There’s a lot more to Hulu than last night’s network dramas and The Handmaid’s Tale. The streaming service has been busy for several years producing an extensive range of original content, from dramas and science fiction to comedy series and even documentaries. Here is an updated round-up of some of the best offerings from Hulu Originals. Many of the previous entries or honorable mentions are still on the list, but there are also a few fresh series to try, although they admittedly didn’t crack the top 5 of some of the established shows.
This list is a scientific blend of Rotten Tomatoes scores (the two percentages, noting critical and audience response), the initial buzz for new series, as well as broader public appeal, and maybe just a little of this reviewer’s opinions.
*Note: Several series announced renewals that had not gone into production before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the industry, so it’s unclear if they will return as planned. We considered those series renewed as of this writing.
Top Hulu Original Series
1. Harlots (97%/91%)
3 seasons, renewed*
After three seasons, this period drama, a co-production between Hulu and ITV in the UK, has continually carried strong ratings and viewer popularity. Created by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini, Harlots is a primarily female-driven project, written and directed by women, and starring an impressive group of leading ladies. Inspired by The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold, the series is a lush romp set in 18th-century England’s sex trade. The story follows Margaret Wells, a woman balancing her role as a brothel owner with raising two daughters, in an era very much driven by the patriarchy. This might be the best feminist period piece you’re not yet watching.
2. The Handmaid’s Tale (88%/77%)
3 seasons, renewed*
While not the highest-ranking, review-wise, the popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale keeps it near the top of the list as we await season 4. The show has made entertainment headlines, inspired scores of think pieces, and become a cultural icon. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian drama in which a totalitarian society takes over following a Second American Civil War, and fertile women, the “Handmaids,” are forced into child-bearing slavery. Along with its widespread acclaim, the series also set a new standard for original content, being the first streaming series original to win an Emmy for Outstanding Series, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. Check out our review of The Handmaid’s Tale for our take on this acclaimed series.
In addition to the anticipated fourth season, a sequel series is planned based on Atwood’s 2019 best-selling The Testaments, itself a sequel to her original novel.
3. Ramy (97%/83%)
Season 2 debuts May 29
Comedian Ramy Youssef frequently pulls from his own life as a Millennial Muslim American in his self-created fiction series about the struggles of a first-generation Egyptian American Muslim living in New Jersey. The show focuses on struggling with a personal spiritual path and finding balance with his traditional culture in modern America. Both hilarious and insightful, Ramy is a nuanced look at family, religion, and culture, in all of its messy, complicated humanity. Check out our preview of Ramy. Season 2 finds Ramy taking a deeper exploration into his spiritual side and what it truly means to be Muslim. Season 2 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPDQ5bUsZxM
4. PEN15 (93%/87%)
1 season, renewed*
PEN15 is an exciting comedy co-created and written by real-life best friends Maya Erskine(Casual, Insecure) and Anna Konkle (Rosewood, Maron). PEN15 chronicles “middle school as it happened.” From burgeoning sexuality and early romantic encounters to the challenges of changing friendships and peer pressure, PEN15 tackles each awkward bump on the road to maturity—with the added twist of the adult creators playing13-year-old versions of themselves surrounded by actual teen actors. Both endearing and cringe-worthy, PEN15 has won over audiences and critics alike. Read our preview here.
5. Future Man (91%/82%)
3 seasons, ended
Previously an honorable mention, the second season of this dark comic adventure bolstered its profile with fans, as well as its place on this list. Future Man stars Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games) as a slacker janitor and gamer who is called upon to save the world after his futuristic video game turns very real. Co-starring Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings) and Derek Wilson (Preacher), season 2 raised the stakes for the time-traveling heroes, as they join forces to save the world—again. April 3 marked the return of the series with its third (and final) season.
6. Castle Rock (88%/80%)
2 seasons, renewal TBD
Another anthology series, Castle Rock, is one of several Stephen King properties in development with Hulu. The first season debuted in July 2018 with 10 episodes intertwining the lives of characters in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine, the setting for many of King’s novels and stories. Castle Rock weaves multiple stories in and out of the King canon, tying together his prominent themes in a new suspense/thriller. Season 2 focused on such classics as Misery, The Body (Stand By Me), and more, and managed to hold as strong a following as season 1.
7. Shrill (87%/64%)
2 seasons, renewal TBD
Inspired by Lindy West’s 2016 feminist memoir on body positivity, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman focuses on Annie (Aidy Bryant), an overweight young woman with a burgeoning new career who is ready to change something in her life—but not her body. The show’s short, sweet first season easily won over audiences and critics for its combination of comedic misadventures with heartfelt honesty, as well as a pointed commentary on beauty standards. Star Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live), who wrote and adapted the series along with West and Alexandra Rushfield, brings a star turn as one of the few plus-size leads on TV—particularly one so fully realized in her own story. The first season was short and sweet and followed quickly by season 2 that arrived in January of this year. Read our original preview here.
8. Marvel’s Runaways (87%/85%)
3 seasons, ended
Hulu Originals partnered with Marvel for this teen-oriented superhero drama in which six teenagers are brought together through the discovery of their parents’ criminal doings—and their possible supernatural powers. While sharing continuity within the larger MCU, the series primarily focuses on the lives of teens, giving series treatment to the issues of younger characters than other entries in the franchise. Season 2 took the kids deeper underground and in a new type of battle, not just with their parents and the threat of earth’s destruction, but also into the complicated relationships within one’s own family. In the final season, all secrets were revealed, alliances tested, and the answers all brought to life. Read our initial review here.
9. Normal People (86%/94%) – NEW
In an intimate portrayal of modern love, Normal People follows the lives of Marianne and Connell, and their on-again, off-again affair that goes on for years. The series is based on Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel and looks at how people come together even as their lives and social classes pull them apart. From the acclaimed director of Room, the show is a quiet and tightly crafted examination of intimacy. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1JQuWxt3cE
10. Wu-Tang: An American Saga (81%/93%) – NEW
1 season, renewed*
This drama series follows a fictionalized account of the formation and rise of the popular Wu-Tang Clan ban. Set in 1990s New York, the show follows the vision of Bobby Diggs aka The RZA, as he strives to form the band and help a group of young black men who might otherwise fall to the crack cocaine epidemic. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w37TQZwnjXY
11. High Fidelity (85%/83%) – NEW
1 season, renewal TBD
This fresh take on the favorite cut film puts Zoë Kravitz in the lead role of “Rob,” a record store owner—now in too hip Brooklyn—who explores her top 5 romantic hits (relationships) in hopes of figuring out what went wrong. The show won over audiences, with its more modern vibe and Kravitz’s charm. The show is definitely worth checking out, and you can read our preview of High Fidelity here.
12. Veronica Mars (89%)
1 season, ended (for now)
The fourth season “reboot” of the cult mystery drama brought the popular former-teen detective back to audiences with an eight-episode new season. The show caught up with Mars returning to her seaside hometown and her roots as a private eye, digging into a series of mysterious bombings disrupting spring break. While there were mixed reactions from fans on the season’s conclusion, and it may have tied up things too neatly for another season, it was a fun revisit to the series and the characters that had been so beloved on the 2004 CW drama. Read our preview of Veronica Mars here.
Top Hulu Original Miniseries
Little Fires Everywhere (76%/62%)
Elements of this suburban drama want to capture the hit status that was HBO’s Big Little Lies, a similar book-turned-series also starring Reese Witherspoon. While not garnering quite the same level of excitement, this 1990s-set drama is solid for fans of the genre, and with star power like Witherspoon and Kerri Washington, you’re in for some fierce standoffs. Read our preview of Little Fires Everywhere.
Looking for Alaska (92%/93%)
While there is not likely to be additional seasons due to the compact nature of John Green’s original novel, Looking for Alaska is a compelling 8-episode series that is worth the watch. The long-form structure allows for a tighter connection to the original story than film adaptations, and compelling performances by the young teen actors make it raw and relevant. Looking for Alaska tells the story of Miles, a young man struggling with high school and finding a place to belong who transfers to a boarding school for a fresh start, where he develops lasting friendships and falls for titular Alaska. When sudden tragedy strikes, the young group is forced face-to-face with grief and the pains of growing up. Read our preview of Looking for Alaska here.
The Accident (92%)
When a Welsh community is rocked by an accident that kills a group of children, tensions run high in the search for justice. With questions unanswered by town leadership, one woman struggles to help hold the community together, while caring for her daughter—the one survivor of the accident. The miniseries may not become an ongoing drama, but it a great example of Hulu’s partnerships with outside distributors to bring exclusive viewing of great international television to its viewers.
Hulu Originals: Fan Favorites
Here are a few recent series that bombed for critics but were a hit in the eyes of the viewers. Take these recommendations with a grain of salt, but we think you might enjoy binging these series.
Dollface (56%/72%) – NEW
1 season, renewed*
Given that it has been renewed; clearly, this quirky dramedy was more than a few folks’ cup of tea. Kat Denning stars as Jules, who has to rediscover herself and how to reconnect female friends after her long-time boyfriend dumps her. With surreal comic interludes (talking cat-head lady, anyone?) and a blunt, cutting sense of humor, the series is a rather twisted but clever jaunt worth a few hours. Read our preview of Dollface here.
Utopia Falls (43%/94%) – NEW
1 season, renewal TBD
About as expected, Utopia Falls has huge points of appeal and a lot of immature and predictable tropes of young adult dystopian stories. But the highs—strong cast, a killer soundtrack, awesome dance sequences—might be just the thing that earned the otherwise mediocre show a fan following. Probably among young teens. Read our preview of Utopia Falls here.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (42%/82%)
1 season, renewal TBA
Perhaps not a critic favorite, but the quirky British rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral, based on Richard Curtis’s 1980s hit film of the same title, has an active niche audience. And for fans who fit that niche, it is a delightfully frothy romp. Stretched over a year of the titular four weddings and a funeral, a group of friends explores love, loss, successes, and struggles for identity in modern-day London. It’s a little sappy and self-referential but manages to hit the heartstrings. Launched as a miniseries and moderately self-contained, there is no word yet on another season. But one can hope. Read our preview Four Weddings and A Funeral here.
Many of these series have been over for a bit, but, honestly, we couldn’t entirely take them off the list of the top recommendations, as they are still choice selections in Hulu’s collections.
Difficult People (95%/80%)
3 seasons, ended
Difficult People isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a dark comedy starring series creator Julie Klausner, along with Billy Eichner, which follows the pair as struggling and bitter comedians in New York. Their frequently clueless and antisocial behavior consistently lands them in one awkward situation after another in each 30-minute episode. Despite the often offensive or cringe-worthy antics, the series is smart and built a solid following (not hurt by the influence of executive producer Amy Poehler).
4 seasons, ended
Casual focuses on the antics and bonding between two adult siblings who face the challenges of the dating world side by side after newly divorced Valerie moves in with her bachelor brother Alex, along with Valerie’s teenage daughter. All three are navigating the waters of casual dating while on the road to personal growth. The show earned regular rave reviews and was considered a turning point in the quality and expansion of Hulu’s original content.
The Path (79%/83%)
3 seasons, ended
Don’t let the Rotten Tomatoes score fool you. Despite some mixed reviews, this mysterious drama has not been short of viewers or fans. The Path centers on a family in the center of a controversial cult, dealing with the struggle between power, belief, and personal relationships. Starring Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Michelle Monaghan (True Detective), and Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), the series starts insular, dealing with a personal crisis of faith, but grows and expands over the three seasons.
Not So Original Hulu Originals
Hulu has been building a pretty good library of “Originals” that are not original to Hulu, but rather canceled shows they have given new life to (The Mindy Project) and older or international series that they have picked up for exclusive distribution.
NEW – Letterkenny (93%) is the latest popular new-to-Hulu Original. Picked up for its seventh season, the popular Canadian comedy debuted in 2019 and has since been the exclusive U.S. home for the series, included its new season 8. All eight seasons are available in Hulu. Letterkenny is a quirky comedy about a small town of three constantly feuding communities: the Hicks, the Skids, and the Hockey Players. Let the wacky antics ensue.
The Wrong Mans (91%/91%) is a two-season British comedy from BBC Television, in which a county council employee and his mate become entangled in a deadly criminal conspiracy. Created by James Corden and Mathew Baynton, the series combines the intricacies of a crime drama with the tropes of a sitcom, all driven by a simple case of mistaken identity.
National Treasure (91%/95%) first aired in the United Kingdom, but the streaming service has exclusive distribution rights. The series is a four-part drama inspired by a real-life police operation that uncovered cases of abuse by several veteran TV performers. Starring Robbie Coltraine, the four-part television drama is engaging, timely, and received universal acclaim when it aired in 2016.
11.22.63 (80%/88%) is a science fiction miniseries thriller based on Stephen King’s novel about an ordinary English teacher sent back in time to stop the JFK assassination. Mysterious setbacks and supernatural happenings keep the series engaging through all eight episodes, and the compelling storytelling is not surprising given the pedigree involved. The series stars James Franco and Chris Cooper.
How to get Hulu
New to Hulu? Subscribing is easy. Start with a free trial month, and then choose from several plans:
- $5.99/month with limited commercials
- $11.99/month commercial free
- $39.99/month commercial-free + live TV of up to 50 channels, as well as on-demand feature.
Hulu is available on Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Xbox, and mobile devices. See our review of Hulu for a full list of features.
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