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5 best (HBO) Max TV shows to watch this 4th of July weekend

Mare of Easttown promo art featuring Kate Winslet's titular detective.
HBO

The Fourth of July weekend is here, and everyone is celebrating it differently. Some are surely going on holiday; others might use the time to get together with family; and some will truly take the time to celebrate the hard-earned independence from the British. Whatever your plans, there’s always an opportunity to watch a great TV show, and what better place to do it than Max?

The best shows on Max are often a blend of ambitious historical epics, addictive mystery dramas, and exhilarating action thrillers, and many are perfect to enjoy over a long holiday weekend. So enjoy your break with these acclaimed TV shows that prove it really isn’t television — it’s HBO.

John Adams (2008)

Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti in John Adams.
HBO

Academy Award nominees Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney star in the 2008 miniseries John Adams, a seven-part event chronicling the life of Founding Father and eventual president John Adams. The show offers a richly detailed portrayal of his life, from the Boston Massacre of 1770 until his eventual death in 1826.

John Adams is among the all-time best HBO miniseries. Every aspect of the production excels, producing a riveting and rewarding depiction of one of the most pivotal figures in U.S. history. Giamatti and Linney are outstanding in the leading roles, even if the former often makes puzzling choices in his portrayal that might take you out of the experience. Yet, even that seems fitting for the story, which is faithful enough without feeling like a history lesson.

John Adams is available to stream on Max.

Watchmen (2019)

Regina King looking at the camera with a yellow clock behind her on a poster for HBO's Watchmen.
Image via HBO

Based on Alan Moore’s seminal 1986 graphic novel, Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen is a triumph of the superhero genre. Oscar winner Regina King stars as Angela Abar, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer and vigilante operating under the moniker Sister Night. She soon finds herself involved in a conspiracy amid the rise of a white supremacist group, the Seventh Cavalry. Meanwhile, other characters from the original story, including Adrian Veidt and Laurie Blake, converge in the story.

Clever, socially conscious, and unafraid to reinvent the source material for the new age, Watchmen is among the best non-Marvel superhero stories. An outstanding cast that also includes Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons, Tim Blake Nelson, Hong Chau, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and James Wolk further elevates a poignant and layered story about race relations, cultural shifts, and the murky nature of history and legacy. With just nine episodes, Watchmen is the perfect option to binge-watch on a weekend.

Watchmen is available to stream on Max.

Sharp Objects (2018)

Amy Adams as Camille Preaker looking behind her in Sharp Objects.
HBO

Academy Award nominee Amy Adams stars in Marti Noxon’s psychological thriller mystery miniseries Sharp Objects. Based on Gillian Flynn’s eponymous novel and directed by the late Jean-Marc Vallée, the show centers on Camille Preaker, an alcoholic and emotionally troubled reporter who returns to her hometown to cover the murders of two young girls.

Sharp Objects offers a slow yet tense and emotionally stormy narrative that demands a lot from the audience but gives back generously in return. Adams is at the top of her game, delivering one of the best and most raw performances of her career, accompanied by an equally stellar Patricia Clarkson and an outstanding Eliza Scanlen. Fans of crime dramas and anxiety-inducing mystery thrillers shouldn’t miss this gem of a show.

Sharp Objects is available to stream on Max.

Mare of Easttown (2021)

Kate Winslet as the lead character in Mare of East
HBO

HBO has always excelled at attracting top talent to their shows, and Oscar-winner Kate Winslet is a recurring collaborator. She’s won two Emmys for her work with the network, most recently for her spectacular performance on the 2021 crime drama Mare of Easttown. The actress plays the titular character, a Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in her small town.

Like every great crime TV series, Mare of Easttown offers a compelling, twisting, and outright addictive mystery that will keep audiences on the edge. Winslet does career-best work in the series, joined by Jean Smart and a scene-stealing Evan Peters. The show successfully builds a looming sense of dread that never feels too heavy to withstand. Instead, the atmospheric Mare of Easttown is the best kind of show, challenging the viewer just enough while still keeping them entertained.

Mare of Easttown is available to stream on Max.

The Plot Against America (2020)

John Turturro as Charles Lindbergh on a stage in The Plot Against America
HBO

Set in an alternative version of 1940s America, this ambitious miniseries is among HBO’s most undervalued shows. It imagines a world where Franklin D. Roosevelt lost the 1940 election against a fictionalized version of Charles Lindbergh, a xenophobic populist who runs on a platform opposing the U.S. involvement in World War II. The story is told from the perspective of a working-class Jewish family who slowly witnesses the country’s journey toward fascism.

A brilliant but difficult watch, The Plot Against America is a stellar piece of revisionist history that ponders several crucial questions. The show’s themes of oppression and escalation are haunting, brought to life with intense gusto by a remarkable cast, including heavy hitters like Winona Ryder and John Turturro. The Plot Against America might not be the most enjoyable show, but it remains a gratifying thought exercise that will stay with audiences in one way or another.

The Plot Against America is available to stream on Max.

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David Caballero
David is a Mexican freelance writer with a deep appreciation for words. After three years in the cold world of Marketing…
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