New TV Shows on HBO Max

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New TV Shows on HBO Max

While HBO got it’s start as a repository for movies months after they left the theaters (although its very first broadcast in 1972 was of a hockey game), the world’s first satellite channel set itself apart from competitors with its original programming. With the launch of HBO Max as a hub for all things Warner—HBO, DC, TCM, Adult Swim, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network, Sesame Workshop, Looney Tunes and Caroonito—the network has only stepped up its release of Max Originals to the point it can be hard to keep up with it all.

Here are 10 of the biggest new shows on HBO Max:

1. Irma Vep

irma-vep.jpg HBO Max Release Date: June 6, 2022
Creator: Olivier Assayas
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Ravi Nandan, Hallie Sekoff, Stuart Manashil
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: TV-MA

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In the ’90s, director Olivier Assayas made Irma Vep, a movie that was ostensibly about making a movie. Its film crew attempted to remake the 1915 serials known as The Vampires, with Assayas simultaneously offering a critique on the French filmmaking industry. Now, in collaboration with HBO and A24, Assayas is revisiting Irma Vep as a limited series with Alicia Vikander portraying the iconic Irma Vep. In some ways, this new iteration is a sequel to the earlier film, featuring many of the same characters portrayed by new actors. But while the series is very aware of its past, it has new things to say, especially when it comes to the striking personalities that clash during film production. Is it a sequel? Is it a remake? Either way, its unique approach makes Irma Vep a truly fascinating series. —Max Covill


2. The Time Traveler’s Wife

time-travelers-wife.jpg HBO Max Release Date: May 15, 2022
Creator: Steven Moffat
Stars: Rose Leslie, Theo James
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA

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Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel The Time Traveler’s Wife was an instant bestseller, a cross-genre smash that combined popular elements of science fiction and romance to create something that felt as though it existed in a space all its own. Full of tortured romance, star-crossed characters, and a sensitive hero who just happened to spend a lot of time falling out of the sky naked, it’s a novel that is laser-targeted to appeal to the part of us that enjoys stories where love is often synonymous with pain. Now a prestige television adaptation has arrived on HBO, landing smack in the middle of broader cultural conversations about female agency, autonomy and duty. Will audiences still swoon for its story of destiny, soulmates, and ride-or-die romantic loyalty, even when your partner doesn’t necessarily seem worthy of that sort of devotion? Or have we grown tired of love stories based on unspoken power imbalances and tragedy disguised as aspiration? Is the answer somewhere in the middle? I genuinely don’t know. The Time Traveler’s Wife, in its broadest strokes, follows Henry DeTamble (Theo James), a man whose unique genetic disorder means he often comes unstuck in time, falling through to different points in the past or future. He usually (but not always) sticks to traveling in the years in which he is alive, and often manages to interact with himself along the way. But he cannot choose when these “attacks” of time travel happen or where he will go when they do, and though he eventually makes it back to the place he first left, he also cannot control how long that journey takes. Clare Abshire (Rose Leslie) has grown up knowing—and loving—Henry, since he’s been time traveling to visit her since she was six. (She told everyone he was her imaginary friend.) When they meet as adults in their 20s, she’s thrilled to see him again, but he doesn’t know who she is—since, for him, his visits to the clearing behind her house are still in his future (even though they are in her past.) She also knows they’ll be married one day, as well as plenty of other snippets about how other aspects of their lives have turned out despite none of them having happened for her yet, and if this all gives you a headache, well, trust that you aren’t alone. —Lacy Baugher Milas


3. We Own This City

we-own.jpg HBO Max Release Date: April 14, 2022
Creators: George Pelecanos, David Simon
Stars: Jon Bernthal, Wunmi Mosaku, Jamie Hector, Josh Charles, McKinley Belcher III, Darrell Britt-Gibson
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA

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Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by former Baltimore Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton, We Own This City showcases not only the corruption within a unit of the Baltimore Police Department but the tireless work of the FBI agents who broke the real-life scandal in 2017, and the Department of Justice lawyer that tries to repair one of the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the country. Even though it has some issues, David Simon’s latest work is a captivating by the story of how a criminal justice system has failed its citizens. Provocative, powerful and with first-rate performances, We Own This City is the next generation of The Wire fans have long craved. —Terry Terrones


4. The Staircase

the-staircase.jpg HBO Max Release Date: May 5, 2022
Creators: Antonio Campos
Stars: Colin Firth, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dane DeHaan, Olivia DeJonge
Genre: Thriller
Rating: TV-MA

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Michael Peterson was a writer who may or may not have murdered his wife Kathleen in Durham, N.C., in 2001 by bludgeoning her with some object, possibly strangling her, and throwing her down the stairs after she died. He was convicted at trial and served eight years in prison before a judge granted him a new trial, and in 2017 he took an Alford plea and no longer faced any threat of serving further jail time. Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn’s task with dramatizing this event for HBO’s The Staircase (starring Colin Firth as Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen) was to recapture this immediacy after two decades and with a layer of fiction standing between the crime and the televised product. Firth and Collette are “good,” I guess, and so is the rest of the cast, from Michael Stuhlbarg as the defense attorney David Rudolf to Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff, but there is just nothing here to draw interest, much less sustain it, and good actors with no material are like jugglers having to pantomime the balls. In two words, this is dull fare. The first episode treats the crime itself as worthy of fascination all on its own, and moves at a snail’s pace, confident that each small moment will captivate. This is the kind of show that makes you wonder if we’re nearing the end of the true crime era; the beats have become so predictable, and the artistic effort behind it so minimal, we’re running on murderous fumes. —Shane Ryan


5. The Garcias

the-garcias.jpg HBO Max Release Date: April 14, 2022
Creators: Jeff Valdez, Mickey Cevallos, Gibby Cevallos
Stars: Ada Maris, Carlos Lacámara, Alvin Alvarez, Bobby Gonzalez, Nitzia Chama, Maeve Garay
Genre: Sitcom
Rating: TV-PG

Watch on HBO Max

The Garcias is the sequel to The Brothers Garcia, a teen sitcom that ran on Nickelodeon for four seasons in the early 2000s—the first English-language sitcom with an all-Latino cast and creators. Alvin Alvarez, Bobby Gonzales and Jeffrey Licon are among those reprising their roles as the three Garcia brothers, alongside Vaneza Pitynski as their sister Lorena and Ada Maris as their mother, and there’s a new generation of the San Antonio, Texas, family.


6. Tokyo Vice

tokyo-vice.jpg HBO Max Release Date: April 7, 2022
Creator: J.T. Rogers
Stars: Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe, Rachel Keller, Hideaki It?, Show Kasamatsu
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA
Paste Review Score: 7.9

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As in its name, Tokyo is front and center in Tokyo Vice, the new crime series from HBO Max, and in the episodes made available to critics—the first of which is directed by Michael Mann—the drama co-exists with a celebration of all things Tokyo, from the big, bright karaoke bars to the dimly lit side alleys. To know your place, as a writer and director, is to love your place, and Tokyo comes off complex, mysterious, alluring, and indomitable. The other half of the title, the “vice” part, is almost as good. Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) is an aspiring journalist in late ’90s Tokyo, an era that seems almost quaint for the way it was positioned just before the explosion of the Internet age, and cell phones in particular. Adelstein is a gaijin, an American foreigner hailing from the University of Missouri, but his talent and devotion is so complete that he’s able to land a job as a crime reporter at Tokyo’s largest newspaper after nearly acing the entrance exam. This amounts to his dream job, because he’s very obsessed with figuring out how the capital city truly works, and very, very obsessed with the Yakuza, the blanket term denoting the Japanese mafia. He barely talks to his family, his only friends work at the newspaper, he has no girlfriend, and all that remains is a samurai-like devotion to his passion. (Adelstein is a real person, of course, the author of the book of the same name, but the dramatization here is sufficient to dispense with any notion that this is a biopic.) Elgort is up to the task of playing Adelstein, and does so with a sense of humor that makes him less of an absolute weirdo than he could be. The show starts with a meeting between him and a leader of the Tozawa crime organization, who threatens him with all manner of violence if he doesn’t stop work on a damaging story on the group’s de facto patriarch. From there, the writers send us backward in time, before Adelstein worked for the paper, to show us how things got so serious. There is a hyper-focus on Adelstein at the start, alone in Tokyo, but slowly his world expands. You may spend some time wondering exactly what you’re watching, but like a foreigner visiting a new city—or a city like Tokyo—you’ll be rewarded for a bit of patience, an open mind, and a willingness to explore. There is never any telling what you’ll find waiting in the next alley. —Shane Ryan


7. The Thaw

the-thaw.jpg HBO Max Release Date: April 1, 2022
Stars: Katarzyna Wajda, Sebastian Fabija?ski, Bogus?aw Linda, Juliusz Chrz?stowski, Ma?gorzata Gorol
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA
Paste Review Score: 5.0

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Clichés exist for a reason. They are almost comforting, and can be a foundation from which a good drama grows. The problem is, the clichés cannot be everything. And if the clichés are everything, it cannot be just one cliché dominating all the others into submission. With The Thaw, the overwhelming cliché is simple bleakness. Natural bleakness, with a color palette of dark blues and grays, and emotional bleakness, with characters who are utterly deprived of any and all joy. Chief Inspector Katarzyna Zawieja, played by Katarzyna Wajda, is the driving force behind the show, and while Wajda has an arresting presence (pun only slightly intended), it’s restrained past reason. With hair pulled back so tightly that it must be painful, Wajda is largely limited to an emotional register that includes “pensive,” “angry,” and “frustrated,” but not much else. Her character has a husband who died under mysterious circumstances, a father-in-law ex-cop who minds the house while she works, and a daughter she continually disappoints. As for the mystery, it moves slower than the icebreakers that run through the opening credits (yes, a breathy female vocalist, in this case Billie Eilish). A pregnant woman is kidnapped and murdered, and the whereabouts of her infant are unknown, though a discarded can of formula hints that he or she may be alive. We are forced to look at a human placenta in a dumpster very early in the proceedings, but after this, the usual noir pacing takes over and it’s a long time before we know where any of the pieces fit, from the distraught husband to a renowned prosecutor. It almost doesn’t matter, because there’s simply no appeal here. The Thaw just has nothing going for it to recommend it, and it’s hard to pinpoint why. Wajda is up to the task assigned her, so you certainly can’t blame the lead, and there are no characters you can point to and say, “this person is a bad actor.” The script isn’t even very offensive, despite the early onslaught of clichés. I can only settle on the general soullessness of the narrative and the landscape. In short, The Thaw is a one-trick pony, and though the trick is performed well, it’s not a sufficiently effective trick to justify snuffing out its rival elements. By creating a stifling, unpleasant atmosphere, the creators guarantee that the tentacles will reach their way into plot and subplot and character and dialogue, stifling each one in turn until all that’s left is a claustrophobic melange from which the viewer, just as badly as the victim, wants to escape. —Shane Ryan


8. Julia

julia.jpg HBO Max Release Date: March 31, 2022
Creator: Daniel Goldfarb
Stars: Sarah Lancashire, David Hyde Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, Fran Kranz, Fiona Glascott, Brittany Bradford
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA
Paste Review Score: 8.8

Watch on HBO Max

Every night when my family and I sit down to dinner, the last thing I say before we start to eat is “Bon appétit!” But it wasn’t until I watched HBO Max’s new series Julia, that I realized Julia Child is the reason. Child ended every episode of her pioneering PBS series The French Chef with that French phrase encouraging her viewers to enjoy their meal. The eight-episode series tells the origin story of Julia Child’s rise to fame as one of television’s first celebrity chefs. But just as Julia Child (as so deftly played by Sarah Lancashire) was much more than just a chef, the series is much more than just about her. It’s about her marriage that was rooted in devotion, love and equality. It’s about a very specific moment in time when fewer women worked and even fewer had positions of power. Julia explores not just how pioneering Child was in showing cooking on TV but how pioneering she was for television production in general. The series hinges on Lancashire’s transformative performance. She inhabits Child so fully from her very specific accent, to the cadence of her speech to the absolute infectious joie de vivre in her interactions with others. Lancashire is never impersonating Child. She is fully inhabiting her. Child’s enthusiasm for everything was pervasive. Each episode is named after one of Julia’s signature dishes from “Coq Au Vin” to “Boeuf Bourguignon” to “Chocolate Souffle.” And like any good meal, even if you didn’t enjoy every single seasoning, you’ll still be savoring Julia long after the final bite. —Amy Amatangelo


9. Minx

minx.jpg HBO Max Release Date: March 17, 2022
Creator: Ellen Rapoport
Stars: Ophelia Lovibond, Michael Angarano, Jessica Lowe, Oscar Montoya, Lennon Parham, Idara Victor, Jake Johnson
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: TV-MA

Watch on HBO Max

HBO Max is turning into the home of TV’s best comedies. The streaming service’s newest series, the 1970s-set comedy Minx, chronicles the burgeoning partnership between an idealistic feminist (Ophelia Lovibond) and a sleazy but empathetic magazine publisher specializing in pornography (Jake Johnson, with the perfect amount of chest hair) as they team up to launch the first erotic magazine for women. The show is easy and breezy and full of infectious energy as it mines the topics of equality and women’s rights from engrossing but hilarious stories involving everything from the Catholic roots of mob wives to the rampant misogyny of country clubs. With its focus on the female gaze, a winning performance from Johnson (he’s a porn magnate with a heart of gold!), and an excellent supporting cast (Lennon Parham steals every scene she’s in), Minx is a good time in more ways than one. —Kaitlin Thomas


10. Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

winning-time.jpg HBO Max Release Date:March 6, 2022
Creators: Max Borenstein, Jim Hecht
Stars: John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Quincy Isaiah, Solomon Hughes, Gaby Hoffmann, Tracy Letts, Adrien Brody, Jason Segel, Rob Morgan, Hadley Robinson, Sally Field, Wood Harris
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV-MA
Paste Review Score: 9.7

Watch on HBO Max

Coming in hot with a stacked all-star cast anchored by an impossibly charming newcomer (Quincy Isaiah) in the role of young Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Winning Time is the television equivalent of a feast. Not only does the story behind the start of the Lakers Showtime era contain some of the most shockingly true twists and turns any sports docuseries has ever had (hint: Michael Connelly covered at least one of them when working the crime beat for the LA Times), but the attention to period-accurate visual detail put in by showrunner Max Borenstein, EP Adam McKay, and writers/EPs Jim Hecht and Rodney Barnes is so vivid and comprehensive that the only way to get the full Winning Time experience is to put your phone down, turn the sound up, and keep your eyes 100% glued to the screen. Just a warning, though—as much as Lakers games themselves might have been perfect family viewing in Magic and Kareem’s heyday, the marriage of HBO’s aesthetic preferences and the late ‘70s inherent raunchiness makes Winning Time the exact opposite. Be safe out there, friends! —Alexis Gunderson