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

Shangela Laquifa Wadley takes a bow with a couple of newly-minted drag queens on the HBO Max Original We're Here.
Shangela Laquifa Wadley takes a bow with a couple of newly-minted drag queens on the HBO Max Original We're Here.
WarnerMedia

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 shows for every type of TV 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, chock-full of personal growth and glitter, 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 Issa Rae (who is also an executive producer). 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 following decades? 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.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]