The HBO cable TV network has hosted a ton of acclaimed original TV series. However, HBO’s many mini-series have also generated plenty of critical and award-winning TV shows to watch. They include a look back at some of the greatest historical events, hard-hitting crime dramas, and even a possible future. Here are our picks for the best HBO limited series you can stream right now.
Read: Best HBO Max Shows
We suggest you access these series through HBO Max, the new streaming service with all content from HBO, and much more. You can sign up for the service at the link below. The starting cost is $ 9.99 per month, but you may be able to get the service for free.
HBO Max is your home for Warner Bros. movies and TV shows like The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics superheroes and more. It’s also the home of new and original movies and shows available nowhere else.
Band of brothers
This may be HBO’s first major miniseries. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who starred and directed Saving Private Ryan, have teamed up again to help produce this WWII series for HBO. It’s a richer look at the American infantrymen of the war, particularly a team of paratroopers who clash in Europe just before, during and after D-Day. Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston and Donnie Wahlberg are some of the major cast members, and you’ll also see a few appearances from Friends’ David Schwimmer and even Jimmy Fallon.
Catherine the Great
Helen Mirren stars as the powerful Empress of Russia in this HBO miniseries. The four-part limited series saw her as the leader of the country for more than 50 years from the mid to late 18th century. Mirren gives an excellent performance as Catherine, as she becomes one of the most powerful world leaders of all time.
Years and years
This series, co-produced with the BBC, first takes place in the very recent past, 2019, as it follows an extended British family. He then moves into the near future, as a very conservative politician, played by Emma Thompson, rises through the ranks to become Britain’s Prime Minister. The series shows how its actions, along with technological advancements, influence this British family, with many unexpected twists and turns.
In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, located in the Soviet Union, exploded. This acclaimed HBO limited series examines the reasons for the worst nuclear disaster in history. It also covers the fallout, both literally and metaphorically. As tens of thousands of people are evacuated from the immediate area, the Soviet Union is trying to cover the event. The series shows that the government’s lies about the disaster could have helped the downfall of the Soviet Union a few years later.
The plot against America
This HBO miniseries is based on the novel by Phillip Roth. It is set in the United States in 1940, but in an alternate timeline. In this universe, famous aviator Charles Lindbergh led a campaign to run for president against Franklin Roosevelt and ultimately won. The show, which focuses primarily on a Jewish family in New Jersey, examines how they treat the Lindbergh regime as it slowly transforms America into a fascist state. The HBO limited series stars Winona Ryder and John Turturro.
From the Earth to the moon
After starring in Apollo 13, Tom Hanks extended his time in space with this 1998 HBO miniseries. This 12-part series tells the story of American space exploration, from the founding of NASA to the earliest days. Apollo missions, until the end with the last human-crewed moon landing with Apollo 17. Hanks directed the first episode of this series and wrote or co-wrote several others. Many well-known actors play roles in this miniseries, including Tony Goldwyn, Bryan Cranston, Cary Elwes Gary Cole, Sally Field and many more. It is perhaps the best television series to describe the real events of the Apollo space program.
Paul Giamatti plays John Adams in this excellent mini-series. It details the life of one of America’s most important Founding Fathers, but perhaps one of the most misunderstood. After helping to form the country, Adams is elected as its second president. The miniseries depicts the life of Adams from just before the American Revolution until his death in 1826.
The night of
It is a dark, sinister and gritty crime drama set in New York City. A Pakistani-American student, played by Riz Ahmed, is charged with the murder of a young girl. The series takes a brutal look at the criminal justice system, as we see the character of Ahmed trying to prove his innocence. He is helped by his lawyer, played to perfection by John Turturro.
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, this is another HBO crime and murder miniseries. Amy Adams plays a reporter in St Louis who returns to her rural hometown. Its stated goal is to report and investigate the unsolved murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another girl in the city. However, she also has to deal with some unresolved family issues.
This show was put on our HBO miniseries list as a cheat, at least in our eyes. Watchmen is tagged as an HBO limited series by the cable network itself. However, we’re still hoping that the second season of this show might drop at some point. For now, we’re putting this sequel to the classic alternate history and superhero graphic novel on this list. Developed as a sequel to the graphic novel, it’s an excellent continuation of the story originally told by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. It also allows us to see how racism has been and continues to be a major problem in the United States.
Read more: Best DC Comics Movies & Shows on HBO Max
The works of author Stephen King have been the source of many television shows and films. This limited series is one of the best adaptations of his works. In a small town in Georgia, a young boy has been found murdered and the evidence first points to a local teacher and Little League baseball coach. However, the coach denies the charges and other evidence suggests he may in fact be innocent. The city sheriff needs to figure out what’s going on, and it could involve an ancient supernatural being.
Kate Winslet is perfect as Mare Sheehan, a police detective in a small town in Pennsylvania. She is considered a local heroine for pulling the winning shot in a high school basketball championship game 25 years ago. However, her life was very hard: she divorced her husband and her son committed suicide. She also has a terrible relationship with her mother, played by Jean Smart. Amid all of these personal tragedies, Mare tries to solve the mystery of a young girl who has been missing for some time, and now another teenage girl has been found murdered. She is under pressure to resolve these cases while dealing with her own issues. This HBO miniseries appears to be grounded in reality, as we see Mare struggle to find the killer and fight her own demons.
Here are some HBO miniseries that didn’t quite make our first list
- Angels in America – This adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play stars Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, facing the AIDS crisis in 1985 in New York City.
- I know it’s true – Mark Ruffalo plays two roles, identical twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. The story is about Dominick trying to help Thomas, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
- Mildred Pierce – Kate Winslet is back in this adaptation of the acclaimed novel. She plays the main character, who grew up during the Great Depression and has many challenges to overcome.
- Cannon power – Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones) stars in this historic miniseries about an attempt to kill King James I of England in 1605 by blowing up the House of Lords.
- Lovecraft County – Like Watchmen, this series only had one season. Based on the novel of the same name, it uses supernatural elements to tell a story about black race relations in the 1950s.
This is our take on the best HBO miniseries you can watch right now. We’ll be adding more HBO limited series to this list as they appear on the network.