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. From comedies to animated classics, we cover it all.
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 skillset 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 by 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 a 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 really 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 the 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 Olsen and Danny Devito round out the cast as the infamous Dee and Frank. The group often find itself in some of 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 are 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 a local parks and recreation department in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana. The writing and comedic timing is 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 escapes 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 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.