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The 3 HBO Max shows you need to binge-watch right now

The HBO Max logo on a phone on top of a keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

HBO Max is constantly adding new shows and movies, and it's kinda hard to know what to watch and when. New shows are great, of course, but there's something about a show that's already in its second or third season that inspires more confidence. And that's why I love to take a moment early in the month to highlight shows I love that are returning to HBO Max. 

One show is finally returning with its second season, while the others are entering their third. Each offers something different, with espionage, comedy and personal growth. Looking for more? The Batman is streaming on HBO Max soon, plus check out our guide to the best shows and movies on HBO Max.

Looking for more drama? The Hornets vs Hawks live stream is the next big NBA play-in tournament game. Loved Severance? We've put our collective Innie and Outie brains together on the 7 questions Severance season 2 needs to answer. And we've got the news many families and kidults want when it comes to the Sonic 3 movie.

Binge-watch these HBO Max shows before you're even more behind:

Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden, holding a phone and a novel in The Flight Attendant Season 2 Episode 1

(Image credit: Jennifer Rose Clasen/HBO Max)

The Flight Attendant

1 season to watch — approximately 6 hours in total length

Okay, let's start off by going over one of the best HBO Max shows to date that yours truly admittedly slept on at first. The Flight Attendant, one of the big early HBO Max shows, stars Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden, one of the many flight attendants who try and help passengers on their way. There's only one problem for Cassie: she finds herself entangled in a murder mystery with a charming passenger. But for me, The Flight Attendant had another big problem: I didn't really expect much from Cuoco. I only knew her as a cast member on The Big Bang Theory, a show I wouldn't even watch on an interminable transatlantic flight.

That said? The Flight Attendant soared in its first season, as Cuoco was perfect as the hapless protagonist. Not only was it delightful to see how Cassie would dig herself deeper and deeper to try and clear her name — while not following the advice of her wiser friends — but the show was written, shot and produced with a stylish flair. A perfect binge-watch show, this whodunit is also supported by a strong cast, including Zosia Mamet showing how great she can be outside of Lena Dunham's Girls and Rosie Perez as one of Cassie's colleagues in the sky — who also gets into trouble.

The Flight Attendant season 2 debuts on April 21 — with two episodes arriving on HBO Max, followed by another pair on April 28 and then one episode per week until May 26 — so you've got a couple of weeks to get familiar.

Bill Hader as Barry, staring down, while standing near a parked car.

(Image credit: Merrick Morton/HBO)

Barry

2 seasons to watch — approximately 8 hours in total length

Before every news outlet started writing about the supposed great resignation (where more people seem to be quitting their jobs than before), Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) really needed a new career. It's not hard to understand why: Barry's a former marine who's now living in the lovely world of contracted killing. Fortunately, Barry may have found a way out, as a job brought him into Los Angeles' theater scene, where he meets aspiring actors who he befriends.

Barry has earned deservedly rave reviews for its first and second seasons, with a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score for season 1 and a 100% score for season 2. It's not tough to see why: Hader's a top shelf talent when it comes to both comedy and character work, and the premise bucks a popular trend that's taken over TV for years. So, instead of a regular person turning to crime — Weeds begat Breaking Bad which begat Ozark — we've got someone finally looking to break out of the depressing world of organized crime.

Barry also has an excellent supporting cast, including Stephen Root as the guy who got Barry into crime and Henry Winkler as an acting coach.

Barry season 3 premieres on HBO and HBO Max on April 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT — starting its eight-episode season where new episodes debut weekly — so you've got time to get familiar.

In other big third season news, here's how to watch Derry Girls season 3 online without Netflix, which isn't getting the show's final season first.

Gabrielle Dennis and Ashley Nicole Black performing on a stage in A Black Lady Sketch Show

(Image credit: Tina Thorpe/HBO)

A Black Lady Sketch Show

2 seasons to watch — approximately 6 hours in total length

You may recognize A Black Lady Sketch Show creator and co-star Robin Thede from any number of other shows. The Second City vet has appeared in everything from Key & Peele to Difficult People to Insecure. But if you're unfamiliar with her HBO series, which just started its third season, it's time to get familiar. Just watch episode 1, trust me. 

From the fog sketch that manages to go from horror to self-care in moments, to a sketch involving CIA agents featuring a guest appearance from Gina Torres?  A Black Lady Sketch Show is very good at surprising you with where it goes next. Oh, and don't think they'd title the first episode "Angela Bassett Is the Baddest Bitch" without an appearance from Ms. Bassett herself. 

And she's just one of many great guests that A Black Lady Sketch Show has brought in. Also, fans of Abbott Elementary should be excited to note that its creator/lead Quinta Brunson is a season 1 regular.

This is the perfect weekend to binge A Black Lady Sketch Show. Season 3 just began, on Friday (April 8) at 11 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max, and it will debut new episodes each Friday. 

In good Netflix news? Well, it looks like The Crown prequels on Netflix may be happening, as new reports say a fistful of stories are in the works. Check out our guide for how to watch The Kardashians online for a more modern bit of drama.

In less good news, the list of Netflix shows canceled in 2022 just keeps growing. And this talk show just got canceled after 8 seasons — creating yet another gap in the schedule. Oh, and are you ready to watch Moon Knight episode 3 online? It only looks to get weirder.

Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.