • Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge, premiere (2023- ): Reality competition series hosted by Ashley Graham. HGTV superstars and one celebrated Food Network chef transform a Southern California home into a real-life Barbie Dreamhouse.

July 27

  • Harley Quinn, season 4 premiere (2019- ): Adult animated series. It features Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and a whole cast of heroes and villains from the DC Universe.

July 28

  • How To with John Wilson, season 3 premiere (2020- ): Docuseries. It finds John Wilson covertly and obsessively filming the lives of fellow New Yorkers while attempting to give everyday advice on relatable topics.

Best HBO & Max original TV series

At time of writing, these TV shows all score at least 70 on Metacritic.


somebody somewhere

Somebody Somewhere (2022–)

Like feel-good shows? Somebody Somewhere is a great option you may have skipped over. In the first episode, 40-something Sam, living in her Kansas hometown and dealing with a recent loss, strikes up a friendship with a co-worker. Authentic, funny, with glowing performances, the half-hour series is the perfect thing to wind down to. 

Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max

Our Flag Means Death (2022—)

In this comedy set on the high seas, Rhys Darby plays Stede Bonnet, an aristocrat who abandons his cushy life and family to become the captain of a pirate ship. Spoiler: He hilariously bumbles through the gig. Game of Thrones fans may spot Hodor actor Kristian Nairn hanging out among the crew, and the series also stars Taika Waititi as Blackbeard.


The Rehearsal (2022—)

Nathan Fielder, best known for his Comedy Central show, Nathan For You (and cringe comedy), writes, directs and stars in this new HBO series. In the show, the comedian goes to extraordinary lengths to let people rehearse moments before they happen. In the first episode, Fielder helps a man prepare for a confession to a friend, and builds an exact replica of the bar they’re planning to meet at (the attention to detail is incredible). After planning for any outlandish thing that might happen, we see how the real exchange between the two friends plays out. Bizarre and truly fascinating, The Rehearsal should get some time on your screen.

Aida Osman and KaMillion in Rap Sh!t.

Rap Sh!t (2022—)

A half-hour comedy series from Issa Rae (the star and creator of HBO’s acclaimed series Insecure), Rap Sh!t introduces two former friends from high school. Shawna is an aspiring, socially conscious rapper, and Mia is a make-up artist and single mother who works multiple jobs. By the end of the first episode, the young women (now in their 20s) have reconnected and filmed a mesmerizing rap video that takes off on the internet. The show’s protagonists are phone-obsessed, constantly checking up on social media and recording videos, and it impacts the viewing experience in interesting ways. 


Hacks (2021—)

The great Jean Smart rightfully takes the spotlight in this acclaimed comedy-drama series. Throwing iPads into swimming pools and delivering withering looks, Smart plays Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas comedy diva who must face the prospect of appealing to a younger audience or disappearing into obscurity. She’s partnered with Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a young and equally snarky comedy writer, to freshen up her material. Perfectly balancing its biting insight into how the comedy business treats women, with the warmth of an odd couple buddy comedy, Hacks is one of the best originals to come out of HBO Max.


Starstruck (2021—)

Starstruck is a classic screwball comedy, starring the lovably goofy Rose Matafeo. She plays Jessie, a twentysomething Londoner who parties it up on New Year’s Eve, then later discovers she had a one-night stand with Tom Kapoor, a celebrity played by Nikesh Patel. Follow Jessie as she juggles odd jobs, from cinema worker to nanny, and her blossoming relationship with a film star that involves no high jinks whatsoever. Watch out for scene-stealer Minnie Driver as Tom’s agent in this witty, neatly crafted comedy package.


The Sex Lives of College Girls (2021—)

Mindy Kaling co-created this dramedy about four 18-year-old girls who start their freshman year of college together in Vermont. Equipped with distinctly different personalities, the college newcomers navigate love and sex in their own ways. The show is funny, easily bingeable and bolstered by the chemistry between its female leads. A contemporary teen comedy showcasing messy experiences, relatable characters and raunchy jokes.


I Hate Suzie (2020—)

I Hate Suzie sees Billie Piper team up once again with Secret Diary of a Call Girl writer Lucy Prebble. The result is a frenetic tour de force of ideas, steered by a vulnerable performance from Piper. She plays the titular Suzie, an actress who, moments after winning a part in a Disney movie, discovers she’s one of the victims in a celebrity phone hacking scandal. Each episode explores a stage of trauma, tackling the question of how compromising leaks both upend and perhaps liberate a person’s life. Amid the ruthless satire is a wonderful friendship between Suzie and her manager Naomi (Leila Farzad).


The Righteous Gemstones (2019—)

This outrageous series highlights a highly dysfunctional family of famous televangelists called the Gemstones. In the show’s first season, a member of the family is blackmailed, and ridiculous antics ensue. John Goodman stars as the family patriarch, Eli, and Danny McBride, Edi Patterson and Adam Devine also commit to the bit, pulling off an absurd and addicting black comedy. The second season of the show just wrapped up, and HBO has already renewed the series for a third. 


Ghosts (2019—)

From the minds of the gang behind Horrible Histories comes Ghosts, a sitcom that manages to become better and better with every episode. The ever-reliable Charlotte Ritchie (Feel Good, Call The Midwife) stars as Alison, a woman doing up the old mansion she inherited with the help of her amateur builder husband. On top of money problems, their reno plans aren’t helped by the ghostly residents who want the house to themselves. If you’re on the look out for purely light-hearted viewing, Ghosts delivers a high gag rate, a talented comedic ensemble and even an endearing arc of friendship. Most of all, it’s gleefully silly.


The Other Two (2019—)

The sibling rivalry is strong and primed for hilarity in this comedy from a couple of Saturday Night Live writers. Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider tell the story of Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorker), siblings in their late 20s who struggle with the sudden rise to internet fame of their 13-year-old Justin Bieber-channeling brother. Molly Shannon is a treat as their mother, Pat, ushering her children through open doors to success. Once you get over the gimmicky premise, The Other Two’s pop culture satire and surprisingly heartfelt storylines are a winning combination. Schitt’s Creek fans should give this a look.

Succession HBO kieran culkin sarah snook matthew macfadyen

Succession (2018—)

This satirical show follows the family controlling the world’s biggest media and entertainment company, whose members become embroiled in a battle to take over as their father’s health declines. 


Search Party (2016-22)

Search Party caught the eye of HBO Max, shifting to production with the streamer in its third and fourth seasons. The latter is arguably its best yet, taking the story of four, clueless millennials to even greater extremes, including a bizarrely brilliant Susan Sarandon cameo. But we begin when twentysomething Dory becomes an amateur detective to track down a missing woman she barely knew in college. Really, she’s searching for something else: herself. Equally conceited are her boyfriend Drew, the scene-stealing Elliott and the hilariously blonde Portia. This oddball show somehow creates the perfect cocktail of dark humor, mystery and insane characters. A collector’s item that won’t come around very often.


It’s a Sin (2021)

The best TV show of 2021 might already be here. It’s a Sin follows a group of young gay men living in London during the ’80s, just when HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed. This unique look at the early stages of what became a death sentence is handled with creator Russell T Davies’ trademark irrepressible joy for life. The warm, empathetic characters continue to live their lives to the full, flitting between bustling share houses and local bars to the beat of a popping ’80s soundtrack. Fast-paced, stylish and eye-opening, with a prevailing sense of hope, It’s a Sin is a soaring triumph for everyone to fall in love with.


Betty (2020-21)

In the words of CNET reviewer Richard Knightwell: “2020 sucked. You got up every morning and it all was all just a tiny bit worse. But every now and then a ray of sun would appear through the clouds. One of those bright spots was Betty, a fly-on-wall-style tale of skateboarding teens in a balmy New York. Utterly real and breathlessly dreamy at the same time, HBO’s TV follow-up to the indie hit Skate Kitchen painted a picture of young women facing the world head-on, pushing off and gaining speed and reducing obstacles into things waiting to be jumped over while looking cool. My baby daughter turned one while this show was on, and I can’t wait to plonk her on a skateboard. I hope she finds a Betty crew of her own.”


Frayed (2019-21)

This black comedy takes us from London to Newcastle, Australia, following the misfortune of a woman who loses everything after the untimely death of her husband (don’t ask how he died). Broke and desperate, Sammy is forced to return to her hometown with her son and daughter, where she soon discovers she isn’t exactly a popular resident. The cringe factor is strong as Sammy does everything in her power to return to London, with some standout moments when she reunites with her bickering brother.


Barry (2018—)

In Barry’s opening scene, SNL alum Bill Hader casually leaves a hotel room that contains a dead body. The actor plays hitman Barry Berkman, who isn’t happy with life or his unconventional profession, but his path is altered when he travels to Los Angeles and gets roped into performing in an acting class. Barry features plenty of violence and a deeply troubled protagonist, leaning into the “dark” part of its dark comedy designation. But it’s also really funny, and there are three seasons to binge. At the very least, you’ll want to tune in for truly great scenes between Hader and his acting teacher, played by Henry Winkler. 


Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy lie on beach chairs while dressed in swimsuits

Harley Quinn (2019—)

Harley Quinn is an adult-oriented animated series that centers on the baseball bat-wielding antihero. Kaley Cuoco voices the mayhem-prone Harley, who in the first episode breaks up with the Joker and tells him she’s going to replace him as the top villain in Gotham. The hilarious, action-packed show also features characters like Poison Ivy, and three seasons are available to binge. It premiered on the DC Universe streaming service before moving to HBO Max.