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March 30, 2020

March streaming madness: HBO region is a bloodbath of incredible shows

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March streaming madness HBO round 2 Evan Macy/for PhillyVoice

It's pretty clear to most anyone who is a big TV person that nearly any show in the HBO region could win one of the other three regions on our bracket. Seeing all of the network's achievements together is very impressive, and there are some bitterly difficult decisions ahead.

Like, seriously, we are about to force you to choose between Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos. 


Last week, we took 64 teams, 16 from each of four regions (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO) and threw them onto a bracket (seeded using Rotten Tomatoes viewer ratings). You can view the full original bracket right here.

SECOND ROUND: Netflix | Hulu | Amazon | HBO

Monday, we commenced voting on Netflix shows, you can still cast your vote in the second round right here. Tuesday it was Hulu, which is still voting here. And Wednesday we examined shows on Amazon Prime

Today, we have the eight final combatants in the second round, hailing from HBO. Vote below. Our sports staff also weighs in because, well, what else do we have to do?

1. The Larry Sanders Show vs. 8. Boardwalk Empire

Tale of the tape: The Larry Sanders Show (51.5% over Sex and the City), Boardwalk Empire (51.2% over Silicon Valley)

Staff pick: 3-1, Sanders

Evan Macy: This is honestly an agonizing choice. Larry Sanders, which is much less known by Millennials (and is a shame) is seriously one of the GOAT comedies ever. Boardwalk is also great. I have to go with Larry Sanders, as it is just so much different and unique than Boardwalk, which is sort of a typical (brilliant) HBO drama.

Jimmy KempskiI enjoy watching 1920’s incest as much as the next guy, but I’ll take the top seed here.

Vote here:  

4. The Wire vs. 12 Barry

Tale of the tape: Barry (58.7% over Six Feet Under), The Wire (87% over The Newsroom)

Staff pick: 4-0, Wire

JimmyLol, what?!? The Wire is the 4 seed?!? That’s my second-favorite show, ever. I like Barry a lot too, but they ran into an impossible matchup here.

Matt MullinBarry is a very good show. It’s dark but funny — and, despite being a show about a hit man, it even finds a way to be touching at times. It’s also incredibly well-acted. But The Wire is arguably the greatest TV show of all time and has a legit shot at winning this entire thing.

Kyle Neubeck: I don’t know how the hell this is the four seed but this show has absolutely everything. Great writing, acting, deaths that come out of nowhere, and even some life lessons. 

Vote here:

3. The Sopranos vs. 6. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Tale of the tape: The Sopranos (65.9% over VEEP), Curb Your Enthusiasm (82.3% over Oz)

Staff pick: 2-2

Evan: Oh bracket you torture me. This is one of my three favorite dramas ever, and one of my three favorite comedies ever. 

KyleAdmittedly I binge watched this and didn’t follow it in real time, but anyone who hated or didn’t understand the ending should not be trusted to weigh in on TV. 

Jimmy:  I always felt that The Sopranos was a good show, but also wildly overrated. For my tastes, there were too many scenes (and even full episodes) that either didn’t advance the story, or they never came back to. As for Curb, for as tiring as Larry can be at times, it’s sort of remarkable how many social annoyances they point out that I agree with completely.

Vote here:

10. Succession vs. 15 Game of Thrones

Tale of the tape: Succession (52.9% over Deadwood), Game of Thrones (84.2% over Girls)

Staff pick: 3-1, Thrones

Evan: Thrones at its best was as good as entertainment gets, in any medium. If this quarantine goes long enough I may have to unleash another binge.

JimmyThe final season of GoT was obviously really disappointing, which sucked, given the time invested in that show. I’ve enjoyed watching the terrible people on Succession so far.

Kyle: Though I hated the final season of Thrones as much as anyone (and wrote as much for this website), it still delivered some of the all-time moments and seasons in TV history. I like Succession but too early to put them in the same class.

Matt: This is a lot like the above matchup between Barry and The Wire. While Succession is a great show that is massively enjoyable to watch, Game of Thrones was one of the most popular shows ever. It’s incredibly rewatchable and despite the flaws of the last two seasons, it remains a monumental achievement in television. I mean, every week was like it’s own movie in scale and scope, and they did 70-something of them. I love Succession, but give the back-stabbing and family squabbles of Westeros over corporate America.

Vote here:

FIRST ROUND: Netflix | Hulu | Amazon | HBO

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