HBO is a go-to network for great television. Though it might have started as a network for watching movies at home, the truth is that most subscribers now subscribe to the channel in order to watch the exclusive shows that are promoted by HBO. If you’re going to look at this year’s best shows, it’s actually best to divide them up. As such, a good list of the best HBO shows in 2019 should look at:
- Concluding Series
- Returning Series
- New Series
Through looking at a few of each, it’s easy to see why 2019 has been a banner year for HBO.
It’s rather difficult to talk about the best shows on HBO in 2019 without talking about the big shows that left this year. HBO has had a great deal of success with its shows, but they tend to have a finite life-span. This year, HBO lost two of what are its arguably biggest hits in recent memory.
Game of Thrones
The big one is, of course, Game of Thrones. The truncated final season aired in 2019 to mixed reactions, with fans praising much of the acting and spectacle while having some issues with how the blockbuster series ended. Regardless of the reactions, though, it’s safe to say the Game of Thrones was a cultural phenomenon and one that still bears watching. Though the show came to an end in May, it’s arguably still one of the most important shows that you can watch on the network – and spin-offs are still on their way.
The other big show to come to an end this year was Veep. Though it was typically overshadowed by Game of Thrones, Veep was wildly successful among critics and took home a significant number of awards. The political comedy came to a rather quiet end just before Game of Thrones, though reactions to the last season were decidedly more upbeat. If you’re a fan of great comedies, Veep is definitely a show that you’ll want to go back and watch again and again.
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HBO had a lot of success with its returning shows this year as well. Though most of the hype in 2019 rightfully surrounded those shows that were coming to an end, there were still a handful of standouts that both managed to hit some pretty high notes in their return seasons and that look poised to take over the top spots next year.
If you’re a fan of dark comedy, you’ll probably love Barry. Bill Hader’s show about a hitman who has a personal crisis and pursues acting is definitely a hard sell for new viewers, but the second season was easily among the best things on television this year. Hader brings a great deal of charm to his hitman, while the supporting cast brings to life a dark and funny world. Barry definitely seems primed to slide into the critically-acclaimed comedy spot that was held by Veep.
HBO has always been known for its dramas, and 2019 brought a pair of returning dramas that stood out. The first was the third season of True Detective, which finally brought the once-acclaimed series back to form with a new cast and a much more compelling storyline.
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Big Little Lies
The other is Big Little Lies, which took the momentum of the first season and managed to bring something that was almost as good for its sophomore year. Both of these shows really go out of their way to show what showrunners can do with the creative freedom offered by HBO and they’re both worth watching.
HBO is also in the process of premiering a number of new series, some of which have been more successful than others. While the network is still probably looking for its next big hit, there’s no doubt that some of the recent premieres have gotten the audiences talking. These are the shows that have come in to fill the space once occupied by some of HBO’s departing series.
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The big premiere for traditional series this year was almost certainly Euphoria. A drama that takes a hard look at teen drug use and sexuality, it’s been lauded by critics and embraced by fans. The show pulls no punches in terms of its content, but it’s managed to be the kind of story-driven showcase that has worked so well for HBO in years past. There’s quite a bit to like in the series despite its premise and it feels like the kind of prestige television that HBO loves to produce.
The other big release in 2019 was a mini-series. Chernobyl dramatized the real-life events surrounding the disaster at the titular nuclear power plant, showing both the heroism of those who tried to prevent the cataclysm and the bleak reality of how the situation unfolded. Though the mini-series itself is complete and there don’t seem to be any plans to continue similar stories, Chernobyl presents the kind of real-world angst and the dark reality that fans of HBO have come to love. This show is also poised to win a number of awards this year, making it potentially the most critically-successful of all the shows that HBO released in 2019.
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Perhaps the most impressive thing, though, is that 2019 still has a few premieres yet to come. HBO is off to a great start and it’s certainly going to continue to be a go-to destination for great television.