Launching in May of this year, HBO Max has proven to be a streaming service with plenty of quality material to offer. Let’s take a look at three TV series currently available for streaming that you’ve got to check out!
Big Little Lies (2017 – 2019)
Featuring powerhouse performances by an ensemble cast including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies is dark dramedy mystery series centered around a murder – of whom, we do not know. The series features minor character talking heads who, speaking with investigators about the murder, gossip about the lead cast, speculate about their motives, and add a dark sense of humor to the show. Their commentary provides humorous insight into how people’s lives transmute into fables in the tight-knit community. Based on the book of the same name by Liane Moriarty, Season One’s seven episodes are so tightly woven, the big reveal and climax of the season feels so devastating – and so satisfying. While Season Two adds the legendary Meryl Streep to the mix, it never quite lives up to its initial run, although the season did receive positive reception. Ultimately, Big Little Lies finds its strength in telling stories about the various problems women face – as professionals, as mothers, as lovers, as rivals, and as friends.
A pervasive sense of dread permeates every scene in this 2019 historical drama. Chernobyl follows the story of inorganic chemist Valery Legasov, who helped lead the investigation into the causes of the Chernobyl disaster – the worst nuclear disaster in history. Set in 1986 USSR, Legasov must solve a series of impossible problems quickly, all the while navigating the tense political system of the USSR. The miniseries is a stark reminder of what can happen when the inept obtain authority and shirk responsibility, suppress information, and ignore mounting scientific evidence, and how the problems of such a system become amplified during catastrophe.
Chernobyl also follows the lives of everyday people. We see how firefighters, office workers, miners, nurses, and schoolchildren are affected – their health ignored, their bodies employed as expendable cogs in a machine – and the incredible bravery they demonstrated in spite of what lay before them. There is deep empathy for the common people who share the weight of the heaviest of burdens during a crisis. Chernobyl is one of those rare series where everything – the acting, the dialogue, the score, the makeup, the wardrobe, the cinematography – comes together to create something that will stay with you, haunt you, weeks after watching.
Steven Universe (2013 – 2019)
Looking for something a little more lighthearted? Created by Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe debuted on Cartoon Network in 2013 and delighted fans with its quirky cast of magical, humanoid aliens called Crystal Gems. Steven, a half-gem boy, works together with the Gems to help protect the world. Featuring stellar animation, sincere and genuinely funny writing, a lively cast, and unique chiptune music, every episode is crammed with iconic props and characters. Each episode has a runtime of around 11 minutes, making it easy to indulge in one or two when you need to add a healthy dose of happy to your day.
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