Greatest Hulu Reveals and Authentic Collection to Watch Proper Now (December 2020)
It can be tough to keep an account of everything running on a multitude of platforms these days: from traditional broadcast and cable to premium networks to a multitude of streaming options, knowing where to find the best TV and movies can be a nearly impossible task.
But we are here to help! For those who are already subscribed to Hulu (or who are thinking about it), we’ve compiled a list of our favorite series available, from new classics to old favorites, and everything in between. We’ll also be updating the list as the library changes, or new original series debut that make their case for being some of TV’s best. And, if you’re not quite ready to invest in an entire series and are looking for something shorter-form, check out our list of the Best Movies on Hulu Right Now.
Image via Fox
Created by: Loren Bouchard
Cast: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, and John Roberts
It’s something of a miracle that Fox has not only not cancelled Bob’s Burgers by now, but they’re actually making a feature film adaptation. Loren Bouchard’s animated series is delightfully, almost glaringly silly. Each episode is packed with oddball jokes and original songs, and the plots mostly revolve around trivial nonsense that the kids get into. It’s a weird show, but its focus is always on the love amongst the central family—a little heart goes a long way, and this is a goofy comedy with a lot of heart. If you’re looking for a pure feel-good watch, you can’t go wrong with this one. – Adam Chitwood
Image via FX
Created by: Donald Glover
Cast: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Keith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz
FX has commissioned a number of out-of-the-box comedies in the last few years, but none have been as successful as Atlanta, which was truly experimental on a number of fronts. For one, it focused on an all-black cast on a network not previously known for giving a voice to minorities (something they are actively changing), and the show’s form and format was one that could, refreshingly, never be pinned down. The general trajectory was that a smart young guy named Earn (Donald Glover) tries to make some money by managing his cousin’s (Brian Tyree Henry) rap career, while also needing to step up as a father. But wrapped up in that was a very specific look at a variety of facets of life as a young black man in a city like Atlanta, told through a juxtaposition of raw truth and surrealist effects.
Atlanta had a number of stand-out episodes that focused on just one topic, and “B.A.N.” in particular is notable not just because of how it uniquely it told its story, but in the way it incorperated fake commercials that played out as long, drawn-out jokes within the series. For the weary TV viewer it can’t be overstated how fresh and exciting that is.
A huge amount of kudos also goes to Hiro Murai (who directed most of the first season’s episodes), for setting up the show’s visually distinct and atmospheric tone. While Glover created something wonderful here in a series that easily cut through the din of Peak TV, he also showed how collaboration can make a singular vision into something extraordinary. — Allison Keene
Image via NBC
Created by: Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David
Cast: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards
Seinfeld is a not a show about nothing. It’s actually about something pretty profound: bad people. All four of the central characters in Seinfeld are quite awful, whether they’re stealing bread from old ladies, pushing children out of the way during a fire, or accidentally murdering their fiancé by being cheap and lazy. But it’s precisely this reason that Seinfeld was as big of a hit as it was, and why it endures so strongly today. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer do and say the things we wish we could do and say, and watching them deal with (or ignore) the fallout from their actions is hilarious. That’s the brilliance of Seinfeld. In the hands of any other writers this would be fodder for a horror show or a tragedy, but Seinfeld and David understood it’s actually extremely funny. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Hulu
Created by: Tony McNamara
Cast: Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Sacha Dhawan, Charity Wakefield, Gwilym Lee, Adam Godley, Douglas Hodge, and Belinda Bromilow
The aptly named The Great is, well, spectacular. From the Oscar-nominated co-writer of The Favourite, the series is loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great, who became Empress of Russia after staging a coup against her husband. Elle Fanning plays Catherine, and the show’s first season finds her marrying Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) and discovering her fairy tale life of royal ruiling won’t exactly go as planned. The season finds her staging a coup against her husband, which plays out in hilarious and heartbreaking fashion. Hoult is absolutely phenomenal as the cruel and thickheaded Peter, and Fanning fulfills the role of the ambitious and bold Catherine with vigor. Equal parts funny and melancholic, with a dash of romance for good measure, The Great is one of the best things Hulu has made. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Hulu
Created by: Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason
Cast: André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, Sissy Spacek
Castle Rock pays homage to the master of horror, Stephen King, by telling stories within his created world, populated by his famous sometimes infamous characters, locations, and supernatural forces. This is not a simple wink-and-nudge kind of homage but rather an original tale that feels like it came from the pages of a King story itself. Longtime fans of King’s work will find themselves pulling double duty by trying to keep track of all the story and character references while also keeping up with the fantastic mystery at the core of Castle Rock. More casual fans might just discover that they really like all the little nods and references, ultimately deciding they’d like to dig into King’s collected works a bit more. That’s a win-win. Showrunners Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason sure know how to craft a King-ly story, and J.J. Abrams is no slouch when it comes to unpacking the mystery box.
Like many of King’s tales, Castle Rock has a dark mystery, and a darker evil, at the center of a small town. The main crux of the mystery story in this first season centers on the disappearance of young Henry Deaver back in 1991, and the current appearance of Skarsgard’s The Kid in 2018. It’s that simple. But like any King story, the real meaning is found not just in the mystery but in how the people involved in it react to events, how they treat each other, and ultimately how they’re judged for their actions. Castle Rock is a can’t-miss series for Stephen King fans and a must-watch horror show for fans of dark, thrilling, character-focused mysteries. — Dave Trumbore
Image via Hulu
Created by: Justin Roiland and Mike McMahon
Cast: Justin Roiland, Thomas Middleditch, Sean Giambrone, and Mary Mack
The Hulu animated original series Solar Opposites hails from one half of the creative team of Rick and Morty, and indeed shares many similarities with that show in terms of style and humor. But the tone of Solar Opposites is a bit more hopeful, a bit more compassionate, and bit more, well, optimistic than the often dark adventures of Rick and Morty. And in that way, it serves as a pretty great series all its own. The story revolves around a family of aliens from a better world who are taking refuge in middle America following the destruction of their planet. They disagree on whether Earth is awful or awesome, which is where much of the tension comes from, but there’s a playfulness throughout that keeps things light and compelling. If you like Rick and Morty, you’ll love Solar Opposites. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Hulu
Created by: Sally Rooney, Alice Birch, and Mark O’Rowe
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal
Normal People, based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Sally Rooney, is quite simply one of 2020’s best new shows. It’s essentially Call Me by Your Name meets The O.C. as it charts the relationship between two individuals from their teen years in high school up through college, but it’s told with a level of intimacy and emotional maturity rarely seen on TV. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal are mesmerizing as the two individuals at the heart of this 12-episode limited series, and you’ll find your heart swooning and breaking right alongside them. It’s also one of the best-directed shows on all of television – Adam Chitwood
Image via BBC America
Developed by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Cast: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Darren Boyd, Owen McDonnell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste
Killing Eve is a spy story, a murder mystery, a spellbinding character drama, and a gloriously wicked comedy. It all comes together to make one of the year’s most delightful and captivating series, starring Sandra Oh as a bored, desk-bound MI-5 agent, and Jodie Comer as the glamours, mysterious, and completely unhinged international assassin Villanelle. The two women’s fates soon become intertwined, and their cat-and-mouse game is really more like two cats circling each other on the European stage. The series comes from Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and is based loosely on Luke Jennings’ Villanelle novels. It refreshingly puts women in positions usually reserved for men, or at least, where one man would normally be involved. In many ways it’s like a gender-swapped version of the Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham dynamic from Hannibal, where obsession, sexual desire, and death all swirl together into one deliciously complicated and dazzlingly entertaining tale. — Allison Keene
Image via FX
Creator: Alex Garland
Cast: Sonoya Mizuno, Nick Offerman, Alison Pill, Jin Ha, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, and Jin Ha
Originally set to debut on FX, Devs actually became the first show to debut on Hulu as part of the new “FX on Hulu” initiative, in which some FX original series air exclusively on the streaming service. Devs is exactly what you think you’ll get when you combine the filmmaker behind movies like Ex Machina and Annihilation with the story of a tech company working on a big secret project. It’s spooky and weird and mysterious, but also tackles themes relating to determinism vs. free will, how A.I. is changing the way we live, and how predictive algorithms will impact society. You know, very chill stuff. The performances in this limited series are all incredible, and with only eight episodes this is a complete story from beginning to end told in eight hours. If you’re a fan of Alex Garland’s filmmaking or heady tech-driven sci-fi stories, you’ll dig Devs. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Sony Pictures Television
Created by: Dan Harmon
Cast: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash, and Chevy Chase
Before Dan Harmon brought us Rick and Morty, he tried his hand at a more traditional network sitcom with Community. The NBC series wasn’t without its many ups and downs, but its core ensemble—a group of misfits attending a community college for various reasons—remains tremendous throughout, and Harmon always managed to find the humanity in his characters. The show would get more experimental as it went along, bringing in directors like The Russo Brothers or Justin Lin to craft epic homages to famous film genres. The back half of Season 1 through Season 3 are where the show really hit its stride, before Harmon was fired and then re-hired and the writing got a bit inconsistent, but the characters are endearing enough to keep things compelling throughout. – Adam Chitwood
Image via WB
Created by: Rob Thomas
Cast: Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra, Tina Majorino, and Ryan Hansen
Veronica Mars shouldn’t be as good as it is. There are so many ways a teen-centric private eye show can go wrong, and yet creator/showrunner Rob Thomas always keeps his series firmly planted in reality, grounded by a star-making performance from Kristen Bell. The titular high schooler never feels like a conduit for a middle-aged adult’s zingers, and that’s a testament both to Thomas’ writing and Bell’s maturity as a performer. On top of that, the mysteries are genuinely compelling, the teen drama alluring, and the ensemble is (mostly) filled out with charismatic actors who soak up the screen. Think The O.C. meets True Detective and you’ve got Veronica Mars. – Adam Chitwood
Image via NBC
Created by: Tina Fey
Cast: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and Jack McBrayer
When 30 Rock debuted in 2006, it was the underdog to West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin’s dramatic take on an SNL-like show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. But as it turns out, Tina Fey’s ridiculous, slightly surreal half-hour comedy would not only outlive Studio 60, but go on to become one of the best and most iconic sitcoms of the 21st century. Fey plays the head writer of an SNL-like series, juggling her corporate boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and image-obsessed stars (Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski) all while trying to have some semblance of a personal life. The amount of laugh-out-loud jokes packed into each and every 30 Rock episode is crazy, but what endures about the series are its characters. Its lovable, strange, certifiably insane characters. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Hulu
Created by: Bridget Carpenter
Cast: James Franco, Sarah Gadon, Lucy Fry, George McKay, T.R. Knight, Daniel Webber, Josh Duhamel, and Chris Cooper
If you’re looking for a relatively easy binge with a beginning, middle, and end, the Hulu limited series 11.22.63 is a solid choice. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the J.J. Abrams-produced series stars James Franco as an English teacher who is given the chance to travel back in time to 1960 in order to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which in turn is supposed to fix all the world’s problems that occurred after that event. It’s got a great sci-fi premise, but the story itself is very much a period piece and Franco anchors this thing well. At eight episodes it’s not a massive investment, and it’s absolutely compelling throughout. For history buffs who are also fans of time travel, with a Mad Men-esque spin, you’ll probably enjoy 11.22.63 – Adam Chitwood
Image via AMC
Created by: David Kajganich
Cast: Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies, Paul Ready, Adam Nagaitis, Ian Hart, Nive Nielsen, and Ciarán Hinds
The AMC horror series The Terror is one of the best horror shows from the last few years, full-stop, but it should also appeal directly to history buffs. Based on the Dan Simmons novel of the same name, the first season provides a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to the Arctic in 1845-1848, in which all men on two ships died terrible deaths. The show begins with the two ships getting stuck in ice trying to cross through the Arctic, and we subsequently follow the men as they battle mutiny, malnutrition, and some kind of supernatural beast that is seemingly killing them off one-by-one. It’s like Master and Commander by way of The Thing, with a hefty dose of cannibalism mixed in for good measure. It’s fantastic, and comes to a genuine conclusion by the end of the first season as the series was subsequently revealed to be an anthology. – Adam Chitwood
Image via CBS
Created by: Robert Doherty
Cast: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Aidan Quinn, and Jon Michael Hill
If you’re into procedurals, give Elementary a shot. While the show is very much a CBS version of Sherlock, the chemistry between Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu’s gender-swapped Dr. Joan Watson is delightful, and the case-of-the-week structure makes this an easy series to watch in any quantity that best suits you. It’s not as probing as Sherlock or as serialized as many other shows on this list, but sometimes you just want a nice procedural—a bite-sized mystery with a beginning, middle, and end in one hour. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, Elementary delivers the goods. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Starz
Created by: Rob Thomas, John Enbom, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd
Cast: Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, and Jane Lynch
After Rob Thomas’s brilliant Veronica Mars came to an abrupt end, he shifted gears and created a half-hour comedy series called Party Down. The show aired for two seasons on Starz from 2009 to 2010, so in the scheme of things this was a pretty short-lived series—and yet it made a serious impact. Adam Scott plays an aspiring yet disillusioned actor who’s best known for a catchphrase in a beer commercial, and to make money he joins a catering team similarly made up of failed/aspiring performers. Each episode takes place at a different event that the team is catering, which offers a unique lens through which to view the character interactions and offers up many hilarious scenarios. The chemistry between Scott and Lizzy Caplan is great, and Ken Marino is simply wonderful as the head of the catering company and only employee who genuinely wants to do a good job. It’s a small commitment given that it’s only two seasons, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to bring you joy. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Hulu
Based on the book: Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Starring: Aidy Bryant, Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones, John Cameron Mitchell, Ian Owens
Shrill is a deeply honest series, one that can be extremely blunt in its exploration of Millennial life. It’s the show that Girls should have been; it has a lush aesthetic and a killer soundtrack, but its emotional beats will sear you to your core. Even if weight issues aren’t your self-conscious trigger, as they are for our protagonist Annie (Aidy Bryant), Shrill speaks to that pre-teen inside you who was cripplingly insecure about something and everything, that voice that still today makes you question your worth because of how the world perceives you (or how you think the world perceives you). It’s the voice that makes you willing to accept less than you deserve.
Bryant is critical to the series’ success, and Annie is extremely likable without being infallible. As she goes on this journey of self-discovery, not all of her revelatory moments are triumphant. In fact, the closer she gets to accepting herself, the more selfish she becomes, alienating those closest to her. It’s an interesting arc, one that again feels completely real (it’s a sudden realization of “I matter?” and becoming intoxicated by that). But for most of the first part of the season, Bryant gives Annie the countenance of someone who has learned to let daily disappointments, criticisms, and difficulties roll off of her, but not because she’s zen but because it’s how she’s learned to cope. She giggles and nods, giving sharp but still ultimately polite responses to people who don’t deserve them. She allows herself to be used and ignored, but does so with a smile, because it’s part of a habit of feeling like you aren’t deserving of respect.
The only real complaint about Shrill is that it’s too short. There are many, many layers to the relationships Annie has with her friends and co-workers, and the show does an admirable job of giving them as much shading as they can in such a short amount of time. But, some of them aren’t allowed to be more than caricatures when there’s clearly so much more to explore (hopefully in subsequent seasons), and interesting plotlines fade away or come to abrupt halts because of those constraints. Shrill is not yet about a loud woman, but a soft-spoken one who is just beginning to find her voice. We’re ready to hear more. — Allison Keene
Image via Hulu
Created by / Starring: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman
To a certain subset of the millennial generation—those of us who can still distinctly remember the screech of a dial-up internet but also don’t quite recall never having an iPhone—Hulu’s PEN15 is going to be, as we used to say on AIM, 2Real4U. Created by Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle with AwesomenessTV and The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone onboard as executive producers, the 10-episode series stars Erskine and Konkle playing seventh-grade versions of themselves surrounded by real grade-school actors. But that’s never a gimmick. It never devolves into, “Isn’t it weird these adult women are talking to kids?” Instead, PEN15 takes its leads’ genuinely huge-hearted performances and beautifully, achingly brings to life the moments from your youth that still keep you up at 3 A.M—good and bad.
PEN15 is a slight show, because the dramas that upend your life at twelve-years-old tend to be slight. It’s the year 2000, B*Witched is a thing, and Maya and Anna head into seventh grade determined, as we all still are, to have the Best Year Ever. They experience first loves and heartbreak. Bullying and triumph.
There’s no way PEN15 connects with everyone on the same level, but moment after moment floored me in their sheer spot-on specificity. This is all led as un-gracefully as possible by two incredible, brace-faced performances Erskine and Konkle, all flailing dance moves and never quite knowing where to put their hands. Again, the joke of the show is never just the fact that Erskine and Konkle are 31 and 24, respectively. Instead, the two actresses use their character’s awkwardness like a comedic weapon.
Really, PEN15 is less a cohesive show than it is flipping through an old yearbook on a warm afternoon. It is snapshots brought to life, memories revisited. Anyone looking for a plot-heavy binge won’t find it here, and I also expect some who see The Lonely Island’s name attached expecting Popstar-like madcap comedy to be a bit disappointed, too. (It’s still there in its most surreal form, but subtle and muted.) But there’s something irresistible about PEN15, similar to what I felt while watching Bo Burnham‘s Eighth Grade. It’s not a show that you’ll immediately take to social media to discuss with countless other people. But in its own, completely different way, it will make you feel less alone. — Vinnie Mancuso
In the Flesh
Image via BBC America
Created by: Dominic Mitchell
Cast: Luke Newberry, Harriet Cains, Marie Critchley, Steve Cooper, Emmett J Scanlan, Emily Bevan
In the Flesh is a British take on the zombie apocalypse genre that is satirical, haunting and deeply affecting. Spanning a mere three episodes in its first season, the short series (which ran for two seasons) explores what happens after a zombie apocalypse is over. Here, the government has found a way to re-orient the undead back into the world of the living: a serum keeps them from wanting to devour flesh, and cosmetics give them a more lifelike pallor and eye color. But those suffering from “Post-Deceased Syndrome” are not embraced by many, including sometimes their own families.
The show gives viewers a somewhat familiar version of zombies — flesh eating, dead-eyed, rotting — but infused that idea with another one: what if they could be normalized? And what then? From there, In the Flesh follows the “second life” of teenager Kieren “Ren” Walker (Luke Newberry), beautifully exploring all aspects of an emotional story that, metaphorically, could stand-in for any number of human experiences. One of TV’s best kept secrets. — Allison Keene
Image via AMC
Created by: Jim Gavin
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Brent Jennings, Sonya Cassidy, Linda Emond, David Pasquesi
The key to watching Lodge 49 is to just let go. It moves at its own pace, it does what it wants when it wants, and it’s never rushed. Thankfully, it also has just enough quirky interest to potentially hook busy viewers who (yours truly included) do not have time to wait for 4-5 episodes to see if a series “gets good.” Lodge 49 works on its own terms, and even when those terms aren’t particularly clear, it does so with enough charm to see it through.
The series, from author Jim Gavin and EP Peter Ocko (Pushing Daisies) focuses on a young man — Sean “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell) — who is adrift after his father’s death. He finds meaning unexpectedly (or perhaps it was destiny) in a fraternal lodge after stumbling across it one afternoon and befriending one of its officers, Ernie (Brent Jennings). Dud, who is currently out of work since the closure of his father’s pool business, has plenty of time to spend getting to know the other, exclusively middle-aged-and-older members of the lodge, for whom he has a deep and abiding affinity. Is he looking for a new father figure? Purpose? Meaning? A return to the idyllic Long Beach life he lived before his father’s death? It both does and doesn’t matter. The lodge provides. Lodge 49 is funny, occasionally dark, and very unique, but beyond that, it’s hard to define. Whatever it is, it’s certainly different. And worth the journey. — Allison Keene
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