Netflix and Amazon are getting heaps of love for their original programming – winning awards for shows such as The Crown and Goliath (a personal fav around, here obvious reasons) – and racking up millions of paid subscribers who want to binge watch these original series. But let’s not forget about Hulu. While it may not yet be as established in the original programming department as Netflix and Amazon, Hulu is nevertheless producing some impressive content that’s worth watching. Check out this list of the 10 best original TV shows produced by Hulu. Chances are there’s a program in here you’d enjoy powering through some weekend.
10. Letterkenny (Honorable Mention)
Okay, we’re cheating right off the bat. Letterkenny is actually an original show produced by Canadian streaming service Crave TV. Technically, it’s not legally available in the U.S. yet (but you’re a resourceful person, so… yeah). The show is about a bunch of farmers, hockey players, and small town misfits in rural Canada, and it’s the next great cultural export from the Great White North – destined to be remembered with other classic Canadian TV shows such as The Beachcombers and Degrassi. While it may seem that this series is light on plot, it more than makes up for it with its pitch perfect dialogue and comic timing. The key to Letterkenny’s humor is in the dialogue. The way the characters on the show talk to one another and interact is downright hilarious. The rapid fire conversations between the hockey players, who often break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience, is worth watching. But the whole show feels fresh and original, and is a small slice of everything Canadiana.
9. The Awesomes
Superhero series like Daredevil and Luke Cage are drawing big audiences for Netflix. So how about some love for this animated hero show, called The Awesomes. This cartoon, created for adults by former Saturday Night Live cast member Seth Myers, combines the thrills of comic book storytelling with the irreverent and inspired comedy of other adult themed cartoons such as Family Guy and The Simpsons. About a group of less-than-super heroes who, despite their ineptitude, find a way to save the day, The Awesomes is really funny and brings some much needed humor to the superhero genre. It also features the voice talents of many current and past SNL cast members, including Kenan Thompson, Bill Hader, Rachel Dratch, and Cecily Strong. With so much talent involved, how can you doubt this show? Check it out.
8. The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project started out on network television, but following its demise in that format, was picked up and continued by Hulu. And if you enjoyed the show when it was on network TV, you’ll love being able to binge entire seasons. Starring Mindy Kaling (formerly of The Office), the show follows her character as she, an OBGYN doctor, navigates both her personal and professional lives – always endeavoring to be the perfect woman, find the perfect man, and realizing these things aren’t really obtainable. Shot as a single camera comedy, The Mindy Project has gotten better with time and is arguably funnier now on Hulu than it was in its first three seasons on Fox. It’s like the writers have found their footing. Not for everyone, but this is one show that can grow on you like your favorite comfort food.
7. The Hotwives
A parody of the oh-so-awful “Real Housewives” reality shows, the The Hotwives is one of the most popular series currently streaming on Hulu. The mock reality television series (it’s all scripted) takes viewers inside the ultra-rich and exclusive world of six hot housewives who claim to be living large in central Florida’s main city, Orlando. The show follows the same format as the actual reality series that it parodies, showcasing a cast of truly spoiled ladies as they fight over pretty much everything except for their love of shoes, plastic surgery, and spending all of their husbands’ hard earned money. This is parody at its finest, and there are plenty of genuine laughs in this series, even though the material is pretty well-worn. If you’ve ever openly mocked the real reality series, you’ll definitely get a kick out of The Hotwives. A second season featured Las Vegas wives.
6. The Wrong Mans
Forget James Corden’s late night TV show. Check him out in the Hulu/BBC original, The Wrong Mans. This comedy series is about two office drones, played by Corden and actor Matthew Baynton, who have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time – in almost any situation. Each episode involves them in a different and very extreme situation. Episodes have centered on them being dragged into a deadly criminal conspiracy after answering someone else’s phone to being thrown into a witness protection program in Texas. As a viewer, you’ll never be able to guess what kind of situation these guys will find themselves in. The Wrong Mans has plenty of plot twists, new enemies, and laughs to keep you glued to your TV set for hours at a time.
5. The Path
Lest you think that every Hulu original show is a comedy, we offer The Path as an example of some of the great drama being produced by the streaming service. This series follows a suburban family who get drawn into a controversial cult movement. The show primarily focuses on the relationship struggles and faith of the main characters played by Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Michelle Monaghan. Each episode delves deep into the gravitational pull of spiritual belief, and what it means to choose between the life we live and the life we ultimately want for ourselves. It’s a complicated series that blends different genres, including mystery-thrillers, romance, and even the supernatural. The acting is top notch and the scripts are solidly written. While some viewers may find this show a little too intense, we highly recommend it as one of the best dramas you’re likely to see anywhere today.
4. Difficult People
Difficult People is another top notch comedy from Hulu. It stars Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner as two struggling and jaded comedians living in New York City. The two friends appear to hate everyone they encounter, except each another. Talky, brainy and irreverent, Difficult People is now in its third season on Hulu, and it has gotten plenty of critical praise to date. Critics love the crisp dialogue of the show, and how the main character’s bad behavior tends to land them in some very awkward situations, that they then have to struggle to get out of. A descendant of Seinfeld and vintage Woody Allen movies, Difficult People is for anyone who appreciates arm chair critics and sharp observational humor.
3. Shut Eye
Shut Eye has one of the most original and interesting plots of any series available today. It’s about a failed magician named Charlie Haverford (played by Jeffrey Donovan of Burn Notice fame) who, at wits end, decides to work as a psychic. The show basically breaks down the rituals and scams perpetuated by psychics. The interesting twist is that rather than suffering a moral dilemma or crisis of conscience, the main character is trying to go from small time psychic scam artist to major league criminal, as he seeks to launch a chain of fortune telling parlors with his equally depraved wife Linda (KaDee Strickland). This show is a true disciple of Breaking Bad, in its depiction of one man’s descent into moral destruction and a criminal lifestyle. Sharp writing and a unique plot make this show compulsively watchable, which is what you want from a streaming service.
Created by Jason Reitman, the Academy Award nominated director of movies such as Up in the Air and Juno, Casual is a comedy series about a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister who are living under the same roof as adults. Together they coach each other through the crazy world of dating in the 21st century and work to raise the sister’s teenage daughter. In the hands of Reitman, Casual is a smart, funny and, at times, tenderhearted comedy series. With its sharp insights into dating and witty dialogue, Casual was nominated as “Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy” at last year’s Golden Globes, helping to bring some cache to Hulu’s original programming line-up. The series is also a bit of a positive bounce for Reitman, whose most recent films have not performed as well as his earlier ones. If you enjoy relationship comedies, be sure to watch Casual.
Our favorite Hulu original is, without question, 11.22.63, which happens to be the date that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. Based on the Stephen King book of the same title, 11.22.63 is about a man who finds he has the power to change history. An eight-part miniseries produced, this series follows a character named Jake Epping (played by the excellent and serious James Franco), who is an ordinary high school teacher presented with the unthinkable mission of traveling back in time to prevent the assassination of Kennedy. Along the way, Jake gets caught up in trying to solve the most enduring mystery of the 20th century — who killed JFK, and could it have been prevented? But as Jake learns, the past does not necessarily want to be changed. And trying to alter the course of human history can prove fatal for those involved. Edgy, eerie, and with a bit of a Twin Peaks vibe to it, 11.22.63 is currently the best drama show offered by Hulu and definitely worth watching. It is addictive from the very first episode. Franco has rarely been better and the story is totally involving. Also one of the best Stephen King televisions adaptations ever made. Bonus points for being filmed partly in the same city as the Goliath offices! Binge it!