Getting the most out of your HBO subscription – A completely unsolicited piece.

Getting the most out of your HBO subscription – A completely unsolicited piece.

By J. Huang (Yellow)

In this age of cord-cutting and streaming services offering hundreds of shows launching all their episodes at once for binge-consumption, Game of Thrones may be the last appointment TV show of its kind.  Aside from live sports and The Bachelor, there isn’t anything else that we schedule our lives around to watch. It’s uncanny how Game of Thrones’ social conversation commences immediately following each episode’s airing on the east coast every Sunday.  Out of fear of spoilers on social media or being a social pariah around the water cooler, we all carve out some time to be up to date on the latest and greatest from Westeros.  Hence the HBO subscription tsunami in the months that the show is aired.  Now, Game of Thrones may be your main reason to pay $15 per month but it doesn’t have to be your sole reason.  Take advantage of this opportunity and consume some equally spectacular content during your subscription.  Of course, shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood and Sex and The City are household names that have had their time under the sun and need not to be mentioned. This is a list of active (or soon to be released) shows on HBO with enough buzz to merit a place in the zeitgeist. 

From the bestselling pages of Liane Moriarty to the screen adaptation of David E. Kelly, Big Little Lies re-ignited the concept of premier television with a cast of A-list Femme Fatales including Reese Whitherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz.  This 7-episode limited series is set in the perfect and affluent community of Monterey, California where a murder has occurred during a charity fundraiser.   As the characters are introduced they remind you of people in your own community and with each episode the lives and lies of the protagonists are exposed and the mystery intensifies while keeping the audience directionless as to ‘who done it’.  It’s a beautifully shot painting paired with a terrific soundtrack and truly powerful performances from Reese Whitherspoon and Nicole Kidman.  Season 2 is scheduled to come out in June 2019 with the incomparable Meryl Streep joining the cast.  

Produced by the recently dissolved partnership of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Funny or Die, Anchorman and Step Brothers), Succession follows the absurd life of the Roy family led by their patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) who struggles to retain control of his media empire against his competitors, his children and his own mortality.  Creator and showrunner, Jesse Armstrong, constantly pushes the envelope in each raw, fast-paced hour of television.  I know what you’re thinking; ‘A show about a rich white family in 2019? You’re really trying to sell me on that?’ I must say I felt the same way at first.  After a recent watch, I can confidently say that the show does pay off and really builds through season 1.  Season 2 is scheduled to premiere in June 2019.

There is always one show that you just constantly want to yap about with every stranger at your airport terminal.  This is my new beloved Chocolate Labrador puppy of a TV show.  Much like the star, creator, writer and sometimes director of the show, Bill Hader, Barry’s understated genius lies in its subtleties.  Hader really tries to tell the best story he possibly can in the 4 hours allotted to his first season while focusing on the few characters and refraining from expanding and diluting the story plot.  Did I mention that the Emmy winner Henry Winkler is featured and absolutely kills?  All 8 half-hour episodes of season 1 are consistent in their greatness but the season finale is unlike anything I had ever seen.  Season 2 premiered March 31st, catch new episodes Sundays after you watch the first season.  Black and Yellow’s favorite thing at the moment. 

Selena Myers (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and company are back for one last go at the presidency.  It’s tough to follow with grace and success after a show such as Seinfeld, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus manages just that. She will be known as Selena Myers to an entire generation. Unlike her character, Veep has sustained a terrific run with high approval ratings. The seventh and final season of Veep premiered March 31st

The show that started Matthew McConaghey’s renaissance with season 1, is back for its third season after a problematic second season.  Academy Award winner, Mahershala Ali, stars in this dark, detective drama written by Nic Pizzolatto and David Milch.  Although time is a flat circle this season is lined up with 8 episodes that concluded in February 2019.  All 8 episodes are available for streaming.  Have fun jumping into this rabbit hole of murder and other creatively horrendous crimes men are capable of committing, while deciphering the order of facts from the aging Ali’s perspective.

HBO has a habit of investing their money and faith on creative types that think outside of the Home Box Office. Writer and show runner, Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness) returns after concluding The Leftovers.  Based on the beloved graphic novel by Alan Moore, the show will explore uncharted territory as it looks to expand on events past the comics. The cast is comprised of heavy-hitters such as Jeremy Irons, Regina King and Don Johnson.   HBO has not announced its premiere date but it could potentially follow the conclusion of Game of Thrones.

Another famous piece of literature will receive the small screen treatment.  This time via HBO’s partnership with the BBC.  Yes, they call it ‘the BBC’. Philip Pullman’s book trilogy deals with science fiction, fantasy and a bit of theology.  The cast includes James McAvoy, Lin Manuel-Miranda and the protagonist will be played by Dafne Keen who played Laura/X-23 in Logan.  With no set date for its premiere, fans of this highly regarded book trilogy will have to wait with great anticipation. 

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