HBO Turns 50: Top 50 TV Series Performances

HBO Turns 50: Top 50 TV Series Performances

“It’s not TV. It’s HBO.

It’s the slogan of the premium cable network that single-handedly changed the television landscape forever and ushered in the Peak TV era. With Home Box Office turning 50 this week, Variety celebrates its Golden Year by ranking the 50 best performances in its history.

Disclaimer: We only include performances from dramas, comedies, and limited series that are no longer airing. So don’t expect this current roster to include Zendaya (“Euphoria”), Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong (“Succession”), Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus”), Bill Hader (“Barry”) or Larry David. (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”).

Now a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery, HBO is the oldest subscription television service in the United States. Launched on November 8, 1972, over the past 50 years, HBO has produced some of television’s finest creations – while also splitting into many phases and facets of itself – starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

HBO holds the record for the most Emmy wins in a single year, for “Game of Thrones,” with 12, which it won in 2015, 2016, and 2019. The show also has the most wins for a series. drama in history with 59, and the most single-episode wins — “Battle of the Bastards,” which won six, and tied with “Boardwalk Empire.”

For individual acting roles, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ turn as Vice President (and eventual Madam President) Selina Meyer in “Veep” has the honor of winning the most awards for a single role with six for Leading Actress Comedy. Additionally, “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage is tied for the most wins ever in supporting actor drama for his work as Tyrion Lannister (with four).

HBO made us laugh (Garry Shandling in “The Larry Sanders Show”), cry (Michaela Coel in “I May Destroy You”) and feel fear (John Kassir in “Tales from the Crypt”). It left us spellbound (James Gandolfini in ‘The Sopranos’), a state of anxiety (Carrie Coon in ‘The Leftovers’) and even total confusion about how we feel about a character (Jeremy Piven in ‘Entourage’ ).

We hope that HBO will continue to strengthen its presence in the television medium. But what’s on the horizon for the premium cable network, and with HBO’s streaming home, HBO Max, merging with Discovery+, how will its legacy unfold?

We’re nervous, but hopeful: And as long as HBO continues with shows like “Succession,” “Euphoria,” and “Hacks,” the brand will stay on fire.

Lily Variety list of the top 50 performances of all HBO TV series below.

Honorable mentions: Gabriel Byrne (“In treatment”); Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”); Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”); Frances McDormand (“Olive Kitteridge”); Mary Louise-Parker (“Angels in America”); Anna Paquin (“True Blood”); Alexander Skarsgård (“Big Little Lies”); John Turturro (“The Night of”); Kate Winslet (“Easttown Mare”); Dominic West (“The Wire”)


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