The 10 Best TV Shows to Stream on HBO Max Right Now

Yvette Nicole Brown, Robin Thede, Gabrielle Dennis, Bresha Webb, and Quinta Brunson in A Black Lady Sketch Show.
Yvette Nicole Brown, Robin Thede, Gabrielle Dennis, Bresha Webb, and Quinta Brunson in A Black Lady Sketch Show.
HBO

When WarnerMedia launched its long-awaited streaming platform HBO Max in late May, many people were excited, some were confused (here’s a quick rundown of what it actually is), and others were simply overwhelmed by its many film and TV options. To help you narrow down your watch list, below are 10 must-see TV shows for every type of fan. (If you're in more of a movie mood, we've got some recommendations on that front, too.)

1. We’re Here (2020-)

Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela Laquifa Wadley—all alums of RuPaul’s Drag Race—travel to small towns across the nation to teach “drag daughters” the art of drag in this non-competitive Max Original reality series. Each episode is chock-full of personal growth and glitter, and culminates in a drag show. It’s basically a fusion of Queer Eye and RuPaul’s Drag Race, and it’s just as entertaining as you’d expect that to be.

2. At Home With Amy Sedaris (2017-)

At Home With Amy Sedaris is an absurdist cross between an at-home talk show and a sitcom. In it, Sedaris teaches viewers how to do a variety of crafting, cooking, and home improvement tasks, interspersed with visits from her neighbors, friends, and an eclectic selection of guest stars that includes Michael Shannon, Rose Byrne, and Neil Patrick Harris. Everything about the series is surprising, bizarre, and hysterical, from the poorly-executed how-to lessons to the house itself, which looks like it could be made of gingerbread.

3. A Black Lady Sketch Show (2019-)

Drinking anything while watching A Black Lady Sketch Show is a dangerous game—every single sketch is spit-take-level hilarious. Robin Thede executive produces and stars in the series, which also features Ashley Nicole Black, Quinta Brunson, and Gabrielle Dennis, with guest appearances from celebrities like Angela Bassett, Laverne Cox, and Insecure co-creator/star Issa Rae (who is also an executive producer on A Black Lady Sketch Show). It's the first sketch comedy series entirely created by and starring Black women, and sketches cover contemporary culture without ever straying into stale or trope-y territory—take, for example, this parody of “stans” through the lens of a 21st-century retelling of Romeo and Juliet.

4. The Sixties (2014)

For anyone wishing that some enterprising production company would sum up the 1960s in America in a straightforward, easily digestible (but not boring) docuseries, we have good news. CNN’s The Sixties, produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, covers the Vietnam War, the assassination of JFK, the civil rights movement, the space race, and more in 10 riveting episodes. And since 1968 was such a landmark year, there’s even a four-part spinoff series called 1968: The Year That Changed America, which is also streaming on HBO Max.

Wishing CNN would make similar series for the decades that followed? They did: The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, and The 2000s are on HBO Max, too.

5. Wallander (2008-2016)

This BBC version of the Swedish series—based on Henning Mankell’s crime novels—stars Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander, a flawed investigator trying to solve murders and find meaning in his life at the same time. It’s slow-burning, a little gritty, and perfect for fans of Luther, Broadchurch, and every other British crime drama series. Oh, and Tom Hiddleston is in it, too.

6. Looking (2014-2016)

Heaps of critical acclaim weren't enough to keep HBO from pulling the plug on Looking, but low viewership is no reason to skip its two existing seasons (plus a 2016 television film that serves as the series finale). It chronicles the lives of three gay friends in modern-day San Francisco: video game designer Patrick (Jonathan Groff), artist Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez), and sommelier Dom (Murray Bartlett). Groff delivers the type of nuanced, earnest performance that his fans have come to expect from him in every role, and you’ll probably find yourself torn between wanting to binge-watch Looking all in one sitting and making it last as long as you can.

7. United Shades of America (2016-)

In this docuseries, comedian W. Kamau Bell paints a comprehensive portrait of the nation and its issues by interviewing the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. He rides along with a New Jersey cop, explores the LGBTQ+ community in Salt Lake City, talks with people living along the U.S.-Mexico border, and even sits down with members of the Ku Klux Klan. Bell does his best (and his best is very good) to approach every topic with good-natured humor and highlight important takeaways for viewers, making United Shades of America an engrossing, illuminating watch.

8. Love Life (2020-)

This Max Original follows Anna Kendrick’s Darby as she navigates a string of relationships in her mid-twenties. The show captures the slightly desperate, slightly confusing nature of trying to find a sense of belonging in modern-day New York, and Kendrick’s characteristically candid humor is a perfect match for the passionate, vulnerable, self-deprecating Darby. It features Strangers star Zoë Chao in the “best friend” role—another top-notch performance for her perfect record—and a voiceover by Lesley Manville, whose even-keeled delivery gives the series a quirky storybook vibe.

9. Gavin & Stacey (2007-2010, 2019)

Before James Corden hopped across the pond to fulfill his "Carpool Karaoke" destiny, he was the co-creator and supporting star of a BBC comedy series called Gavin & Stacey, about a couple whose relationship forces their very different families (one from South Wales, the other from Essex, England) to spend a lot of time together. It’s equal parts charming and funny, and there’s also a one-hour reunion Christmas special that aired in 2019—10 years after the show ended.

10. Friends (1994-2004)

Friends wasn't off Netflix for long before it became available on HBO Max, but it probably felt like an eternity for anyone who plays the classic sitcom on a continuous loop. All 10 seasons are now available on the service, and with a reunion special finally in the works (which will also air on HBO Max), there’s no better opportunity to watch the lives of Ross, Rachel, and the rest of the gang unfold for the first—or 40th—time.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Late MythBusters Star Grant Imahara Honored With New STEAM Foundation

Grant Imahara attends San Diego Comic-Con
Grant Imahara attends San Diego Comic-Con
Genevieve via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Fans of MythBusters and White Rabbit Project host Grant Imahara were saddened to hear of his passing due to a brain aneurysm in July 2020 at the age of 49. Imahara, a graduate of the University of Southern California, used the television medium to share his love of science and engineering. Now, his passion for education will continue via an educational foundation developed in his name.

The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation was announced Thursday, October 23, 2020 by family and friends on what would have been Imahara’s 50th birthday. The Foundation will provide mentorships, grants, and scholarships that will allow students from diverse backgrounds access to STEAM education, which places an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. (Formerly referred to as STEM, the “A” for art was added more recently.)

Imahara had a history of aiding students. While working at Industrial Light and Magic in the early 2000s, he mentored the robotics team at Richmond High School to prepare for the international FIRST Robotics Competition. Whether he was working on television or behind-the-scenes on movies like the Star Wars prequels and The Matrix sequels, Imahara always found time to promote and encourage young engineering talent.

The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation’s founding board members include Imahara’s mother, Carolyn Imahara, and close friends Don Bies, Anna Bies, Edward Chin, Fon H. Davis, Coya Elliott, and Ioanna Stergiades.

“There are many students, like my son Grant, who need the balance of the technical and the creative, and this is what STEAM is all about,” Carolyn Imahara said in a statement. “I’m so proud of my son’s career, but I’m equally proud of the work he did mentoring students. He would be thrilled that we plan to continue this, plus much more, through The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation.”

Imahara friend Wade Bick is also launching an effort in concert with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to name a study lounge after Imahara. Donations can be made here.

You can find out more about the foundation, and make a donation, on its website.