While the likes of Netflix and Amazon continue to compete for original series across the globe, Hotstar has been content to rely on its licensing deals, including HBO and Showtime, and those made available by its parent Fox to stack its offerings. It's still the lightest of the lot, with less than half of Amazon's and a sixth of Netflix's. Watching a TV show on Hotstar rather than a movie is much better in comparison though, given there are no aspect-ratio formatting worries with content made for television.
To prepare this list, we used aggregate ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb to draw up a shortlist, and then picked our top 30. Unlike with Netflix, Hotstar doesn't have enough great titles to warrant a top-50 list. Here are the best TV shows on Hotstar in India, sorted alphabetically. This list will be updated once every month if there are any worthy additions or if some TV shows are removed from the service, so bookmark this page and keep checking in.
American Crime Story (2016 – Present)
A crime anthology series from prolific creator Ryan Murphy, which dramatises historic criminal cases in the US, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the assassination of Gianni Versace by spree killer Andrew Cunanan. A terrific first season followed by a slightly less powerful second.
American Horror Story (2011 – Present)
Another anthology series from Ryan Murphy, this one in the horror genre, with seven seasons to show for it already. The best years are season two "Asylum" set at a mental institution in 1964 and season three "Coven" following a group of witches fighting for their survival.
The Americans (2013 – 2018)
Set during the Cold War, two Russian spies (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) who have kids pose as an American family living in 1980s Washington, D.C., to spy on the US government. Excellent from start to finish, thanks to terrific writing and acting, bolstered by a family focus and resonating themes.
Band of Brothers (2001)
A 10-part miniseries based on Stephen Ambrose's 1992 book about a World War II unit called Easy Company – offering an intense look at the horrors of war through dramatisation, interviews and archive footage – which begins with their training in 1942 and ends with Allied victory in Europe in 1945.
Barry (2018 – Present)
A dark comedy about a former marine working as a hit man in the Midwest who goes to Los Angeles for a job and discovers a new passion for acting as he gets involved with eager hopefuls in the local theatre scene.
Better Things (2016 – Present)
Pamela Adlon is the creator and star of this comedy-drama, about a single mother who struggles to balance raising her three girls and her career as an actor. Just like its protagonist, the show has charted its own path, pairing caustic humour and poignant observation in marvellous ways.
Big Little Lies (2017 – Present)
The lives of three wealthy but emotionally-troubled young women (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley) living in in an idyllic California town are upended after their involvement in a murder investigation, sending ripples across the community.
Billions (2016 – Present)
Set in the world of New York high finance, a shrewd, savvy US attorney (Paul Giamatti) and a brilliant, ambitious hedge-fund manager(Damian Lewis) try to outmanoeuvre each other in this slightly-soapy and larger-than-life drama about greed, power and competition.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000 – Present)
Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays a fictionalised version of himself in this semi-improvised sitcom about a semi-retired TV writer dealing with cringe-inducing situations, mostly caused by his own faux pas. Laugh out loud during its original run, but it couldn't scale those heights when it returned in 2017.
Deadwood (2004 – 2006)
Profanity and violence are omnipresent in this 19th-century Western tale of a lawless South Dakota settlement, which incorporated historical characters (Ian McShane playing one) as it presented a richly-textured portrait that stands as one of the best in its genre, with its only fault being a lack of closure.
The Deuce (2017 – Present)
The Wire creator David Simon brings his storytelling touch to 1970s New York, following the moment in time when the sex-trade went from being a back-alley thing to a legalised billion-dollar market in the US. Stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal in leading roles, with the former playing twin brothers.
Doctor Who (2006 – Present)
A British pop culture icon, charting the adventures of a time-traveling alien called "The Doctor" and his human companions as they deal with crises across time and space. After a slightly wobbly start to the revival, it has produced gems with each new actor, albeit inconsistently.
Feud: Bette and Joan (2017)
The backstage rivalry between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis during the production of a film in early 1960s serves as the focal point for this anthology series – also from Ryan Murphy – which explores ageism, sexism and misogyny in their struggle to hold onto fading fame.
Game of Thrones (2011 – Present)
Based on George R.R. Martin's unfinished "A Song of Ice and Fire" series of novels, the most popular show of the 2010s follows the power struggles between seven medieval kingdoms, in a fantasy world filled with death, dragons, and colourful characters. Storytelling suffered in later years, after it ran out of source material.
Girls (2012 – 2017)
A modern-day comedy about four women in their early 20s making a living in New York, depicted with wit, provocation, and compassion.Some characters may have ended up as caricatures in later seasons, but it was a rare female-led expression of their experience.
High Maintenance (2016 – Present)
The personal lives of stressed-out people in New York, depicted through the observations of their cannabis deliveryman (Ben Sinclair). Strangely poignant and somehow insightful as it went on, making a successful transition from web to TV.
How I Met Your Mother (2005 – 2014)
With the entire show essentially a giant flashback, a father tells his children about the events that led him to meet their mother, taking a long detour through the personal lives of his friends. Fell sharply in quality in later seasons, and the finale pleased few.
Insecure (2016 – Present)
A hilarious look at the awkward lives of two African-American women, who are best friends and live in Los Angeles, as they navigate personal and professional troubles while looking for something fulfilling.
Malgudi Days (1987 – 1988)
R.K. Narayanan's collection of short stories about different faces of life in a fictional South India town are selectively adapted for the screen, thanks to his cartoonist brother R.K. Laxman, actor-director Shankar Nag, and producer T.S. Narasimhan.
Modern Family (2009 – Present)
A mockumentary-style comedy following the extended Pritchett clan comprised of three modern families: a patriarch, his younger Latina wife and her son; his firstborn daughter and her family of two kids; and his son who lives with his husband and adoptive daughter. Three strong seasons and five straight Emmy wins, but not as well received since.
The Night Of (2016)
Riz Ahmed stars as a Pakistani-American student in this eight-part miniseries, who is charged with a woman's murder after a night of partying mysteriously goes awry, of which he has no recollection. Less a crime drama and more an indictment of the US criminal justice system.
Pose (2018 – Present)
Set in 1980s New York, this dance-musical drama – co-created by Ryan Murphy – explores several parts of society: the ball-culture world, the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe and the downtown social and literary scene. Noted for its large transgender cast.
Rome (2005 – 2007)
The transition of Ancient Rome from Republic to Empire, that began in 52 BC under Julius Caesar and set the stage for civil war, explored through the eyes of two soldiers whose lives intertwine with major events in history. Ran for just two seasons due to costs.
Sharp Objects (2018)
Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn brings another one of her complex female protagonists to screen in this miniseries, with Amy Adamsplaying a journalist who returns to her small hometown to report on the murders of two preteen girls and finds herself involved a little too closely owing to her dark past.
Silicon Valley (2014 – Present)
Set in the high-tech gold rush of its eponymous San Francisco Bay Area, a comedy that lampoons the struggles of six programmers trying to make it big and offers a timely satire of problems caused by modern-day technology.
This Is Us (2016 – Present)
This heartstrings-tugging family drama jumps through time to depict the lives of three siblings (Sterling K. Brown among them) and their parents, who seem to be mysteriously linked to each other in ways beyond their shared birthday.
True Detective (2014 – Present)
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson played two Louisiana homicide detectives in the first and only worthwhile season of this anthology crime drama, whose pursuit of a serial killer over a 17-year period gains renewed interest owing to a new, similar case.
Veep (2012 – Present)
A satirical take on the inner workings of the US government, following a senator (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) chosen to serve as the Vice President, and the hilarious antics of her incompetent staff. Won the Emmy three years in a row, while Louis-Dreyfus has racked up six straight wins.
Westworld (2016 – Present)
Set in a futuristic theme park, this mind-bending sci-fi series is about the dawn of consciousness in androids, who have been used by their human makers without any fear of retaliation. Based on Michael Crichton's 1973 film, on which it then expands.
The Wire (2002 – 2008)
A complex, unflinching examination of the societal ills plaguing Baltimore, always focused on the city's illegal drug trade and touching upon the waterfront, politicians, school system, and media consumption as season-long subplots. Told the story from all angles and remains one of the best shows of all-time.