HBO Max is still not available on Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. Just wanted to get that out of the way, because I know a lot of people are still mad about it—and with good cause, because the legal skirmishes between the streamer and hosting platforms is obscuring the fact that Max is easily one of the best paid services around for movie fans, and has been slowly building its inventory of exclusive series and special presentations.
Case in point: October’s HBO Max-exclusive lineup includes The West Wing reunion, awkwardly titled A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, which will reunite the surviving cast members of that magical liberal fantasy saga (plus a special appearance by Barack Obama) for an ode to the chill and totally relaxed political landscape of the early aughts.
If you’ve had your fill of even fictional politics but still want to be inspired, Equal is a new documentary series shining a light on the LGBTQ movement in America, traveling back to the pre-Stonewall days. Conversely, A World of Calm sounds like visual Ambien—it’s billed as a combination of “mesmeric imagery” and “narration by A-list stars.”
There are also a ton of movies coming to the service that you won’t be able to watch if you just have “regular HBO,” including a few classics I’ve recommended elsewhere. (Personally, I’ll be comparing and contrasting John Waters’ Hairspray and the later musical adaptation with John Travolta, and maybe indulging in a nostalgic rewatch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies from the early ‘90s.)
Still, even if you don’t have Max (or have it but can’t watch it on your Roku), there’s a lot of good stuff coming to HBO Regular too, including David Byrne’s American Utopia, a filmed version of the Talking Heads frontman’s Broadway hit directed by Spike Lee that should excite anyone who has ever seen Stop Making Sense. There’s also The Undoing, a limited series event starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as a once-happy couple dealing with the upheaval caused by “a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations.” You can also catch the season finales of Lovecraft Country, The Vow, and Room 104.
HBO is also adding a bunch of recent theatrical releases, including the 2019 instant camp classic Cats, which is news worthy of its own paragraph.
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Here’s everything coming to HBO and HBO Max in October. Titles with (HBO) next to them are available on all HBO services. Everything else is exclusive to HBO Max.