Free HBO: Watch nearly 50 shows, movies and documentaries that real humans think you'll like

The network's rather bizarre Recommended by Humans tool lets you stream a wealth of free stuff.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

HBO's Recommended by Humans is your gateway to free streaming content -- but it's one of the weirdest gateways ever.


Trying to decide what to watch next? Netflix has algorithms for that, but  HBO is trying a different approach: wetware. The channel's new Recommended by Humans page offers real opinions from real people -- and the chance to stream some 50 HBO shows, movies and documentaries for free.

It's super weird. Accessible only in a browser, RBH is a huge scrollable grid of tweets and videos from people gushing about various HBO originals. Once you've read or played a recommendation, you can then view the movie -- or, if it's a show, the first episode. But there's no way to search the listings (good luck trying to find, say, Chernobyl), and if you're using a mobile device, the videos annoyingly autoplay once you land on one. On desktop, the experience is even worse, because there's no rhyme or reason to which direction you should click and drag. You feel like you're in an endless sea of recommendation tiles.

What's the point of all this? HBO would seem to believe that when you read or hear a recommendation from a real person, you'll give it more weight than you would a computer-generated one. Maybe -- but the annoyance factor of bad UI may have the opposite effect.

Of course, this first-one's-free approach is nothing new. HBO hopes you'll watch the first episode of, say, Barry, Big Little Lies or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, then decide to subscribe so you can watch more.

Here's the full list of what's available, followed by a viewing tip:

  • A Black Lady Sketch Show
  • Animals
  • Ballers
  • Big Little Lies
  • Bored to Death
  • Carnivale
  • Chernobyl
  • Crashing
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Deadwood
  • Divorce
  • Eastbound & Down
  • Enlightened
  • Euphoria
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Game of Thrones
  • Gentleman Jack
  • Girls
  • Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Los Espookys
  • Mommy Dead and Dearest
  • My Brilliant Friend
  • Random Acts of Flyness
  • Sally4Ever
  • Sex and the City
  • Sharp Objects
  • Silicon Valley
  • Six Feet Under
  • Succession
  • The Comeback
  • The Deuce
  • The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • The Leftovers
  • The Night Of
  • The Normal Heart
  • The Sopranos
  • The Wire
  • The Young Pope
  • There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane
  • True Blood
  • True Detective
  • Veep
  • Vice Principals
  • Westworld

Found something you like? If it's an older show, like Deadwood, Flight of the Conchords, Girls or Curb Your Enthusiasm, you might be able to watch some or all of the series as part of your Amazon Prime subscription.

I'm all for free stuff, and HBO definitely has some of my favorite shows. I just wish the UI for this thing wasn't so terrible. This might be Recommended by Humans, but it wasn't designed for them. 

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