Best Shows about Police Brutality on HBO Max

The merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery may have raised concerns about HBO Max’s future, but the streaming service continues to offer an impressive array of top-notch content.

With fierce competition in the TV streaming industry, HBO has established itself as a powerhouse of high-quality television, particularly in the crime drama genre.

The network’s crime dramas have played a significant role in solidifying this reputation, showcasing their natural ability to excel in restricted and long-form storytelling. From the captivating original series “Tokyo Vice” to the critically acclaimed “True Detective,” HBO Max boasts a star-studded lineup of television programming.

If you’re looking to binge-watch the best shows about police brutality on HBO Max, we’ve got you covered with the perfect list. Get ready for thrilling and impactful storytelling that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Wire (2002-2008)

The first edition in the list of Best Shows about Police Brutality on HBO Max is The Wire. One of HBO’s earliest displays of its acclaimed originals was an intensely gripping police procedural unrelenting in its real-world depictions.

After flying under the radar during its first run, the series has been hailed for its realistic portrayal of police corruption, bureaucratic red tape, local politics, and the grim struggle of existence in urban blight. 

Season one of The Wire focuses on the city’s illegal drug trade; season two on the transportation system; season three on municipal administration; season four on the education system; and season five on print news media.

It was ahead of its time in handling representation and social themes, which makes it more relevant and interesting now.

DirectorDavid Simon
Release DateJune 2, 2002
GenreCrime, Drama, Thriller
CastDominic West, John Doman, Deirdre Lovejoy, Wendell Pierce, Lance Reddick
CharactersDetective James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty, Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls, A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman, Detective William ‘Bunk’ Moreland, Lieutenant Cedric Daniels
Famous Dialogue“We’re Building Something, Here, Detective, We’re Building It From Scratch. All The Pieces Matter.”
IMDb Rating9.3/10
Shooting LocationBaltimore, Maryland, USA

True Detective (2014-2019)

Even though the quality of season 2 of the anthology crime-drama True Detective dropped, the show still stands as one of HBO’s most compelling original offerings.

It’s been bookended by two excellent episodes, but the chemistry between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the first season is still the gold standard. Darkly psychological, True Detective immerses viewers in riveting detective stories that successfully pull at the mind.

The third season, featuring Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff, was a worthy effort in its own right. Their journey becomes a fascinating parallel of a haunted past and illuminating present, with commentary on real-world concerns. Production on True Detective Season 4 has begun, and it will feature a new cast, including Jodie Foster and Kali Reis in the title role.

DirectorNic Pizzolatto
Release DateJanuary 12, 2014
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
CastVince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, Matthew McConaughey
CharactersFrank Semyon, Detective Ray Velcoro, Detective Ani Bezzerides, Officer Paul Woodrugh, Detective Rust Cohle
Famous Dialogue“It’s all one ghetto, man. A giant gutter in outer space.”
IMDb Rating8.9/10
Shooting LocationArkansas, USA

Tokyo Vice (2022)

Tokyo Vice is one of the fascinating first-run shows on any streaming provider. The show is based on the book of the same name by writer Jake Adelstein, who became the first foreign-born reporter in Japan and investigated the dark criminal underbelly of Tokyo.

Tokyo Vice is one of the best shows about police brutality on HBO Max, it is compelling crime thriller directed by Hirokazu Kore-Eda and starring Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe, with a cast of characters whose individual goals and desires entangle them in the larger fight between the Yakuza.

The Japanese side of the ensemble, especially Watanabe and Shô Kasamatsu’s characters, is the show’s best asset since they bring such nuance and feeling to their roles. The second season of Tokyo Vice is well on its way to becoming a long-running hit, and production has already begun.

DirectorJ.T. Rogers
Release DateApril 7, 2022
GenreCrime, Drama, Thriller
CastAnsel Elgort, Ella Rumpf, Hideaki Ito, Ken Watanabe, Rachel Keller
CharactersJake Adelstein, Polina, Hiroto Katagiri, Samantha, Jin Miyamoto
Famous Dialogue“We Get To Increase The World’s Knowledge Every Day.”
IMDb Rating8/10
Shooting LocationTokyo, Japan

Mare of Easttown (2021)

The limited series Mare of Easttown, for which an Emmy was awarded, included great acting from its cast members. Even in such a well-rounded program, Kate Winslet stands out for her portrayal of a disturbed investigator in a sleepy village.

The protagonist of Mare of Easttown is a police investigator whose life unravels as she deals with a murder investigation, a missing person case that has been going on for a year, and problems at home.

The series’ use of a tiny town where everyone knows one other helps sell the series’ intimate intimacy, amplifying the impact of the show’s emotional moments and biting social satire across its seven episodes.

DirectorBrad Ingelsby
Release DateApril 18, 2021
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery
CastKate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice
CharactersDetective Mare Sheehan, Lori Ross, Helen Fahey, Siobhan Sheehan
Famous Dialogue“Wherever you go after this, I hope they treat you better than we did.”
IMDb Rating8.4/10
Shooting LocationMont Clare, Pennsylvania, USA

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

The HBO classic The Sopranos is a must-see criminal thriller for fans of Martin Scorsese-style mobster films.

The show, which starred James Gandolfini before his untimely death as mob boss Tony Soprano, chronicles the activities of the Soprano family in their grim corner of the New Jersey underworld.

Cleverly, The Sopranos is organized around Tony’s psychotherapy sessions with Dr. Jennifer Melfi, where he learns about the importance of mental health.

The show’s premise is just as ingenious as its framing mechanism, serving as a critique of the glitzy, gory portrayal of mob life in the works of directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. The only sides shown are the grim and bloody ones.

DirectorDavid Chase
Release DateJanuary 10, 1999
GenreCrime, Drama
CastJames Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese
CharactersTony Soprano, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Carmela Soprano, Christopher Moltisanti, Junior Soprano
Famous Dialogue“You steer the ship the best way you know. Sometimes it’s smooth. Sometimes you hit the rocks. In the meantime, you find your pleasures where you can.”
IMDb Rating9.2/10
Shooting LocationSatin Dolls – 230 State Route 17 S., Lodi, New Jersey, USA

Barry (2018)

Barry is a fantastic example of the adaptability of crime dramas, and Bill Hader’s acting skills in a more nontraditional but no less compelling case.

Hader plays the title character, a miserable low-level hitman who takes up acting and discovers a newfound passion and drive for social contact. The former SNL star is at his comedic best in Barry, a crime drama with just the right amount of dark comedy.

It’s fresh air in crime dramas and television, with the actual writing. The show has received mostly positive reviews across all three seasons, even as the tone of its most recent outing has become more dramatic.

Season 4 is in the works, and it will have eight additional episodes that continue to follow Barry on his adventure.

DirectorAlec Berg, Bill Hader
Release DateMarch 25, 2018
GenreAction, Comedy, Crime, Drama
CastStephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler
CharactersMonroe Fuches, Sally Reed, NoHo Hank, Gene Cousineau
Famous Dialogue“You Should Be Able To Be The Person That You Say You Are.”
IMDb Rating8.4/10
Shooting LocationSteve Allen Theater – 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California, USA

We Own This City (2022)

The series We Own This City, based on the book of the same name by reporter Justin Fenton, is the latest in a string of excellent criminal drama limited series produced by the network in the past year or so.

The Gun Trace Task Force of the Baltimore Police Department is the focus of We Own This City, which details the unit’s rise to power, subsequent corruption, and ultimate demise.

Sergeant Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal) is the film’s major focus since he is one of eight police officers who were found guilty of various counts of corruption in 2018 and 2019.

The episode was generally well-received, with praise directed at Bernthal specifically for his portrayal and to the show as a whole for its critical representation of the corruption surrounding law enforcement that took cues from The Wire in a tasteful manner.

DirectorReinaldo Marcus Green
Release DateApril 25, 2022
GenreBiography, Crime, Drama
CastJon Bernthal, Wunmi Mosaku, Jamie Hector, Josh Charles, McKinley Belcher
CharactersWayne Jenkins, Nicole Steele, Sean Suiter, Daniel Hersl, Momodu ‘G Money’ Gondo
Famous Dialogue“If We Lose The Fight, We Lose The Streets. Let That Sink In.”
IMDb Rating7.6/10
Shooting LocationBaltimore, Maryland, USA

Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)

The last show in the list of Best Shows about Police Brutality on HBO Max is Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014). Crime dramas benefit from including period pieces, whether they focus on the Italian mafia or the Irish mob.

Boardwalk Empire, set in the 1920s and 1930s during Prohibition, employs the historical piece drama perspective to merge history with fiction. With an outstanding ensemble cast, the film is led by Steve Buscemi as the fictional corrupt Atlantic County treasurer Nucky Thompson.

The story, as may be guessed, centers on the illegal alcohol trade that flourished in Atlantic City during Prohibition’s peak and twilight years. Boardwalk Empire received high marks for its stunning visual flair and blended of fictitious and historical features, in addition to Buscemi’s powerful portrayal as the lead.

DirectorTerence Winter
Release DateSeptember 19, 2010
GenreCrime, Drama
CastSteve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham
CharactersEnoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson, Margaret Thompson, Nelson Van Alden, Elias ‘Eli’ Thompson
Famous Dialogue“Allowing you to simply go to jail is the last gift I’ll ever give you.”
IMDb Rating8.6/10
Shooting LocationRidgewood, Queens, New York City, New York, USA


In conclusion, HBO Max offers a captivating array of true crime shows that delve into the darkest corners of human behavior.

From fraud and murder investigations to scandalous Hollywood tales and gripping unsolved mysteries, these series showcase the complexity of real-life events and the impact they have on society.

HBO’s commitment to high-quality storytelling is evident in these shows, which shed light on important issues and deliver riveting narratives.

Unsa Faheem

Unsa Faheem is a seasoned content writer specializing in the streaming industry. With a keen eye for the latest trends in TV shows, movies, and celebrity culture, She brings her expertise and enthusiasm to each piece she writes. Her work is characterized by insightful analysis and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.
Education: Engaging Content and Marketing.

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