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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Five Classic HBO Shows That You Really Should've Binged Your Way Through By Now

From vamp-fuelled intrigue to side-splitting comedies — and they’re all available to stream.
By Sarah Ward
December 08, 2020
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Five Classic HBO Shows That You Really Should've Binged Your Way Through By Now

From vamp-fuelled intrigue to side-splitting comedies — and they’re all available to stream.
By Sarah Ward
December 08, 2020
  shares

FIVE CLASSIC HBO SHOWS THAT YOU REALLY SHOULD'VE BINGED YOUR WAY THROUGH BY NOW

in partnership with

From vamp-fuelled intrigue to side-splitting comedies — and they’re all available to stream.

Even in a year that has seen everyone spend far more time at home than normal, there are still only so many hours in the day to devote to your streaming queue. Sadly, you simply can't watch everything — which is why everyone has a list of classic shows they've always been meaning to get around to, and they definitely want to see, but just haven't managed to press play on yet. When a company like HBO makes such a wide array of series and so frequently, you can be forgiven for failing to keep up, after all.

Need help knowing what to prioritise? Not sure where to start, or what shows you'll instantly realise that you should never have lived without for all these years? We've teamed up with streaming service Binge to take care of your next five viewing choices, picking the programs that you know you should've gotten to by now — and that you can spend your summer catching up on, including via a 14-day free trial for new customers.

  • 5
    Veep

    Before real-life American politics started to resemble a farce, HBO’s seven-season comedy Veep got there first — and gave the country a female Vice President before 2020’s historic election results, too. Starring the always-exceptional Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Senator-turned-VP Selina Meyer, this quick-witted show parodies everything about US government, elections and politics. It was created by renowned Scottish satirist Armando Iannucci, who did the same thing in the UK with The Thick Of It, and it’s both razor-sharp and sublimely hilarious.

    Veep is also impressively cast, with Louis-Dreyfus winning six consecutive Emmy Awards for her work, and her co-stars proving just as deserving of awards. Tony Hale might be best known for Arrested Development, but he’s pitch-perfect as Selina’s body man Gary. Also, when Hugh Laurie shows up, Veep manages to find a new level of comedy.

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  • 4
    Bored to Death

    Jason Schwartzman as a private detective. That’s it — that’s the show. In Bored to Death, the Wes Anderson favourite plays Jonathan Ames, a Brooklyn-based writer who moonlights as a sleuth, pals around with a comic book artist played by Zach Galifianakis and sees a literary magazine editor played by Ted Danson as his surrogate father figure.

    Adding another layer of eccentricity: the fact that Bored to Death was created and written by an author also called Jonathan Ames, who later wrote the novella that excellent hitman thriller You Were Never Really Here was based on. But even without that nifty trivia tidbit, this is a delightfully offbeat three-season gumshoe series that deservedly amassed quite the cult following when it initially aired from 2009–11. Also, everyone from Jenny Slate and Kristen Wiig to Patton Oswalt and Isla Fisher co-star.

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  • 3
    True Blood

    Sometimes, you can read a book and imagine exactly what a TV adaptation would look like. Anyone who thumbed their way through The Southern Vampire Mysteries before it was turned into HBO’s True Blood can’t make that claim, however. Created by Six Feet Under‘s Alan Ball, this undead-focused horror series drips with mystery, lust and gothic excess. And blood, obviously. It’s a show set in a world where vampires aren’t just a fantasy — and at a time when a synthetic product that shares the show’s name has allowed them to live side-by-side with humans, in theory.

    At the centre of this vamp-fuelled intrigue sits small-town Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who happens to be telepathic. She also happens to fall in love with 173-year-old vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). When their romance attracts the attention of the area’s vampire sheriff (Alexander Skarsgård), that’s when the drama begins.

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  • 2
    Boardwalk Empire

    Everyone deserves a hefty dose of Steve Buscemi in their lives and, across five seasons and 56 episodes, Boardwalk Empire delivers just that. The beloved actor plays Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson, a corrupt politician who is also a gangster kingpin in Atlantic City during America’s prohibition era. The character is fictional, but it’s based on non-fiction book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City, which focuses on comparable real-life figure Enoch L. Johnson.

    Created by The Sopranos alum and The Wolf of Wall Street screenwriter Terrence Winter — and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, with the iconic filmmaker also directing its pilot — Boardwalk Empire charts Nucky’s ups and downs, including the government investigation into his activities. While Buscemi is the obvious star of the show, both Michael Shannon and Kelly Macdonald are top-notch, as is this weighty drama all-round.

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  • 1
    Entourage

    He was cast as Aquaman before Jason Momoa. He starred in a reimagined version of The Great Gatsby directed by Martin Scorsese. He played Pablo Escobar in a big crime epic as well — and if you’re currently wondering just who fits the bill, it’s Entourage‘s protagonist Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier).

    Of course, all of the above is purely fiction. Still, as loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s own journey from his everyday life to the Hollywood A-list, Entourage takes Vinnie on quite the ride. The eight-series comedy-drama chronicles all the details, including not just its central figure’s many exploits in show business, but also those of his older brother and fellow actor Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), plus his childhood pals Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). The show is called Entourage, after all.

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To watch your way through all of the above shows, head to streaming platform Binge — where you can sign up for a free 14-day trial, then keep working your way through its jam-packed catalogue for $10 per month (based on Binge Basic, its first subscription tier).

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