The 29 HBO TV shows that critics and audiences both agree are wonderful

caption
“Big Little Lies”
source
HBO

HBO has given us the gift of some of the greatest TV shows of all time – like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” and “Game of Thrones” – throughout its history of original programming.

But HBO has also released a lot of prestige shows that critics love, but normal people don’t. And the other way around.

When audiences and critics agree, however, you know the show is definitely worth your time. This is especially relevant since old shows are available to binge-watch on HBO Now or HBO Go.

So which shows do both groups agree on? Ahead of the return of “Big Little Lies” June 9, we looked at what made the cut.

We ranked these universally beloved HBO shows according to their scores on Rotten Tomatoes. We chose shows with a combined score average of 85 percent or more, then ranked them by those averages (with audience scores breaking any ties).

Here are all the HBO shows that critics and audiences agree on, according to their scores on Rotten Tomatoes:

(Note: We left off animated, children’s, sketch comedy, documentary/reality, foreign programming, and talk shows. We excluded most miniseries, with notable exceptions.)


29. “Game of Thrones” (2011-2019), seven seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 89%

Audience score: 82%

Average: 85.5%

“The show beautifully depicts a massive game of musical chairs, a world at war with doom ever present just across the border.” – The Boston Globe


28. “Insecure” (2016-present), three seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 97%

Audience score: 75%

Average: 86%

“Insecure’s willingness to follow the narrative arc of a beloved character and allow them to fade into the background is a move that many shows do not have the confidence to make.” – Slate


27. “Sharp Objects” (2018), one-season miniseries

source
HBO

Critic score: 92%

Audience score: 80%

Average: 86%

“Sharp Objects feels like it has the most to prove, insistently taking up prestige drama standards and then repositioning, reworking, or flat-out challenging them.” – Alisson Willmore, Buzzfeed


26. “Togetherness” (2015-16), two seasons

source
Jaimie Trueblood/HBO

Critic score: 90%

Audience score: 83%

Average: 86.5%

“It’s a slower-paced, smaller-scale show about the sad reality of sticking it out in Hollywood into middle age. It also veers into weirder territory that would feel impossible outside California. But thanks to the chemistry between [Amanda] Peet and [Steve] Zissis, it’s endlessly engrossing.” – Entertainment Weekly


25. “The Pacific” (2010), one-season miniseries

source
YouTube/”The Pacific”

Critic score: 91%

Audience score: 85%

Average: 88%

“Certain moments may verge on cliche (and once in a while, the dialogue is a little corny), but overall, ‘The Pacific’ is crafted and acted with such loving devotion that it’s hard to find fault with its sincerity and sentimental forays.” – Chicago Tribune


24. “Enlightened” (2011-13), two seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 86%

Audience score: 86%

Average: 86%

“A black comedy working many shades of gray, ‘Enlightened’ is about dark mornings of the soul and the fool’s-golden glow of the new convert, and it measures the weight of the world with an eccentric scale.” – Slate


23. “The Deuce” (2017-present), two seasons

source
YouTube/HBO

Critic score: 96%

Audience score: 82%

Average: 89%

“A dark character drama, it’s a show for viewers who enjoy a deep dive into a culture, one that in this instance, happens to be ugly and exploitative.” –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


22. “High Maintenance” (2016-present), three seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 98%

Audience score: 81%

Average: 89.5%

“A gentle work of sociology, asking who people – all sorts of people – really are, and not harshly judging the answers that it discovers.” – The Atlantic


21. “The Leftovers” (2014-17), three seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 91%

Audience score: 87%

Average: 89%

“None of this would work without compelling characters. Fortunately, ‘The Leftovers’ has bunches of them.” – The AV Club


20. “Six Feet Under” (2001-2005), five seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 83%

Audience score: 96%

Average: 89.5%

“Six Feet Under rode to an end with an operatic, bittersweet, and deeply satisfying climax.” – Boston Globe


19. “Crashing” (2017-2019), three seasons

source
Mary Cybulski/HBO

Critic score: 95%

Audience score: 85%

Average: 90%

“There is a lot of talk – practical and philosophical – about comedy, and ‘Crashing’ is very good with the details of low-level nightlife. But what most makes the show entertaining are Pete’s episodic adventures with characters who will help form him, challenge him and wake him from his self-satisfied sleep into a better sort of happiness.” – LA Times


18. “Westworld” (2016-present), two seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 88%

Audience score: 92%

Average: 90%

“It’s the kind of trippy conceptual project that would be unbearable if it weren’t so elegantly made. So far, it works, mostly – not because it’s perfect but because it gets under your skin.” – The New Yorker


17. “Looking” (2014-15), two seasons

source
Melissa Moseley/HBO

Critic score: 90%

Audience score: 91%

Average: 90.5%

“‘Looking’ doesn’t make the mistake of arguing that gay men are just like straight women, or straight men, or gay women, or even each other. Instead it tells the story of three guys who are friends in a strangely wonderful and difficult time and what that looks like. To them.” – LA Times


16. “Gentleman Jack” (2019-present), one season

source
HBO

Critic score: 87%

Audience score: 95%

Average: 91%

“Precise, attentive, and beguiling, Jones is such a gust of fresh air, it’s tough for the series around her to keep up.” – Indiewire


15. “Eastbound & Down” (2009-13), four seasons

source
YouTube

Critic score: 91%

Audience score: 92%

Average: 91.5%

“‘Eastbound & Down’ holds together so well that it’s worth looking past the ugly for the solid performances and the charcoal-black humor beneath.” – The New Yorker


14. “Barry” (2018-present), two seasons

source
Aaron Epstein/HBO

Critic score: 99%

Audience score: 85%

Average: 92%

“Barry’s mission isn’t to bust all the stereotypes it encounters, but the ones it bothers to dismantle have yielded such ingenuity and charm that it’s a shame the show doesn’t think just a little bigger.” – Slate


13. “Veep” (2012-present), six seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 93%

Audience score: 91%

Average: 92%

“The series reserves its most blistering humor for the universal narcissism on display, always distracting from the real work at hand.” – Slant Magazine


12. “Big Little Lies” (2017-present), two seasons

source
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Critic score: 90%

Audience score: 94%

Average: 92%

“Just when you worry the show is a pageant of ugly cliches about female rivalry, it gives you a poignant, nuanced scene to deepen the whole.” – Entertainment Weekly


11. “Getting On” (2013-15), three seasons

source
HBO/”Getting On”

Critic score: 92%

Audience score: 93%

Average: 92.5%

“It’s a dark and astonishing gem of a show, with a bravely skillful cast juggling the petty obsessions of the workplace with Much Bigger Issues.” – LA Times


10. “The Night Of” (2016), one-season miniseries

source
Barry Wetcher/HBO

Critic score: 94%

Audience score: 93%

Average: 93.5%

“As complicated and layered as life itself, ‘The Night Of’ is an instant classic.” – TV Insider


9. “Boardwalk Empire” (2010-14), five seasons

source
Macall B. Polay / HBO

Critic score: 92%

Audience score: 95%

Average: 93.5%

“Like a good whiskey, it’s rough and smooth in all the right ways. By a few episodes in, you’ll want to order it by the case.” – Time


8. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2000-present), nine seasons

source
HBO/”Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Critic score: 92%

Audience score: 95%

Average: 93.5%

“An insanely funny romp thanks to its unique storytelling technique and an inspired performance by the star.” – Chicago Tribune


7. “Treme” (2010-13), four seasons

source
HBO/”Treme”

Critic score: 96%

Audience score: 92%

Average: 94%

“From scene to scene, ‘Treme’ is novelistic in the best sense – a long, complex, involving story that takes a while to settle into, but that you can’t put down and don’t want to end.” – Salon


6. “Silicon Valley” (2014-present), four seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 95%

Audience score: 93%

Average: 94%

“Silicon Valley is a comedy, certainly, and a very funny one, but it doesn’t spend all its time reminding you of the fact.” – LA Times


5. “Show Me a Hero” (2015), one-season miniseries

source
HBO

Critic score: 97%

Audience score: 92%

Average: 94.5%

“It’s like a procedural drama, about the drama of procedure – it isn’t ever dry. There are some superbly mounted, loud, crowded big scenes – [David] Simon is a great orchestrator of chaos – but there is an intensity to the quieter, more private moments as well. I wouldn’t trade it for a bushel barrel of tortured detectives or all the kings and queens in Westeros.” – LA Times


4. “The Sopranos” (1999-2007), six seasons

source
Will Hart / HBO

Critic score: 92%

Audience score: 97%

Average: 94.5%

“Combining dark comedy and psychological drama, the show achieves a fresh tone to match its irresistibly winning concept.” – The New York Times


3. “Deadwood” (2004-06), three seasons

source
HBO

Critic score: 95%

Audience score: 95%

Average: 95%

“To call ‘Deadwood’ great television doesn’t begin to do it justice.” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer


2. “The Wire” (2002-08), five seasons

source
Blown Deadline Productions

Critic score: 96%

Audience score: 96%

Average: 96%

“It slowly develops into an engrossing look at the methodical nature of police work and the limits of individualism.” – Time


1. “Band of Brothers” (2001), one-season miniseries

source
HBO screenshot via debramster123/YouTube

Critic score: 94%

Audience score: 99%

Average: 96.5%

“It doesn’t even look like a TV miniseries – it’s more like 10 theatrical films that do an amazing job re-creating battles.” – Deseret News