Cancel those weekend plans and open up your Hulu queue.
The streamer is still extremely useful for TV fans looking to catch up on the latest network shows — but at some point in the past decade, Hulu became so much more than we imagined. Its original shows have earned awards, critical acclaim, and a special place in our TV-loving hearts, up there with the best of them. Whether you’re a loyal Hulu subscriber or just joining the party, you need to check out these 13 exceptional Hulu originals.
This list doesn’t include limited series like Normal People and Looking for Alaska, or anything not produced or distributed by Hulu itself — all that adds up to a longer list, which we already made!
1. Love, Victor
This TV spinoff from 2018’s queer romantic comedy Love, Simon stars Michael Cimino as Victor, a new student at Simon’s high school. He’s a star athlete, a model son, a great friend…and he’s beginning to think he might be gay.
Love, Victor is a pitch-perfect high school drama with all the sweeping musical cues and whispered secrets such a thing entails. Plus, its connection to the original movie is incredibly sweet — Victor reaches out to Simon (now graduated) on Instagram for advice, and the franchise’s OG romantic hero periodically offers him advice on how to deal with life at Creekwood High. —Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
Ramy Youssef’s self-titled TV debut is captivating, contemplative, and often uncomfortable. The series tells the story of an Egyptian-American family — the father, mother, and sister as much as the eponymous son. For so much of it, Ramy focuses his energy on how to be a good Muslim, but it takes a long time and a series of missteps with drugs and women for him to realize that he should learn to be a good person, too.
Though the best episodes almost barely involve Ramy (with Youssef himself behind the camera and script), there is a self-assured DNA throughout its two seasons, a voice we hope to hear from much more. —Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter
Pen15 is hard to watch, in a good way. It nails the awkwardness of middle school by having series creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play fictionalized versions of themselves in 7th grade, surrounded by a cast of actors who are actually young enough to play their peers.
The inherent disconnect in watching made-up adults act like preteens heightens the comedy of its funnier moments, but also serves as a reminder that the drama of mid-puberty isn’t any less important because it’s experienced by children. Pen15 is cringey, sweet, hilarious, and wholly original comedy. —A.N.
4. Only Murders in the Building
Some television shows excel because of spectacular writing. Others float by with prestigious casts. There are shows with a strong, confident aesthetic and those that dazzle with their twisty, wonderful plots. It’s incredibly rare to find a television show that has all of those things at once. When we do, we call it a masterpiece.
Only Murders in the Building is the remarkable product of showbiz royalty (Steve Martin, Martin Short, Nathan Lane, Tina Fey) coming together with a new generation of talent (Selena Gomez, Aaron Dominguez) to tackle the endlessly entertaining subject of true crime with a fictional spin on a great premise: true crime fans stumbling on a podcast-worthy murder in their Upper West Side apartment building and deciding to do a Serial-style investigation of their own. — A.N.*
Based on Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, this Hulu original dramedy is the Aidy Bryant vehicle of dreams. Bryant stars as Annie, a struggling Portland-based journalist on the verge of a personal revolution when a shitty boss and an even shittier boyfriend send her over the edge. What follows is a thoughtful reflection on self-compassion and acceptance that entertains and empowers in equal measure, with body acceptance as a central theme.
Bryant’s dazzling lead performance is complemented by a vibrant supporting cast, which includes Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones, Patti Harrison, Ian Owens, and John Cameron Mitchell. Although Shrill was canceled after Season 3, regrettably ending on a pretty big cliffhanger, the charming series remains a solid weekend watch. It’s got cute costumes, great music, juicy drama, and a real message; plus, every episode is 30 minutes or less. —Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
6. Reservation Dogs
Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi’s comedy debuted with the confidence and charisma every show wishes it had. Reservation Dogs follows four Oklahoma teens on daily adventures, small and large — from loitering outside a local clinic to stealing a chip truck and delivering it to local criminals. The show is created almost entirely by Native talent behind and in front of the camera; young stars D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, and Lane Factor never miss a beat. The friends and their world are so authentic and inviting that it’s impossible not to get sucked in, to feel acutely for their victories, laughter, and heartache. —P.K.*
7. The Handmaid’s Tale
Hulu’s Emmy-winning take on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the streaming service’s tentpole original series for good reason. Its harsh look at a dystopia that feels less unrealistic every day is a sobering and needed reminder of what happens when human rights disappear in the face of crisis. Elisabeth Moss stars as June/Offred, one of many modern American women forced to become a Handmaid — a sex slave whose only purpose is to bear children for a wealthy family in the wake of global infertility. The Handmaid’s Tale‘s four seasons follow June as she suffers under a totalitarian regime and learns to wield what power she has to join a mysterious revolutionary movement. —A.N.
8. Castle Rock
This Stephen King anthology is deeply disturbing and suspenseful, just as you’d expect. Set in the cursed fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, Season 1 unfurls the mystery of a prisoner (Bill Skarsgård) held secretly captive for 27 years. “The Kid” is allegedly dangerous and evil, but Castle Rock already has so much of that going around — not to mention the schisma in the forest, which is a whole thing. In Season 2, a young Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) arrives in town with her daughter, digging up old wounds in the town’s history and setting herself down an inevitable path.
Castle Rock did a lot in its two seasons, sometimes misstepping and misleading to the point that we can’t confidently claim now, years later, to know what it was even trying to be. But if you love a good psychological thriller, masterful performances by the leads (and a few King mainstays in cameos), and just a splash of the devil, the series is unmissable. —P.K.
9. The Great
Does The Great faithfully follow the true story of Catherine the Great’s infamous coup against her husband Tsar Peter III? No. Is it a hilarious, wacky interpretation of Catherine’s story, complete with frog guns, the invention of bowling, slap fights aplenty, and an imperial ton of vodka? Yes, absolutely yes.
The Great is a fantastic Hulu Original comedy series draped with all the trappings of a big-budget period story, and it’s well worth a watch for fans of writer Tony McNamara’s Oscar-winning The Favourite. —A.N.
10. Solar Opposites
Co-created by Rick and Morty alumni Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan, Solar Opposites has all the intergalactic antics you love with a fraction of the Smith family’s existential dread. This Hulu original centers on the titular Solar Opposites: Korvo (voiced by Roiland), Terry (Thomas Middleditch), Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone), and Jesse (Mary Mack), a family of aliens who crash land on Earth after their beloved home planet of Shlorp meets an untimely doomsday. As with shows like Invader Zim and 3rd Rock from the Sun, the aliens’ acclimation to human life grounds much of the series’ action.
But, as far as sitcoms go, this one is far from predictable. Consistently good jokes and performances accompany a story full of dramatic twists sure to leave you entertained and invested. If you love really detailed TV, I mean everything from fan theories to pop culture Easter eggs, then this is the next obsession for you. —A.F.
Harlots on Hulu is a mob drama that takes place in the last place anyone would expect to find one — the brothels of Georgian London. The two warring madams at the heart of the show’s main conflict have beef going back decades, and their conniving attempts to destroy each other rival anything seen on The Sopranos. Harlots also benefited from a nearly all-female creative team, which made it a unique show that portrayed sex work with a clear and unexploitative eye, giving its female characters agency over their lives even as their positions and livelihoods depend on a rotating cast of powerful men. —A.N.
12. Difficult People
Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner’s acerbic comedy might have been a little too tart, too jaded, too insidery for the average viewer, but that was never the audience interpellated by this sharp series. The duo play disheartened New York City comics who are endlessly frustrated with how disappointing everyone in the world is besides themselves. If only people could see that Julie and Billy are the funniest, smartest, best, most worthwhile people in this city or any other, then we might have some hope as a society — but alas, we are doomed.
Klausner and Eichner’s crackling dynamic sets a tone that the show never lies about or fails to meet — if you don’t like the first few episodes, it’s not for you — with fabulous performances by Andrea Martin, Cole Escola, Shakina Nayfack, and more. Add it to the list of essential New York City TV, but know that these two have thoughts on Carrie Bradshaw. —P.K.
13. Moone Boy
Growing up can be all kinds of awkward, but rarely has such adolescent cringe been captured so hilariously as in this 2012 comedy series, created by and starring Chris O’Dowd. Set in 1980s small-town Ireland, Moone Boy centers on Martin Moone, a wide-eyed 12-year-old with few wits but a loyal imaginary friend named Sean “Caution” Murphy (O’Dowd). Ever bedecked in a crisp suit and a clumsily knit cap, Sean guides Martin through troubles like schoolyard bullies, crushing on a teacher, and trying to get in with the cool kids (aka the altar boys).
An ’80s setting allows room for nostalgia, be it Boy George or David Hasselhoff singing at the Berlin Wall. Yet the plotlines of Moone Boy, which often fold in b-stories of Martin’s scrappy sisters and flustered parents, are pretty timeless. Punctuated by scribbles of child-like animation and wry observations from Sean’s voiceover narration, the show has a sophisticated blend of sweet and snarky that makes it rollicking fun. If you’re seeking to revisit your inner child, the both of you can cackle and cringe over the misadventures therein. —Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor
*This blurb has appeared on a previous list.