Back in 2017, the Guardian posed the question that we were all thinking: have we reached peak television?
Then, Netflix was flailing (they had just cancelled Girlboss, Sense8 and The Get Down, the latter two series being prohibitively expensive to produce) and the other cable networks were barely getting by. Sure, there was Game of Thrones, but even HBO could see the end in sight there, already plotting its mega farewell series slated to premiere in 2019. Maybe, pundits thought, television had reached its peak and was about to enter its trough?
Oh, were we ever so young? In the two years since that piece was written television has metastasized into the sprawling entity we know it to be today. Streaming services can no longer be counted on a single hand. In fact, they can barely be contained by both. Along with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, All Access, Fubo, Philo and Hulu there’s also the recently launched AppleTV+ and Disney+ as well as the forthcoming Qibi (where Chrissy Teigen’s new series Chrissy’s Court will live) and a handful of others launching in the new year. Like HBO Max.
HBO Max is the streaming service coming from HBO and WarnerMedia and it’s going to be epic. Their back catalogue is incredible: every HBO show you can think of, from Sex And the City to Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, as well as a brace of nostalgia series including Friends, The West Wing, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and all the CW shows.
All this, and we haven’t even talked about the original content. Here is everything you can look forward to on HBO Max in 2020…
What original series and movies are coming to HBO Max?
HBO Max is launching with a bumper crop of original series, most of which are filming right now and all of which sound incredible. Here are the best of the bunch…
Lupita Nyong’o has had an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s bestselling novel in the works for years now, and the project has finally found a home in HBO Max. It will star Nyong’o as Ifemelu, the Nigerian woman who reflects back on her teenage romance with the studious Obinze. Danai Gurira, Nyong’o’s Black Panther co-star, is set to write the pilot episode of the series and will take on the role of showrunner.
“Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013,” Nyong’o said in a statement. “It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless. HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.”
Mackenzie Davis and Himesh Patel will star in this miniseries based on Emily St John Mandel’s novel about a travelling group of actors making their way through a bleak, post-apocalyptic world.
A Friends reunion special episode is in the works at HBO Max, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original cast have not yet signed deals, but if the one-off special episode goes ahead it will be with everyone’s involvement. “Talks are currently underway for an unscripted reunion special that would feature Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer,” The Hollywood Reporter noted. Also in talks to return are creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman.
Hello Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl is back. HBO Max will air a reboot of the classic teen series, this time with added diversity. “This time around, the leads are non-white,” co-creator Joshua Safran has said. “There’s a lot of queer content on this show. It is very much dealing with the way the way the world looks now, where wealth and privilege come from, and how you handle that. The thing I can’t say is there is a twist, and that all relates to the twist.”
It’s still in the early stages, but HBO Max has confirmed that Madeline Miller’s retelling of Greek mythology will be one of the platform’s original series. According to a statement, the show will take in the broad scope of Circe’s life as she goes from young nymph to powerful witch, banished to her island and tangling with the Gods.
Dune: The Sisterhood
2020 will be the year of Dune. An adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi novel is coming to cinemas, starring Timothée Chalamet and directed by Denis Villeneuve. But that’s not enough Dune for Villeneuve. The director is also helming a feminist retelling of the story for HBO Max, focusing on the female characters who inhabit this world.
Rules of Magic
Practical Magic fans, you’re going to love this series. It’s a prequel, based in the world of the original film, and set in 60s New York where Franny, Jet and Vincent Owens are trying to make sense of their powers.
What if Miami Vice… But Japan? Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe will star in this gritty crime series about the Yakuza’s grip on the Tokyo underworld.
Anna Kendrick stars in this romantic comedy series about the span of a woman’s dating history. Paul Feig is producing.
What back catalogue and archive series are coming to HBO Max?
Here is some of what will be on HBO Max when it launches:
- Sex And The City
- The Sopranos
- Game Of Thrones
- The West Wing
- The Big Bang Theory
- The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
- South Park
- Rick And Morty
- Pretty Little Liars
- Studio Ghibli
- Sesame Street
- Some BBC shows, including Doctor Who, The Office and Luther
- All DC movies, including Joker, Wonder Woman and Aquaman
- The Lord of the Rings film franchise, including The Hobbit series
When is HBO Max launching in the US and the UK?
May 2020 in the US. There is no word yet on whether HBO Max will be available in the UK.
Images: Getty, CW, HBO, Hachette