10 Hidden Gem TV Shows On HBO Max From The 2010s
HBO has been in the news lately for everything from removing movies and shows from their streaming service to premiering new content like Dragon House. The future of the HBO Max platform is uncertain given everything that happened in 2022, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good things to check out now.
There are obvious classics and huge hits, including Game of Thrones, Successionand rick and morty but if you look beyond those iconic series, you’ll find a solid list of hidden gems. These overlooked shows are worth watching for several reasons.
Happy Endings (2011–2013)
It’s hard to think of a more delightful 2010s TV show than happy endings. Reviews weren’t strong for the series when it was released, but over time the quality improved and that was mostly due to the electric chemistry shared by the cast.
Eliza Coupe, Damon Wayans Jr., Elisha Cuthbert and more played a hilarious group of friends exploring their lives while living in Chicago. The set is one of the best of the decade and the show stayed strong until it was unfortunately canceled after season 3. The short episodes and likable characters make for an easy watch.
These days, Laura Dern’s television career might be best associated with her incredible journey as one of HBO’s main characters. big little lies. However, a few years prior, she directed a series for the network in Enlightenedwhich also saw her deliver a fantastic job that led to a Golden Globes win.
Dern was also a co-creator on the show, hammering home how perfect she was for the role. The show centered on Amy Jellicoe (Dern), a self-destructive woman who tries to lead an enlightened life after having a spiritual awakening. It was canned due to low viewership, but was widely acclaimed.
Although few people talk about it or even remember it, Looking at was actually a landmark show for HBO as it marked the network’s first series to focus on gay men. The premise followed three friends who navigate the world of dating in the LGTBQ+ community.
The talented cast was led by Jonathan Groff of hamilton fame and the series were praised for the performances, writing, direction, etc. Although not a great success, Looking at still did well enough to last two seasons and receive a follow-up movie to wrap it up.
David Makes the Man (2019–present)
One of the newest hidden gem shows on HBO Max and one of only two still airing, David makes the man actually created on the Oprah Winfrey Network. On the surface, the setup is simple as it sees a teenager from the projects trying to survive the poverty he lives in.
The protagonist also deals with the death of his close friend, which gives him more emotional weight. With a good mix of veterans like Phylicia Rashad and rising stars like Akili McDowell, there’s a lot to like here.
Deputy directors (2016-2018)
The combination of Danny McBride and HBO seems to be winning. He shone for several years on East and down before recently landing a role in Virtuous Gemstones but one of his neglected projects is Deputy Directors.
Along with the versatile Walton Goggins (who won a Critics Choice Award), Busy Phillips, Dale Dickey and more, McBride landed another hit for the premium network. Unlike many other two-season shows, Deputy Directors finished on its own terms, telling a full story from start to finish.
The second and last show listed as still airing is Primitive and it also happens to be the only anime series included. Given the recent success of Prey on Hulu, there seems to be more excitement for stories told in prehistoric times, making it a perfect companion.
Primitive is directed (and created) by Genndy Tartakovsky and focuses on humans and dinosaurs as beings that work in harmony. The show manages to blend fantasy, horror, action, and other genres to tell a compelling story. In addition to that, Season 2 premiered in July.
The Knicks (2014-2015)
It is interesting to note that The Knick is available to stream on HBO Max right now given that it’s actually a Cinemax original series. Fortunately, HBO subscribers can check it out now as the show is strong and is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.
The show was a medical drama with a twist as it took place in the early 1900s, which meant doctors and nurses had to try to save patients despite the limitations of their time. Clive Owen, André Holland, Juliet Rylance and many other fine actors have contributed to the making of this work.
Jay and Mark Duplass are among Hollywood’s most impressive writers and actors, helping to create well-received projects that they also end up starring in. Some of their best work came in Unitya series about two couples living together and trying to coexist.
In addition to their close living quarters, the two couples also tried to achieve their own dreams. As is often the case with what the Duplass brothers have released, it was well written and told realistic, relatable stories that will captivate a viewer for two seasons.
Mister Jack (2019-2022)
Going back even further than The Knick and the 1900s, Mr Jack took audiences to Yorkshire in the 1830s. The series was based on a collection of diaries belonging to the landowner and Anne Lister, considered by many to be the world’s “first modern lesbian”.
The HBO series detailed many of her lesbian relationships while focusing on her life as a woman with some power at a time when that was especially rare. Suranne Jones has done a masterful job as Lister, delivering great performances every week.
How to Succeed in America (2010-2011)
The idea of hustling to find success is something millions of people can relate to, which makes it surprising that How to do it in America did not become a bigger hit. The show centered on two friends who try everything in their power to succeed in the New York fashion world.
Bryan Greenberg, Victor Rasuk, Lake Bell, Luis Guzmán and Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi all delivered quality performances and that’s not even mentioning the slew of solid guest stars the series boasted. Although it was canceled after two seasons, it makes for a fun binge.
NEXT: 10 Hidden Gem Movies On HBO Max From The 2010s