Pop Culture

Putting HBO to the Test

A few weeks ago, I wondered if it would be worth it to get HBO. This weekend, Verizon FiOS offered free previews of the channel, as well as Cinemax, so I decided to test it out. 

There really weren’t any movies airing on either HBO or Cinemax that I was interested in; in fact, the only one I watched was The Breakfast Club, which was available on Cinemax On Demand. I spent about five minutes watching The Change Up, and not even Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds could save that stinkfest. For the selections, both movie channels get a D- from me.

Now, onto the series. I watched all of the available episodes of Girls. The show that is supposed to speak to me about my generation and thrill me with its accurate depiction of my life. It wasn’t as terrible as I thought it might be, although the dialogue can be rather clunky, and the acting isn’t spectacular (especially from Allison Williams – she always looked like she was trying not to burst out laughing, and it bugged me). At roughly zero times did I watch the show and think, “Oh em gee! This is like looking into a mirror!” If that was true, I would have grabbed a hammer and shattered the glass.

I also tried to watch Game of Thrones, but I just couldn’t get into it. I watched the tail end of a Real Time with Bill Maher, and saw about three seconds of an old True Blood. I wish that The Newsroom had started, since I’m in the news business and enjoy Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, but maybe I can go to a friend’s and check it out there after it’s premiere. For the series, I would give HBO a B.

I wanted to see a few of the documentaries, but I only had a chance to see HBO’s take on the book Too Big Too Fail. It was very well made, relatively easy to follow (when it comes to Wall Street, I understand nothing), and filled with great actors, from Cynthia Nixon to Topher Grace. The documentaries get an A.

My final verdict? At this time, I don’t think I’ll be subscribing, although the thought of having HBO Go really does tempt me. I am trying to be more responsible with my money, and it wouldn’t be too sensible to spend even $15 on something that I really don’t need. If you think I am making a terrible mistake and should throw fiscal responsibility out the window, let me know!

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

5 replies on “Putting HBO to the Test”

HBO drives me a little crazy. I don’t have a TV (because I’m poor, not because I’m pretentious), and for other shows I watch (The Walking Dead, for example) I buy a season pass on iTunes or Amazon and watch. But, no. HBO won’t make their shows available per episode, which is infuriating, because I’d pay for it! Buying a season pass for Game of Thrones would still be way cheaper than getting cable plus HBO, and I’d bet they’d make a decent chunk of change off of people like me, who just don’t subscribe. I know they want to sell subscriptions, but they’re pretty change-resistant as far as how people interact with TV these days.

HBO GO has saved my sanity this week- my roommate with the TV left, so I have no way to watch my nice pricey cable for the moment. But I’ve been using my mom’s login, and I’m pretty impressed with the content.

It sounds like you’re making the right choice not signing up for it if you’re not into the shows. If I weren’t such an addict to their shows I probably would not think it was worth it.

But . . . but . . The Newsroom starts next week!

And then Boardwalk Empire! More Chalky White!

And . . . and Game of Thrones!

The price of cable is ridiculous, I absolutely agree.  I’m waiting for the day we’ll be able to pick our channels ala carte and only pay for what we watch. For me, that’s about 10 channels.

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