Best mini-series on HBO Max

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Itching for a binge watch? You crave a story that will sweep you up, characters who will captivate, and a runtime that will wash away more hours than your average movie but not an entire weekend. Then, you want the cozy comforts of a mini-series. Within a few episodes, such televisions shows can unfurl rich tales, horrific, historic, heady, or even hilarious. Whether you’re in the mood for gripping thrillers, poignant dramas, royal romance, iconoclastic humor, or wild adventure, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the best mini-series now available on HBO Max:

1. Watchmen

In this 2019 superhero show, Damon Lindelof boldly re-imagines the iconic comic book series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Taking place decades after the events in the comics, this Watchmen centers on Sister Night (Regina King), a Tulsa Police detective who wears a nun-like costume to fight crime. In this striking guise, she combats the rising power of a white supremacist group known as the Seventh Kavalry. Thankfully, she won’t have to do it alone, as she’s got some super friends of her own. Tim Blake Nelson, Jean Smart, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Irons, and Hong Chau co-star, playing characters complex, outrageous, and absolutely riveting. Weaving mature themes with graphic violence and daring socio-political commentary, this audacious adaptation won critical acclaim, a vociferous fan following, and a whopping 11 Emmy Awards, including one for King.

How to watch: Watchmen is streaming on HBO Max.

2. Angels in America

This moving 2003 mini-series is adapted from Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning two-part stage play, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Combining fictional characters, historical figures, and ardent symbolism, this ambitious drama was a brazen condemnation of homophobia and America’s handling of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Its story follows several gay men, some suffering from AIDS, some suffering from shame, and most suffering from heartbreak. All of whom are played with soul-gripping conviction. Director Mike Nichols brought together an impeccable ensemble, boasting Broadway stars and movie legends like Patrick Wilson, Justin Kirk, Jeffrey Wright, Emma Thompson, Mary-Louise Parker, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep. Their efforts combined led not only to radiant critical praise but also 11 Emmy awards, including acting honors Wright, Parker, Streep, and Pacino.

How to watch: Angels in America is streaming on HBO Max.

3. Mare of Easttown

With a potential Season 2 in the works, we'll see how long 'Mare of Easttown' stays a miniseries.

With a potential Season 2 in the works, we’ll see how long ‘Mare of Easttown’ stays a miniseries.
Credit: hbo

25 years ago, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) was a star high school athlete with a promising future ahead of her. Nowadays, she’s a bitter, divorced detective whose name is being dragged through the mud over a missing persons case she couldn’t solve. When another local girl vanishes, Mare must push aside personal dramas—and inner demons—to crack the case. This small but gruff blue-collar town outside of Philadelphia is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. So, surely someone must know something. Creator Brad Ingelsby brings together a crackling cast that includes Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Guy Pearce, and Evan Peters. Together, they build an enveloping atmosphere of snark and suspicion and a darkly amusing crime drama that had tongues wagging, critics cheering, and jaws dropped. It’s no mystery how Mare of Easttown earned 16 Emmy nominations in 2021.

How to watch: Mare of Easttown is streaming on HBO Max.

4. The Lady and the Dale

HBO has a library of sensational true crime offerings, yet this 2021 mini-series is uniquely fascinating. Directors Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker unfurl the times and trials of Elizabeth Carmichael, who was not only a nationally recognized automobile executive and infamous con artist, but also a wife, mother, and transgender trailblazer. For decades, her story has been framed by those who despise her, resulting in a narrative rife with speculation and transphobia. In this challenging and boldly funny four-episode documentary mini-series, Carmichael’s story is reclaimed by balancing the perspective of her haters with in-depth interviews with those who knew her best. With animated photography, a playful soundtrack, and a cheeky sense of adventure, The Lady and The Dale aims not only to showcase the complexity of the late Carmichael, but also to capture her spirit. All this makes for a watch that is surprising, thrilling, and unforgettable.

How to watch: The Lady and the Dale is streaming on HBO Max.

5. From the Earth to the Moon

Based on Andrew Chaikin’s non-fiction book A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, this stellar mini-series rocketed audiences back to the ‘60s and ‘70s to reveal the incredible true stories within NASA’s Apollo program. Produced by Tom Hanks, From The Earth To The Moon was beyond ambitious. Over the course of 12 episodes, it told numerous stories, folding in decades of aeronautics history and heroics, as well as 30 portrayals of the astronauts who flew—or were ready to fly—on the Apollo missions. On top of that, remarkable special effects were created to make these trips to the stars feel real to a home audience, putting is in the shoes—or space suits—of these legendary explorers. This 1998 event launched as “TV’s Biggest Mini-Series” and soon landed the Primetime Emmy win for Best Mini-series. So, take a trip back to see what all the buzz was about.

How to watch: From the Earth to the Moon is streaming on HBO Max.

6. Elizabeth I

The daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, Elizabeth I of England was born into royally outrageous drama, which would define her whole life. This heralded 2005 mini-series focuses on the last 24 years of her 45-year reign, beginning as the so-called Virgin Queen approached middle age. Don’t be fooled by her nickname. This 16th-century monarch had a healthy appetite for sex and romance. But to marry—as her advisors pressure—would mean surrendering her throne to some man who would-be king. Dame Helen Mirren brings the fire of passion and fury to her vibrant portrayal of Elizabeth. Lending support as her leading men are the dashing Jeremy Irons and the dreamy-eyed Hugh Dancy. Under the helm of Tom Hooper, history comes alive in a sweeping two-part mini-series that won 9 Emmys. This included honors for Irons, Hooper, and Mirren as well as Best Mini-series. From its rich production design to its heart-pounding performances and rousing drama, it’s easy to see why.

How to watch: Elizabeth I is streaming on HBO Max.

7. True Detective

From the moment Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were cast as a duo of detectives on the hunt for an elusive killer, this 2014 show screamed “prestige TV.” Shortly after its debut, this neo-noir mini-series had audiences screaming too, hollering in horror of the unnerving visuals, cheering over its immersive cinematography, and yarn-walling over how it might end. Heralded filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga helmed the entire premiere season with aplomb, creating a rich world of Southern-fried intrigue, blood-curdling violence, and mind-bending philosophy. Critics cheered. Audiences tuned in, and the Primetime Emmys presented five awards to this daring drama. Sure, all that success led to writer Nic Pizzolatto spinning new stories for successive seasons. But it all began as one damn fine mini-series.

How to watch: True Detective is streaming on HBO Max.

8. Miracle Workers

While mini-series are often dramas, occasionally a comedy breaks through. And no comedy compares with the outside-the-box antics of 2019’s Miracle Workers. It began as a seven-episode arc about two bumbling angels trying to save the world from annihilation by winning a bet with a frustrated God. This might sound like a premise ripe for an epic quest! Instead, creator Simon Rich imagined an office comedy where angels are listless, irritable, or incompetent, and God is a needy, fitful oaf who can’t even impress his parents. “Irreverent” doesn’t even begin to describe the jokes at play here, and the cast—centered around Daniel Radcliffe, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Steve Buscemi—makes a meal of every absurd turn, goofy visual gag, and jolting one-liner. Like True Detective, this mini-series was so great that it upgraded to anthology with its following seasons. Thankfully, Miracle Workers’ kept its cast through a second season in a merciless medieval setting and a third upon the treacherous Oregon Trail. That this bonkers but brilliant show exists is a miracle.

How to watch: Miracle Workers is streaming on HBO Max.

9. I May Destroy You

'I May Destroy You' is the Michaela Coel vehicle of 'Chewing Gum' fans' dreams.

‘I May Destroy You’ is the Michaela Coel vehicle of ‘Chewing Gum’ fans’ dreams.
Credit: hbo

English writer/actress/producer Michaela Coel first broke-through with her cheeky, sex-centric comedy series Chewing Gum. With this addictive follow-up, her provocative humor oozes to darker corners, exploring the issues of social media influence, anti-Black racism, consent, and rape culture. In I May Destroy You, Coel stars as Arabella Essiedu, a twenty-something writer who relishes a wild night out on the town. But when one such night ends with a blackout, bloody forehead, and troubling flashbacks, Arabella turns to her friends, new lovers, and lots of dubious distractions to cope. Surrounded by a suitably superb cast, which includes Weruche Opia and Paapa Essiedu, Coel delivers an electrifying portrayal of a woman on the verge. Her critically heralded 12-part creation has won two BAFTAs, one for her lead performance, the other for Best Mini-Series. Plus, it has earned 9 Primetime Emmy nominations for 2021.

How to watch: I May Destroy You is streaming on HBO Max.

10. Over the Garden Wall

Adventure Time creative director Patrick McHale dreamed up this distinctive animated mini-series, which first debuted on Cartoon Network in the fall of 2014. Deep in a mysterious forest, two half-brothers, the plucky Greg (Collin Dean) and fretful Wirt (Elijah Wood), are terribly lost. To find their way home, this bickering duo must trust in the kindness of strangers, like a harrowed woodsman (Christopher Lloyd), a batty baron (John Cleese), a demanding witch (Tim Curry), and a backtalking bluebird (Melanie Lynskey). But all the while, they must avoid the shadowy, deceitful Beast (Samuel Ramey), who would make them a meal for his terrible hunger. Influenced by folk lore and the Rubber Hose animation aesthetic, Over The Garden Wall paints an enchanting yet unnerving world of wonders and perils. With untamed imagination, an enthralling voice cast, and ten 11-minute episodes, its story is unfurled swiftly and satisfyingly, making it an easy and excellent binge.

How to watch: Over the Garden Wall is streaming on HBO Max.





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