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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Because my brain is constantly overthinking, I have a really hard time falling asleep.  In the past, this has always meant the same thing: two stages of streaming entertainment on my laptop. 

During the first stage, I either watch something new or put on something I really want to watch again until I get tired enough that my eyes start to close. By this point, it’s the early hours of the next day, and I turn that off, switching to something I’ve seen a million times (from ‘80s classics to Disney Channel Original Movies) to fall asleep to. 

When my family moved in early February, I moved my TV into my room. Being an Amazon Fire TV, it has built-in apps and shuts off after 10 minutes paused, so I have now gladly replaced most of my time watching the computer at night with time watching the TV. And although I have to wear my glasses now, it’s totally worth it for the bigger screen and ease of access.

I’ve watched some shows and movies on HBO Max before, but the past couple of months may have turned the app into my most used streaming service. Here’s what I’ve been watching:

The O.C. (2003-2007)

The O.C. is a teen drama with lots of more light, comedic elements than the typical teen drama of its day. It’s set in Newport Beach, California, and follows the lives of many of the wealthy Orange County citizens. Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie), a sweet teen with a rough background, is taken in by Sandy (Peter Gallagher) and Kirsten Cohen (Kelly Rowan), and their son, Seth (Adam Brody).

I watched the first season of The O.C. in high school, and definitely enjoyed it. After getting to the first episode of the second season, however, I stopped watching. I know the series left Hulu at one point, but I don’t remember if that coincided with me halting my viewing. What I do remember is that I tried to start season 2 again once it finally returned to Hulu, but I just couldn’t get back into it (probably because I’d forgotten the first season).

Once I saw that it was on HBO Max, I added The O.C. to my list to give it another shot. I restarted the show last weekend, and boy, am I glad I did. I have not been able to stop watching since then. In the span of six days (four of which were days when I also had school, work, homework, and extracurriculars), I have already watched 20 out of the 27 episodes of season 1. The season length seems like a daunting task until you start the show and it immediately hooks you in with the perfect blend of teen drama, family drama, heartfelt moments, sarcastic humor, and one-liners.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000- )

Curb Your Enthusiasm is a long-running comedy series starring Larry David, one of the creators of Seinfeld, as himself. Larry has the unique capability of ballooning every small situation into a full-blown catastrophe. Heavily improvised, smart, and hilarious, the series has countless cameos and recurring appearances from celebrities (often, but not always, playing themselves as well). 

This show can be absolutely crazy but in the best way possible. Sometimes, Larry is the one misstepping in a totally normal situation, but he is also often the reasonable one amongst other over-the-top characters. He usually means well, but his awkwardness fully gets in the way. This is something I understand on a deep level.   

 Emma. (2020)

The latest film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel about the “Handsome, clever, and rich” young British lady Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), Emma. is beautifully filmed, with a perfect cast and a lovely soundtrack. (I, personally, have the original song “Queen Bee” on repeat every day). 

I first saw Emma. in theaters in February 2020. It was the last film I saw before COVID-19 hit, which is a memory I will probably keep forever. Once theaters were closed, we rented it so my mother and sister could see it. I loved it, even more, a second time. Now, I am glad I can watch it as many times as I want to.

Succession (2018- )

Succession follows the wealthy, scheming, highly dysfunctional Roy family as siblings Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Connor (Alan Ruck) all step on each other to try and control their father’s (Brian Cox) company in whichever ways they see fit. Cousin Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) also finds himself twisted in the family’s issues when he comes to his uncle for a job.     

I’m still on Season 1 of Succession, but the show is fantastic. I loved Nicholas Braun from Disney movies (Sky High, Minutemen, Princess Protection Program) when I was little, so it was so strange for me to walk in one day and see my father watching a show with him in it. But his role was a huge plus to me when deciding to watch the series. Succession is dark but humorous, oftentimes hilarious. The incredibly talented and funny (his role in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is my favorite) Kieran Culkin’s Roman sticks out for a lot of cruel humor that can be too much, while Alan Ruck (yes, that’s Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!) shines to me in particular. There is one scene in season 1, episode 4 in which he yells about butter being too cold at a function he is in charge of, and it is one of my favorite moments thus far. It’s a good time to be an Alan Ruck fan these days!

Barry (2018- )

When Marine Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) returned from Afghanistan, he took a job as a hitman for Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root). Now, he feels purposeless. When he is sent to L.A. for a hit on an acting student, he is dragged into the men’s class and falls in love with acting — and a woman named Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg). Despite generally being a terrible actor, Barry attempts to juggle two lives in the face of Fuches and the Chechen mob, leaving a trail of destruction behind him when all he wants to do is start anew. 

I’m not currently watching Barry, but it was the first-ever program I watched on HBO Max. After having been on a Bill Hader SNL binge, I knew I had to watch it. While I already knew Bill Hader was talented, this show solidified him as one of my favorite actors. His performance is amazing; going from sweet and awkward to terrifying in a split second. The show’s first episode also marks his professional directorial debut, fulfilling his childhood dream of being a director.  

This show manages to be both one of the funniest and one of the most violent TV shows I have ever seen. Still, somehow, nothing feels out of place. Henry Winkler stands out as acting teacher Jean Cousineau. I highly recommend this clip as an example of what this show does comedically. It never fails to make me laugh. Another fabulous comedic performance comes from Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank, perhaps the least violent mobster ever.

I’m starting to feel like I’m sponsored here. Rest assured, I’m not. I just really appreciate HBO Max. Out of all the new streaming services, I think it has some of the best content there is to offer.

I know that The O.C. will be helping me escape the freezing weather during which I’m writing this in no time. Whether you’re heading to California in your mind or falling in love with the English countryside of Emma., I hope you have time to watch something new this week!

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Angelina is a senior at BU, studying English in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a focus on Shakespeare. She is from Somerville, MA. In addition to writing for HCBU, Angelina is the Director of BU On Broadway Off Broadway and has been involved with theater through BU Shakespeare Society, Wandering Minds, and Stage Troupe. Outside of school, she enjoys dancing, music, baking, and movie marathons. Her pop culture heart lives in the 1980's.
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.