9 best Max shows you're probably not watching

Max on a TV screen with a bowl of popcorn
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Max is the best streaming service out there, in no small part thanks to its massive library of great HBO shows. The best HBO shows of all time sit in the TV hall of fame, from The Sopranos to The Wire, Game of Thrones and more.

But there are also a ton of shows on Max that slip through the cracks or go under the radar because there are so many good ones to choose from. So we curated a list of the best TV shows on Max you may have missed when they came out but are definitely worth watching. This includes animated series, award-winning dramas, bingeable miniseries and more. 

So without further ado, here are the best Max shows you’re (probably) not watching.


Animals. on Max

(Image credit: HBO)

I can’t remember exactly when I stumbled onto Animals., but I do know that once I started watching I couldn’t stop. This animated series from the Duplass Brothers may be one of the weirder offerings from Max, but once it clicks for you it becomes one of Max’s most hilarious offerings.

The cast is largely split between humans and animals, and the plot often weaves back and forth between standalone stories as well as a few more long-running plotlines that connect the episodes over three seasons. Executive producers Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano voice most of the characters but there is a vast recurring and guest voice cast, including RuPaul Charles from RuPaul’s Drag Race as the evil Dr. Labcoat in season two. If you’re a fan of comedic animated TV shows like Archer, Animals. is definitely a Max show you’ll want to watch.

Watch on Max 


Chernobyl on Max

(Image credit: Alamy)

Based on the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster, Chernobyl is dark. This award-winning miniseries is not for the faint of heart and does not shy away from the disaster of epic proportions that was Chernobyl. In particular, episode 4 is especially brutal, as it exposes just how much devastation the disaster caused — and it’s not limited to the loss of human lives.

The show is largely historically accurate, though it does take some liberties. Some of these, such as the creation of a composite character are even acknowledged in the show’s epilogue. The one liberty that is potentially the most jarring is that the show’s cast is largely British thanks to being co-produced by Sky Atlantic, and they make no effort to seem Russian or Ukranian. Personally, though, I find this prevents bad accents from taking you out of the experience, and I wouldn’t change the cast for anything. 

Jared Harris as Valery Legasov and Stellan Skarsgård as Boris Shcherbina, both real people involved in the Chernobyl disaster, are particularly excellent. This may be one of Max’s best shows, period, despite it flying under the radar for many.

Watch on Max 

A Discovery of Witches

Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer in a Discovery of Witches

(Image credit: Sky Studios)

A bunch of AMC shows have migrated to Max (at least for a period of time). Among them is A Discovery of Witches, which is based on the books by Deborah Harkness. Historian Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) is also a reluctant witch who's drawn back into the magical world when she discovers a bewitched manuscript in Oxford's Bodleian Library. As she unravels its secrets, she encounters the roguish vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode). Their relationship and Diana's blooming powers threaten the fragile peace between witches, vampires and daemons. - KW

Watch on Max

How to With John Wilson 

How to with John Wilson on Max

(Image credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery)

“It’s kinda like that show Planet Earth, but if it was only in New York and David Attenborough was forced to film everything himself.” That’s how creator/producer/director/writer/host John Wilson describes his Max documentary series How to with John Wilson. And honestly, he’s not wrong. The show is both an insightful look into the city that never sleeps and humanity as a whole, as Wilson tries to teach you everything from how to make small talk to how to make the perfect risotto.

Oh, and it’s hilarious. Comedy isn’t often what most people associate with documentaries but you can’t escape it in How to With John Wilson. Even the most mundane tasks, such as grocery shopping, are enthralling episodes of prestige television. It probably won’t shock you that Nathan Fielder, who has his own avant-garde comedy The Rehearsal on Max, is involved in the project as a producer. If you like any of Fielder’s work or just surreal comedy, this is definitely a show you won’t want to miss. 

Watch on Max


Myha’la Herrold as Harper and Marisa Abela as Yasmin in Industry

(Image credit: HBO)

For lovers of prestige TV series such as Billions or, to a degree, Succession, Industry is a great choice if you’re looking for a drama set in the business world. The show is a drama series set at the fictional London investment banking firm Pierpoint & Co. and while it doesn’t hit some of the dark comedic notes of Succession, it doesn’t lack any of the drama.

Most of the cast members play graduates trying to cut it in the London investment banking world, but the stars of the show are Marisa Abela as Yasmin Kara-Hanani and Myha’la Herrold as Harper Stern. Don’t sleep on veteran Ken Leung as Eric Tao, a managing director who serves as Harper’s mentor or Sagar Radia as Rishi Ramdani. Radia’s performance as Rishi, an associate at Pierpoint, was so good that he was moved from recurring to a series regular in the show’s second season. If Succession has left a void in your TV watching since it ended, Industry may just fill it — and a third season is on the way. 

Watch on Max  

The Larry Sanders Show

The Larry Sanders Show on Max

(Image credit: Alamy)

Missing late-night talk shows with the strike-induced hiatus? Max has you covered. No, you can’t watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver right now, though hopefully, episodes are returning soon now that the Writers Guild of America has successfully negotiated a new deal with Warner Bros. Discovery. But you can watch The Larry Sanders Show, a Max sitcom starring the late Garry Shandling as fictional late-night host Larry Sanders.

Larry Sanders isn’t just for late-night fans either. The focus of the show is the behind-the-scenes of producing a late-night show as it is the fictional talk show itself. In fact, The Larry Sanders show probably has more in common with Curb Your Enthusiasm, another sitcom about a hilarious TV show persona, than your favorite late-night show. Shandling’s Sanders is brilliantly hilarious and you’ll be laughing almost as soon as the title cards stop.

Watch on Max 


Oz on Max

(Image credit: HBO)

We’re definitely not in Kansas in HBO’s Oz, which you can watch on Max right now. This show often is overlooked by its more famous younger siblings — The Sopranos and The Wire — but without the success of Oz, neither of those shows might exist. Oz was HBO’s first-ever hourlong drama and frankly, it deserves accolades as much as the shows that followed it.

The show takes place at the Oswald State Correctional Facility “Oz” in New York in an experimental unit named “Emerald City,” another intentional nod to the Wizard of Oz. In Emerald City, the focus is supposed to be on rehabilitation rather than punishment, but more often than not the inmates must focus solely on survival. The show’s star is unequivocally J.K. Simmons, who plays Vernon Schillinger, the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood in Emerald City. 

If I had only one knock against Oz, it’s that Simmons’ Schillinger is so well done and therefore so horrifying, that you may struggle to look at Simmons the same way again. He’s that good.

Watch on Max 


(L to R) Nikesh Patel (as Tom) looks at Rose Matafeo (as Jessie) who is holding a gift in Starstruck.

(Image credit: Mark Johnson/HBO Max)

This underrated gem of a rom-com can be described as Notting Hill meets Fleabag, which only sort of gestures at what makes it so delightful. Rose Matafeo co-created the series and stars in it as Jessie, an aimless twentysomething New Zealander living in London. On New Year’s Eve, she has a one-night stand with Tom (Nikesh Patel), who turns out to be a big movie star! While he’s very famous and she’s very, uh, not, they share a magnetic chemistry that cannot be ignored. But chemistry doesn't equal a relationship and Jessie and Tom find themselves going in and out of each other’s orbit for months. - KW

Watch on Max

We Own This City 

Jon Bernthal as Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, standing back against a door, in We Own This City

(Image credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

If Oz is the spiritual predecessor to The Wire, then We Own This City is its successor. The six-part miniseries tells the true story of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, which of course, did much more than just trace guns. In fact, it may have been the most corrupt organization in Baltimore’s history, and trust me … that’s saying a lot.

Developed by David Simon and George Pelecanos, both of whom were integral to The Wire’s success, We Own This City is a must-watch for anyone who loved HBO’s first series about Charm City. And even if you’re not dying to go back to Baltimore, do it just to see Jon Bernthal in what The Ringer’s Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald called "one of the great TV performances of this century." After watching all six episodes, I guarantee you’ll agree.

Watch on Max 

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

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