There’s a lot more to Hulu than last night’s network dramas and The Handmaid’s Tale (although the latter is definitely top on this list). The streaming service has been busy for several years producing a wide range of original content, from dramas and science fiction to comedy series and even documentaries. Here is a round-up of some of the best offerings from Hulu Originals.
This list is based on a truly scientific blend of Rotten Tomatoes scores (the two percentages, noting critical and audience response), as well as broader public appeal, and maybe just a little of this reviewer’s opinions.
The 10 Best Hulu Originals
1. The Handmaid’s Tale (92%/88%)
2 seasons, renewed (Check out our review of The Handmaid’s Tale)
This series needs no introduction, making entertainment headlines, inspiring scores of think pieces, and becoming a cultural icon in the light of contemporary politics. But just in case: 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. In addition to widespread acclaim and numerous awards, 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.
2. Harlots (97%/91%)
2 seasons, renewed
Despite minimal public buzz, this co-production between Hulu and ITV in the UK has continually carried strong ratings and viewer popularity, with a quickly grown fan base. The period drama, created by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini, is a primarily woman-driven project, written and directed by women. Inspired by The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold, Harlots is a lush romp, with a setting in 18th-century England’s sex trade. The series 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.
3. 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 personal crisis’ of faith, but grows and expands over the three seasons.
4. Difficult People (95%/80%)
3 seasons, ended
Difficult People isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. A dark comedy staring 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 frequently offensive or cringe-worthy antics, the series is clever and built a solid following (not hurt by the influence of executive producer Amy Poehler).
5. The Wrong Mans (91%/91%)
2 seasons, ended
Another co-production, The Wrong Mans is a 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.
6. Casual (90%/87%)
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.
7. 11.22.63 (80%/88%)
8 episode mini series
This science fiction thriller is 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 and is executive produced by J.J. Abrams, King, and Franco, as well as Bridget Carpenter (Westworld, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) and Bryan Burk (Westworld, Lost, Person of Interest).
8. Castle Rock (86%/80%)
1 season, renewed
Anthology series are continuing to thrive, and this psychological horror series is no exception. Another series with a basis in the works of Stephen King, 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 a suspense/thriller.
9. Marvel’s Runaways (85%/88%)
1 season, renewed
Hulu Originals partners 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 own 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 two will arrive on Hulu on December 21. Check out our review of Marvel’s Runaways for more details.
10. National Treasure (91%/95%)
Technically not a Hulu Original, National Treasure 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 a number of veteran TV performers. Starring Robbie Coltrane, the four-part television drama is engaging, timely, and received universal acclaim when it aired in 2016.
Other Notable Hulu Original TV Shows
The Mindy Project became a Hulu Original when Fox was prepared to cancel the popular rom-com after 3 seasons. Hulu picked up the property and continued following the antics of Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and her friends for an additional 3 seasons.
Future Man is a dark comic adventure about a slacker janitor and gamer who is called upon to save the world after his futuristic video game turns very real. Starring Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games) and Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings).
Chance only had two seasons but is a “chance” to see Hugh Laurie return to the screen as a forensic neuropsychiatrist who allows himself to be pulled into a seedy world of police corruption and secrets.
The Hotwives is a parody sitcom and one of Hulu’s earlier properties. Featuring seasons in Orlando and Los Vegas, the series plays on a popular reality television program of similar name, following the lives of fictional women in Orlando (season 1) and Las Vegas (season 2).
Also worth checking out is Hulu’s steadily growing collection of original documentaries and documentary series, covering such range of topics as the failed Dana Carvey show, the creation of Batman, history of Barbie, skateboarding magazine Big Brother, and the lives of sports mascots. Plus, March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step.
How to Watch Hulu Originals
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 can be watched through Hulu.com online, as well as apps for Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Xbox, and mobile devices. For more information see our review of Hulu’s streaming service.
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