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The 8 best shows you're not watching on HBO Go

If I ever had to choose, I would give up Netflix for HBO GO. It was not long ago that HBO stopped being the channel that reran My Best Friend’s Wedding four times a day to becoming the channel that invented prestige television. If you are using your HBO GO subscription simply to catch up on the latest Game of Thrones or True Detective, you are barely scratching the surface of the lesser-known programming that is there in the archives, criminally under-watched and ready for your viewing. Here are some that you should be watching.

SERIES: Rome (20052007)

Rome, the British-produced two-season epic, is based on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire; it was Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones existed. In it, you’ll see battles for political power, deception and manipulation, epic cinematography, elaborate costumes, the perils of fighting in an army to support corrupt leaders, marriages, violent deaths, and yes, even incest.

Even better, it all really happened … well, with some artistic liberties.(For example, Cleopatra is portrayed as an opium-addicted wild child.) Rome depicts Julius Caesar’s assassination and the rise of Marc Antony by making it less of a history lesson and more of a character study. The sets are opulent and the costumes luxurious, but the relationships are always nuanced. Like Game of Thrones, Rome has a cast of many, but here they are all used to bring a part of history to life. Many now-famous actors had early roles on Rome, including Kevin McKidd as a loyal member of Caesar’s army, and Tobias Menzies (Outlander) as a multifaceted, empathetic Brutus.


FILM: Idiocracy (2006)

This Mike Judge satire has slowly built a cult following after it was poorly promoted in theaters. It depicts a world in the not-so-distant future, where humanity has become so stupid that they live among garbage mountains, civilization is controlled by massive company conglomerates, and a massive Costco takes up most of the livable land. Luke Wilson plays his best “aw shucks” regular-guy schtick, and Terry Crewes plays the president as only a professional wrestler could. The actual plot is not strong enough to make this a brilliant film, but the creation of the dystopia is entertainment enough.



SERIES: Ja’mie, Private School Girl (2013)

Ja’mie is a brilliant satire by a brilliant comic named Chris Lilley. Lilley, largely unheard of in the U.S., is gifted in the art of playing characters. Yes, an adult male does the character of 17-year-old Ja’mie, and it’s so convincing that you forget who is playing her. Ja’mie is the alpha of her all-girls’ school, and she has everybody, including her parents, wrapped around her finger. In any other show, watching such a deplorable person would be torture, but her inability to act appropriately in any situation is sublime. Ja’mie is only six short episodes long, and each one is packed tight with her “quiche” adventures.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper

DOCUMENTARY: Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014)

Salient to current events, abuse at the hands of the police also includes the intentional ignoring of the hundreds of black women who were murdered in Compton, California, over three decades. Because these women were often prostitutes, drug dealers, and drug addicts, police efforts to solve the crime did not have urgency, nor was there any effort put into investigating if these murders were even connected to each other.

An unrelated coincidence eventually leads to the arrest of Lonnie Franklin, a well-known and well-liked resident of the neighborhood. Filmmakers first encountered community members who painted a picture of Lonnie as an upstanding and kind. As documentarian Nick Broomfield gains the trust of some others in the community, they begin to learn more and more about Franklin’s secret, deviant behavior. The documentary gives humanity and a voice to those that usually don’t have it: sex workers, the homeless, and poor residents of Compton. Then it asks how something this horrible could last as much as it did. As the audience, it makes you think about how someone so monstrous could walk along the “normal” for so long.

Inside Man

FILM: Inside Man (2006)

I never thought a heist movie would end up on my shortlist of favorite films ever made, but Spike Lee’s lesser-known powerhouse of a film is damn near the top. The film has Denzel Washington, Christopher Plummer, and Clive Owen at the top of their game. It also has an early role for Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jodie Foster as one of the most conniving villains ever on screen. The mystery takes several twists and turns, so even if you guess the ending, it’s still a ride you must take. It is rare for Spike Lee to direct a film he did not also write; Inside Man shows his incredible skill as a director, especially for suspense. And it shows that Jodie Foster should play the villain way more often.

7 Days in Hell

SPORTS: 7 Days in Hell (2015)

7 Days in Hell is a 48-minute mockumentary produced by HBO Sports, and it is certainly the goofiest possible original content. It traces the rise and fall of the hedonistic, showy tennis star Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg), who was “reverse Blind Sided” by the Williams family and adopted as the brother of Serena and Venus. It is also about Aaron’s lifelong opponent, the focused, serious Charles Poole (Kit Harrington). Samberg is at the top of his game here, committing to his over-the-top character. Even Harrington shows he can do comedy by playing the not-so-bright Pooole. There are a myriad of celebrity cameos and several sports figures playing themselves. But Michael Shannon far exceeds all of them, portraying a skeevy talk-show host. 7 Days in Hell is also, really, really dirty, and really, really surreal. But if you are going to make an R-rated mockumentary, HBO is where you can get away with it.

Just Friends

FILM: Just Friends (2005)

A long time ago, when Ryan Reynolds still did comedies, he did a little rom-com known as Just Friends. Former overweight high-schooler Chris, now a successful music producer in L.A., unexpectedly has to return to his New Jersey hometown with the pop star Samantha James. He reunites with childhood friend Jamie and tries to finally pursue her the way he always wanted to. As a concept, it’s weak and predictable, but the direction of this film is “act as over-the-top as you can.”

Anna Faris is at her most hysterical as spoiled pop star Samantha James. Julie Hagerty, as Chris’ mother, is (of course) wonderful. It’s somewhat entertaining to watch now-cool Chris revert to an awkward teenager as soon as he arrives home. Look, I can’t say this is the best ever film, but it’s the one that will convince you that Anna Faris is a gifted comedian.

Eastbound and Down

SERIES: Eastbound and Down (20092013)

All the “trigger alerts” in the world will not prepare you to spend four seasons with Kenny Powers, the mulleted, egotistic, and sadistic ex-baseball pro who always finds a way to come out on top, except when it comes to his personal relationships. He’s ignorant, he’s un-PC, and he’s horrible to most people … but gosh, Danny McBride has so much charisma, you’ll found yourself rooting for him to succeed. EBAD is not something I’d recommend to everyone, but there’s nothing like this that has ever been on TV, and it’s unlikely there ever will be again. It’s a huge shock to me that there was not more outrage over this series—but then again, barely anyone watched it when it originally aired.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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