Today is May 21st, aka the day where all of us who have only pretended to have seen all of The Wire can now stream it for relatively cheaply from Amazon. And that’s not all you can get; HBO has dropped a staggering number of series on Prime streaming video today. Here’s an overview.
First of all, Amazon’s interface is a freaking nightmare. Digging through it to find the more obscure stuff will be a task and a half, so be aware of that going in.
The terms of the deal is that anything within the last three years isn’t available, with certain exceptions like Enlightened and Family Tree. So that means there are a few major gaps: No Game Of Thrones or Girls on streaming unless you buy the season, sorry. But there are a lot, and we mean a lot, of shows you can now watch.
The big selling point here is undeniably The Sopranos and The Wire, two of the most beloved dramas on television in recent years, and for excellent reason. But you’ve been told repeatedly to watch them, so there are a few others worth digging into.
One particular standout on the drama side is Carnivale, which only got two seasons but is one of the single creepiest fantasy series ever put on the air. Also available is the spiritual predecessor of Game of Thrones, the lush and almost absurdly expensive Rome, dramatizing the rise of the Roman Empire. Big Love is actually one of the smarter family dramas in recent years, about a polygamist Mormon family juggling their values and the modern day. Finally, we’ll recommended Deadwood solely because otherwise Al Swearengen will kill us and call us something obscene. Treme, Oz, and Six Feet Under also have full runs, and are also worth a watch.
On the sitcom side, there’s… surprisingly little, actually, although Eastbound And Down does make a full appearance. Flight Of The Conchords and Bored To Death, though, are almost absurdly funny and have complete runs posted.
Finally, it’s not technically a TV series, but When The Levees Broke is one of the most heartbreaking and comprehensive looks at Hurricane Katrina ever put together. Just don’t watch it without somebody to hug nearby.
Oddly, the cut-off also applies to ongoing series. So some of HBO’s stuff that’s still on the air is actually now streaming, at least the early seasons. The most notable is Boardwalk Empire, which has a season in streaming. True Blood also has the first three seasons in streaming, and the first season of In Treatment is available as well.
As usual, you’ll have to pay for the rest and it’s only available after the DVD has been released. HBO hasn’t quite gotten with the whole ala care television crowd yet.
What’s strange, though, is what isn’t available under the deal, and it’s almost exclusively HBO’s sitcoms. Extras falls in under the deal, but only the first season is streaming. Curb Your Enthusiasm isn’t available at all on Prime. Sex And The City isn’t available due to syndication deals and the fact that everybody with a girlfriend owns the entire series at this point anyway. Entourage? Nope.
Also weird is the spotty availability of HBO’s comedy specials and movies. Considering what an enormous library of these that they have, you’d think this would dwarf the TV series, or even that there’d be more available, but there really isn’t. Hoping to stream HBO’s comprehensive George Carlin specials? Tough.
What is there is really good, mind you. But considering the massive catalog of comedy specials, movies, documentaries, and other content that HBO has paid for and is essentially doing nothing with, it’s a little odd they’re cherry-picking content this way.
In short, there’s a lot of good stuff available to stream. But keep an eye out, as HBO is sitting on even more good stuff.