Hulu might not have the sheer volume of original content that Netflix and Amazon provide, but there are more than a few impressive shows the streaming video service produces in-house that set it apart from its competitors.
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From award-winning dramas like The Handmaid’s Tale to hilarious comedies like Difficult People, Hulu’s original programming covers a wide range of genres and tones, and it’s only getting more diverse as the company increases its profile in the streaming video environment.
Here are our favorite original series currently available on Hulu, so you can spend less time searching through the streaming platform’s library and more time binging on the best it has to offer.
It’s not strictly a Hulu original since the first six seasons premiered on The Movie Network in Canada. However, in 2019, Hulu acquired exclusive U.S. distribution rights and the last two seasons have been branded as Hulu Originals. Semantics aside, Letterkenny centers on the residents of Letterkenny, a tiny rural community in Canada. The town’s inhabitants generally fall into one of several groups: Hicks, the out-of-towners on the local hockey team, drug addicts, and members of the local First Nation. Letterkenny has much in common with another Canadian sitcom that was popular in the U.S., Trailer Park Boys, but it also has an ethos all to itself and has a greater tendency to get philosophical — even if it’s by accident.
High Fidelity is a twist on the hit John Cusack movie about a record store owner named Rob who examines his failure in love and relationships through the lens of his encyclopedic knowledge of music. In Hulu’s series retelling of the story, Rob is short for Robyn, and she’s played by Zoe Kravitz. Rob owns a record store in the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, and is determined to keep her store authentic. But she also struggles in love, and the series follows her attempts to grow up, find her identity, and get over her one true love while revisiting her past relationships through music and pop culture.
From the producers of Robot Chicken, Crossing Swords retains some of the raunch and zaniness but also adopts a linear narrative. The story follows a goodhearted, aspiring hero named Patrick who lands his dream job as a squire, only to discover that the royal castle is, well, gross. His kingdom is run by a nest of horny monarchs, crooks, and charlatans who will stop at nothing to protect and abuse their power. The kicker: These are all peg people moving with stop-motion animation.
Cate Blanchett stars in this story about the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Blanchett portrays Phyllis Schlafly, “the sweetheart of the silent majority” that is hellbent on preserving the sanctity of separate gender roles and the cult of domesticity. The story is told through the eyes of Schlafly and second-wave feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, and Jill Ruckelshaus, exploring one of the toughest battlegrounds of the 1970s culture wars that forever changed the American political landscape.
Ramy Youssef won a Best Actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of a version of himself on this intelligent comedy about a first-generation Egyptian American on a spiritual journey in his politically divided New Jersey neighborhood. Caught between a Muslim community that believes life is a moral test and a millennial generation that doesn’t believe in consequences, Ramy’s perspective is nuanced, conflicted, and evolving. Although he’s looking to find some enlightenment, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still want to be a normal 20-something who dates, goes to parties, and all of that. He’s just trying to find some balance.
Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle created and star as their middle school selves in this hilarious adult comedy. Oh, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle are in their 30s. They’re playing 13-year-old middle schoolers while surrounded by actual 13-year-olds. You don’t need to know the creators to relate to them. They’re outcasts in the year 2000, falling in love and experiencing the worst turmoil of their lives on the whims of a passed note.
This critically acclaimed comedy series follows a newly divorced single mother who finds herself living with her slacker brother, the founder of a popular dating site, after her ex-husband leaves her — and their teenage daughter — for a younger woman. Michaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, and Tara Lynne Barr star in the series, which also featured Oscar-nominated Juno and Up in the Air director Jason Reitman behind the camera for several episodes of the series’ four-season run.
Widely praised for its clever dialogue and insightful look at the modern dating scene, Casual earned a Golden Globe Award nomination in 2016 as one of the year’s best comedy series.
The Act is a seasonal anthology series that focuses on some of the strangest true crime stories yanked straight from the headlines. The first season follows Gypsy Blanchard (Joey King), a girl trying to escape the toxic relationship she has with her mother, Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette), who suffers from Munchausen by proxy. As Gypsy seeks independence, she opens a Pandora’s box of secrets that ultimately lead to her mother’s murder. If you like crazy, true stories about situations that get dramatically out of hand, you’ll love The Act.
From Rick & Morty executive producer Justin Roiland, Solar Opposites takes the outer space elements of Rick & Morty and brings them into American suburbia. When a team of four aliens crash land into a move-in ready home, they’re evenly split on whether America is awful or awesome. Korvo and Yumyulack see the pollution, consumerism, and human frailty as existential failings. Terry and Jesse, however, love humans and their TV, junk food, and toys. They’ll all have to endure, because their mission is to protect the Pupa, a living supercomputer that will one day evolve into its final form, eat them, and terraform the earth.
If you love Stephen King, this series is for you. Castle Rock is a psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse. The series combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of some of King’s most beloved works, weaving an epic saga of dark versus light, all playing out in a few square miles of Maine woods. The fictional town of Castle Rock is the setting of many King stories, including Cujo, The Dark Half, IT, The Shawshank Redemption, and Needful Things, as well as numerous other novellas and short stories. Fictional worlds collide in this fascinating reimagining of the entire King canon, serving as a reminder of how truly remarkable and extensive the writer’s work is.
“Difficult” is an understatement when it comes to the lead duo in this series, which follows a pair of struggling New York City comedians who are terrible to just about everyone they encounter — all except for each other, that is. Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner portray the two mean-spirited comedians who can’t seem to get out of their own way, with Amy Poehler serving as executive producer on the series.
The three-season series earned comparisons to Curb Your Enthusiasm over the course of its run, and like the latter series, it also featured a long list of familiar faces from the comedy world who make cameos or play supporting roles in the series. The final season of the series premiered in 2017.
The Hunger Games actor Josh Hutcherson stars in this sci-fi comedy series that casts him as a lowly janitor whose mastery of a popular video game leads to him being recruited for a time-hopping mission to stop a future apocalypse. If it sounds like the plot of The Last Starfighter, it’s supposed to — and that’s not the only pop-culture touchstone the series mines for inspiration.
The show comes from the mind of Misfits creator Howard Overman, and the presence of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as producers — better known for their collaborations on Superbad, The Pineapple Express, and Knocked Up — offers a good indication of the sort of humor and pop culture references that fill the show. Its well-received first season was followed by a second-season renewal in early 2018.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The crown jewel of Hulu’s original programming, this dystopian drama is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name and unfolds in an alternate future wherein a civil war has turned the former United States of America into a totalitarian, patriarchal society that subjugates women. Elisabeth Moss plays a woman forced into servitude as a “handmaid” tasked with child-bearing duties for a military leader and his infertile wife.
Across the first three seasons, the series has been nominated for 54 Emmys and won 14, including an “Outstanding Series” win for the first season. The fourth season is expected sometime in 2021.
Business is pleasure, and pleasure is the family business in this British-American drama that follows a pair of rival brothel owners in 18th-century England. Samantha Morton portrays former prostitute Margaret Wells in the series, and the show chronicles her efforts to compete with the high-class brothel run by her former employer while juggling the demands of raising her own family and status.
The series premiered in 2017 to positive reviews and was followed by a second season that debuted in July.
Hulu’s lone entry (for now, at least) in Marvel’s cinematic universe, Runaways is based on the comic book series of the same name featuring a group of teenagers in a wealthy Los Angeles suburb who discover that their parents are supervillains. The young cast impressed audiences with a stellar first season that masterfully blended modern high-school drama with traditional comic-book themes and gave the entire show a unique vibe that set it apart from its superhero movie and television peers. The series is now also available on Disney+.
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