The 30 Best HBO Original Series, According to Critics

HBO is known for creating critically acclaimed television, including comedy like Curb Your Enthusiasm and dark fantasy like Game of Thrones.

Apart from a few very notably exceptions, all shows often peak at a certain point before declining in quality—even the greatest ones. We looked at the highest rated seasons of each critically acclaimed HBO show, so that viewers would know when they are at their absolute best.

Here are the top 30 HBO series, according to review aggregator Metacritic at the time of writing, that the network has commissioned or co-commissioned.

30. Big Love (2006 - 2011)

Bill Paxton stars as the head fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah. With three wives, family life can be get a little bit complicated sometimes. Big Love spurred controversy with the Mormon community upon its release, but has since come to be regarded as a portrayal of a kind of family unit typically dismissed by popular culture.

Highest Metacritic score: 85 - Season 1

Big Love
The title card for HBO's Big Love. HBO

29. Show Me a Hero (2015)

A young mayor attempts to build low-income housing in a white middle-class neighborhood following a federal court order. Based on the real life story of New York's Mayor Nick Wasicsko.

Highest Metacritic score: 85 - Season 1

Show Me A Hero
Alfred Molina, writer/executive producers William F. Zorzi, David Simon, director/executive producer Paul Haggis and actress LaTaya Richardson speak onstage during the 'Show Me A Hero' panel discussion Frederick M. Brown / Stringer/Getty Images North America

28. High Maintenance (2012 - 2020)

High Maintenance sees life through the eyes of unnamed weed dealer as he cycles around New York delivering his product to an array of characters. Plenty of celebrity cameos to look out for in this one.

Highest Metacritic score: 85 - Season 2

High Maintenence
Isaac Oliver, Ben Sinclair, Katja Blichfeld, and Russell Gregory attend HBO's "High Maintenance" Screening & Talk at 92nd Street Y on February 20, 2020 in New York City. Dia Dipasupil / Staff/Getty Images Entertainment

27. Getting On (2013 - 2015)

A warm-hearted comedy set o a geriatric ward of a hospital in the U.K. Vanity Fair praised the show, noting: "The unshowy acting, the naturalistic writing, the dull gray production design, and the general lack of makeup and kind lighting lend the show a credibility that makes The Office, at least the American The Office, seem like Kabuki."

Highest Metacritic score: 85 - Season 3

Getting On
Mark V. Olsen, Will Scheffer, actresses Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein and Niecy Nash speak onstage at the "Getting On" panel during the HBO portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. Frederick M. Brown / Stringer/Getty Images North America

27. Mr. Show With Bob and David (1995 - 1998)

Bob Odinkirk and David Cross star in this classic comedy, which features seemingly unrelated sketches that all end up being connected some way.

Highest Metacritic score: 86 - Season 3

David Cross & Bob Odenkirk
David Cross & Bob Odenkirk at the 1998 Mr Show party in Los Angeles. Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/FilmMagic, Inc

26. I May Destroy You (2020 - Present)

Set in present day London, I May Destroy You sees a young woman try to rebuild her life after being raped. Fans of the show are eagerly awaiting its second season.

Highest Metacritic score: 86 - Season 1

I may destroy you
HBO skyscraper billboard above the Sunset Strip promoting 'I May Destroy You'. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor/GC Images

25. The Deuce (2017 - 2019)

James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in this drama about the so-called Golden Age of Porn in the 1970s and '80s. Praised by The Guardian as "rich television that demands you put down your phone and give it your full attention."

Highest Metacritic score: 86 - Season 2

The Deuce
Maggie Gyllenhaal of 'The Deuce' speaks onstage during the HBO portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. Frederick M. Brown / Stringer/Getty Images North America

24. The Pacific (2010)

Compelling, Spielberg-produced dramatic miniseries about war in the Pacific. More than 40,000 US soldiers were killed in the Pacific and southeast Asia during World War II.

Highest Metacritic score: 86 - Season 1

The pacific
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg were executive producers on HBO's 'the Pacific.' Vera Anderson / Contributor/WireImage

23. Painting With John (2021 - Present)

Actor, musician and painter John Lurie offers reflections, thoughts on the world, as well as some top painting tips, in this award-winning, unscripted show.

Highest Metacritic score: 86 - Season 1

John Lurie
John Lurie poses for a portrait in December 1985 in Los Angeles, California. Aaron Rapoport / Contributor/FilmMagic

22. Girls (2012 - 2017)

Lena Dunham's Girls captured the imagination of young audiences when it first aired back in 2012. Girls, which observes four young, privileged women living in New York, won scores of awards during its five year run, including a Peabody and a Golden Globe.

Highest Metacritic score: 87 - Season 1

Actresses Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke attend the the New York premiere of the sixth and final season of 'Girls' at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. Steve Zak Photography / Contributor/FilmMagic

21. 2 Dope Queens (2018 - 2019)

2 Dope Queens was originally a highly popular podcast that showcased people of color, female, and LGBT comedians. This show simply brought some of the talent to the TV, to critical acclaim.

Highest Metacritic score: 87 - Season 1

2 Dope Queens
Monica Veloz attends HBO's "2 Dope Queens" Dope Beauty Bar at Studio 525 in New York City. Noam Galai / Stringer/Getty Images North America

20. Barry (2018 - Present)

A hitman finds himself accepted by a Los Angeles acting class. South Park writer and actor Bill Hader plays the titular role, with Henry Winkler supporting. Both actors picked up multiple awards last year their work on the show.

Highest Metacritic score: 87 - Season 2

Conan O'Brien, Alec Berg, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Goldberg, Henry Winkler and Bill Hader attend "Barry" FYC on May 3, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. FilmMagic / Contributor/FilmMagic, Inc

19. Treme (2010 - 2013)

Named after Tremé, a neighborhood of New Orleans, Treme follows a group of artists and musicians as they begin to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed the city back in 2005.

Highest Metacritic score: 88 - Season 1

18. Boardwalk Empire (2010 - 2014)

There was a lot of money in bootlegging during prohibition. Boardwalk Empire has an all star cast, including Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt, living it up in Atlantic City during the Roaring '20s.

Highest Metacritic score: 88 - Season 1

Boardwalk empire
Steve Buscemi attends the "Boardwalk Empire" Season 5 Premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre on September 3, 2014 in New York City. Gary Gershoff / Contributor/WireImage

17. Eastbound & Down (2009 - 2014)

Danny McBride plays Kenny Powers, a former professional baseball player who becomes a high school gym teacher after a run of bad luck.

Highest Metacritic score: 89 - Season 2

Eastbound and Down
Promotional material from premiere of HBO's "Eastbound and Down" at Avalon on September 27, 2013 in Hollywood, California. FilmMagic / Contributor/FilmMagic

16. Olive Kitteridge (2014)

Based on the 2008 novel of the same name, Olive Kitteridge is set in Crosby, Maine. Frances McDormand plays the titular character, a retired schoolteacher who is married to a pharmacist. The four-part show how took home home Outstanding Limited Series at the 2015 Emmys.

Highest Metacritic score: 89 - Season 1

Oliver Kitteridge
Producers David Coatsworth, Gary Goetzman, Jane Anderson and Steve Shareshian, director Lisa Cholodenko and actors Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins at the 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Jason LaVeris / Contributor/FilmMagic

15. A Black Lady Sketch Show

Robin Thede's much-loved comedy sketch show was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but is due to return to screens in the coming months.

A Black Lady Sketch Show is up for five Primetime Emmys this year, too.

Highest Metacritic score: 89 - Season 1

 Issa Rae, Robin Thede, and Dime Davis
Issa Rae, Robin Thede, and Dime Davis of 'A Black Lady Sketch Show' speak onstage during the HBO Summer TCA Panels on July 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/FilmMagic

14. Veep (2012 - 2019)

Award-winning satire about a fictional female Vice President — and ultimately President — of the United States.

Highest Metacritic score: 90 - Season 4

Julia Louis-Dreyfus attends HBO FYC for "VEEP" at the Landmark Theaters on August 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/FilmMagic, Inc

13. Insecure (2016 - Present)

Based on the web series Awkward Black Girl, Insecure follows two black women in Los Angeles, and tracks their longstanding friendship.

The show is due to air its fifth and final season later this year.

Highest Metacritic score: 90 - Season 2

Robin Thede, Prentice Penny, Natasha Rothwell, Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji and Kendrick Sampson at the Insecure FYC at the Wolf Theater at Saban Media Center Television Academy. Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/FilmMagic, Inc

12. Silicon Valley (2014 - 2019)

Silicon Valley is a comedy series about a fictional start up called Pied Piper, as struggles to compete with rival companies. Winner of numerous accolades, including a Critics Choice Award. Keep an eye out for a recurring role from Haley Joel Osment, of The Sixth Sense fame.

Highest Metacritic score: 90 - Season 1

Silicon Valley
Martin Starr and Zach Woods attend the premiere of HBO's "Silicon Valley" 4th season. Gary Miller / Contributor/Getty Images North America

11. The Corner (2000)

This groundbreaking show tells the story of a family living in poverty among Baltimore's drug market. The Corner took home three Emmys and a Peabody award for its efforts.

Highest metacritic score: 90 - Season 1

The Corner
The cover for the book version of 'The Corner'. Broadway / HBO

10. The Night Of (2016)

This eight-part series involves Naz, a Pakistani-American college student, meeting up with a woman for a night of partying. He wakes up next morning to find her dead — and he has no idea what happened.

Highest Metacritic score: 90 - Season 1

The Night Of
Riz Ahmed poses in the press room with his award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series for 'The Night Of' at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Dan MacMedan / Contributor/Getty Images North America

9. My Brilliant Friend (2018 - Present)

A moving series in which an elderly woman documents her relationship with a friend who disappeared. Based on the bestselling series by Italian author Elena Ferrante.

Highest metacritic score: 92 - Season 2

My Brilliant Friend
Executive producer Jennifer Schuur, Elisa Del Genio, Ludovica Nasti, director Saverio Costanzo, Gaia Girace, Margherita Mazzucco and executive producer Lorenzo Mieli of 'My Brilliant Friend' speak onstage during the HBO portion of the Summer 2018 TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotelon July 25, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. Frederick M. Brown / Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment

8. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000 - Present)

Not the only show on our list that portrays a fictionalized version of the world of entertainment.

For ten seasons now, Larry David has starred as a semi-retired writer and producer to critical acclaim. Famously, the vast majority of the show's dialogue is improvised.

Highest metacritic score: 93 - Season 3

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry David attends the basketball game between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork S. Djansezian / Contributor/Getty Images North America

7. Deadwood (2004 - 2006)

Deadwood, South Dakota in the late 19th century is vortex of corruption, violence and misery. Deadwood, which lasted just three seasons, tracks the lawmakers and criminals who live in the town. Fans of the show were treated to a Deadwood movie in 2019.

Highest Metacritic score: 93 - Season 2

A promotional poster for HBO's "Deadwood - Season 3" held at The Cinerama Dome on June 6, 2006 in Hollywood, California. Stephen Shugerman / Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment

6. Game of Thrones (2011 - 2019)

It's tough to summarize the vast fantasy world created by author George R. R Martin. Think the magic and mythical creatures of Lord of the Rings mixed with sex and violence of Grand Theft Auto. Game of Thrones entertained audiences for an incredible eight seasons, though, it must be said, many fans were disappointed by its finale.

Highest Metacritic score: 94 - Season 4

Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin poses with the trophy for Outstanding Drama Series for 'Game of Thrones' in the press room during the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Steve Granitz / Contributor/WireImage

5. Enlightened (2011 - 2013)

Critics adored Enlightened, which starred Laura Dern as a "woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough". The show follows an executive who, after a number of professional setbacks, has a spiritual awakening. Unfortunately Enlightened was cancelled after just two seasons, due to low ratings, leaving critics bewildered.

Highest Metacritic score: 95 - Season 2

Laura Dern arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere for "Enlightened" at The Paramount Thester, in October 2011. Gregg DeGuire / Contributor/FilmMagic

4. The Sopranos (1999 - 2007)

Everyone loves Tony — even if he never had the makings of a varsity athlete. Revered during its original run, The Sopranos became one the most talked about shows of 2020 when global lockdowns gave a new generation enough time to check in with the New Jersey mob.

Highest Metacritic score: 97 - Season 2

Michael Imperioli and Tony Sirico attend the "The Sopranos" 20th Anniversary Panel Discussion at SVA Theater. Theo Wargo / Staff/Getty Images North America

3. The Leftovers (2014 - 2017)

When 2% of the world's population suddenly and mysteriously vanishes, everyone is pretty scared. The Leftovers follows the aftermath of the mass "sudden departure", as the people still on earth try to make sense of what happened.

Highest Metacritic score: 98 - Season 3

The leftovers
A promotional poster for HBO's "The Leftovers" - FYC on June 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. FilmMagic / Contributor/FilmMagic

2. The Wire (2002 - 2008)

Detective McNulty and co do their best to stay alive as they navigate the streets of Baltimore, investigating the city's drug trade. Once called 'the greatest TV show ever made' by the BBC.

Highest Metacritic score: 98 - Season 3

The Wirte
Ned Martel, deputy editor of Men's Vogue, Michael Kenneth Wiliams, Dominic West and Andre Royo attend the Men's Vogue and Hennessy Celebration of the Series Finale of The Wire at 399 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff/WireImage

1. The Larry Sanders Show (1992 - 1998)

The late Garry Shandling stars as Larry Sanders, the host of a fictional late night TV talk show. Many celebrities guest starred on the series, often playing versions of themselves.

Highest Metacritic score: 99 - Seasons 4 and 6

Garry Shandling
Garry Shandling at the2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Aspen. FilmMagic, Inc/Jeff Kravitz / Contributor