HBO may no longer be the only game in town when it comes to quality prestige TV, but they're still pretty much the network to beat. From 'Game of Thrones" to "Girls," these are the shows that have helped maintain HBO's strong reputation over the past ten years.
17. 'The Deuce'
David Simon's most recent HBO effort is no 'the Wire," but it is a pretty engrossing look at the rise of the porn industry in the 1970's. Maggie Gyllenhaal is very much this show's secret weapon as Candy, a freelance sex worker making the leap to adult film stardom. The series also makes surprisingly strong use of James Franco in a dual role as mobbed-up twin brothers.
While a relatively new addition to HBO's lineup, "Barry" has managed to stand out from the crowd thanks to a talented cast and intriguing premise. Bill Hader stars as a hitman who finds his calling as a stage performer in Los Angeles. The series wisely plays that premise for emotional impact as much as it does comedy.
David Simon's great strength as both a journalist and a storyteller is exposing readers to the full scope of a city and the many people who rise and fall even as it does. What "The Wire" did for Baltimore, "Treme" does for a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. While the series often lacked a compelling narrative, it succeeded in making you feel like you were right there in one of the most vibrant and chaotic cities in the US.
14. "True Detective"
"True Detective" was a very welcome addition to HBO's lineup in its first season, offering viewers a thoughtful, visually stunning crime drama with heavy philosophical undertones. Sadly, the series got way too full of itself in Season 2. Here's hoping Season 3 will be a return to form for "True Detective" in 2019.
13. 'Boardwalk Empire'
"Boardwalk Empire" is the closest thing HBO viewers have gotten to a true successor to "The Sopranos." It took the series a couple years to move beyond the lavish period trappings and really find its voice, but we're very glad it did.
"Girls" may well be the most divisive series ever to air on HBO. But while the quality was never entirely consistent, the series offered a wonderfully frank look at sex, relationships and the struggles of being a 20-something Millennial. Its influence will be felt for a long time.
11. 'The Night Of'
To date, "The Night Of" only spans a single season. But what a season it is. This series features a top-notch cast that includes rising star Riz Ahmed and the great John Turturro. It offers a gripping, often unsettling look at the criminal justice system and the ways entire families can be destroyed when one member is locked behind bars.
'All Day and a Night'
Release Date: n/a 'Black Panther' co-writer Joe Robert Cole is writing and directing this drama, which features a young criminal reflecting on the troubled days leading up to his arrest. Ashton Sanders and Jeffrey Wright (pictured here in "Westworld") headline the film.
9. 'Big Little Lies'
How can you not love an HBO drama starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley? The compelling cast is just one of the big selling points in this drama about a trio of women caught up in a murder investigation. "Big Little Lies" was initially billed as a limited series, but it's only fitting it grew from there.
8. 'Eastbound & Down'
Critics were a little frigid in their reception to "Eastbound & Down" early on. But over time, the brilliance of this comedy about a washed-up baseball player returning hoe to become a P.E. coach really showed its brilliance. Few shows are as adept at making you laugh and cringe in equal measure.
"Insecure" uses the web series "Awkward Black Girl" as a springboard for a very funny, very thoughtful look at the lives of two twenty-something black women. It's a smartly written show that sidesteps the predictable stereotypes, yet still gives viewers plenty of goofy comedy and romantic melodrama for good emasure.
6. 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver'
If the 24-hour news cycle and its endless parade of talking heads has worn you down, "Last Week Tonight" is the cure you need. This weekly news program delivers a concentrated dose of topical comedy. Between the whip-smart writing and John Oliver's hilarious yet insightful presence,the series is the clear king of the hill when it comes to satirical news.
It never did get the attention it deserved (hence its too-short two season lifespan), but "Enlightened" is easily among the best comedies HBO has ever put on the air. It helps having a national treasure like Laura Dern lighting the way. Dern's dazzling performance really enhanced this story of a business executive recovering from a nervous breakdown.
4. 'Silicon Valley'
In hindsight, "Office Space" seems like the rough prototype Mike Judge needed to create before "Silicon Valley" could become a reality. This series chronicles the trials and tribulations of a group of nerds trying to create the next great tech company. It's a premise that hasn't come close to growing stale after five seasons.
3. 'Game of Thrones'
This is the reason everyone and their pet dog maintains an HBO subscription (or at least borrows a relative's HBO Go password). 'Game of Thrones' proves big screen action and drama can be crammed into a TV format. The show continues to hold us in thrall with its massive cast of characters, complex story and its willingness to make heroes and villains alike suffer. And while the show is approaching its end, HBO's plans for this fantasy universe have only just begun.
2. 'The Leftovers'
If you don't mind feeling emotionally drained after each new episode, "The Leftovers" is an absolute must-watch. The series explores the aftermath of a phenomenon where 2% of the world's population suddenly vanishes. There's an element of supernatural mystery to the series, but its true appeal rests in its emotionally charged storytelling.
"Veep" is, among many other things, one of the most uproariously funny comedies on the air. It's also got a terrific lead actress in the Emmy-hogging Julia Louis Dreyfuss. But above all, what makes this series stand out as one of HBO's best is its unparalleled ability to both lampoon and make sense of this crazy thing we call American politics.