INDIANAPOLIS — The COVID-19 pandemic halted production for many films and TV shows in 2020 — which has led to an influx in original content two years later.
With too much to watch in too little time, here's what you should check out on HBO Max.
"Barry" (3 seasons, 24 episodes)
U.S. Marine and Afghanistan veteran Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) isn't satisfied with his hitman duties but then finds fulfillment when he joins a class of aspiring actors, led by eccentric acting coach Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler).
Alongside standout performances from Anthony Carrigan as gleeful NoHo Hank and Sarah Goldberg as determined Sally Reed, "Barry" is an insanely dark comedy, seamlessly shifting from humor to thrills without missing a beat.
"Barry" has been renewed for a fourth season.
For those who like: "Better Call Saul," "Dexter," "John Wick"
"The Flight Attendant" (2 seasons, 16 episodes)
Kaley Cuoco is a free-spirited, alcoholic flight attendant who connects with a passenger on her flight to Bangkok. She spends the night with him and wakes up to discover he’s been murdered. Could she have done it?
Similar to "Big Little Lies," the inaugural season of the HBO dramedy based on a novel was renewed after positive reviews and word-of-mouth but no additional source material.
The second — and likely final season, according to Cuoco — is loads of fun with plenty of cliffhangers, twists and mystery.
For those who like: "Killing Eve," "The Tourist," "The Woman in the Window"
"Hacks" (2 seasons, 18 episodes)
Legendary comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) needs fresh material for her longtime Las Vegas residency, so her agent hires his 25-year-old client, Ava (Hannah Einbinder), to help her appeal to a younger audience.
One of the best comedies in recent years shines when Smart and Einbinder share the screen as they brainstorm new jokes and reminisce on their diverse upbringings and career experiences.
"Hacks" has been renewed for a third season.
For those who like: "Better Things," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Veep"
"Julia" (1 season, 8 episodes)
This delightful HBO dramedy follows cookbook author Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire) in her bid to successfully host a cooking show on TV in the 1960s.
Following Meryl Streep’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the famed personality is as daunting as it gets, but Lancashire more than holds her own in this heartwarming series that’ll leave audiences yearning for more, as well as a trip or two to the kitchen after seeing all of the delicious dishes.
"Julia" has been renewed for a second season.
For those who like: "Chef," "Julie & Julia," "Waitress"
"Our Flag Means Death" (1 season, 10 episodes)
Fans of "What We Do in the Shadows" are in for a treat with this comedy loosely based on the life of Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), who gave up his aristocratic ways to prove himself as a pirate.
Although it takes a few episodes to adjust to the mindless humor, the surprisingly heartfelt story is well worth it in the end, alongside a terrific ensemble of swashbucklers, including Taika Waititi as infamous pirate Blackbeard.
"Our Flag Means Death" has been renewed for a second season.
For those who like: "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Jojo Rabbit," "What We Do in the Shadows"
"The Staircase" (8 episodes)
It's hard to go wrong when Oscar winner Colin Firth ("The King's Speech," "Love Actually") leads a limited series based on the critically acclaimed true crime docuseries of the same name.
Crime novelist Michael Peterson (Firth) is accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen (Toni Collette), after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home.
The limited series gets off to a sluggish start — especially for those familiar with the docuseries — but new audiences will be captivated with the top-notch lead performances and provocative case.
For those who like: "Dirty John," "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst," Making a Murderer"
"Succession" (3 seasons, 29 episodes)
The award-winning dramedy centers on a dysfunctional family fighting for control of its global media and entertainment conglomerate.
"Succession" has it all: the leading ensemble on TV (Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun and J. Smith-Cameron), some of the funniest dialogue, and gripping family drama, making it worth the two-year wait after the second season’s cliffhanger finale.
Honestly, "Succession" could sweep the drama and comedy categories at awards shows, and it would be hard to argue otherwise.
"Succession" has been renewed for a fourth season.
For those who like: "House of Cards," "Mad Men," "Yellowstone"
"The Other Two" (2 seasons, 20 episodes)
Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver) are struggling to make ends meet in New York City when their 13-year-old brother (newcomer Case Walker) becomes a viral overnight sensation for his Justin Bieber-esque music.
Molly Shannon co-stars as the siblings' mother in this laugh-out-loud comedy.
Easily one of the funniest shows on TV, "The Other Two" is a top-notch, cringeworthy comedy that was absolutely worth the nearly two-year wait between seasons.
"The Other Two" has been renewed for a third season.
For those who like: "Arrested Development," "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," "Will & Grace"
"The White Lotus" (1 season, 6 episodes)
The anthology limited series created/written/directed by Mike White follows the lives of guests and staff at a quintessential Hawaiian resort.
Jennifer Coolidge (“Legally Blonde,” “American Pie”) and Murray Bartlett (“Looking,” “Tales of the City”) give career-best performances in the surprise hit of last summer that’s often uncomfortable yet addictive.
"The White Lotus" has been renewed for a second season with a new location and cast — plus the irresistible Coolidge.
For those who like: "The Afterparty," "Big Little Lies," "Nine Perfect Strangers"
"Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" (1 season, 10 episodes)
HBO declined to name the series after its source material — "Showtime" — to avoid confusion with one of the premium network’s competitors.
In 1979, the Los Angeles Lakers' new owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) tries to turn his team around by drafting Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) and co. in the quest for a title.
The sports drama is a slam dunk for basketball fans and those interested in learning how sporting events became the spectacles they are today outside of the competition on the court or field.
"Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" has been renewed for a second season.
For those who like: "The Last Dance, "The Fighter," "Swagger"