Great dramas, comedies, concert specials and more illustrate the pay cable channel's sweep
"In Treatment" (2008-2010)
This therapy drama was not for everyone, but that's exactly what made it special — and helped illustrate what HBO can do that few others in the business can, and that almost no one else would even try. Adapting an Israeli series about a psychiatrist (here played by the marvelous, intense, dour Gabriel Byrne), his patients (over three seasons, a collection of great performances by John Mahoney, Irrfan Khan, Mia Wasikowska, Alison Pill and many more), and his own therapists (first Dianne Wiest, then Amy Ryan), "In Treatment" was a show that was literally all talk, and no action. It asked you to watch five episodes a week (down to four in the final season) in which Byrne's Paul Weston simply sat and listened to his patients' many problems, or else in which he was busy exploding about the frustrations of his own life. A masterclass of acting, a wonderfully theatrical concept, and enough heartbreaking revelations to drive even the most stoic viewer into real-life therapy. "In Treatment" was never perfect (though the second season lineup came close), but its messiness felt appropriate to a profession where there are no simple solutions or clean breaks.