Netflix may have led the way for other streaming networks to create compelling original programming, but Hulu made history when it became the first streamer to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017. In fact, that was just one of eight Emmys the series took home for its inaugural season, and it continued to rack up nominations and wins over the years.
While more competition for streaming eyeballs has popped up since Hulu started gaining serious critical credibility, the network has continued to stand out for its carefully curated selection of original series and network partnerships that make it the home of FX series and more. Below are some of our favorite shows streaming on Hulu right now.
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Quinta Brunson created and stars in this hit series, which follows the daily lives—both in and out of the classroom—of a group of teachers at what is widely considered one of the worst public schools in America. Despite a lack of funding for even basic educational necessities, and school district leaders whose only real concern is sticking to the bare minimum standards, this quirky group of educators are united in their passion to rise above expectations and encourage their students to do the same. Abbott Elementary, which is currently in its second season, has already received a massive number of awards, including three Emmys.
Donald Glover proved himself to be a quadruple threat of an actor, writer, musician, and comedian with this highly acclaimed FX series about Earnest “Earn” Marks (Glover), an aspiring music manager who is trying to help his cousin Alfred Miles, aka Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), kick off his musical career. They’re surrounded by a supportive crew of friends, including Alfred’s BFF Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) and Van (Zazie Beetz), Earn’s close friend and the mother of his child. This makes it all sound like a fairly straightforward buddy comedy, but Atlanta is so much more. Even better: It’s weird. Glover is not afraid to experiment with storytelling, which is part of what makes the show so compelling.
Zach Galifianakis stars alongside Zach Galifianakis as twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets in this unexpectedly moving family comedy about an aspiring clown (Chip) who fails to graduate from a fancy clowning school in Paris and is forced to return home to Bakersfield, California, where he lives with his mother (the late Louie Anderson) and is constantly belittled by his higher-achieving brother (Dale). Between the dual role for Galifianakis and Anderson as the mom, it may sound like a cheap bit of stunt casting that can’t sustain more than an episode, let alone multiple character arcs. But if you’re a fan of absurdist comedy, Baskets truly ranks up there among the best of them. And Anderson, who won his first and only Emmy for his role as Costco-loving Christine, is absolutely transcendent. While it received a fair amount of critical acclaim, Baskets could rightly be considered one of the most underseen and underappreciated series in recent memory.
Even if you’ve never seen The Bear, you’ve undoubtedly heard about it (and had at least one person recommend it to you). The electrifying series, which premiered in June 2022, was all anyone could talk about last summer—and for good reason. Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) is a superstar of the fine dining world who has returned to his hometown of Chicago in order to save his family’s struggling sandwich shop following the death by suicide of his brother. While Carmy initially struggles to acclimate himself to being home and to his inherited restaurant’s back-to-basics style, he eventually realizes that it’s not too late to change both himself and the restaurant. Anyone who has ever worked in a busy kitchen knows the stress that comes with that, and The Bear does an excellent job of making the feeling palpable. While the plot sounds simple enough, much of Carmy’s previous life is a bit of a mystery, and it’s doled out in amuse-bouche-sized bits throughout the season, adding another layer of tension to the series.
Dave Burd is a comedian and rapper who goes by the stage name Lil Dicky. In Dave, Burd plays a rapper who goes by the stage name Lil Dicky and is attempting to raise his profile and make a much bigger name for himself. If only his many neuroses stopped getting in the way. While Dave could have easily turned into some mediocre experiment in meta storytelling, Burd—who cocreated and stars in the series and has written several episodes—grapples with some surprisingly touchy topics, including mental illness. And he does it all with a level of sensitivity and honesty that you might not expect from a guy named Lil Dicky.
Amanda Seyfried won a much deserved Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy for her portrayal of the notorious Stanford dropout turned health care technology godsend Elizabeth Holmes who tricked some of the world’s savviest business minds into investing in her company, Theranos. While Holmes’ goal was altruistic enough—making health care more accessible to the masses via a device that could detect any number of diseases with little more than a single finger prick of blood—the technology was never able to catch up. Rather than admit defeat, she kept pushing, making business deals and promises she could never fulfill.
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Taffy Brodesser-Akner created this series, based on her bestselling novel of the same name, which manages to tell a very specific story that is also universally relatable. Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg) is a recently divorced fortysomething hepatologist living in New York City. Things are looking up for Fleishman when he’s considered for a promotion and begins dipping his toe into the dating waters via an online dating app. But then his ex-wife Rachel (Claire Danes) disappears, leaving him with their two children. With the help of two of his best friends (played by Lizzy Caplan and Adam Brody), Fleishman realizes that it will take an honest deconstruction of his marriage to understand what happened to Rachel, and where she might be.
Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult shine in this witty, fast-paced, comedic retelling (but not really) of Catherine the Great’s rise to power. Created by Tony McNamara, who earned an Oscar nomination for cowriting The Favourite, The Great offers the same combination of lush costumes and scenery mixed with a biting commentary on the world, and a woman’s place in it, that rings as true today as it did in the 18th century—when Catherine the Great became empress of Russia and brought about an age of Enlightenment. If it’s historical accuracy you’re after, look elsewhere; the series’ creators describe it as decidedly “anti-historical” (which is part of the fun).
The Handmaid’s Tale
When Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, little did she know that its television adaptation would revolutionize the still-nascent world of original streaming content. And she may not have anticipated just how many parallels her dystopian classic would share with the real world at the time it was adapted into an award-winning television series. It’s set in an unnamed time in what is presumably the very near future, when the United States has been taken over by a fundamentalist group known as Gilead, under which women are considered property and stripped of any personal rights. The most valuable women are those who are fertile, as infertility has become an epidemic, and they are kept as handmaids who are forced to take part in sexual rituals with high-ranking couples in order to bear their children. Recognizing the power she wields, Offred, aka June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), is not content to remain enslaved and sets about changing the rules as she seeks to reunite with her lost husband and daughter.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
If you thought the characters on Seinfeld were terrible people, wait until you meet the gang from Paddy’s Pub. For nearly 20 years, Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Robert McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and Frank (Danny DeVito) have unapologetically plotted against each other and total strangers in a series of completely self-centered schemes with absolutely no regard for the rules of civility. The show follows the “no hugging and no learning” rule Larry David established for Seinfeld, but elevates it to a new level of sociopathy. “Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare,” “Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack,” “How Mac Got Fat,” “Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender,” “The Gang Turns Black,” and “The Gang Goes to a Water Park” are just some of the offbeat adventures awaiting viewers. In 2021, Sunny became the longest-running live-action sitcom in the history of television, and it shows no signs of slowing down—or taking it easy on its characters. It also happens to be one of the easiest shows to binge: Pop an episode on and, without even realizing it, you’ll be on to another season.
What began as a web series is now a Hulu original that recently wrapped up its eleventh season. The show is a portrait of small-town Canada (the fictional Letterkenny of the title) and focuses on siblings Wayne (cocreator Jared Keeso) and Katy (Michelle Mylett), who run a produce stand with help from friends Daryl (Nathan Dales) and Squirrely Dan (K. Trevor Wilson). As is often the case in small-town series, many of the residents fall into specific categories (in Letterkenny, you could be a gym rat, a hick, a skid (their word for a drug addict), or a “native” (a member of the nearby First Nation reservation). But in contrast to many small-town series, these groups—and the individuals who comprise them—aren’t reduced to meaningless stereotypes.
Nathan for You
Before he unleashed the social experiment that was HBO’s The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder put the really good grades he earned at one of Canada’s top business schools to work in his consultant job advising struggling business owners. Some of the ideas, like Dumb Starbucks, actually kind of worked. Poop-flavored frozen yogurt, on the other hand, was a bit of a bust. If you know Fielder’s work, you know that it’s nearly impossible to break him—which is the key to making this show work.
Only Murders in the Building
Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez make for a delightful trio of true-crime-obsessed podcast fans who decide to join forces and create their own podcast while attempting to solve the mysterious death of a fellow resident of their Manhattan apartment building. But even as these strangers form an alliance, all is not what it seems and everyone is keeping secrets.
Pam & Tommy
Lily James and Sebastian Stan are practically unrecognizable—and seem to be having the time of their lives—letting their inner hedonists come out to portray Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, one of the most famous couples (and tabloid staples) of the ’90s. What emerges is the portrait of two people who, like the rest of us, are simply doing their best to balance their personal and professional lives. Yet, unlike the rest of us, this pair is forced to do that with the blinding light of paparazzi cameras tracking their every move. It’s nothing groundbreaking or revelatory, but for people who lived through the Pam and Tommy years, it’s a fun bit of nostalgia.
Steve Carell plays against type—or is at least nothing like The Office’s Michael Scott—in this psychological thriller from The Americans creator Joe Weisberg. (He cocreated it with Joel Fields.) Carell is Alan Strauss, a therapist being held captive by his patient (Domhnall Gleeson), who cops to being a serial killer and desperately wants Strauss to “cure” his desire to kill. The series plays out like one big bottle episode, where much of the action occurs in a single room, with Carell and Gleeson just speaking to each other—each trying to determine what his best next move might be.
Mining the awkwardness of one’s middle school years is hardly a new comedy concept. But being in your early thirties and playing yourself as a junior high school student and then surrounding yourself with age-appropriate actors who are going through that hellish rite of passage right now brings a whole new layer of cringe and humor. This is exactly what cocreators/stars Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle did for Pen15.
Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo cocreated this Peabody Award-winning series, which made history as the first mainstream TV show created by, starring, and crewed by an almost entirely Indigenous American team. It tells the story of four bored teens who are desperate to escape their lives on a reservation in Oklahoma. They decide that California is where they want to be and set about trying to make that happen by committing to a life of mostly petty crimes in order to save up enough money to leave.
Under the Banner of Heaven
Murder and Mormonism collide in this true crime drama, where detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) is sent to investigate the murder of a woman (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her baby near Salt Lake City. While trying to solve the crime, Pyre learns some troubling information about the most devoted members of the LDS church that forces him to reckon with his own faith.
What We Do in the Shadows
In 2014, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi cowrote, codirected, and costarred in What We Do in the Shadows, a funny mockumentary in which we get to witness a group of vampires living in a home together (which is much more boring than you might think). This series, which premiered in 2019, moved the vampire action from New Zealand to Staten Island and brought in a whole new group of vampires, who struggle to even get up off the couch, let alone take over all of New York City (as they’ve been instructed to). The show is full of fantastic guest spots, including memorable turns by Nick Kroll, Dave Bautista, Kristen Schaal, and Tilda Swinton.