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These 7 must-watch HBO Max shows all have 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Like every streaming platform, logging into HBO Max can be a bit overwhelming, with so much content competing for your attention and a finite number of hours in the day to spend watching it. 

Fortunately, an army of TV critics is paid to sort the wheat from the chaff on your behalf, and Rotten Tomatoes does a good job of digesting this. Reviews are collected and sorted into either ‘Fresh’ (good) or ‘Rotten’ (bad), giving you a snapshot of critical opinion. If it’s 80% fresh or higher, the show is widely liked, and you’re on steady ground.

As one of the best streaming services, HBO Max is lucky enough to have a number of programs that eclipse even that. All the shows below have a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100%, meaning universal acclaim. Hopefully, these movies stick around, as HBO Max could be dead, as Discovery Plus is rumored to take over.

If you’re looking for a new HBO Max show to watch, this is the best possible place to start. And check out our best HBO Max shows and movies roundup for more recommendations. 

The Last Movie Stars

The Last Movie Stars is a must-watch for anyone with an interest in the history of movie stardom. It tells the story of Hollywood golden couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, as told via the stars themselves, friends and family in over 100 interviews (“stuff they would never say if they weren’t with friends”) transcribed with a view to Newman writing his memoirs. 

As the original tapes were destroyed (Newman had a change of heart), director Ethan Hawke draws in A-listers like Laura Linney, George Clooney and Sally Field to turn the written words “into a kind of play with voices.”

The result is a universally praised (opens in new tab) docuseries that really gives you a view behind the scenes. 

“This is a terrific history; it is an absolute feast of film clips, full of things I didn't know, full of things a lot of people probably don't know,” writes Linda Holmes in her glowing NPR (opens in new tab) review. 

Seasons: 1
Years: 2022
Genre: Documentary
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Harley Quinn season 3 (HBO Max)

Harley Quinn is back! The adult animated series returns with Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) still blissfully in love after the latter ditched Kite Man at the altar. But the honeymoon phase can’t last forever and their “Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour” must come to an end. 

When they head back home, Ivy decides to carry out an extreme greenification of Gotham City — a plan which even Harley thinks is a bit too villainous. Meanwhile, the mayoral race’s  frontrunners are boozed-up police commissioner Jim Gordon (Christopher Meloni) and a possibly-reformed family man Joker (Alan Tudyk). As for the Bat family, Nightwing (Harvey Guillén) comes back to town, while Batman (Diedrich Bader) is brooding even more than usual about his childhood trauma. 

The overall Rotten Tomatoes score is 96%, but season 3 gets 100% (opens in new tab) (as did season 2). Jenna Scherer of AV Club (opens in new tab) says, "In the wake of a second season that broke ground for LGBTQ+ representation in the overcrowded superhero genre, season three continues to fire on all cylinders." Need more of an excuse? Check out why we think Harley Quinn is one of the best shows on TV.

Seasons: 3
Years: 2019-2022
Genre: Animation
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100% (seasons 2 and 3)

Rap Sh!t

Rap Sh!t — “a raucous chronicle of female camaraderie and youthful ambition” — is the handiwork of Issa Rae, whose previous show Insecure earned multiple Emmy nominations over its five-season run.

In it, estranged friends Shawna (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion) reunite as a rap duo, trying to break into an industry that’s notoriously hard to access — especially when you’re juggling single parenthood, regular jobs and — in the case of Mia — an OnlyFans account.

It is, according to the AV Club (opens in new tab), “a hilarious and experimental comedy, one that’s propelled by stellar rising talent and authentic, complex stories of Black life.” Beware though: while the critics rated it 100% fresh (opens in new tab), the audience score is a much less flattering 42% — albeit only from ten ratings. 

Seasons: 1
Years: 2022
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Mind Over Murder

An intriguing true-crime docuseries, Mind Over Murder chronicles the strange case of the “Beatrice Six” — a group of people who confessed to the 1985 murder of 68-year-old Helen Wilson in Beatrice, Nebraska. 

Later, in 2009, DNA evidence exonerated five of the six accused, and the docuseries tracks all of this from trial to the civil suits that followed. It is, as officially described, “a stranger-than-fiction tale” that “raises questions about the reliability of confessions and memory in criminal cases.”

“It’s a sad, weird and totally absorbing story,” says John Anderson of the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab). And like the best documentaries, there are a lot of grey areas. “Mind Over Murder remains a provocative thing, defying any kind of simple hero/villain/victim classifications,” writes Dan Fienberg at Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab).

Seasons: 1
Years: 2022
Genre: Documentary
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Hacks

A comedy-drama that chronicles the dark mentorship formed between legendary Las Vegas comic Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and down-on-her-luck 20-something comedy writer Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder). 

The second season arrived in May, and both series boast a universal 100% fresh ratings from the Rotten Tomatoes critics over the 18-episodes released to date. 

Reviewers not only appreciate the chemistry of the leads and the fact that it’s extremely funny, but that it doesn’t pull its punches and shows the true messiness of human relationships. “Hacks stands out in the TV comedy landscape because doesn’t gloss over or shy away from the ugliest parts of its characters,” writes Amelia Harvey at Frame Rated (opens in new tab). “Women are complicated.”

“If good comedy needs emotional heft, this has it to spare, and still manages to be vicious at the same time,” Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian (opens in new tab) adds. 

Seasons: 2
Years: 2021-2022
Genre: Comedy-drama
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Gordita Chronicles

The Rotten Tomatoes critics loved Gordita Chronicles when it debuted last month. The show, which tells the story of tween Cuco “Gordita” Castelli adapting to her family’s new life in Miami after migrating from the Dominican Republic, gets the full 100% approval, with the words “charm” or “charming” popping up in four of the six reviews. 

“Sincerity takes art,” the LA Times (opens in new tab) said in its review. “Apart from the novel culture of its characters, 'Gordita Chronicles' breaks no new ground in comedy — it doesn’t need to — but its makers and cast are clearly in love with these people and their story. To have heart, work has to come from the heart.”

Unfortunately, one season is all it will ever get on HBO Max. The show has been canceled, as the streamer moves away from live-action family entertainment. But Sony is said to be actively shopping it to other networks, so there’s a chance it will appear elsewhere if you get a taste for Cuco’s world from this ten-episode introduction.

Seasons: 1
Years: 2022
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Tuca & Bertie 

Tuca & Bertie started out on Netflix and now has moved over to HBO Max. It's described as "the story of two 30-year-old bird women who live in the same apartment building" by IMDB (opens in new tab). And Netflix (opens in new tab) says: "free-spirited toucan Tuca and self-doubting song thrush Bertie are best friends — and birds — who guide each other through life's ups and downs."

The show stars Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, and it's continued its tradition of bonkers storytelling on HBO Max. Its recent "Salad Days" episode found Tuca and Speckle wrangling a duck into submission. 

Season 3 of Tuca & Bertie has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score (opens in new tab), but there's only 6 critic ratings. 

Laura Bradley of The Daily Beast (opens in new tab) says that "In its third season, Lisa Hanawalt’s critically acclaimed series is at its absolute best—wild, weird, and disarmingly insightful."

Seasons: 3
Years: 2019-2022
Genre: Animation 
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100% (season 3)

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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.