HBO has been serving us with high-quality viewing for some time now. Forget Game of Thrones, they also bought us The Sopranos, Girls, The Wire, Sex and the City, True Detective, and many, many more shows we binge-watched in record time. So when I was invited to find out what it has planned for the rest of 2018, how could I say no? I’ll take you inside the HBO Summer Showcase where Marketing Director Ian Fullerton teased us with the shows and films HBO is most excited about coming this year. From new murder mystery shows like Sharp Objects, to dystopian movies such as Fahrenheit 451, read on for five shows and four movies - complete with trailers and release dates - HBO wants us to be excited about this year. And if you’re based in the UK, don’t despair because most of these will be coming to Sky Atlantic soon too!
Release date: Out now
Let’s get the obvious out of the way! Westworld season 2 is probably HBO’s biggest show of the year thanks to the lack of Game of Thrones season 8 until 2019, and it’s already kicked off! Airing Sundays at 9pm on HBO in the US, and Mondays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic in the UK, the second season of the hit robot Western is shaping up to be just as mind-boggling and complex as the first. HBO is really keen to get everyone involved in talking and theorising about the series again - remember what it was like during season 1?! - and the showrunners have come out and said they’d be very surprised if anyone guessed how season 2 was going to end. Chances are you’re already tuning in and watching every week, but if you aren’t I would seriously recommend watching our Westworld season 1 recap and catching up on the new season asap. You can also read up on what’s happened so far with our weekly reviews, discussion videos, and season 2 recap, right here on GR.
Release date: July
Based on the book of the same name by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is one of the most exciting shows HBO is producing this year. It’s a limited eight episode series, which means there will be no season 2 no matter how popular it is and I don’t know about you, but that makes it all the more of a must-watch for me. In a similar vein to Gone Girl (if you liked that movie, this is definitely one to watch) it’s a dark murder mystery starring Amy Adams who plays a reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate the murder of two young girls. She also has her own demons, which she’s been hiding from and it all gets brought up when she comes home and starts spending time with her mother again, who she has a very complicated relationship with to say the least. Fullerton describes this show as an “addictive dark crime story,” so if that sounds like your sort of thing, make sure you tune in come July.
Release date: June 3
Succession is an upcoming drama set in New York and centred on the Roy family who own a huge global media company. Brian Cox (who you might recognise as Stryker from X-2) plays the head of the family, Logan Roy, who is planning to pass his company onto his children in the first episode, but changes his mind at the eleventh hour. Obviously, they don’t take it very well and it causes all kinds of anger and hostility between the patriarch and his kids, but it’s more an examination of American family life through the eyes of this very privileged yet dysfunctional family, rather than a show about high-pressure business. Created by Jesse Armstrong - who’s best known for Peep Show - it goes without saying that it’s pretty relevant right now and is inspired by real life media mogul families, although it’s not based on anyone in particular (“The lawyers asked me to say that!” jokes Fullerton), with it being described as “really tense, and intriguing” series.
Release date: June 8
It’s not all about tense and dark dramas this year though. HBO is also offering us a new comedy in the form of Barry, starring the hilarious Bill Hader who you might know from Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck. He plays Barry - shocking, I know! - a professional assassin who one day stumbles into an acting class and decides he’d rather be an actor than a killer. The conflict comes from Barry’s desire to follow his heart and his employers who want him to continuing killing people for them. If it sounds ridiculous, it’s meant to and the above trailer will only make you want to watch it more. Oh, and as a bonus, it also stars Henry Winkler, AKA Fonzie, as Barry’s acting coach. Who doesn’t want to see that?!
Here and Now
Release date: Out now
From the creator of Six Feet Under and True Blood, comes Here and Now - a look at the modern American family in 2018. Dealing with issues of race, identity, sexuality, and mental illness, Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins are the upper-middle class liberal parents who adopted their children from all around the world, and while that might sound really positive and progressive, we soon find out that - like all families - they have their issues. This family drama plays out against the backdrop of today’s turbulent political and racial environment in America and the show doesn’t shy away from this. Again, this show is very much about family, but a more modern family which we might see today rather than the traditional nuclear set-up of previous dramas.
Release date: May 23
HBO isn’t really known for its original movies, but it’s looking to change that in 2018. One of its upcoming films you’ve probably already heard a fair amount about is Fahrenheit 451, starring Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan and Man of Steel’s Michael Shannon. An adaptation of the sci-fi classic novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury, it’s set in a future where firemen no longer put out fires, but burn books because of the dangerous ideas they contain. Imagine 2002’s Equilibrium, but rather than destroying all art, it’s just books. Jordan plays one such fireman who starts to question what he’s doing and while the book has a very low-key dystopian vibe, HBO is obviously keen to make the film more cinematic as you can tell by the trailer full of fire! “It very much taps into our thirst for these dystopian stories,” says Fullerton. “Themes of independence, resistance… all quite relevant to today in lots of different ways.”
My Dinner with Hervé
Release date: TBC
Another movie coming our way soon is My Dinner with Hervé, which is based on the true story of Hervé Villechaize, a French dwarf actor who starred in TV series Fantasy Island and the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Hervé is played by Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage and Fullerton describes the film “as very much a passion project” for Dinklage. It revolves around a real life interview Hervé did with a British journalist in 1993 just days before he committed suicide, which the journalist (who is played Fifty Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan in the film) “very much saw... as his sort of suicide note almost, and he was very keen to explain to people about Hervé’s life”. Due to his dwarfism, Hervé experienced a lot of prejudice, as well as physical pain, throughout his life, but the film focuses primarily on the interview between Hervé and the journalist and the evening they spent together. It’s scheduled to come out towards the end of the year so we don’t have a trailer yet, but Fullerton says the most interesting thing about My Dinner with Hervé is “seeing what Peter Dinklage is doing outside of Game of Thrones because he really is a great actor and he’s much more than just Tyrion.”
Release date: April 7
Another upcoming HBO film based on a true story is Paterno, which centres on one the biggest scandals in American college football history. Al Pacino plays Joe Paterno - one of the most successful American college football coaches of all time - who is put under scrutiny after it’s revealed that one of his coaches, Jerry Sandusky, has been sexually abusing young boys. While Paterno was never involved in the abuse, it was a huge story in America and he gets caught up in the media coverage surrounding the case with some even questioning whether he knew about it. While the story isn’t well known outside of the US, it was a big deal in America and, as you can see from the trailer above, HBO isn’t pulling any punches. Fullerton adds: “It’s an intimate portrait of what Joe Paterno went through and the morality of when you should say things and when you shouldn’t say things.” This probably isn’t one for light-hearted weekend watching, but with Pacino joined by a stellar cast it’s definitely worth checking out if you can handle the subject matter.
Release date: May 26
Another movie not for the faint-hearted is The Tale, which HBO picked up from Sundance Film Festival 2018 where it received rave reviews. Directed by documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox, it’s her first non-documentary project, but it is based on true events from her own life. Jurassic Park/Star Wars: The Last Jedi/Big Little Lies’s Laura Dern plays Jennifer who one day, as an adult, receives a phone call from her distraught mother asking about a short story she’s found, which Jennifer wrote as a child. She wants to know if it’s based on truth because it details a relationship Jennifer had with an older man at the age of 13 and it makes Jennifer wonder about this relationship (which did actually happen) and if she was in fact raped as a child. “I think it’s an important film,” says Fullerton. “I know people say that a lot, but that’s what I felt when I saw it.” Audiences at Sundance reportedly left the screening in stunned silence, so it’s safe to say it’s a very powerful film and not to be missed, although, again, if you’re ok with the difficult subject.