Streaming TV is not a new concept, but its popularity is at an all-time high. Thanks to the wonder of on-demand viewing, fans of most TV series need not worry about catching their favorite show when it airs, or even setting up their DVR. To help you sort through the massive vault that is Hulu’s library, we’ve put together a list of the best shows on the streaming service for January. From comedies to animated classics, we cover it all.
- Best movies on Hulu
- Best shows on Netflix
- Best shows on Disney+
- Best shows on Amazon Prime
- Best HBO series
Nathan for You
Life is tough for small business owners, but if your business is struggling, there’s one man you can turn to for help: Nathan Fielder (playing a fictional version of himself), a consultant with a metaphorical briefcase full of bizarre marketing ideas and social anxiety. When an ordinary business owner finds themselves in a tricky situation, Fielder strolls into their lives like an awkward Rumpelstiltskin, ready to solve their problem in some bizarre way. Nathan For You is a brilliant mockumentary, with Nathan’s outlandish marketing stunts confusing the ordinary folk entangled in them — his parody coffee shop Dumb Starbucks even made international news!
Set in the remote, rural town of Letterkenny (populated, the show tells us, entirely by hicks, skids, hockey players, and Christians), Jared Keeso’s comedy Letterkenny follows a group of hicks: Wayne (Keeso), his friend Daryl (Nathan Dales), Katy (Michelle Mylett), and Squirrelly Dan (K. Trevor Wilson), as well as a pair of hockey players, Reilly (Dylan Playfair) and Jonesy (Andrew Herr), with whom Katy has a three-way relationship. The show revolves around their lives and encounters with the other eccentrics in the town. It’s a show deeply rooted in Canadian culture, with heavy use of slang, but even those unfamiliar with the vernacular will quickly come to appreciate the show’s deadpan wit.
Adapting a great work of literature, particularly one as stylish as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, is a daunting task, but George Clooney and company managed to do it, more or less successfully, in this four-part miniseries. Set during World War II, Catch-22 follows Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), an American bombardier desperate to get out of the war. He wants to take advantage of the military’s policy of discharging any soldier on the basis of insanity. Unfortunately, Yossarian’s desire to get discharged for insanity is stifled by the military’s Catch-22 clause: Anyone who is crazy can ask to be discharged, but anyone asking to be discharged is clearly thinking rationally. So Yossarian keeps flying missions, and his superiors keep raising the number of missions required to end the war, and the war seems no closer to ending. Catch-22 is a darkly hilarious examination of the horrors of bureaucracy (and war), with a brilliant cast including — along with Abbott — George Clooney, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie, and Julie Ann Emery.
The streaming world is awash in introspective, character-driven comedies, and while Ramy’s format will feel familiar, it adds a new wrinkle. The eponymous character (played by comedian Ramy Youssef) isn’t just a millennial dealing with the awkward ups and downs of work and dating in the 21st century. He’s also Muslim and trying to lead a moral life in amoral times. Ramy wades in ambiguities and its protagonist’s hypocrisies and hang-ups — he’s uncomfortable kissing a Muslim woman on their first date, but fine hooking up with non-Muslims, for which the former chews him out. It’s a show with a unique perspective and a willingness to present its characters in an unflattering light.
The Venture Bros.
Adult Swim’s long-running (the series has been running off and on since 2003) dark comedy The Venture Bros. is a hilarious, occasionally depressing exploration of failure and legacies, set in a world full of colorful characters. Originally built as a parody of ‘60s adventure shows like Jonny Quest, The Venture Bros. focuses on Dr. Rusty Venture (James Urbaniak), a once-famous boy adventurer who grew up to be a failed scientist and owner of his father’s company, as well as his two sons, Hank (Christopher McCulloch) and Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas), and their bodyguard, secret agent/bulky murder machine Brock Samson (Patrick Warburton). The show follows the family through various adventures and schemes, flitting through various genres and story structures. The humor is weird but often brilliant — one particularly strange episode reimagines the Scooby gang as a bunch of drug-addled fiends — but what truly stands out about the show is how it has built a vast world full of recurring, oddball characters whose relationships evolve over time.
Donald Glover is a modern Renaissance man: Since launching a comedy career via skits circulated on YouTube, he has since branched into rapping, acting, and even showrunning, with the remarkable, surreal comedy-drama Atlanta. The show follows a dogged college dropout named Earn (Glover), who sleeps at his on/off-again girlfriend’s place and struggles to provide for their child. When he learns that his cousin Alfred is starting to achieve success as a rapper — stage name: Paper Boi — Earn becomes his manager. There is not much of an overarching plot to Atlanta. Most episodes play out like short films, and the show experiments with a variety of stories and formats — one standout episode is presented entirely as an episode of a local interview show, complete with fake commercials. Daring and frequently poignant, Atlanta is one of the most exciting shows on TV today.
Desiree Akhavan’s The Bisexual is a character study of a bisexual woman, Leila (Akhavan), who breaks up with her older girlfriend after the latter proposes marriage. Leila moves in with a writer, Gabe (Brian Gleeson), and sets about trying to explore relationships with men, with sometimes awkward results. Leila must navigate not just relationships with men, but her friendships with the lesbian women she’s spent years associating with, who aren’t sure what to make of her now. It’s a complicated, emotionally honest examination of sexuality, with a complex cast of characters and a deft balance of humor of drama.
These days, coming-of-age stories are a dime a dozen, but few of them are as novel — or cringeworthy — as PEN15. Co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle star as 13-year-old versions of themselves, allowing the series to address topics and situations many would consider taboo if performed by younger lead actors. The two find their footing in hormone-fueled incidents involving masturbation and AOL Instant Messenger, not to mention everyday encounters with parents, principals, and the kind of insult-spewing preteens you can expect to find at any middle school. It’s all served with a heavy dose of ’90s-inspired nostalgia, meaning if the show’s no-holds-barred look at adolescence isn’t enough, perhaps the constant references to the Spice Girls will be.
The age of the subversive sitcom continues with Better Things, a dark, caustic comedy about growing older and raising kids. The show follows Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon), a struggling actress raising three kids by herself in Los Angeles. Sam juggles her attempts to advance her career and have fun with her responsibility to her daughters, each of whom presents their own unique difficulties. Adlon and co-creator Louis C.K. previously worked on the surreal comedy-drama Louie, and Better Things shows a similar mean streak, narrowing in on the grimy, depressing aspects of parenthood that other sitcoms gloss over.
The Last Man on Earth
Most people probably don’t consider the end of the world to be a hilarious scenario; thankfully, the creators of The Last Man on Earth were not deterred. The show finds humor in the apocalypse, following a man named Phil Miller (Will Forte), who wanders the ghost town of Tuscon after a viral outbreak destroys civilization. He eventually finds a companion, Carol Pilbasian (Kristen Schaal), but their personality quirks make life together problematic, to say the least. The Last Man on Earth is a strange show, and also a sharply written one, rendering it the kind of ambitious sitcom that only rarely comes along.
Comedian Aidy Bryant is, arguably, one of the best things about the current crop of Saturday Night Live performers. As such, it was only a matter of time before she found herself a proper show, one that riffs on her particular skill set and brand of humor. Shrill is that show. It’s based on author Lindy West’s 2016 memoir of the same name and is a biting take on what it means to be overweight, awkward, and a woman in a society that doesn’t always take kindly to any of the aforementioned traits. Needless to say, Bryant’s on-screen career as a struggling journalist is just the springboard for the show’s larger commentary.
Key & Peele
Great sketch shows have been in short supply for a while now, which makes it all the easier to appreciate the short but brilliant life of Key & Peele. Starring former MADtv members Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, the show is an adventurous collection of sketches that blend absurdist humor and social commentary. See, for example, a skit in which white news anchors complain about the dangers of “black ice” on the streets at night, to the indignation of their black colleagues. Not every sketch is political, however; sometimes they just freak out about the latest Liam Neeson film. Both hosts bring manic energy and throw themselves fully into a variety of roles.
Cartoon Network has developed a reputation in recent years for surreal, wonderfully animated shows that can appeal to adults as well as kids. Regular Show fits into the new pantheon of the network’s hits, alongside Adventure Time and Steven Universe, and it’s not hard to see why. The show’s colorful world and zany sense of humor are certain to entertain kids, but what sets Regular Show apart is its focus on themes and feelings that adults know all too well. The show follows Mordecai and Rigby — a blue jay and a raccoon, respectively — two slackers who deal with the sort of angst and aimlessness common to people in their 20s. Funny, smart, and often just plain weird, Regular Show is an excellent, character-driven series.
Man Seeking Woman
Following a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, Josh Greenberg (Jay Baruchel) needs to rebound … badly. Man Seeking Woman chronicles his adventures in dating, which involve, among other things, dating a troll, attending a wedding in Hell, and fiddling with the space-time continuum in an attempt to fix relationship mistakes. The show explores common aspects of life and dating through surreal scenes; an episode where Josh is tempted to cheat on a current girlfriend, for example, finds him taking a trip to “boyfriend court” in his mind. The show’s absurdist sense of humor at times makes it seem like a live-action cartoon, but the tone is balanced out by nuanced characters and some great performances. Baruchel is excellent as the somewhat charming, sometimes petulant Josh, and other characters — such as Josh’s best friend, Mike (Eric Andre), and sister, Liz (Britt Lower) — add memorable performances of their own.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
What South Park is to late-night animation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is to sitcoms. Rob McElhenney, Glen Howerton, and Charlie Day — who also created and write the show — star as three best friends who kind of hate each other, while Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito round out the cast as the infamous Dee and Frank. The group often finds itself in some of the most absurd situations as the members push into the uncharted and irreverent comedic territory for which the show is well known, usually as a result of their own botched schemes.
Community has seen its fair share of ups and downs while on NBC but this Dan Harmon comedy is one of the funniest shows on TV — its first three seasons were, at least. The show centers around a group of newly acquainted friends who attend a blunder of a community college. Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, and Donald Glover headline this hilarious show while Jim Rash’s turn as the dean is as funny as any character on TV. It’s no longer on the airwaves, but Yahoo recently picked up the show for an online-only sixth season.
Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time has amassed a huge audience over its six-season run, one that crosses over into numerous demographics, making it a contemporary classic for adults and kids alike. The stories of best friends Jake and Finn in the magical Land of Ooo are a joy to watch. Whether the duo is protecting the land from the evil (and misunderstood) Ice King or helping a young Vampire navigate her family life, Adventure Time captures a sense of adventure and fun, while providing a subtle maturity that speaks to older audiences.
Parks and Recreation
Fans of NBC’s other workplace comedy, The Office, will no doubt see some similarities in Parks and Recreation. Amy Poehler heads a hilarious cast comprised of comedian Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, and Chris Pratt. The show follows this cast of characters as they run the parks and recreation department in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana. The writing and comedic timing are superb as Parks is a bonafide hit and features some of modern television’s most memorable characters, such as the meat-loving Ron Swanson.
Parks and Recreation creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor struck comedy gold yet again with their action-comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Andy Samberg stars in the show, which focuses on a fictional police department precinct in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Andre Braugher plays the yin to Andy Samberg’s yang, providing dry, yet hilariously timed humor during each episode. In just its first season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine took home two Golden Globe trophies.
Ilana and her best friend Abbi are two 29-something women, living in New York. Abbi is a struggling artist, working at a fitness center while she attempts to get her career off the ground. Ilana, on the other hand, does everything in her power to avoid working, and instead pursues all manner of pleasurable distractions, including sexual escapades and consuming large amounts of marijuana. The two are often pulled into crazy scenarios, frequently as a consequence of one of Ilana’s ill-conceived plots. Broad City has received high praise from critics due to its clever writing and subtle-yet-effective message of female empowerment.
Despite getting canceled by Fox in 2006, Ron Howard and Mitchell Hurwitz’s Arrested Development saw critical success across the board. Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Michael Cera star as family members of the very dysfunctional Bluth family living in Newport Beach, California. The show centers around Michael Bluth (Bateman) as he’s forced to assist his off-the-wall relatives after the family business comes under fire.
Seinfeld is a show that needs no introduction. Starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Julia-Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jason Alexander as the neurotic George Costanza, and Michael Richards as the hilarious Kramer, each episode follows the group of friends as they endure the absurdities of life in the big city (along with their own foibles). Thankfully, the Emmy-winning sitcom has endured since its original run in the ’90s, further solidifying it as one of the most popular and important comedies to ever air on television.
Rick and Morty
Creators Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland (House of Cosbys) teamed up to create one of the best animated comedies in years. The basic premise centers on Rick (Roiland), a scientist who employs the help of his grandson, Morty, to assist him with dangerous quests and various schemes across space and time. The Adult Swim series is chock full of biting satire and clever humor, and moreover, has garnered a cult following in the wake of its successful and highly-acclaimed first season.
If you enjoy history, but find history shows to be a little dry, why not add liquor? Comedy Central’s Drunk History, which evolved from a Funny or Die web series, follows host Derek Waters and a revolving lineup of guests, who get drunk and recite stories from history, from big events like the revolutionary war to smaller ones like Edgar Allan Poe’s feud with publisher Rufus Griswold. For each lecture, actors — generally notable comic actors such as Kristen Wiig or Bob Odenkirk — re-enact the events, going so far as to incorporate the narrator’s mistakes or drunken tics. Watching Drunk History, you’ll probably get a few laughs, and maybe even learn something new.
This off-kilter comedy typically flies under the radar, despite its impressive pedigree and unique story. The show follows Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis), an aspiring clown who, after dropping out of a clown academy in Paris, moves back to California and takes a job as a rodeo clown. The show frequently examines Chip’s failed relationships and his attempts to achieve his dreams. The comedy is dark, though it finds plenty of ways to mine humor out of one man’s constant failure, and Galifianakis gives a tremendous, nuanced performance as the quixotic clown. Louis C.K. also had a hand in the creation of Baskets, and his influence shows in the surreal visuals and understated jokes.
ABC’s Black-ish is one of many shows to have sprung up during the latest sitcom renaissance, which seems to emphasize distinct points of view not often seen on TV. This particular sitcom follows the Johnsons, an upper-middle-class family in America. Parents Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) try to raise their children, whom they worry may be growing up in a vastly different milieu than they did. The show takes a critical look at issues of race and identity in contemporary America, balancing heavy social commentary with character-driven comedy.
Although it didn’t attain immortality like its unending older brother The Simpsons (which now has the most scripted episodes of any prime-time series), Matt Groening’s other cartoon, Futurama, established an identity of its own as a funny, often poignant vision of the future. The show follows Philip J. Fry (Billy West), a delivery boy who stumbles into a cryogenic pod and wakes up a thousand years in the future. He ends up working for an interplanetary delivery company, working with a variety of colorful characters, including steely cyclops Leela (Katey Sagal) and hard-drinking, sociopathic robot Bender (John DiMaggio). Futurama is an inventive comedy, with every episode going in some wild directions, and it has an incredible cast of oddballs to bounce off each other.
Action and adventure
Although it lives in the shadow of Cowboy Bebop, director Shinichiro Watanabe’s follow-up, Samurai Champloo, is a terrific anime series, one that deserves to be considered on its own terms. Set in Edo-era Japan, the series follows an unlikely trio of travelers: A young waitress named Fuu, quiet ronin Jin, and wild swordsman Mugen. Fuu wants to find a samurai who smells like sunflowers, and after saving Jin and Mugen from execution, enlists them as bodyguards. The three wander Japan, encountering a variety of bizarre characters and scenarios (including a baseball game for the fate of Japan and a possible zombie apocalypse). Dynamic animation, vibrant art, and a chill hip-hop soundtrack are just a few of the reasons to watch this masterpiece.
Animation studio Bones has produced some of the most colorful, visually dynamic anime of recent years, and even in that body of work, Space Dandy stands out. Set in the distant future, the show follows Dandy, an airheaded bounty hunter with a big pompadour and a galaxy-sized ego. Along with his companions, the robot QT and feline alien Meow, Dandy roams the universe, hunting aliens in pursuit of cash. Their work takes them to a variety of bizarre planets and weird scenarios, whether they’re hunting giant aliens or infiltrating an alien high school where the social order is built around musical numbers. With each episode largely standing alone, and little concern for maintaining overarching plot or tone, Space Dandy is a ludicrously inventive series of cosmic adventures.
Superheroes can be a little boring, can’t they? Does anybody really doubt, when a bank robber comes face-to-face with Superman, that the ensuing fight can go any way but one? One-Punch Man takes the one-sided nature of superheroes to its extreme conclusion, following Saitama (Makoto Furukawa), a hero so powerful he can defeat any foe with a single punch. Being unstoppable leads Saitama to a profound sense of ennui, however, and he must seek out stronger and stronger opponents to feel alive. One-Punch Man is a hilarious parody for fans of superheroes or anime, and it doesn’t hurt that the action is rendered in smooth, colorful animation.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The second adaptation of the popular manga, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood hews much more closely to the original story. The show, set in the fantasy setting of Amestris, follows the brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, sons of a famed alchemist. After their father disappears and their mother dies, the boys take up the mystical art of alchemy, but a failed attempt at a forbidden ritual comes at a price: Edward loses an arm and a leg, while Alphonse loses his whole body, his soul trapped in a suit of armor. The boys seek work as military alchemists, hoping to use the government’s resources to research the legendary Philosopher’s Stone and find a way to restore their bodies. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood stands out in the vast field of anime thanks to its distinct setting, complex characters, and inventive action sequences.
History (the network) melds historic accuracy with epic action in Vikings, a dramatized recounting of a prolific figure in Scandinavian lore, Ragnar Lodbrok. Vikings follows the exploits of the cunning Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) as he becomes the most powerful ruler of Europe’s Viking Age, or at least, the one the history books and Nordic sagas remember him as. The show has received much acclaim during its run thus far — and without the gratuitous nudity common to most cable epics — earning it numerous Emmy nominations for both effects and design.
Gravity Falls could be summed up as “The X-Files for kids,” but that might be selling it a bit short. The show follows twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel Pines (Kristen Schaal), two kids spending summer break living with their great uncle — or “Grunkle” — Stan (Alex Hirsch) in the small town of Gravity Falls, nestled in the woods of Eastern Oregon. For most kids, summer in a town in the middle of nowhere would seem like a dreadful exile from fun, but Gravity Falls is no ordinary town; it’s home to paranormal phenomena, conspiracies, and monsters, among other things. Some episodes have self-contained stories, while others feed into the larger, surprisingly dense mythology of the town. Gravity Falls is a weird and witty adventure story, built around a cast of charming characters.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon’s horror/fantasy/comedy/coming-of-age series was one of the defining shows of the ’90s, a teen drama with a healthy dose of humor and also monsters. The show begins with teenager Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) starting school in her new hometown: Sunnydale, California. It’s a quaint town, a perfect place to raise a family — if you can look past all the vampires, demons, and other creatures haunting the town. Luckily for the people of Sunnydale, Buffy is no ordinary teen; she’s a “Slayer,” a demon-fighting warrior blessed with superhuman powers. Along with her friends Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan), as well as her mentor, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Buffy hunts monsters and tries to pass her classes. Although the early episodes are rough, Buffy the Vampire Slayer grew into one of the smartest shows on television in its day, a series that used its fantasy elements as metaphors for the travails of growing up and finding one’s place in the world. It doesn’t hurt that it had a sharp, self-aware sense of humor.
Before he was the mastermind behind Marvel’s cinematic universe, Joss Whedon was known for creating memorable television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. While the latter only lasted for one season before it was ultimately canceled and later revived with the film Serenity, it has garnered a rabid cult following. The sci-fi series is set just after an interplanetary civil war between the populated inner system planets and the outer planets, where life resembles the American West. The series is well known for its cast of likable characters, including Nathan Fillion’s Mal Reynolds, who captains the titular ship and is arguably the coolest space criminal since Han Solo.
Anime is often labeled as a niche genre, but like with all forms of media, there are breakout examples that transcend the genre, crossing over in appeal. Cowboy Bebop is a prime example. Set in the early era of humanity’s colonization of the solar system, a ragtag group of bounty hunters led by Spike Spiegel (Steven Blum) makes ends meet by taking in wanted criminals, while simultaneously trying to avoid the law and powerful criminal organizations. This space-western has been lauded as one of the best anime series ever made, with a memorable cast and compelling story, and featuring one of the most iconic final scenes ever.
Based on the acclaimed comic series by Garth Ennis, Preacher follows the story of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a former criminal working as a preacher in Texas. His faith shaky, Jesse’s life is changed when an otherworldly entity possesses him, granting him supernatural powers. Soon, Jesse teams up with his ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and an Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), as he tries to master his new powers and deal with a host of enemies, including a powerful and corrupt businessman, Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley). The show benefits from excellent direction, thanks to showrunner Sam Catlin (who previously worked on Breaking Bad). Bloody, violent, and set against the sun-parched backdrop of Texas, Preacher evokes classic Westerns, but the supernatural elements and bizarre characters will appeal to viewers of modern genre shows like Game of Thrones.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
For those bored with the derivative artwork and mindless action of many anime, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a ludicrous shot in the arm. The long-running franchise, which takes place over the course of generations, follows various members of the “Joestar” family, adventurers who use their magic powers and quick wits to battle a variety of outlandish foes, including the family’s nigh immortal nemesis, the vampire Dio Brando. JBA’s garish character designs and the inventive fight scenes make it a timeless story, one that even someone with a cautious interest in anime could enjoy.
Star Trek: The Original Series
Few franchises have grown such a massive fanbase as the Star Trek franchise. The Original Series features William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as the iconic Captain Kirk and officer Spock, respectively. Though dated — the show aired from 1966 to ’69 — it’s an appreciated blast from the past and one which created the foundation for so many TV spinoffs and movies. That, and few would argue that Captain Kirk and Spock are among television’s all-time best duos.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Perhaps the most popular of the Star Trek TV shows, The Next Generation ran for an impressive seven seasons from 1987 to 1994. Patrick Stewart takes the lead as Captain Jean-Luc Picard who guides the starship Enterprise across the galaxy in search of new life and civilizations. It built off the cult success of The Original Series and solidified the Star Trek franchise as one of the best science fiction universes across TV or film. Despite taking place within the boundaries of space — where no man had gone before —TNG drew allegories to our earthbound cultural issues that took place during its televised run.
The Twilight Zone
Rod Serling’s science fiction/fantasy series The Twilight Zone remains one of the best-written shows ever to air on American television. The original series aired for five seasons from 1959 to 1964 with Serling serving as not just head writer but also host and narrator. Each episode’s new story sees the main character encounter paranormal or unusual events that lead to an eventual moral. Though it spawned two spinoff series, the original Twilight Zone is the best of the bunch.
For MI5 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), the life of a spy is more mundane than the movies make it out to be. She’s stuck working at a desk, and the most excitement she sees is late-night karaoke, rather than infiltrating high-tech facilities or something similar. Eve gets a shot at a much livelier case when someone murders a Russian politician and Eve correctly deduces the assassin was a woman. Soon, she is on the trail of the assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a highly-skilled killer with no conscience, who takes an interest in the woman hunting her. Blending drama, humor, and international spy antics, Killing Eve is an exceptional psychological thriller, built around a complicated cat-and-mouse relationship.
Beginning in the last days of the War of 1812, Taboo follows James Delaney (Tom Hardy), a man who returns to England, after 18 years abroad, to attend his father’s funeral. The only thing left of his father’s estate is a piece of land in North America, and with the war on the continent winding down, the land is about to be much more valuable. Delaney discovers that the powerful East India Company has its eyes on the land and that his father was poisoned, setting up a dangerous game of espionage. Taboo is a unique blend of different genres, combining elements of crime dramas and Westerns in a 19th-century London setting, and the show is built around the performance from the always great Tom Hardy.
Noah Hawley, the creator of FX’s Fargo, tries his hand at telling a superhero story with Legion, a visually dynamic series that isn’t your typical, man-in-a-cape origin story. The show follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man who, having heard voices in his head since a young age, starts the series in a psychiatric hospital. His official diagnosis is schizophrenia, but after meeting another patient, Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), who can switch bodies with anyone she touches, he discovers that the voices in his head are a sign of his own latent powers. Fitting for a show about a man who may or may not be insane, Legion is a hallucinogenic show, with psychedelic visuals and format-breaking sequences that keep David — and the viewer — confused as to what is real.
You’re the Worst
Although drama and comedy are often viewed separately in pop culture, they make for a splendid pairing — just ask Shakespeare! Or, if you want a more contemporary example, look to You’re the Worst, a show that weds character-based drama and absurd humor. It focuses on Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash), who start a casual relationship after meeting at a wedding. Both of them are dealing with problems personal and professional: Jimmy is a narcissistic writer struggling to get published, Gretchen is a clinically depressed PR agent representing a difficult rapper. Together, they try to enjoy life and figure out their careers, and You’re the Worst does not shy away from the dark side of either, exploring the toll of frequent partying and the conflicts inherent in every relationship. At times witty, at times woeful, You’re the Worst is one of the most intelligent and human shows on television right now.
Based on the Coen brothers’ beloved film of the same name, Fargo returns to the icy plains of Minnesota, a space where nefarious plots are conceived and enacted by otherwise seemingly normal folks. The TV adaptation features an all-star cast that includes Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, not to mention Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman, and stays true to the same black comedy and deadly mishaps that made the original film so popular.
Sons of Anarchy
The biker gang, the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original (aka SAMCRO), makes ends meet by trafficking guns and subverting the law at every turn. However, when the gang’s young Vice President Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) discovers the diary of his deceased father, he begins to question SAMCRO’s business decisions. This puts Jax at odds with his stepfather Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), who presides as the club’s president. The series tells the story of Jax’s efforts to keep the club together while balancing his complicated family life.
The Handmaid’s Tale
In a not-too-distant future, after an environmental disaster causes widespread infertility, an extremist cult in the United States stages a coup, establishing the totalitarian state of Gilead. In this new society, women are relegated to subservient roles, and due to the low birth rate, a class of women called “handmaids” is conscripted to bear children for the leaders of Gilead. The protagonist of The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred (Elisabeth Moss), is one such woman, forced to have ritualized sex with Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) to provide him and his wife a child. Living without any rights or power, Offred tries to survive each day, hoping to one day be free. The Handmaid’s Tale is a masterful adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s grim novel of the same name, with excellent performances and gorgeous, oft-disturbing scene composition.
This new historical drama follows Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton), a madam running a brothel in 18th-century London. Eager to climb the social ladder — and dodge the authorities — Margaret moves into the territory of her former boss, high-class madam Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), sparking a war between the two. Caught up in Margaret’s schemes are her two daughters, Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Lucy (Eloise Smyth), whom she has pushed into prostitution. Despite the lurid subject matter, Harlots is never merely titillating; this is a show with a keen eye for the power dynamics at work in its setting, and how hierarchy turns even sex into a cold transaction. A complicated drama with intriguing characters, Harlots is a great show for people who like their historical dramas on the seedier side.
Horror and suspense
Stephen King is one of modern America’s most prolific authors, with nearly 60 novels and 200 short stories, and that allows the creators of Castle Rock, a show that draws inspiration from a variety of King’s works, to create an eerie melange of the author’s stories. Castle Rock follows Henry Deaver (André Holland), a defense attorney and a pariah in his hometown of Castle Rock, who nevertheless returns after guards at Shawshank Penitentiary find a nameless man (Bill Skarsgård) locked in an abandoned cellblock. As Henry delves into the mystery behind this stranger known only as “The Kid,” he wades into a mystery that stretches back years. Castle Rock is loaded with Easter eggs for ardent King fans to grin at, but even those who haven’t read the author’s complete bibliography can enjoy the show, as it tells a creepy story that can stand on its own merits.
Following a car accident, Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) comes to the small town of Wayward Pines. He’s there looking for two missing agents, and he finds one dead, the other having apparently settled down in town. As if the circumstances weren’t strange enough, Burke is unable to leave the town, which is surrounded by a massive gate and run by the despotic Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard). Burke must investigate the mysteries of Wayward Pines and find a way to escape. With its rustic setting and odd cast of characters, the show has drawn comparisons to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. It is an apt comparison, as Wayward Pines concocts a compelling and creepy mystery over the course of 10 episodes.
Chris Carter’s science fiction drama, The X-Files, operated under one simple premise: The truth is out there. FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate unsolved mysteries called X-Files. These X-Files deal with paranormal activity, aliens, UFO sightings, and various phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of alien life while Scully offers scientific explanations for the mysterious happenings.
In the quiet titular town of Twin Peaks, the sudden and tragic murder of high-school student Laura Palmer set off a chain of events that turns the town on its head. FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLaughlin) teams up with local sheriff Harry Truman (Michael Ontkean) to solve the murder, only to uncover a complicated mess of grisly truths that border on the supernatural. Twin Peaks is among director David Lynch’s most iconic works, yet the show only lasted two brief seasons. Despite this, it produced some timeless episodes. Those who have finished the original two seasons will be delighted to know that the show returned for its first new episodes after 25 years; there’s no better time to revisit this short-lived classic.
American Horror Story
American Horror Story is an anthology series where each season centers on its own unique story, with a core cast whose role change from season to season. Each season provides scares and frightening psychological storylines, whether they take place within a troubled family home, amid a coven of witches, or inside a hotel of circus freaks. American Horror Story is a unique drama, one that capitalizes on the work of series creator Ryan Murphy.
Reality and game shows
Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. Survivor‘s three main tenets have helped the show “survive” for an admirable 33 seasons, and the competition shows no signs of slowing down. Whether you’re a fan of the rugged early seasons, or you prefer “Fans vs. Favorites,” you can get your fill on Hulu. And if you weren’t already aware, the show follows two teams of contestants, both of which must survive for 40 days in a remote location while their teammates and opponents scheme to vote them “off the island.” Tiki torches also come standard.
Catfish follows hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph as they work to unravel the mysteries behind online-only relationships. Each episode details their investigation into a particular relationship and their ongoing effort to figure out if it’s actually real, or if one of the participants is merely being “catfished.” It’s an interesting — and questionably ethical — exploration into internet politics and people’s personal lives.
In Top Chef, competitors are pitted against one another in a variety of themed challenges in attempts to find out who can create the better meal. Quickfire challenges force contestants to test their skills and finish a meal before the allotted time runs out, while Elimination challenges generally entail more detailed and difficult culinary undertakings. After 14 seasons, we only have one question: where can we sign up to judge?
WWE Raw and SmackDown Live!
“Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?” Of course you can. It’s the smell of dramatic betrayal. Even though WWE matches might not be entirely legitimate, the company’s two flagship brands — Raw and SmackDown — have captivated live audiences and TV viewers for decades, with acrobatic finishing moves and screeching announcers at whom you can’t help but laugh. You can’t be blamed for thinking it’s ridiculous, but there are few places on television as fun as the ring.
- The best shows on Amazon Prime right now
- The best shows on Netflix right now
- The best shows on Disney+ right now
- The best horror movies on Netflix right now (January 2020)
- The best HBO series (January 2020)