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19 HBO Original Programs to Be Excited About in 2019 — ‘True Detective,’ ‘Watchmen,’ and More

When it comes to HBO's 2019 slate, there's more than one "Game" in town.

HBO 2019 Preview "Watchmen," "Big Little Lies," and "True Detective"

“Watchmen,” “Big Little Lies,” and “True Detective”






Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Lily Rose Smith, Sara Vickers, Adelaide Clemens, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frances Fisher, Andrew Howard, Jacob Ming-Trent, Tom Mison, James Wolk
Writers: Damon Lindelof, Tom Spezialy, Lila Byock, Stephen Williams, Joseph E. Iberti
Directors: Nicole Kassell, Steph Green, Andrij Parekh, Stephen Williams

It’s been 10 years since Zack Snyder tried and failed to bring Alan Moore’s heralded graphic novel to the screen, so to celebrate the anniversary, Damon Lindelof isn’t going to do the same thing for TV — he’s forging new ground. HBO’s “Watchmen” series is set in the same world Moore and Dave Gibbons created, but it’s going to be a contemporary story that remixes original elements with new additions, twists, and characters. Little else is known about the plot, but with a cast including Regina King and Jeremy Irons, there’s some serious artists stepping in to make this vision of “Watchmen” as reputable and riveting as the first.

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“The New Pope”

Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: Jude Law, John Malkovich
Writer: Paolo Sorrentino
Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Perhaps the most highly anticipated sequel to an HBO limited series ever — take that “Big Little Lies” — “The New Pope” draws such expectant eyes because of the mystery surrounding it, as well as its presumed predecessor’s magnificent past. And we have to say “presumed” because Paolo Sorrentino won’t confirm “The New Pope” is, in fact, a follow-up to “The Young Pope,” despite Jude Law’s return. The award-winning writer/director waited two years to start production so he could film a two-part, yet-to-be-released-Stateside double-feature (titled “Loro 1” and “Loro 2”). Throw in the peculiar nature of the original series, its ambiguous ending, a new title, and John Malkovich’s yet-to-be-explained presence — is he the new pope? — and suddenly “The New Pope” is building a reputation as intriguing as the original series’. Sign us up.

“Gentleman Jack”

Gentleman Jack (HBO) - Suranne Jones

Suranne Jones in “Gentleman Jack”

Jay Brooks / HBO

Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: Suranne Jones, Katherine Kelly, Sofie Gråbøl, Derek Riddell, Veronica Clifford, Sylvia Syms, Brendan Patricks, Caspar Phillipson, Polly Maberly, Lucy Black, Stephanie Hyam, Dino Fetscher, Rupert Vansittart, Michael Xavier, Gemma Whelan, Timothy West, Gemma Jones, Stephanie Cole, Peter Davison, Amelia Bullmore, Vincent Franklin, Shaun Dooley, Joe Armstrong, Rosie Cavaliero
Writer: Sally Wainwright
Directors: Sally Wainwright, Jennifer Perrott

Another co-production between HBO and the BBC, “Gentleman Jack” is an eight-episode limited series set in 1832 Halifax and following landowner Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) as she tries to improve her stature in life — without a man’s assistance. Lister relies on her charisma and dapper dressing (she always wears black) to work her way into polite society, but her master plan involves marrying a wealthy woman; namely, heiress Ann Walker. But the best part of the series is that it’s all based in fact: Wainwright wrote the scripts based on over 4 million words found in Anne Lister’s diaries that were written in code and recently broken. All of this adds up to a unique glimpse into an oft-unacknowledged past.

“Los Espookys”

Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: Fred Armisen, Bernardo Velasco, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Ana Fabrega, Julio Torres
Writers: Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, Julio Torres
Director: Fernando Frias

HBO is looking to expand its foreign-language slate (especially after the success of “My Brilliant Friend”), and one of its most tantalizing 2019 offerings comes from a pair of Americans. Fred Armisen and Lorne Michaels teamed up post-“SNL” to deliver “Los Espookys,” a half-hour comedy told in Spanish and set in modern-day Mexico City (but a “strange and dreamy” version of it). The series is about a group of friends who turn their love of horror into a peculiar business: Bernardo Velasco plays Renaldo, the leader of Los Espookys’ group who’s obsessed with gore. Cassandra Ciangerotti plays Ursula, a dental assistant by day and a monster-maker by night. Ana Fabrega (“The Christ Gethard Show”) plays Tati, Ursula’s sister who’s always working odd jobs, while the rest of the cast is rounded out by the heir to a chocolate empire and a Los Angeleno who only wants to park cars. Silly, genre-based, and from experienced TV producers and creative newcomers alike, “Los Espookys” looks to continue HBO’s international expansion with spooky flair.

Untiled Hagai Levi Series

Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: TKTK
Writer: Hagai Levi, Noah Stollman, Rachel Kaplan, Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott
Director: Joseph Cedar

After “The Affair” and “In Treatment,” there’s two reasons (at least) to get excited for a new Hagai Levi drama series. This Israel-set and -shot story has been in development for years, based on the true events that led to an outbreak of war in Gaza, but production officially began in early 2018 and all signs point to seeing this foreign-language entry sooner rather than later. Set in the summer of 2014, the untitled series starts with the murder of three Jewish teenagers by Hamas militants and tracks the escalation of events as a Palestinian teenager is found dead only days later. Told from the perspective of Jews and Arabs alike — focusing on the investigation as well as the parents of the slain teenage boy — Levi’s series is a groundbreaking co-production between HBO and Kishet International. So Levi isn’t the only reason to look forward to this one.


Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: Zendaya, Storm Reid, Maude Apatow, Algee Smith, Eric Dane
Writer: Sam Levinson
Director: Augustine Frizzell

After making his directorial debut with the biggest Sundance buy of 2018 (“Assassination Nation”) writer Sam Levinson is turning his talents to television with “Euphoria” — a teen drama adapted from an Israeli series and produced by Drake. Set in a high school and starring “The Greatest Showman” star Zendaya, the 10-episode first season is told from the students’ perspectives as they try to navigate the dangerous modern world of drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love, and friendship. Not much else is known, but after the success of Levinson’s “Wizard of Lies” (starring Robert De Niro), the sky’s the limit for this ongoing endeavor.

“Mrs. Fletcher”

Release Date: TBA 2019
Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Jackson White, Casey Wilson, Owen Teague, Katie Kershaw, Jen Richards
Writers: Tom Perrotta, Jessi Klein, Sarah Condon
Directors: Nicole Holofcener

After a successful first foray into scripted television with “The Leftovers,” Tom Perrotta is adapting another one of his novels for HBO. This time, he’s handling showrunning duties solo, but that doesn’t mean he’s making “Mrs. Fletcher” alone — far from it. Nicole Holofcener, who’s helmed TV episodes of everything from “Enlightened” and “Sex and the City” to “Six Feet Under” and “Orange Is the New Black,” is directing the pilot episode and executive producing, while “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Big Mouth” contributor Jessi Klein and Sarah Condon (“Looking,” “Bored to Death”) are helping tell the story of Eve Fletcher (Kathryn Hahn), a divorced mother of one whose son Brendan (Jackson White) has recently left for college. Now with an empty house, Eve starts exploring more adventures private and public hobbies, exposing herself to new lifestyles and people along the way. Jackson, meanwhile, is a little too easily distracted from his studies, and he may not be the role model for modern young men, like his mother would prefer. “Mrs. Fletcher” ties in big ideas about social media, pornography, and gender roles, all within a half-hour comedy led by awesome women. Looks like Perrotta has another winner on his hands.

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