We know your habits. After a long day, and with an endless well of streamable television to choose from, you hit the couch and flip on Law & Order: SVU reruns. Not a jab at Law & Order (love you, Olivia Benson), but there's so much out there! And for TV junkies, few destinations are as expansive as Hulu.
Here are the shows -- and only the stickiest series, with enough episodes to get you totally hooked, and plenty of fresh plotlines to keep you guessing over the course of a single weekend -- just waiting to be discovered by your random scrolling:
Difficult People (Seasons 1-2)
In this Hulu original, Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner are mean-spirited and petty, and live by the "no hugging, no learning" Seinfeld-ian code, which makes them our favorite kind of platonic power couple. But with every exploitative adventure anchored by their best friendship, the jokes they make at the expense of others (interns, New Jerseyans, Method Man) seem downright sympathetic.
The Good Place (Season 1)
In this sneaky afterlife comedy from Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation), Kristen Bell's deceased cretin Eleanor is erroneously given a berth in a heaven-esque afterworld. Once the high-concept show gets past establishing its characters and premise, you'll enjoy watching her do whatever she can to avoid being found out and sent to hell by her friendly neighborhood architect, Michael (Ted Danson). And by the time you get to the incredible season finale, it's clear you've been sent straight up to TV heaven.
Seinfeld (Seasons 1-9)
The genre-defining "show about nothing," now exclusive to Hulu, is worth the subscription fee alone. Whether you're new to the sitcom that put writer Larry David on the map, or watching Kramer burst through that door for the thousandth time, we advise you watch all nine seasons and become master of situation comedy's domain.
Fargo (Season 1)
Noah Hawley's bold adaptation of the perfect 1996 movie sometimes tries too hard to shoehorn in allusions to the source material and other Coen brothers films, but a crackerjack premise and an inspired performance by Billy Bob Thornton elevated it well above mere facsimile. The impressive casting holds the convoluted plot together so well that you'll quickly forgive Hawley for choosing to hinge a major moment on the sudden arrival of an alien spacecraft.
The O.C. (Seasons 1-4)
Thanks to Hulu, the only high school reunion you'd ever want to attend is streaming 24/7. Witness the early '00s charm and chemistry that won over a nation of tweens, courtesy of leads Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, and Ben McKenzie. The first season is a veritable work of soap opera art, from "Welcome to the O.C., bitch" to Seth and Summer's first kiss; things fall apart as Marissa inches closer to death (spoiler alert), but we're hopelessly sucked in nonetheless. Sandy Cohen's eyebrows are the icing on the cake.
Prime Suspect (Seasons 1-7)
This British series -- primarily known for making Helen Mirren a star (again) -- breaks a murder mystery into two feature-length movies. Like The Night Of, the show demonstrates how the police institution creates as many roadblocks as a crafty murderer. The seven seasons (comprised of 15 episodes and roughly 25 hours) are all solid, but start with the 1991 original, where Mirren's Jane Tennison assumes the role of senior investigating officer of a serial killer, much to the chagrin of her male colleagues. Mirren imbues the been-there-done-that format with movie-star bravado, and as the show charts Tennison's rise up the chain of command, her material only gets meatier.
Arrested Development (Seasons 1-3)
There's always money in the banana stand, and there are always laughs to be found in Arrested Development, Mitchell Hurwitz's sly, self-aware family sitcom. Though you'll have to jump to Netflix for the most recent season, the show's original run still satisfies. Arrested Development established a freewheeling comic sensibility that many of your favorite sitcoms -- Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Community, Archer, Kroll Show -- were influenced by. Don't hold the show's obnoxious fans against it. After watching a few episodes, you'll be quoting Tobias Fünke, too.
Twin Peaks (Seasons 1-2)
David Lynch and Mark Frost's detective series is often credited with instilling television with artful potential. Without Twin Peaks, there'd likely be no Mad Men or Breaking Bad (and both shows nodded to the ABC series). And yet, the show's dreamy, saturated look is really a cherry on top. Twin Peaks is a steady stream of oddball characters and fantastical twists, encountered by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he hunts for the murderer of a small-town teenager. Your weird friends love this show. You should, too. It's finally time to understand those Log Lady Halloween costumes -- and prep for this year's super-hyped reboot.
Broad City (Seasons 1-3)
While plenty of shows revolve around 20-something BFFs living in New York City, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer's madcap buddy comedy is the freshest and funniest take on city life we've seen in eons. If the friendship between these two lovable, sex-positive, stoner Jewesses is the heart of the show, NYC is the third bedfellow in their platonic love triangle -- with Bed Bath & Beyond standing in as their heaven and Penn Station as their purgatory.
Top Chef (Seasons 1-13)
In a world where new cooking shows pop up faster than hip molecular gastronomy-based tapas bars, Top Chef is a rare achievement: tasteful, imaginative, and perfectly prepared. What's the secret ingredient? Smart hosts and talented contestants. It's really that simple.
Party Down (Seasons 1-2)
Before becoming Amy Poehler's main squeeze on Parks and Recreation, Adam Scott was a down-on-his-luck actor stuck working as a caterer in this beloved cult comedy. Luckily, he was joined by a killer supporting cast -- Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, and more -- that made this show way more fun than any actual food-service job.
The Shield (Seasons 1-7)
The Wire had more to say about the drug trade. The Sopranos' anti-hero was more psychologically rich. Breaking Bad won more Emmys. But, for my blood-speckled money, no show of TV's prestige golden age had as much white-knuckle tension as The Shield, creator Shawn Ryan's occasionally trashy masterpiece of moral compromise and macho arrogance. Vic Mackey, played with simmer rage and dark humor by Michael Chiklis, led an incredible cast of cops, including future Justified standout Walton Goggins, through a series of challenges that culminated in one of the most perfectly realized endings in TV history. Watch it now.
Rick and Morty (Seasons 1-2)
This dark, dimension-spanning cartoon from Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland (Channel 101) follows an alcoholic mad scientist and his dimwitted grandson as they travel through space-time in order to save humanity. It adds up to an alternate reality that's incredibly confusing and emotionally resonant all at once. No, the resemblance to Back to the Future's Doc and Marty is not a coincidence. Yes, it's as insane as it sounds.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Seasons 1-7)
A sacred text of geek culture debuted on March 10th, 1997, almost two years before The Sopranos kicked off the much-lionized "difficult men" period of Golden Age television. But if you were clued in to Joss Whedon's wickedly subversive WB (and later, UPN) action-drama from the start, you knew the revolution of modern television was already under way long before Tony and his ducks. Anchored by Sarah Michelle Gellar's star turn, the show got deeper and darker as it went, turning a comedic riff on horror-movie tropes into a soulful meditation on the nature of bravery. Plus, it's got werewolves and stuff.
Cheers (Seasons 1-11)
For the days when you want to hang out at the bar without changing out of pajamas. Starring Ted Danson as the ex-Red Soxxer and reformed alcoholic slinging drinks, Cheers, too, had a very long run -- 273 episodes! -- so you'll invest a ton of time if you're a completist, but luckily, you'll feel like a regular in no time.
Key and Peele (Seasons 1-5)
Over the course of five seasons, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele created some of the funniest, smartest, and most visually striking sketch comedy of the new millennium. Binge in preparation for their upcoming big-screen debut, Keanu.
The X-Files (Seasons 1-9)
Hulu is the best place to catch up on Mulder's paranoia, Scully's sleuthing, and the burning chemistry that launched a thousand GeoCities sites. The streaming site offers both the original 201-episode run of Fox's paranormal investigation drama and the recent miniseries revival. If nine and a half seasons is too much to binge, cherry-pick the classics. We made it easy by ranking the entire series.
Battlestar Galactica (Seasons 1-4)
When Star Trek: The Next Generation writer Ronald D. Moore first took over this beloved sci-fi property, fans worried that his politically subversive approach would dampen the original's hokey legacy. Now, even with a shaky finale and a inessential spin-off, the remake stands as the perfect example of how to to do genre stuff right: smart writing, great action, and compelling characters. No space opera has soared this high since -- and few likely will.
Inside Amy Schumer (Seasons 1-4)
Known for slyly subversive takes on gender, relationships, and the irritating rhythms of Aaron Sorkin's writing, this series from the Trainwreck star is the rare sketch-comedy show that's actually consistent. If you've only been watching the viral sketches on YouTube, you've missed out.
My So-Called Life (Season 1)
If Daria doesn't have enough feelings for you, try out this '90s teen-angst drama that made big names out of Claire Danes and Jared Leto. You'll feel like you're right there with Angela in the girls' bathroom as you follow all the trials and trivialities of sophomore year's fracturing friendships, family tension, and awkward romance.
Empire (Seasons 1-3)
In this record-industry Dynasty, it's easy to get wrapped up in the Lyon family's batshit schemes. Thanks to constantly shifting power dynamics, Taraji P. Henson's scene-stealing (and Golden Globe-winning!) performance as meddling matriarch Cookie, a catchy Timbaland-produced soundtrack, and countless music-world cameos, the seasons will fly by.
The Good Wife (Seasons 1-7)
Look past the fact that this serialized drama is on CBS, home to NCIS, CSI, and other shows your parents adore. The Good Wife is potent, pressurized, and constantly zigzagging in new directions. The saga of Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) began with a wife reeling from her district attorney husband's affair and subsequent scandal. And it ended as a full-blown opera, full of deception, moral quagmires, and vibrant friendships. Give The Good Wife a few episodes and you'll fall in love with its characters.
The Twilight Zone (Seasons 1-5)
Every lauded sci-fi movie or television show owes Rod Serling residuals. Over 156 episodes, Serling speculated and dreamed, refracting his present day through the trippiest scenarios to ever beam through mild-mannered American homes. The Twilight Zone’s visual prose took us to jungles, to space, to 20,000ft, and to the sunny block from every person’s childhood, where the worst existential revelations tended to lurk. The Twilight Zone still speaks volumes. Buckle up and fly into a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
Deutschland 83 (Season 1)
In this stylized German-language series, set in its titular country and year, an East German officer poses as a West German in order to gather intel. It's a thematic sibling to espionage dramas like The Americans or The Lives of Others -- but with comedy, color, and romance to lighten the mood.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Seasons 1-11)
Few shows make us consistently laugh-cry like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a dark cringe-comedy about a group of depraved jerks (comedy heavyweights Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito) doing horrible things to each other and the people around them. There are 11 seasons available here, but don’t worry about binge-watching -- It’s Always Sunny is the perfect show to drop in and out of. Even decade-old episodes keep the lovable dirtbags of Paddy’s Pub up to recognizable, juvenile antics. It's a show about physical harm, drinking until puking, and wantonly setting things on fire.
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