Hulu has come a long way since its initial launch in 2007 and is now one of the premier streaming services. Its current lineup of movies is impressive, including the 2020 Academy Award Best Picture winner Parasite, but let’s not forget that the service also has Emmy- and Golden Globe–winning original television shows and a massive library of content from networks.
Now that the service’s interface has been updated to make it easier to use, here are some of the best original and non-original shows on Hulu — without needing to buy any of its add-on services like Hulu with Showtime, Hulu with HBO, or Hulu with Starz.
For history nerds with a sense of humor…
Credit: Ollie Upton/Hulu
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, slapfights 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. —Alexis Nedd, senior entertainment reporter
Where to Watch: Watch The Great on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For rom-com lovers who need a new romance to root for…
Credit: Gilles Mingasson/Hulu
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 pitch perfect high school drama with all the sweeping musical cues and whispered secrets that entails, and 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. —A.N.
Where to Watch: Watch Love, Victor on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For vampires, their victims, and their fans…
Credit: Russ Martin/FX
Season 1 of What We Do in the Shadows proved the show had what it took to live up to its screamingly funny predecessor; Season 2 left those comparisons behind altogether by expanding its universe and deepening its characters. For ten glorious weeks this spring, it was our pleasure to be invited into the day-to-day lives of these hopelessly clueless vampires as they tangled with ghosts and trolls, navigated chain emails and “superb owl” parties, and, in one glorious instance, ran off to small-town Pennsylvania to reinvent themselves as a “human bartender” named Jackie Daytona to avoid paying back rent. (Okay, that last one was just Laszlo.)
But for all the vampires’ quirky charms, the series’ true secret weapon has turned out to be Guillermo, a put-upon familiar who is still, to his undying regret, still very human. Empowered with the discovery that he’s actually a vampire hunter by heritage, Guillermo realizes he doesn’t have to take this crap anymore…but also maybe that he still kind of wants to. It’s hard to blame him: hanging with Nandor, Laszlo, Nadja, and Colin Robinson makes for a devilishly good time. — Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Editor
Where to Watch: Watch What We Do in the Shadows on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For folks who weren’t cool in any school…
Credit: Alex Lombardi/Hulu
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.
Where to Watch: Watch Pen15 on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For connoisseurs of dramedy…
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu
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 along 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 that we hope to hear from much more. — Proma Khosla, entertainment reporter
Where to Watch: Watch Ramy on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For the clear eyed and full hearted…
Credit: NBCUniversal via Getty Images
A common misconception in shows about sports is that you have to be interested in that sport to be interested in the show. This could not be less true, especially in the case of Friday Night Lights. Based on the movie that was based on the book of the same name, FNL is on its surface the story of a high school football team in Texas, but it’s actually the story of a community, of all the individual triumphs and systemic failures that add up to the crazy little thing we call life. Come to cry at Coach Taylor’s epic pre-game speeches, root for the weaponized himbo Tim Riggins, or just marvel at the perfection that is Mrs. Coach’s hair — all reactions are valid to the emotional glory that is Friday Night Lights. —A.N.
Where to watch: Watch Friday Night Lights on Hulu(opens in a new tab).
For people who just need a hug…
Credit: Enda Bowe/Hulu
There’s a reason that Normal People — based on Sally Rooney’s novel of the same name — left viewers so emotionally saturated (or perhaps bereft). The story of school sweethearts Marianne and Connell and their years of noncommittally orbiting each other is just what the title says: Normal. Whether it’s a few months, two years, or close to the decade that these two characters experience, most viewers will recall some sort of sustained romantic turmoil in their own lives that mirrors this. The show explores intimacy as it manifests in romance, sex, conversation, and friendship and leaves us as beautifully heartbroken as if it were real. —P.K.
Where to Watch: Watch Normal People on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For sci-fi aficionados looking for their new obsession…
Credit: Miya Mizuno/FX
Devs is what happens when you give filmmaker Alex Garland, the director of Sunshine and Ex Machina, the freedom to tell a story across eight hours. It’s a massive mindfuck of a sci-fi tale, following Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno) as she’s drawn into a world of high-tech corporate espionage and international intrigue. It all starts when her boyfriend Sergei (Karl Glusman) joins a mysterious research unit at the tech company where they both work. Something strange is going on with the company’s CEO and founder, Forest (Nick Offerman), and after Sergei disappears one day into his new job Lily finds herself on an increasingly perilous journey to uncover some answers. — Adam Rosenberg, senior entertainment reporter
Where to Watch: Watch Devs on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For people who know what’s cool before it’s cool…
Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/FX
How does one describe Atlanta? It’s not like your modern serial sitcoms that follow a single narrative thread from episode to episode. The series starts with Earn (Donald Glover), who is broke and has no home or job, stepping up to help his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) manage his rap career. But that basic description – which doesn’t even mention stars Lakeith Stanfield and Zazie Beets – barely captures what Atlanta is actually about. Each vignette-ish episode presents a slice of life from the streets of the Georgia city, focusing on Earn and his friends, and often tackling social issues in intelligent and nuanced ways. —A.R.
Where to Watch: Watch Atlanta on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For those who were about to DM the author of this list because they noticed there are two number eights…
This wildly popular animated comedy may draw attention for its Szechuan sauce–loving fans, but fans of Rick and Morty know that the show is way more than it seems. Its mile-a-minute jokes and irreverent…everything make it one of the funniest animated shows on TV, all the while delving into issues of loneliness, family, the validity of space various forms of space politics, and what happens when one asshole genius decides he’s above the social contract. —A.N.
Where to Watch: Watch Rick and Morty on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For horror buffs who want a smart, scary anthology starring big Hollywood names…
Each episode of Hulu original Monsterland takes place in a different, deeply haunted corner of the United States. Its horrors are both literal and metaphorical, with meat-eating mermaids and jazz vampires creeping around as extrapolations of the darkness hiding within humanity.
Kelly Marie Tran, Mike Colter, Taylor Schilling, and other big stars appear in Monsterland‘s anthologized episodes, though their stories challenge the audience to ask which characters are the monsters and which are simple human.
Where to Watch: Watch Monsterland on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For amateur historians who want a new IRL villain to frantically Google…
This FX miniseries dramatizes the 70’s feminist attempts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and conservative spokeswoman Phyllis Schlafly’s campaign to stop the ERA in its tracks.
Cate Blanchett plays Schlafly, whose conservative values clashed with the idea that political, civil, and legal rights should be equally extended to American men and woman. Rose Byrne plays legendary feminist activist Gloria Steinem, who supported the law. Mrs. America tells a heightened version of the incredible history of the ERA and the swaths of American women who fought for and opposed equal rights on the basis of sex and gender, and like many historical dramas is as entertaining as it is occasionally infuriating.
Where to Watch: Watch Mrs. America on Hulu(opens in a new tab)
For comedy fans who aren’t afraid of whimsy, puppets, or politics…
In Woke, Lamorne Morris plays a Black cartoonist whose perspective on life turns upside down after a run-in with the police forces him to reckon with the realities of racism and complacency. His character Keef Knight’s growing wokeness is literally illustrated by his newfound ability to see inanimate objects as animated voices that berate him for ignoring the social influences that have affected his life and help him move towards greater consciousness in this “bold, irreverent” comedy.
Where to Watch: Watch Woke on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For those days when only great fashion, dishy drama, and unrealistic expectations of the publishing industry will do…
Listen, is The Bold Type a practical depiction of what it’s like to work for a women’s magazine? No. Is it a fun adventure rife with unpredictable plots, romance, and enough fantastic outfits to drive any reasonable person to attempt a complete closet overhaul? Hell yes. The Bold Type paints New York’s aspiring writers in bright colors and offers a glossy alternate universe where writing for the dot com is one small step away from a corner office and expense account.
Where to Watch: Watch The Bold Type on Hulu(opens in a new tab)
For the undateable, except not really…
For Team Tina (which should be everyone)…
Originally conceived as an adult series about a family of cannibals (seriously), Loren Bouchard’s beloved animated sitcom follows a family of five struggling to keep their restaurant afloat. Across 11 seasons, Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise have faced all sorts of restaurant-related quandaries, ranging from a persnickety health inspector to an unexpected case of meat fraud. But more than an underdog tale of a small business succeeding against the odds, Bob’s Burgers has developed a unique knack for capturing what it means to really be a family in the modern age.
A complex and touching blend of compassion and exhaustion, this series has become the go-to comfort watch for many. Turn on one episode, any episode, and you’ll see why. The characters are supremely likable, the world feels fully lived in, and the one-liners will follow you wherever you go. — A.F.
Where to watch: Watch Bob’s Burgers on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
For the biggest gift giver…thank you for being a friend
Credit: NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Classic shows are classics for a reason, but The Golden Girls has more reasons than most. Its jokes hold up 36 years later, its theme song is iconic, and Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty’s legendary on-screen chemistry is the gold (no pun intended) standard to which all other sitcom friendships are judged.
The Golden Girls took seven excellent seasons to prove its television thesis that older characters, especially women, could be funny, emotionally developing, and romantically involved stars of their own show, and looking at modern hits like Grace and Frankie, it’s easy to see its impact on TV today. —A.N.
Where to watch: Watch The Golden Girls on Hulu(opens in a new tab).