Whether you’re in the mood for a supernatural crime drama, a rip-roaring reality roadtrip with Jason Momoa, or a distressing documentation of a religious cult’s descent into infamy, HBO’s Max app has a new series for you. (See also: Playboy murders, Rap Sh!t, and the underseen gem How to with John Wilson.)
True Detective: Night Country
The fourth season of True Detective is set in a tiny arctic community at the beginning of polar night, and because this is True Detective, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that things get crazy when the lights go out. Jodie Foster and Kali Reis are investigating the strange disappearance of the entire population of an arctic research center and its possible connection to a the grisly murder of a native woman. If the rest of the series lives up to the creepy, atmospheric vibe of the first couple episodes, Night Country is a must-watch.
On the Roam with Jason Momoa
Megastar Jason Momoa is doing good things with his fame, including hosting reality show On the Roam. In it, Momoa travels the country exploring the work and lives of craftspeople, artists, and others on unconventional personal journeys, from dirt bikers to photographers.
The Playboy Murders
While he was alive, Playboy impresario Hugh Hefner held a unique cultural position. He was seen as a sophisticated bon vivant, and definitely not as a common smut peddler. But now that Hef is in the grave, we’re finding a lot of skeletons in the company’s closet—at least two seasons worth. The Playboy Murders examines those bones through tried-and-true TV crime documentary techniques like interviews, archival footage, and reenactments. It’s not the deepest show, but its murders-among-the-rich-and-sexy focus never gets old.
Rap Sh!t got done dirty. The women-in-hip-hop comedy series earned nearly universal critical acclaim, but Max recently canceled it after two seasons. Luckily, the existing episodes live on. Created by Issa Rae, who also birthed Insecure, Rap Sh!t tells the story of struggling Miami rappers Mia Knight (KaMillion) and Shawna Clark (Aida Osman), who balance their pursuit of art and fame with the day-to-day grind of survival. Rap Sh!t weaves Instagram posts, Snapchat, FaceTime, OnlyFans videos, and other online media into its narrative to tell stories in a fresh way.
Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God
I watch every television show and documentary about cults I can find, and Love Has Won is a cut above, mainly for its mere focus on the bizarre sex-drugs-and-rock ’n roll cult of the title. Love Has Won was run by Amy Carlson, a former McDonalds manager who realized she was Mother God one day (as one does), then used the internet to find people to worship her. She also invited a series of Father Gods into her life, and that is where things began to go poorly. Moldering-corpse-in-the-living-room poorly. The cult meticulously documented its activity, leaving behind a treasure trove of distressing insider footage highlighting their descent into madness.
How to With John Wilson
New York filmmaker John Wilson begins each episode of How to with a simple premise—like “How to Clean your Ears” or “How to Watch Birds”—and spins the answer out in bizarre, unexpected, and delightful ways. Wilson must be rolling camera every moment of his life in order to capture the on-the-street footage in How to, a show packed with tiny urban moments most are too busy to notice. Wilson also interviews “experts” on his subjects, but never the ones you’d expect. For example, in “How to Find a (Parking) Spot,” Wilson talks to a man who’s been struck by lightning twice about whether his “luck’ helps him find places to park, as well as a man who builds coffins shaped like cars. There are three short seasons of How to available to stream, but sadly no plans for more.