HBO Pushing Free Episodes Of Original Shows As "Recommended By Humans" Instead Of An Algorithm

Last summer, Netflix completely got rid of the user reviews that once populated their desktop website. That left the streaming service's recommendation algorithm as the primary way for users to determine whether or not they would like a show that keeps popping up through the various Netflix access points. Now HBO is throwing some shade at Netflix's lack of a personal touch by introducing a new promotional tool called "Recommended By Humans," which features real people suggesting shows to watch in a candid and fun way. Plus,  you can watch the first episode of nearly four dozen HBO original shows for free right now.

If you go to the "Recommended by Humans" website on a desktop computer or mobile browser, you can move around a seemingly endless array of tiles with video recommendations, quotes, tweets and plenty of praise for a wide variety of HBO shows, movies and documentaries that people have enjoyed. Here are all the HBO originals recommended by humans with the first episode (or an entire film in some cases) available to watch for free right now:

  • A Black Lady Sketch Show
  • Animals.
  • Ballers
  • Big Little Lies
  • Bored to Death
  • Carnivale
  • Chernobyl
  • Crashing
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Deadwood
  • Divorce
  • Eastbound & Down
  • Enlightened
  • Euphoria
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Game of Thrones
  • Gentleman Jack
  • Girls
  • Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Los Espookys
  • Mommy Dead and Dearest
  • My Brilliant Friend
  • Random Acts of Flyness
  • Sally4Ever
  • Sex and the City
  • Sharp Objects
  • Silicon Valley
  • Six Feet Under
  • Succession
  • The Comeback
  • The Deuce
  • The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • The Leftovers
  • The Night Of
  • The Normal Heart
  • The Sopranos
  • The Wire
  • The Young Pope
  • There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane
  • True Blood
  • True Detective
  • Veep
  • Vice Principals
  • Westworld

Most of the offerings are for HBO's newer line of programming, though there are some classics in there like The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire, The Larry Sanders Show, and Six Feet Under. But this is just this initial list of programming offered through the Recommended By Humans tool. It will be updated regularly with new fan recommendations and different shows and movies.

In case there was any doubt, these are real HBO fans that the network paid for their time (but not for their positive review). The cable network says: "The first HBO brand campaign to entirely feature fans, "Recommended by Humans" celebrates the emotional connection HBO viewers have with the network's programming and illustrates the power of recommendations from real humans who, simply put, really love television."

HBO is surely hoping that first episode will make you want to subscribe to HBO, whether it's through your cable provider, a streaming service, or HBO Now. It's probably a good way to get more people aware of their programming line-up before HBO Max comes along and offers access to these shows and much more in a whole new way.