Hulu may not have as many original shows as Netflix, Amazon, and HBO, but what they do have tends to be pretty high-quality. The streaming giant has an eclectic mix of original offerings, from award-winning dramas like The Handmaid’s Tale to laugh-out-loud comedies like Casual.
Hulu’s original programming covers a wide range of genres and tones, and it continues to get more diverse and exciting as the company invests more in its original productions. We’ve pulled together our favorite original series currently available on Hulu so you can spend less time browsing and more time watching.
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The extremely self-aware Animaniacs reboot is shockingly on-brand for 2020. The popular show about the “Warner Brothers” (and the Warner Sister, Dot) went off the air in 1998 and was revived on Hulu with help from Steven Spielberg. While it’s still ostensibly a kids’ show, the title characters are fully aware that their original audience has grown up, and they’ve elevated their comedy to walk a fine line between caustic meta-satire and physical gags. This new style is immediately evident from the show’s revived version of its iconic title song: “A brand-new cast that tested well in focus group research: Gender-balanced, pronoun-neutral, and ethnically diverse.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%Genre: Comedy, AnimatedStars: Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille Steven Spielberg
Everybody’s heard of Catherine the Great, the Russian Empress who presided over one of imperial Russia’s greatest periods of prosperity. But not so many know about her husband and second cousin, Peter III, who was so incompetent that she overthrew him in a practically bloodless coup d’état. History is dramatic and tragic, but it’s also comical, and The Great finds wicked pleasure in pitting Elle Fanning’s cunning and witty Catherine against Nicholas Hoult’s dull, naive Peter. Catherine’s rise is, of course, inevitable, but it’s a lot of fun to watch play out in this satirical drama.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%Genre: Comedy, DramaStars: Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult Tony McNamara
Hulu has built a name for itself in the horror genre, thanks largely to its partnership with Blumhouse and its Into the Dark movie anthology series. Monsterland, however, stands as its own anthology television, telling gruesome tales about angels, werewolves, mermaids, and more monstrous creatures that inhabit the shadows of our world. Each episode depicts broken people driven to desperate acts to fix their lives and save themselves, ultimately drawing a thin line between man and monster. Monsterland is at times heavy-handed with its message and themes, but it’s good, thought-provoking horror at its best.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%Genre: HorrorStars: Kaitlyn Dever, Adria Arjona, Taylor Schilling Mary Laws
Based on Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel, Normal People follows the relationship of Marianne and Connell, two Irish teens, as they grow together and apart, from their school days in a small town through their undergrad years at Trinity College. At first glance, Marianne and Connell couldn’t be more different. Connell is well-liked and popular, while Marianne is solitary, proud, and intimidating. When they meet as Connell picks his mother up from a cleaning job at Marianne’s house, the two discover they have instant chemistry. Although they’re social opposites, a connection evolves that they’re determined to hide from the rest of the world. Over time, their roles in society and in their own circles evolve and change, and they’ll need each other to find the balance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: Romance, DramaStars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal, Eliot Salt Sally Rooney
Lorne Michaels and Elizabeth Banks serve as executive producers on this funky, coming-of-age-in-your-20s comedy starring Aidy Bryant. For Annie (Bryant), seemingly everything revolves around her weight. But while she wants to change her life, she has no interest in changing her body — which appears to be a problem for everyone else in her life. While she’s struggling to launch a career, Annie is forced to juggle bad, manipulative boyfriends, a judgemental boss, and a sick parent. With so much else on her plate, everyone else’s perception of her body image is just downright stupid.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: ComedyStars: Aidy Bryant, Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones Aidy Bryant, Alexandra Rushfield, Lindy West
Little Fires Everywhere
Based on Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name, Little Fires Everywhere stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington as two mothers in the same wealthy neighborhood with polar-opposite experiences. Witherspoon plays Elena, the matriarch of the picture-perfect Richardson family, devoted more to maintaining her family’s image than actually connecting with her children. When her youngest daughter gravitates towards Mia (Washington), an artist who is new in town, Elena can’t keep from meddling. But as she digs into Mia’s life behind her back, she sets off a series of events she couldn’t foresee that will change her family forever.
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%Genre: DramaStars: Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Rosemarie DeWitt Liz Tigelaar
It’s not strictly a Hulu original since the first six seasons premiered on The Movie Network in Canada. However, in 2019, Hulu acquired exclusive U.S. distribution rights and the last two seasons have been branded as Hulu Originals. Semantics aside, Letterkenny centers on the residents of Letterkenny, a tiny rural community in Canada. The town’s inhabitants generally fall into one of several groups: Hicks, the out-of-towners on the local hockey team, drug addicts, and members of the local First Nation. Letterkenny has much in common with another Canadian sitcom that was popular in the U.S., Trailer Park Boys, but it also has an ethos all to itself and has a greater tendency to get philosophical — even if it’s by accident.
Rotten Tomatoes: NAGenre: ComedyStars: Jared Keeso, Michelle Mylett, Nathan Dales Jared Keeso, Jacob Tierney
High Fidelity is a twist on the hit John Cusack movie about a record store owner named Rob who examines his failure in love and relationships through the lens of his encyclopedic knowledge of music. In Hulu’s series retelling of the story, Rob is short for Robyn, and she’s played by Zoe Kravitz. Rob owns a record store in the rapidly-gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, and is determined to keep her store authentic. But she also struggles in love, and the series follows her attempts to grow up, find her identity, and get over her one true love while revisiting her past relationships through music and pop culture.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceStars: Zoë Kravitz, Jake Lacy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph Sarah Kucserka, Veronica West
From the producers of Robot Chicken, Crossing Swords retains some of the raunch and zaniness but also adopts a linear narrative. The story follows a goodhearted, aspiring hero named Patrick who lands his dream job as a squire, only to discover that the royal castle is, well, gross. His kingdom is run by a nest of horny monarchs, crooks, and charlatans who will stop at nothing to protect and abuse their power. The kicker: These are all peg people moving with stop-motion animation.
Rotten Tomatoes: NAGenre: Adult Animation, Comedy, FantasyStars: Nicholas Hoult, Luke Evans, Adam Pally John Harvatine IV, Tom Root
Cate Blanchett stars in this story about the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Blanchett portrays Phyllis Schlafly, “the sweetheart of the silent majority” that is hellbent on preserving the sanctity of separate gender roles and the cult of domesticity. The story is told through the eyes of Schlafly and second-wave feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, and Jill Ruckelshaus, exploring one of the toughest battlegrounds of the 1970s culture wars that forever changed the American political landscape.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: Biography, Drama, HistoryStars: Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba Dahvi Waller
Ramy Youssef won a Best Actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of a version of himself on this intelligent comedy about a first-generation Egyptian American on a spiritual journey in his politically divided New Jersey neighborhood. Caught between a Muslim community that believes life is a moral test and a millennial generation that doesn’t believe in consequences, Ramy’s perspective is nuanced, conflicted, and evolving. Although he’s looking to find some enlightenment, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still want to be a normal 20-something who dates, goes to parties, and all of that. He’s just trying to find some balance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceStars: Ramy Youssef, Amr Waked, Mohammed Amer Ari Katcher, Ryan Welch, Ramy Youssef
Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle created and star as their middle school selves in this hilarious adult comedy. Oh, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle are in their 30s. They’re playing 13-year-old middle schoolers while surrounded by actual 13-year-olds. You don’t need to know the creators to relate to them. They’re outcasts in the year 2000, falling in love and experiencing the worst turmoil of their lives on the whims of a passed note.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: ComedyStars: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Melora Walters Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman
This critically acclaimed comedy series follows a newly divorced single mother who finds herself living with her slacker brother, the founder of a popular dating site, after her ex-husband leaves her — and their teenage daughter — for a younger woman. Michaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, and Tara Lynne Barr star in the series, which also featured Oscar-nominated Juno and Up in the Air director Jason Reitman behind the camera for several episodes of the series’ four-season run. Widely praised for its clever dialogue and insightful look at the modern dating scene, Casual earned a Golden Globe Award nomination in 2016 as one of the year’s best comedy series.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Genre: Comedy, DramaStars: Michaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, Tara Lynne Barr Zander Lehmann
The Act is a seasonal anthology series that focuses on some of the strangest true crime stories yanked straight from the headlines. The first season follows Gypsy Blanchard (Joey King), a girl trying to escape the toxic relationship she has with her mother, Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette), who suffers from Munchausen by proxy. As Gypsy seeks independence, she opens a Pandora’s box of secrets that ultimately lead to her mother’s murder. If you like crazy, true stories about situations that get dramatically out of hand, you’ll love The Act.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%Genre: Biography, Crime, DramaStars: Patricia Arquette, Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb Nick Antosca, Michelle Dean
From Rick & Morty executive producer Justin Roiland, Solar Opposites takes the outer space elements of Rick & Morty and brings them into American suburbia. When a team of four aliens crash land into a move-in ready home, they’re evenly split on whether America is awful or awesome. Korvo and Yumyulack see the pollution, consumerism, and human frailty as existential failings. Terry and Jesse, however, love humans and their TV, junk food, and toys. They’ll all have to endure, because their mission is to protect the Pupa, a living supercomputer that will one day evolve into its final form, eat them, and terraform the earth.
Rotten Tomatoes: NAGenre: Comedy, Animation, Sci-FiStars: Justin Roiland, Thomas Middleditch, Sean GiambroneMike McMahan, Justin Roiland
If you love Stephen King, this series is for you. Castle Rock is a psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse. The series combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of some of King’s most beloved works, weaving an epic saga of dark versus light, all playing out in a few square miles of Maine woods. The fictional town of Castle Rock is the setting of many King stories, including Cujo, The Dark Half, IT, The Shawshank Redemption, and Needful Things, as well as numerous other novellas and short stories. Fictional worlds collide in this fascinating reimagining of the entire King canon, serving as a reminder of how truly remarkable and extensive the writer’s work is.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%Genre: Drama, Fantasy, HorrorStars: Bill Skarsgård, André Holland, Lizzy Caplan Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason
“Difficult” is an understatement when it comes to the lead duo in this series, which follows a pair of struggling New York City comedians who are terrible to just about everyone they encounter — all except for each other, that is. Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner portray the two mean-spirited comedians who can’t seem to get out of their own way, with Amy Poehler serving as executive producer on the series. The three-season series earned comparisons to Curb Your Enthusiasm over the course of its run, and like the latter series, it also featured a long list of familiar faces from the comedy world who make cameos or play supporting roles in the series. The final season of the series premiered in 2017.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: ComedyStars: Julie Klausner, Billy Eichner, James Urbaniak Julie Klausner
The Hunger Games actor Josh Hutcherson stars in this sci-fi comedy series that casts him as a lowly janitor whose mastery of a popular video game leads to him being recruited for a time-hopping mission to stop a future apocalypse. If it sounds like the plot of The Last Starfighter, it’s supposed to — and that’s not the only pop-culture touchstone the series mines for inspiration. The show comes from the mind of Misfits creator Howard Overman, and the presence of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as producers — better known for their collaborations on Superbad, The Pineapple Express, and Knocked Up — offers a good indication of the sort of humor and pop culture references that fill the show. Its well-received first season was followed by a second-season renewal in early 2018.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%Genre: Comedy, Action, AdventureStars: Josh Hutcherson, Eliza Coupe, Derek Wilson Kyle Hunter, Howard Overman, Ariel Shaffir
The Handmaid’s Tale
The crown jewel of Hulu’s original programming, this dystopian drama is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name and unfolds in an alternate future wherein a civil war has turned the former United States of America into a totalitarian, patriarchal society that subjugates women. Elisabeth Moss plays a woman forced into servitude as a “handmaid” tasked with child-bearing duties for a military leader and his infertile wife. Across the first three seasons, the series has been nominated for 54 Emmys and won 14, including an “Outstanding Series” win for the first season. The fourth season is expected sometime in 2021.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, ThrillerStars: Elisabeth Moss, Amanda Brugel, Madeline Brewer, Joseph Fiennes Bruce Miller
Business is pleasure, and pleasure is the family business in this British-American drama that follows a pair of rival brothel owners in 18th-century England. Samantha Morton portrays former prostitute Margaret Wells in the series, and the show chronicles her efforts to compete with the high-class brothel run by her former employer while juggling the demands of raising her own family and status. The series premiered in 2017 to positive reviews and was followed by a second season that debuted in July.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: DramaStars: Lesley Manville, Kate Fleetwood, Holli Dempsey Moira Buffini, Alison Newman
Hulu’s lone entry (for now, at least) in Marvel’s cinematic universe, Runaways is based on the comic book series of the same name featuring a group of teenagers in a wealthy Los Angeles suburb who discover that their parents are supervillains. The young cast impressed audiences with a stellar first season that masterfully blended modern high-school drama with traditional comic-book themes and gave the entire show a unique vibe that set it apart from its superhero movie and television peers. The series is now also available on Disney+.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Drama, SuperherosStars: Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Allegra Acosta, Gregg Skulkin, Ariela Barer Stephanie Savage, Josh Schwartz
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