Why was I not told?

Tip o’ the propellor beanie to Beeso who sent me this much appreciated link to a critical gush job over at Rolling Stone. The subject of all the gushing? Cinemax.

This is a cable station that doesn’t even exist in Australia, but one of its finest gems is a fave of mine. Banshee. Best fights scenes ever recorded for TV. (And probably for cinema too). I loved it so much I straight-up bought all four seasons on iTunes.

What I didn’t know, until I followed the link in Beeso’s text message, was that Banshee grew out of an entire oeuvre. I’ll let the Stone explain.

For the last decade, “just the usual” on Cinemax on Friday nights has involved fists, knives, pistols, rifles, and the occasional flamethrower or explosive ordnance. It has been one of the most consistently underrated pleasures on TV since 2011 — a time when people thought of Cinemax as HBO’s cheaper, porn-ier little brother, more often referred to as “Skinemax” than by its actual name.

Back then, the executives running the pay-cable channel knew they couldn’t compete with their corporate sibling in prestige, ambition, or even budgets, so they opted to attack the original series game from a different angle. HBO would have its lofty dramas on Sunday nights (Game of Thrones had premiered that spring), while Cinemax would lean into its pulpy-bordering-on-trashy reputation with a collection of Friday-night action series. The blueprint for these shows would be B- and C-movie thrillers starring the likes of Jason Statham that had long been a Cinemax staple, right along with the gratuitously nude ones. (And don’t worry. There would be plenty of nudity here, too.)

The essay goes on to giddy heights about other Cinemax shows I’d never heard of. Warrior, the martial arts epic which just wrapped up. Strike Back, a ridonkulously OTT drama about a globe trotting British special forces unit. Hunted, a Bourne-ish spy thriller. And Jett, a hard boiled crime drama.

Never heard of any of them, but if I can’t find them on the streamers I am totally going to iTunes, surely on the basis of this essay and my enjoyment of Banshee.