What to Watch on HBO Max: 'Friends,' 'Rick and Morty' and More
By Stacy Lambe
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WarnerMedia officially enters the streaming wars with the launch of its platform, HBO Max, which includes 10,000 hours worth of content thanks to a mix of originals -- an Amy Schumer docuseries, Anna Kendrick’s Love Life, the reality competition series Legendary -- and a deep library of fan favorites, such as The Big Bang Theory and Friends, all eight Harry Potter films as well as all of HBO’s award-winning series.
Here's what to watch on HBO Max, from originals, to rewatchable TV shows and movies.
NOTABLE “MAX ORIGINALS”
Similarly to Hulu, new series will debut with three episodes and then roll out weekly after that. There is expected to be 38 Max Originals on the platform by the end of 2020, with a total of 50 by 2021. Here are some current and upcoming options:
Expecting Amy (07/09)
Amy Schumer stars in an unfiltered, three-part documentary about the latest chapter in her professional career and personal life. The series directed by Alexander Hammer (Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé) promises to take viewers behind the scenes of Schumer’s extremely difficult pregnancy, which she endured while continuing to tour and put together a new comedy special. Things will begin with the day she found out she was pregnant and follow her through her incredible journey to give birth, while highlighting the challenges of trying to do it all at once, including being married to chef Chris Fischer, who learns he’s on the autism spectrum.
Following the success of FX’s scripted series, Pose, comes this reality competition series about the underground ballroom scene, where houses compete in weekly battles in order to proclaim domain over the community and collect the grand prize. The series is hosted by emcee Dashaun Wesley and deejayed by MikeQ with Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado and Megan Thee Stallion serving on the judges' panel. “It is like the world’s greatest talent show,” Roach says, that gives “a lot of super talented people that have not had the chance to be introduced or represented in the mainstream” an opportunity to be seen.
Love Life (05/27)
Anna Kendrick leads the first season of this anthology series created by Sam Boyd about one’s journey from first love to lasting love. The Oscar nominee plays Darby, who is seen navigating the ups and downs of love and life in New York City during her twenties. The actress says the show will resonate with audiences of all kinds because it “captures exactly how it feels when you have your first love and your first breakup.”
The Not Too Late Show With Elmo (05/27)
Move over Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, there’s a new late-night host in town. After years hanging out on Sesame Street, Elmo gets his very own talk show akin to The Muppet Show, which features a mix of celebrity guests, original music performances and plenty of humor that both parents and kids will enjoy. Swinging by during the first few episodes of Elmo’s not-too-late show are Fallon himself, John Mulaney, Kacey Musgraves, Lil Nas X and the Jonas Brothers.
Search Party (06/25)
After two seasons on TBS, this comedy thriller starring Alia Shawkat is back for another season of mystery as Dory and her twenty-something friends continue down a path of no return after searching for a long-lost friend. The limits of the gang’s friendships are tested when Dory and Drew (John Reynolds) get caught up in a murder investigation. While the mystery element adds intrigue to the series, co-creator Michael Showalter says its universal appeal is about being in your 20s, trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, what kind of person you want to be.”
Also available on day one are a new slate of Looney Tunes and the DIY competition Craftopia. Further down the line are even more star-studded M.O.s, including The Flight Attendant, starring Kaley Cuoco, the sci-fi series Raised by Wolves from director Ridley Scott, an untitled at-home cooking series hosted by Selena Gomez, the Gossip Girl sequel following a new generation of Upper East Siders and three new scripted series from mega-producer J.J. Abrams.
NEW AND RETURNING FILMS
HBO Max has a robust movie library with more than 2,000 titles that includes all of the DC Universe films in addition to director Zack Snyder’s upcoming new cut of The Justice League, a plethora of classics courtesy of Turner Classic Movies, the Criterion Collection and all 20 films from the legendary Studio Ghibli animation house.
Additionally, one of WarnerMedia's topline titles -- alongside Friends (see below) -- is the hugely popular Harry Potter film franchise. All eight movies are available on the platform, along with the Potter extended universe offering, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
The platform will also start debuting originals throughout this year, this these titles among the most notable to come:
An American Pickle (8/6)
Seth Rogen plays struggling laborer and immigrant Herschel Greenbaum, who comes to America in 1920 with dreams of building a better life for him and his family. After falling into a vat of pickles while on the job, he emerges unaged and unharmed 100 years later in present-day Brooklyn.
Let Them All Talk (2020)
Meryl Streep plays author Alice Hughes, who goes on a trip with her friends and nephew in an effort to find fun and come to terms with her past. The upcoming comedy directed by Steven Soderbergh also stars Gemma Chan, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest and Lucas Hedges.
On the Record (5/27)
First reported by the New York Times, the feature documentary film recounts music executive Drew Dixon’s harrowing decision to come forward and publicly accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault. The film will explore her journey, shine the light on other accusers and explore how women of color are not being heard as loudly as others in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Melissa McCarthy plays Carol Peters, whose world is turned upside down when she’s selected by the world’s first superintelligence for observation. But things quickly run awry when it takes over her life and tries to take over all of humanity. The rest of the cast includes James Corden, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry and Jean Smart.
REWATCHABLE TV FAVORITES
Thanks to the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, HBO Max’s TV content will include existing favorites from Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV and more. Among the most notable series available to endlessly binge are Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, The Big Bang Theory, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Friends, Gossip Girl, Rick and Morty, Pretty Little Liars, Sesame Street, South Park and The West Wing.
And when it comes to that highly anticipated but delayed unscripted Friends reunion, Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay, promises "it's gonna be fun." While the cast won't officially reunite until it is safe to film again, the actress can't wait for it to happen. "The six of us haven't been in a room together in front of people in 25 years and only once a few years ago, privately for dinner."
Additionally, all of HBO’s premium originals, such as Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, Veep and The Wire, will be available to watch in full with episodes from current or upcoming programs available the same day they premiere on TV.