Winter is… here, which means less sunlight, colder nights, and sometimes, longer weekends thanks to the holidays. Oftentimes, that means endless errands and trips to see family and friends, but sometimes, you’ve got to ditch that jam-packed social calendar for some restorative binge watching. And sometimes you don’t want to go back to work with unfinished business in your queue. So, with that in mind, we teamed with Xfinity to clue readers into some HBO shows that — with a little planning, a lot of food delivery, plenty of hydration, and ample stretching — can be enjoyed from start to finish over a long weekend, all for free.
That’s right, from Saturday, December 29, through Tuesday, January 1, some of the most-buzzed-about HBO series can be enjoyed subscription-free during Xfinity’s HBO Free Preview Weekend. Even better news? All you need is Xfinity Internet and the ability to watch from your computer or the Xfinity Stream app on your smartphone in order to get in on the action. And there’s plenty of action. From murder mysteries to laugh-out-loud comedies and the kind of family drama that you can easily press pause on, there’s something for everyone on this list, including the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve finished something.
1 season, 7 episodes
Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel about a group of housewives entangled in a murder mystery gets a darkly-comedic tint with Jean-Marc Vallée at the helm. Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, and Alexander Skarsgard all-star in a story that’s drenched in small-town gossip, beachside mansions, private schools, and BMWs. But the real star of this thing is Nicole Kidman, who turns in an award-winning performance as a wife and mother suffocating under the abusive hand of her husband (a deviously-charming Skarsgard). The first season is only seven episodes long, just enough to get you hooked before the second season.
2 seasons, 20 episodes
With Game of Thrones winding down, HBO needed a new series capable of filling the fantasy epic’s shoes. Enter Westworld. Like Game of Thrones, the series specializes in world-building, crafting a near-future universe set in an interactive theme park filled with humanoid bots who cater to your every whim. You know, until the robot uprising comes. This is a show that’s meant to be binged, if only because ingesting it over a long weekend might help you to keep track of all the threads, Easter eggs, and conspiracy theories the story spins.
Season 7, *67 episodes
Yeah, yeah, we know the holiday weekend isn’t long enough to fully appreciate the brilliant and engrossing world of Game Of Thrones, which is, at this point, 67 episodes in. But we’re not here to pressure you into watching all 67 episodes in one weekend — that would be physically impossible or, at the very least, dangerous to your health. The weekend is long enough however to get caught up on the show’s latest season before the series ends next year. Even if you’ve watched it once, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a second helping of dragons, political power plays, and Night Kings. And when else are you going to have the time to get that refresher in one fell swoop?
2 seasons, 16 episodes
Nic Pizzolatto’s anthology crime drama (which is headed for a long-awaited third season in the middle of January) cemented itself as one of the best shows on television when its first season premiered. Filled with grit, Southern-fried mystery, and Matthew McConaughey waxing poetic about time and flat circles, the show traded on murder mysteries and in-depth character studies and brilliant performances from its star cast. The second season failed to garner the same level of praise, but it’s a worthy watch.
2 seasons, 17 episodes
The writing, costumes, and setting all work to bring viewers into the world of New York City (specifically, Times Square) in the 1970s, but stand-out performances from James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a stellar supporting cast power this drama from David Simon and George Pelecanos (The Wire, Treme) about the porn industry’s early ascent toward legitimacy.
1 season, 8 episodes
Sure, this is a dramedy about a neurotic white woman written by writing duo Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, but Camping is about as far from Girls as you can get, story-wise. Jennifer Garner stars as Kathryn, a wife, and mother struggling with her own overwhelming phobias while planning a camping trip to celebrate her husband’s (David Tennant) birthday. Garner’s at her comedic best when she plays these kinds of control-freaks, and she gets plenty of material to work with here as the group ultimately strays from their strict itinerary and Kathryn officially loses her sh*t.
3 seasons, 24 episodes
Issa Rae’s Insecure changed the comedy scene when it premiered just a few seasons ago. Finally, we were given a show that provided a realistic, often hilarious view of what it’s like to live as a woman of color. Rae’s only grown, both as a performer and a writer, in the years since the show landed which means this is the kind of quick-witted, raunchy and real comedy you can easily digest over an uneventful weekend.
4 seasons, 39 episodes
Any show that features Dwayne The Rock” Johnson wearing pink and plaid suits, making deals, trading on his charm, charisma, and beefy man-bod is worth a watch. But Johnson’s not the only draw here. There’s plenty of over-the-top drama and gut-bustlingly funny antics going on to keep you interested through four seasons of approximately 30-minute episodes.
1 season, 10 episodes
Sure, men behaving badly on television is something that’s been overdone at this point but when the performances are as mesmerizing as the ones in Succession, we can’t complain. The show focuses on four siblings who wrestle for control of their family’s media conglomerate when their father’s health begins to fail. Besides watching a family this dysfunctional squabble and scheme their way to power, the show feels like a riveting, relevant look at a business, the elite, and the dark side of capitalism.
2 seasons, 24 episodes
Mahershala Ali, Judy Greer, Michael Shannon (who raps in a Russian accent!), and Rainn Wilson join the revolving door of stars getting in on the action in this Duplass Brothers anthology series. The show’s main star though is reflected in its title. Each season is a collection of 12 vignettes serving frights, delights, and a bunch of strange behavior that is all connected by one average hotel room. Again, at just 30 minutes in length, you’ll have no problem bingeing them all in one weekend while still taking the occasional few moments to go stare at the sun.
Check out these and more original HBO series during Xfinity’s HBO Free Streaming Weekend starting December 29. Watch them here on Xfinity Stream or download the Xfinity Stream App on iOS, Android, or Amazon to get your long-weekend binge fix.