Streaming to the Max

HBO Max is going to be the next best thing in streaming services

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Source: WarnerMedia

HBOMax, WarnerMedia's new streaming service, launches May 27. Here's what need to know (and should be looking forward to) on the new platform.

Aria Bragalone

On May 27, WarnerMedia Entertainment will launch their highly anticipated streaming service HBO Max. This is being advertised as, “The brand new streaming platform that bundles all of HBO together with even more blockbusters, addictive series and exclusive Max Originals.” This new $14.99 service will feature fan-favorite shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Gossip Girl, Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty, and South Park. On April 21, the service dropped trailers for their original programming that will premiere at launch. While future originals will include a Green Lantern TV series, a series about The Overlook Hotel from The Shining, and a Friends reunion special, we looked at the trailers for the first HBOMax originals to hit: Looney Tunes Cartoons, Craftopia, The Not-Too Late Show with Elmo, Love Life, and Legendary.

HBOMax

Since 1930, The Looney Tunes have always been fan-favorite characters, as Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and the rest paved the way for present-day cartoons and animations. While the characters have appeared in various series since then, HBO Max is launching a new series of 80 eight-minute shorts drawn in the original style of the 1930s shorts. Looking through the comments on the teaser, many fans seem to be pleased with how similar the art seems to the original (with the exception of Bugs Bunny’s yellow gloves, which have been subject to a lot of criticism). The art is remarkable, as they are digital inked and drawn yet look like traditional cell animation. The action of the trailer also looks like the Looney Tunes Cartoons are leaving behind topical humor in favor of slapstick gags.

I predict that this will be a crowd pleaser for those who miss the raw comedy and action of the original series, and this series will be a huge incentive for the older generations to upgrade to HBOMax (along with HBOMax’s selection of classic films like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, and When Harry Met Sally).

HBOMax

Craftopia, hosted by popular YouTuber Lauren Riihimaki (aka LaurDIY), will consist of crafting competitions between 10- to 15-year-olds in order to win $5,000 and the “Craftrophia” (a golden craft trophy). The first look at the contest for the trailer features the store of any crafter’s dreams, a set featuring rolls of fabric, shelves of glue, and deep bins of glitter of every color. Many people in the trailer’s comments compare the feel of this show to Cupcake Wars or Sugar Rush, but I think it has more of a Masterchef Junior vibe, mostly due to the panel of judges and celebrity expert host. I think this helps the show: LaurDIY has a huge diverse fan base: judging from the stats on her YouTube Channel, she has fans from pre-teens to twenty-somethings, all of whom seem psyched for this new show. Moreover, this show seems to be fun, and while it has similarities to other child competition shows popular on TLC, Craftopia seems to be unique enough to carve out its own identity.

While HBOMax plans lots of reality shows in the next couple of years (including a home restoration show with Ellen DeGeneres and the first flower arranging competition), I predict this series will be the most successful. Between the built-in fan base, the different type of contest offered, and the all-ages approach, this should be one of HBOMax’s most successful shows.

HBOMax

Speaking of shows for kids, HBO purchased the Sesame Workshop last year in an effort to get more parents to subscribe to HBO. HBOMax is premiering its first spin-off from that purchase, The Not-Too Late Show with Elmo. The new series is inspired by modern-day late night shows such as those hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Corden, but features Elmo as the host and Cookie Monster as the Ed McMahon/Andy Richter style announcer. In the teaser, celebrities like Blake Lively, the Jonas Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, and even Batman are interviewed by Elmo. From the comments, it seems that most people are excited to watch this as a family before bedtime for the little ones. With the help of an all-Muppet crew including band conductor Baby Bear and Count Von Count as the stage manager, this is sure to appeal to all ages and will undoubtedly prompt some nostalgia.

That being said, I’m not entirely sure how successful this show is going to be. Adults may be turned off by the preschool feel of the Sesame Workshop and while kids may not care about a talk show with celebrities, many of whom they probably don’t know. The service is also competing with Disney+ and Netflix as far as kids and family content, and while HBOMax is offering a lot of kids programming with Sesame Street, older Hanna-Barbara series (like Scooby Doo and The Jetsons), and lots of Cartoon Network shows (like The Powerpuff Girls and Adventure Time), it will be hard to compete with all the Disney Channel shows, Disney movies, and the MCU shows. I think since it is the first original kids show on HBOMax, The Not-Too Late Show with Elmo will do well at first, but only time will tell if it becomes a lasting success.

HBOMax

As far as adult fare, HBOMax is featuring all the favorites of HBO (Game of Thrones, Westworld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) and even plans on expanding their adult-focused content with a Game of Thrones prequel, The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco, Doom Patrol, and Love Life. Anna Kendrick stars in Love Life as a young woman living in the city on a confusing but relatable journey to find her purpose in her career and love life. It touches on the relationships she makes on the way to finding herself and is predicted to be a hit. I got Pitch Perfect flashbacks at the start of the teaser, but as I kept watching, I felt it was a more mature and sophisticated role that I don’t see Anna Kendrick in very often.

I like this “finding yourself” theme, and I think it builds rapport among audiences that are heading into adulthood or still trying to figure their own lives out. This seems to strike similar notes as their recent hits Insecure and Girls, so I think it might be insanely successful with HBO subscribers, as most are in their 20s and 30s according to HBO’s website.

HBOMax

HBO is also reaching out to the LGBTQ+ crowd with their new reality show Legendary. The show is a voguing competition, which is where a “house” of drag queens competes in fashion, dancing, and trash talking the competition. Voguing has been around since the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and has its roots in fighting racism and homophobia. The trailer is full of great fashion, interesting dance moves, and wild characters and looks like it is a blast. The internet seems to agree, as this trailer got two million views in a week, more than any other HBOMax trailer.

This ten-episode series is a clear attempt by HBOMax at capturing the Netflix audience that enjoys RuPaul’s Drag Race and Queer Eye. Given the way the trailer has been trending on YouTube, this gamble will work. The most upvoted comments are ones saying “I will get HBOMax just for this!” The show looks fun and interesting but in a way that separates it from other similar shows. I’m betting that this series will attract a lot of the LGBTQ+ audience, and with shows like Boys (an AIDS crisis drama), Brad and Gary Go To… (a personal makeover show), Equal (a documentary miniseries about the history of Pride parades), Generation (a sitcom following a group of LGBTQ+ teenagers), and Little Ellen (the first children’s show featuring a gay child) coming out in the next year, HBOMax will probably keep all the Legendary fans for the long haul.

And these are just a couple of example of what the new service will offer. Both Rick and Morty and South Park will be on HBOMax this year. The service is also premiere two new adult animated series, Close Enough by J.G. Quintel (creator of Regular Show) and The Prince (a Family Guy-like parody about the English royal family) as well as four new Adventure Time films. Gossip Girl is getting a revival on the service, and the site will stream every episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Every Batman and Superman film from the past forty years will be on the service, as well as every film in the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, and Conjuring series. For anime fans, the site will feature different selections from Crunchyroll every month and will be the exclusive home for Studio Ghibli films.

One question I had when looking over these shows is how HBOMax was going to deal with such a diverse lineup of shows–how, for example, will a parent whose six-year-old wants to watch Elmo’s talk show from stumbling across the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones? Like Netflix and Disney+, each person using a service will create a profile with specific parental controls and recommendations based on their viewing history. However, HBOMax will allow the user to select multiple watchers at once for couples of family viewing and will recommend movies and TV based on everyone’s similar tastes. HBOMax also allows watchers to look at celebrity recommendations (like Resse Witherspoon or Dwayne Johnson) and will highlight not just TV series but specific episodes (like all the episodes of Friends with celebrities) to cut down on time trying to pick out what to watch. Most HBO originals will also have podcasts explaining the making of each show for watchers who want to know more.

While HBOMax is pricier than other services at $14.99 per month, I do believe HBOMax will be extremely successful. First, anyone with HBO already (either through their cable provider, Hulu, or as a separate streaming service) will be upgraded to HBOMax for free. Anyone else who wants to sign up can preorder the series right now for only $11.99 per month for the first year. While many of the new offerings are not what would traditionally be on HBO, as long as a few customers start watching the new releases, everyone else will jump on the bandwagon. WarnerMedia has done an exceptional job at advertising and really honing in on what people want to see, utulizing the best parts of their varoius channels (TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, DC Universe, TruTV, CNN, and Turner Classic Movies). Especially with families stuck at home and boredom taking over, this will be a refreshing change in show and movie options. While time will tell if it can take on or surpass Netflix or Disney+/Hulu, HBOMax will offer an exciting new chapter to the streaming wars and should be on everyone’s list of things to check out this summer.