The Very Best TV Shows to Stream on Hulu Right Now
They're just waiting for you to discover them.
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 that will 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.
ALSO READ: If you're looking for good movies on Hulu, we have those queued up, too.
Abbott Elementary (2022–)
Quinta Brunson's absolutely delightful sitcom is breathing new life into ABC's lagging comedy lineup, but you can catch up with it on Hulu. Filmed in a mockumentary style not unlike The Office or Parks and Recreation, Abbott Elementary follows a group of teachers at an underfunded Philly elementary school. Brunson herself plays the dedicated and optimistic Janine Teagues, whose enthusiasm can get on the nerves of her older colleagues, played by Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter. It's a very funny spin on a familiar format, anchored by an excellent cast.
The Act (2019)
The Act takes a deep dive into the true case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee, whose story gained notoriety following the publication of a viral, mind-boggling Buzzfeed long read on the case. Starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette as the daughter/mother pair, The Act follows Gypsy’s realization that she is a victim of her mother’s abuse—a Munchausen-by-proxy situation, which might sound familiar for people who watched HBO's Sharp Objects—and wants to escape, leading to a controversial plan. The story may have also been the subject of a HBO documentary, too, but it’s one that true-crime fans can’t shake.
Adventure Time (2010–2018)
Adventure Time is a masterpiece in its surprisingly deep exposition of a seemingly straightforward premise. The heroic duo of Finn the human and Jake the shape-shifting dog traverse Ooo, a post-apocalyptic landscape full of monsters, dungeons, and races of kingdoms that covers everything from candy people to cats under boxes with drawn-on faces. The kids' show that's not really a kids' show at all cultivated a multigenerational cult following as it explored the backstories of Ooo and its (sometimes interdimensional) inhabitants in its eight-year lifespan.
Alone Together (2018)
Freeform series can be hit or miss (and mostly miss), but this comedy series following best friends and comic hopefuls—the enormously basic Esther and the unmotivated Benji who mooches off his wealthy older brother—in LA nails what it means for two obnoxious people to be meant for each other. Those eulogizing Difficult People will find relating to the two's mishaps among SoCal's luxury set a comfortable task.
American Horror Story (2011– )
Why do people love Ryan Murphy shows so much? Because they're infused with equal parts camp, drama, suspense, and humor—even this ostensibly scary one. Whether you're watching the Murder House, Freak Show, Hotel, or Roanoke installment, you're in for unforgettable characters, stomach-curdling gore, jaw-dropping plot twists, and brutal finales.
Arrested Development (2003–2006)
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 seasons, 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.
Atlanta (2016– )
After stints writing for 30 Rock, starring in Community, and rapping as Childish Gambino, Donald Glover found time to create, star in, write, and direct several episodes of this half-hour series. Atlanta is a rare species: a deeply funny show offering pointed social commentary. Whether it's casting a Black actor as Justin Bieber, lambasting social media obsessives, or just making a freaking great rap song, Glover's massive endeavor manages to feel effortless, capturing a specific mood and experience with wit and precision.
Baskets stars series co-creator Zach Galifianakis as a clown struggling in the California suburbs. His character Chip Baskets is a dunce, and if it weren't for the harsh reality and morose filmmaking style employed in the series, he'd have us in stitches. But the FX show refuses to be that digestible. Pratfalls roll-jump into—ta-da!—existential dread. Wordplay gags loop from comical to manic to funny again. As Chip's mother, Louie Anderson parades around in a muumuu but plays the role entirely straight. Baskets is a breakthrough work of parody, heartbreaking, hilarious, and odd—everything a portrait of a sad clown should be.
The Bear (2022—)
The official television obsession of summer 2022 is The Bear, the kitchen-set series about a lauded young chef (Jeremy Allen White) who returns home to Chicago to run his dead brother's failing Italian beef restaurant. It's not just that White has become the dirtbag crush of the internet, it's the intoxicating combination of culinary dialogue and pathos that makes The Bear a winner.
The Bernie Mac Show (2001–2006)
Bernie Mac's FOX sitcom was founded on the concept that parenting is war. It's an idea that the late Chicago-born comedian explored in his hilarious stand-up performances—particularly his movie-stealing routines in Spike Lee's hit concert film The Kings of Comedy—and one that the show, which was created by future Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore, found new ways to twist over five seasons. Before series like Arrested Development became critical darlings, The Bernie Mac Show was a sneaky experimental joy, ditching the laugh track for fourth wall-breaking scenes, gags with on-screen graphics, and emotionally real humor. It was the rare family sitcom that didn't pull any punches.
Bob's Burgers (2011– )
What a treat. The earliest episodes of Loren Bouchard's pun-, song-, and fart-filled family sitcom toon are aging like a fine wine, and the new ones rarely disappoint. Though the title would have you believe this show is all about the ever-schlubby Bob (deadpanned by H. Jon Benjamin), it's become way bigger than that. As the show's writers have learned what makes their world tick, it's become increasingly populated with quirkily relatable side characters, relationships, and problems. Watching this show, no matter the episode, is always a fun and immersive—if only for a bit—experience.
The Bold Type (2017–2021)
The Bold Type is to media as Younger is to publishing: batshit plotlines that do not at all reflect the reality of the industry it's portraying, and yet we can't stop watching. Jane, an implausible up-and-coming writer, Kat, the glass-ceiling breaking biracial and bisexual head of social media, and Sutton, a girl with an innately on-brand fashion sense, are best friends working at the women's magazine Scarlet, a facsimile of Cosmopolitan—unsurprising, since the show was produced closely with people from the magazine, including former editor-in-chief Joanna Coles. For all its crazy hyperbole, The Bold Type manages to talk about important women's issues, from sexuality and fertility to gun rights, with unexpected finesse. The pitch-perfect karaoke scenes, however, are pure fantasy.
Broad City (2014–2019)
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.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013–2021)
This sitcom, created by Dan Goor and Mike Schur, is a goofy, big-hearted affair starring Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, a NYPD detective with Die Hard fantasies. But it's not just the Samberg show, even though he is great. The ensemble is amazing: From Andre Braugher's fastidious Captain Holt to Stephanie Beatriz's deadpan Rosa Diaz. The show is so beloved that despite getting canceled by its original network FOX, NBC picked it back up because fans just can’t get enough of the Nine-Nine. You'll get why as soon as you start your binge.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003)
A sacred text of geek culture debuted on March 10, 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 this 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.
Castle Rock (2018–2019)
Stephen King's prolific canon of spooky fiction comes to a head in Castle Rock, Hulu's spooky anthology inspired by the characters from his work. Season 1 tells the story of Henry Deaver (Andre Holland), a lawyer who returns to his childhood home after a mysterious prisoner, named "The Kid" (Bill Skarsgård), is found trapped in a cage underground. His return to the city sets off a chain of events, unleashing clues to the town's sordid past, which also brings Deaver's own personal demons to the surface. You don't necessarily have to stream Season 1 to hop into Season 2, which is even greater than the first installment, seeing a stellar Lizzy Caplan taking on King's nightmare nurse from hell, Annie Wilkes from Misery. Castle Rock is stuffed with King references galore, bringing his canon of work to a singular creep show.
Michaela Watkins, after getting booted from Saturday Night Live, finally got to show off in Casual, the Jason Reitman-produced series about an idiosyncratic family in the vein of Transparent and Parenthood. The series is funny, but also heavy, tackling subject matters like cancer and death. Watkins is excellent as a single mother raising her daughter after a family scandal, and Tommy Dewey, as the charming but romantically inept brother she moves in with, is a scene-stealer, too. Casual may not be flashy, but it tells very human stories with a unique tenderness.
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 had a 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.
There’s a reason Dan Harmon’s community college ensemble comedy amassed a devoted cult following for its six-season run, despite it nearly always being on the brink of cancelation. The series focuses on a lovable study group of misfits played by both comedy veterans and those then just on the brink of breaking out—including consummate cool guy Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), lovable ditz Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), TV-obsessed Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), anxious genius Annie Edison (Alison Brie), tough-but-firm mother Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), high school jock Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), and the baffling, bored, former CEO Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase)—as they navigate their way through Greendale Community College. It’s a sitcom that’s goofy and delirious, but forever a lesson in how to become a better person.
Dawson's Creek (1998–2003)
Oh, Dawson, isn't growing up tough? This new millennium teen drama that aired over on The WB laid the blueprint for many of the coming-of-age series that followed with its earnest portrayal of adolescence. Even if the precocious teens of the fictional New England town of Capeside don't always have it easy, or you're filled with anxiety watching the will-they-won't-they unfold between Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and his best friend Joey (Katie Holmes), it always feels a little bit like coming home tuning into this late '90s/early aughts classic.
Alex Garland, the filmmaker behind sci-fi psychothrillers Annihilation and Ex Machina, made his TV debut with this miniseries, inspired in part by the director's obsessions with determinism and free will. It's a mystery, so without revealing too much, the show follows a computer engineer (Sonoya Mizuno) who looks to the strange quantum computing company called Amaya where her boyfriend worked for answers once he disappears. The series is equally odd and alluring, and Nick Offerman is a scene-stealer in his role as the engineer who runs Amaya. You need not be a quantum physicist to be perplexed and blown away by this inventive miniseries.
Difficult People (2015–2017)
In this Hulu original, Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner are mean-spirited and petty New Yorkers who 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 Dropout (2022)
It's easy to feel skeptical about the current wave of scripted series based on scams ripped from recent headlines, but The Dropout is far better than counterparts like Netflix's Inventing Anna and Apple TV+'s WeCrashed. Run by New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether, the Hulu show charts the breathless rise and tantalizing fall of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried), who girlbossed her way to fame and riches without confirming that her radical blood-testing innovation actually worked. If you've read, heard, or watched the many chronicles of Holmes' decline, you might not learn much new information from The Dropout. But in addition to great performances from Seyfried, Naveen Andrews, Stephen Fry, Laurie Metcalf, and others, you will get a barbed insight into how a single-minded go-getter can dupe herself into believing in a self-driven vision that was always too good to be true.
Drunk History (2013–2020)
Since its inception a decade ago, Jeremy Konner and Derek Waters' Emmy-winning web series-turned-TV hit has paired blasted comedian narrators with top-tier actors to recreate our country's most iconic moments, making for one of the smartest dumb shows in recent memory. If you're unsure where to start, take a look at our favorite segments.
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.
If you really want a project, why not get into ER? The foundational medical show lasted for 15 seasons and is one of the most acclaimed series of all time. Of course, half the fun of watching ER is seeing George Clooney in his nascent stardom before he was Movie Star George Clooney, but don't let that stop you from further appreciating whole scope of the show.
The Eric Andre Show (2012– )
Comedian Eric Andre has nothing but contempt for late-night talk-show conventions. While Jimmy Fallon and James Corden have turned network TV's late-night landscape into a glad-handing frat-party singalong, Andre has carved out his own punk nightmare gabfest on Adult Swim. Whether he's making Lauren Conrad squirm, dressing up as a cop for absurd man-on-the-street bits, or trading one-liners with co-host and fellow comedian Hannibal Buress, Andre filters everything through his own surreal vision. You'll never look at a talk-show desk the same way again.
The Exorcist (2016–2018)
FOX's spiritually fucked-up reboot takes the movie's soul-saving concept and turns it into something like a more serious Ghostbusters TV show. In Season 1, two badass priests—one in better standing with the church than the other—try to prevent one family from descending into total hellish chaos. It's a riveting and surprisingly touching roller-coaster ride. It's also extremely, and lovably, gross. In Episode 2, one of the protagonists barfs what looks like two bottles of Green Machine and then yanks a near-never-ending centipede out of her mouth—almost like the Santa Clarita Diet pilot without comic relief. The rest of the show takes after its big-screen predecessor—with more contemporary makeup and effects—to show that head-spinning demonic possession can do the body a lot of bad.
Fargo (2014– )
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 Season 1 well above mere facsimile. The impressive casting holds the convolution plot together in Season 1 and the following installments (Kirsten Dunst! Jesse Plemons! Ewan McGregor! Chris Rock!), each telling a different contained story in the frigid, crime-filled Fargo world.
Finished Cheers? Okay, no go watch the equally good Cheers spinoff: Frasier. While Frasier Crane began as a character on the Boston-set sitcom, he truly flourished when he moved back to Seattle, started a radio show, and shacked up with his dad and his dad's Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie. (Remember when Eddie was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly? Yeah, Frasier was a big deal.) It's also one of the most wonderfully acted sitcoms there ever was with the likes of John Mahoney and David Hyde Pierce. Let the persnickety pretension of Frasier and Niles lull you into a sense of calm.
Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000)
Like its awkwardly dressed and perpetually yearning protagonists, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow's ode to the pain of adolescence was destined to be an outcast from the start. Its presciently selected cast—including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, John Francis Daley, and Martin Starr—anchored a show that was perhaps too prickly and personal to catch on with NBC's mainstream audience, but it lives forever on Hulu. So, like Starr's achingly joyful Bill Haverchuck watching Garry Shandling after school, make yourself a grilled cheese, grab a glass of milk, and get ready to find some pockets of transcendence amidst the misery.
Friday Night Lights (2006–2011)
Sure, the television adaptation of the movie adaptation of the book veers frequently into sentimentality, outright conservatism, and cheap melodrama, but it's these qualities that make it an essential piece of American television. High-school football serves as the perfect medium to explore the 21st-century American experience, and the qualities above are part of the deal. With knockout performances from Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, it's almost too easy to get sucked into the Dillon Panthers' football life.
Futurama (1999–2003; 2008–2013)
Understandably, Futurama looks and feels like a little sibling to Matt Groening's Simpsons. The sci-fi toon imitates its big bro with a similar penchant for wordplay, pop-culture parody, political satire, and visual gags. But after a seven-season run, the story of Fry, a New York City pizza guy who becomes an interplanetary delivery worker after he's transported from 1999 to 2999, has come to boast an immersive, outrageously fun universe all its own.
The Girl From Plainville (2022)
The case explored in The Girl from Plainville is a very complicated one. Chronicling the events around the infamous "texting-suicide case"—in which Michelle Carter was convicted for involuntary manslaughter because of texts she sent to her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad "Coco" Roy before his death by suicide—the series dares to try to understand all the intricacies of the story. While it's difficult to watch and does drag on at times, its sensitive approach in dramatizing what Roy was going through, his family's grief, and Carter's own experience that was seldom examined in the media makes it compelling and nuanced. Elle Fanning is excellent as Carter and she, along with the fascinating way that the show wrote in its many YA references, challenges expectations of the case and paints a complex picture of teen tragedy. It's a rare entry into the bloated true-crime genre that feels exceptionally human.
The Great (2020– )
Russian empress Catherine the Great is one of the most fascinating, and tantalizing, characters in history. Meaning, she's perfect for The Favourite screenwriter Tony McNamara to make the subject of a salacious, satirical, period piece comedy. Elle Fanning takes on the role of the Austrian royal who was married off to Peter III (played by a hilarious Nicholas Hoult), and organized a coup to take hold of power of Russia as she ended up falling in love with her new nation more than her husband. Forget the stuffy biopics and series on the ruler that came before this, The Great is witty, playful, and impeccably designed, and it all goes down like it's been spiked with a little bit of Vodka.
Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Fun fact: Mitchell Hurwitz—you know, the dude who created Arrested Development?—did a lot of his early work on here. Other fun fact: This sitcom, about four previously married women (including Betty White!) living together in Miami, is legitimately one of the best and funniest in TV history. Embrace this opportunity to watch every single episode, and, whatever you do, do not write these gals off.
The Handmaid's Tale (2017– )
After racking up several Emmys, including for Best Drama Series and Lead Actress, Drama (Elisabeth Moss), this adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel showed Hulu means business. Now's your chance to see what had the Emmy voters all worked up over a dystopian world in which women are kept as childbearers for a wealthy, oppressive elite.
The arch and evocative reinvention of author Thomas Harris's cannibalistic super-villain Hannibal Lecter, was a wild, daring experiment conceived by showrunner Bryan Fuller, the writer behind quirky-and-cancelled cult shows like Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls. With its baroque visual style, florid dialogue, and stomach-churning flashes of violence, Hannibal won't be mistaken for comfort viewing—unless you find images like a body covered in mushrooms or an unnerving stag-man beast oddly soothing.
Happy Endings (2011–2013)
In a perfect world, this joke-a-second ABC sitcom about six neurotic best friends living in Chicago would have blossomed into a generation-defining, Friends-like hit. Instead, it was cancelled after three seasons. Was it too weird? Too manic? Was the world just not ready for "Elisha Cuthbert, sitcom star"? Now is your chance to find out.
One of Hulu's most underrated original series is Harlots, which has perhaps the best production design and and premise of any Hulu show (yes, including The Handmaid's Tale). Centered on 18th-century British brothels, Harlots is much more than a titillating show about sex, though that's in there too; it delves deep into life on the outside of "acceptable" society, tackling questions of sex, gender, class, and taboos along the way. Don't sleep on Harlots.
High Fidelity (2020)
It would be an understatement to say people were apprehensive of this TV adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel and 2000 film of the same name. When the show was ordered, it was planned that Rob, the lead record store owner who explores where his breakups went wrong, would become a woman named Robin—and fans were worried it would strip the material of its essence about shitty dudes being shitty. Zoë Kravitz stepped into the role, though, and revived Rob and her lists (er, playlists) to be ultra-cool for a new generation. It's a rom-com series that's both charming and poignant, giving the story a more nuanced angle of showing a woman unraveling as she faces her own flaws and heartbreak.
The moment you know the CIA has creative input on Homeland, arguably Showtime's biggest hit, comes early in the first season. Deputy director David Estes (David Harewood), in a moment that feels totally out of place, tells Carrie (Clare Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin), "America needs to understand we're still at war." Roger that. The ensuing violence, subterfuge, personal demons, and intrigue may titillate and entertain, but it also acclimates audiences to the necessity of perpetual war, the quotidian nature of constant surveillance, and the inherent goodwill of armed Americans.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005– )
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 14 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.
Key and Peele (2012–2015)
Over the course of five seasons, the duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele created some of the funniest, smartest, and most visually striking sketch comedy of the new millennium that's still being memed today. If you haven't watched, it's absolutely time, even just to chart the path of Peele's sensibilities from sketch genius to an Oscar-winning horror director.
Killing Eve (2018–2022)
When this spy-thriller-comedy-romance from Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) premiered, it quickly become one of the most acclaimed series on TV. Exploring themes of obsession in a cat-and-mouse pan-European setting, Killing Eve finds Sandra Oh's Eve as an American spy dead set on tracking down Villanelle, a sociopath assassin who develops an oddly touching relationship with Eve as they try to maybe kill each other, maybe fall in love. It's weird, messy, but most of all fun, a combination that felt rare and refreshing in a time when weird and messy often portended bad results.
The L Word (2004–2009)
One of the most well-known and impactful LGBTQ-focused TV series, The L Word did necessary work quenching a drought in lesbian representation on television. The series, which lasted for six seasons during its original run, followed the lives of a group of predominantly lesbian friends who live in West Hollywood. Its full cast of queer characters was notable back in 2004 when it began airing, and is frankly still notable today. Although certain elements of the show haven't aged well, it's still a crucial part of the history of LGBTQ representation on screen.
Letterkenny (2016– )
"There are 5,000 people in Letterkenny. These are their problems," so begins every episode of this comedy. Co-created by Jared Keeso, who stars as the small town's resident tough guy Wayne, this web series-turned-Canadian comedy/Hulu original focuses on best friends shooting the shit about whatever’s going on in their hometown. While both a lot and nothing at all happens in this sitcom, the series has developed its own language over the course of its eight seasons and is known for its speedy exchanges and relentlessly recurring in-jokes. The attention to detail and expertly crafted dialogue makes Letterkenny a must-watch sitcom, which isn't something you might expect from a show set deep within the grassy farmlands of Ontario.
Lodge 49 (2018–2019)
Lodge 49 is a seemingly low-stakes dramedy that's as perpetually laidback as its protagonist, Dud (played charmingly by Wyatt Russell), an aimless Southern California beach bum who joins an old-school fraternal club after the death of his father. But the show's small, cultish army of faithful viewers know that Lodge 49 has steathily built out a vibrant world populated by quirky characters solving tantalizing mysteries about the secretive organization and, well, life, man. It can accurately be described as "Northern Exposure meets Inherent Vice," and nothing beats that.
The Looming Tower (2018)
Based on the Lawrence Wright book about the events that led up to the 9/11 attacks, this gripping miniseries stars Jeff Daniels and Peter Sarsgaard as dueling FBI and CIA investigators.
Long before Damon Lindelof's The Leftovers bludgeoned viewers with its bracing emotional intensity, or J.J. Abrams became the crown prince of Wookieepedia, there was a show called Lost. While it has become increasingly hip to condemn the show's later seasons for any number of faults ranging from mawkish sentimentality to an over-dependence on wonky sci-fi tropes to gooey Touched by an Angel spirituality, the show itself retains all its brilliant power when viewed in a streaming hatch, free of recaps, fan theories, and backlash. If you've never seen it, there's no better time to get wrapped up in its mysteries. And if you have—well, as Jack would say, we have to go back!
The Mindy Project (2012–2017)
When Mindy Kaling's rom-sitcom hits, it hits hard. Her Indian-American Dr. Bridget Jones will have you in stitches, which makes sticking around for the misses—see: Mindy's dubious pregnancy—worth your time. The titular character is continuously navigating kooky fertility clinic coworkers and new romances, no matter how much chemistry she has with her curmudgeony co-worker Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), and learning to grow up, even as she becomes a mother herself. Hulu saved The Mindy Project from cancellation doom at Fox, exclusively producing and airing the final three seasons. Thanks, Hulu!
Mrs. America (2020)
Considering the Equal Rights Amendment saw bipartisan support and nearly passed before Phyllis Schlafly mobilized a conservative opposition, watching history unfold in this drama from Mad Men and Halt and Catch Fire writer Dahvi Weller about the women's movement in 1970s America and Schlafly's rise may have you screaming at your TV at times. Less about Schlafly, who is played by a scathing Cate Blanchett, and more about the larger movement at the time, the series is a sprawling period piece about various women who tried to push an agenda of equality forward. Big stars play historical figures, like Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, and Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, to give you a history lesson about heroes and antiheroes of the 20th century that’s just as entertaining and mind-boggling as it is informative.
My So-Called Life (1994–1995)
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.
Nathan For You (2013–2017)
Is "the thinking man's Punk'd" a reality show? A clever Shark Tank parody? A dark, existential narrative about an ambitious anti-hero who will do anything to get rich and find love? It's all of the above and more, with the most recent season finale even revered by goddamn Errol Morris. Most episodes are about host Nathan Fielder meeting a small-business owner around LA who is struggling to get by. He makes them a pitch: Follow my proposed plan and I'll improve your business. He's here to make dreams come true. The only problem? The proposals are often overly elaborate and borderline insane. Cringe and learn, people.
Nine Perfect Strangers (2021)
What does relaxation really mean? Who can afford wellness? These are the questions blended up (along with flaxseed and turmeric root) in Nine Perfect Strangers. Adapted from a novel by Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty, the miniseries (helmed by BLL showrunner David E. Kelley) is set at a remote, luxe wellness resort where nine troubled individuals seeking relief check in for a retreat. But behind the bamboo doors of the Tranquillum House is a strange Russian woman named Masha (played by Nicole Kidman in a wild accent) who clearly is orchestrating their paths to serenity in a mysterious way that seems far from what anybody signed up for. Paradise comes at a price here, but you'll be compelled to carry out the remainder of your stay based on the star-studded cast (Melissa McCarthy, Regina Hall, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Shannon, and more) and whatever Masha's up to.
Normal People (2020)
Based on the book of the same name by the queen of the millennial narrative, Sally Rooney (who adapted the book for Hulu with the playwright Alice Birch), this miniseries captures the intense intimacy that develops between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), two high schoolers from a small Irish town. The series closely dissects their affair, as their relationship evolves as they grow older and their social statuses change. Few series will have leave you feeling as lustful and heartbroken as this one.
The Office (U.K.) (2001–2002)
Fans of Dunder Mifflin have Ricky Gervais's David Brent to thank for the genesis of Michael Scott. Tim (Martin Freeman) and Dawn (Lucy Davis) are the first Jim and Pam. This show's the OG, in other words. Though it only ran for two seasons, Gervais' British The Office paved the way for a new wave of awkward comedy, turned banal jobs into fertile ground for producing side-splitting workplace laughs, and inspired the US The Office's Greg Daniels and Michael Schur to be their best.
Only Murders in the Building (2021– )
Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez play an intentionally odd throuple in this comedy-mystery, and the show is delightful for it. At its start, the three have nothing in common, aside from the fact that they all live in the same Upper West Side apartment building and are true crime podcast obsessives. It's that shared interest that brings them together when another one of their neighbors is killed under strange circumstances, and they're determined to put their sleuthing skills to work. With a handful of guest stars coming through the complex's revolving door, a picturesque backdrop just off the westside of Central Park, and caper twists galore, the series couldn't be more charming. Who knew a satire of contemporary media could be so damn adorable?
Over the Garden Wall (2014)
Over the Garden Wall, which has become an autumnal rewatch tradition since its debut, is an animated miniseries about two young boys, Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean), who get lost in a forest full of strange and sinister creatures, and must find their way back home before they're taken by an evil being called "The Beast." It was created by Adventure Time writer Patrick McHale and, like Adventure Time, it has a dark little heart masked by what appears at first to be simple child-friendly whimsy.
Pam & Tommy (2022)
Pam & Tommy got people's attention with prosthetics that transformed Lily James and Sebastian Stan into uncanny replicas of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, as well as the promise of many '90s pop-culture references. But after a few episodes, the bio-drama came down from its Señor Frogs party binge and proved that it intended to reframe the narrative around the theft and distribution of the couple's sex tape as an instance in which tabloids and society weaponized a woman's sexuality against her. It's James's fully inhabited performance that elevates the show, as she brings an immense sincerity to her portrayal of the Baywatch star, from scenes in which Anderson is underestimated on the set to an episode about her infamous deposition. While Pam & Tommy ultimately has to grapple with its own place amid Hollywood's ongoing reevaluation of the ways it has hurt famous women—Anderson was not involved in the production—it's certainly moving, and now it’s become a catalyst to hear Pam's own experience.
Party Down (2009–2010)
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 mostly known for his catch phrase in beer commercials—"Are we having fun yet???"—in this beloved cult comedy. Luckily, he was joined by a killer supporting cast, including Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, and more, that made this show way more fun than any actual catering gig. Excitingly, this former STARZ project is getting a reboot.
Middle school sucks. But in retrospect, it’s so cringeworthy and melodramatic that it makes for one giant playground of great comedic material. From comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle comes this Hulu original series in which the adult women go back to the junior high halls that haunts every one of us, playing 13-year-old versions of themselves in the early aughts, surrounded by actual preteens. The show, which counts The Lonely Island among its executive producers, hits on many of the topics you'd expect of a coming-of-age comedy: masturbation, young love, AIM, and cigarettes, to name a few. But it's the awkward delivery, the attention paid to the feelings and hormones coursing through the veins of the characters, that inspire some of the funniest moments. It's uncomfortable and funny and painful and wistful, probably like your memories of middle school.
Longtime collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad) teamed up for the irreverent, satanic horror romp that is Preacher, and the result is bloody fun. Adapted from the DC comics, the series pits troubled Texas priest Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) against dark, mysterious forces that threaten to upend and possibly destroy the bizarre small town he calls home. He's joined by an Irish vampire (Joe Gilgun) and his tough-as-hell, helicopter-wrecking ex-girlfriend (Ruth Negga), who both occasionally help him out of the violent scraps and theological conundrums he gets in. Preacher is a strange beast of prestige TV, but you’ll be happy to binge this kind of gospel.
Ramy (2019– )
Created by and starring rising comic Ramy Youssef, Ramy is a glimpse into life as a millennial Muslim. The series is a snapshot of young adult life through Youssef's perspective as a practicing Muslim. The show focuses on his effort to commit to his faith, and what that means for him as a young man in New Jersey who doesn't drink or do drugs, but definitely has premarital sex and isn't looking to settle down any time soon. Ramy also works to depict the varied experience of everyone in his family, and each episode provides glimpses into the kinds of microaggressions, fetishization, and stereotyping each of them endure. At the end of the day, it is a comedy about the laughable tests God gives us daily, and it's a refreshing take on the age-old struggle of finding meaning in a world controlled by forces you don't always understand.
Reservation Dogs (2021– )
The FX on Hulu comedy about four friends living on a Native American reservation in Oklahoma—and trying every way they can to make enough money to leave—mixes irreverence and melancholy in a wonderful, revolutionary way. Created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi and centering Indigenous people, the series has been hailed as one of the best of 2021. Get on board now.
Rick and Morty (2013– )
Problematic fandom aside, 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.
Saturday Night Live (1975– )
There are 22 seasons of Saturday night sketch comedy available on Hulu. Are all of SNL's eras good? Not really, but it's fine to put on if you need something to half-watch while you're cleaning your apartment!
More often than not, Shonda Rhimes' political crisis management show plays like a stick of dynamite with an abnormally long fuse. Simply put: If you haven't heard Kerry Washington deliver one of Olivia Pope's blistering speeches, you haven't lived.
The Shield (2002–2008)
The Wire had more to say about the drug trade. The Sopranos' anti-hero was more psychologically rich. Breaking Bad won more Emmys. But there's perhaps no show of TV's prestige golden age with 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 simmering 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.
Based on Lindy West's 2016 memoir of the same name, Hulu's Shrill stars SNL's Aidy Bryant as "Annie Easton" (get it???), a writer who's facing a world full of fat-shaming, sexism, and generally shitty people—especially exemplary in her sort-of boyfriend, who is truly the pits. While the writing often feels forced, and plot gets shoehorned into social commentary, Shrill nevertheless finds the humor in all the ways people can be horrible to each other, and gives Bryant the chance to shine in her own right.
Single Drunk Female (2022–)
After her stint on the underrated comedy The Mick, Sofia Black-D'Elia gets a deserving showcase in Single Drunk Female. She plays Samantha, a 28-year-old alcoholic who gets fired from her soul-sucking media job and moves in with her widowed mother (Ally Sheedy) who doesn't understand the nature of her addiction. Few shows have tangled with young women's sobriety as honestly as Single Drunk Female, with its potent blend of dark humor, deep self-reflection, and emotional breakthroughs as Sam works through Alcoholics Anonymous' 12 steps. Created by Simone Finch based on her real-life experiences and produced by the likes of Leslye Headland (Russian Doll), Jenni Konner (Girls), and Daisy Gardner (30 Rock), the series often feels painfully real as Sam weathers the ups and downs on her road to recovery.
Hormonal teens. Lots of bad decisions. Zero fucks. Upon first viewing, Skins might feel like the British version of Project X or Veep's vulgar little sibling. But there's much more to the rampant sex and social one-upmanship that riddles Roundview College. Each cleverly scripted installment—told from a different character's point of view—meshes foul-mouthed humor with the gritty personal details of subjects like mental illness, family dysfunction, and race. The combo makes for some potent concoctions, ones that manage to pulse with an electrifying rhythm, even though many of Roundview's students (played in early episodes by the big-name likes of young Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, and Daniel Kaluuya) are mired in the mind-numbing ennui between childhood and adulthood. After a couple episodes, you'll find yourself obsessing over these deftly drawn kids, what their futures look like, and whether their anarchic exploits will make them or ruin them.
Taboo (2017– )
Bona fide movie star Tom Hardy stops by FX to play James Delaney, a top hat-wearing shipwreck survivor who's determined to thwart the many Londoners seeking to steal his inheritance circa 1814. The actor's relentlessly intense performance elevates a show that intertwines maritime trade, the War of 1812, and incest into a cracking yarn. Binge it immediately—the top-hat industry demands it.
30 Rock (2006–2013)
Tina Fey's workplace sitcom was so good for so long that it's easy to take it for granted. Since it went off the air in 2013, comedies have gotten stranger, more dramatic, and more formally ambitious. But have they gotten any funnier? We'd argue no. Between Jack Donaghy's Bush-era conservative zingers, Tracy Jordan's endlessly absurd one-liners, Kenneth's disturbing hillbilly antics, and Jenna Maroney's deranged celebrity narcissism, the show delivered perfect jokes at an exhilarating pace. What's more innovative than that?
Top Chef (2006– )
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.
In the early 2000s, 24 was the concept drama that proved it was possible to innovate the format of TV storytelling, and to do it on network television. The Kiefer Sutherland-starring series moves hour-by-hour through the most harrowing days of agent Jack Bauer's career, upping the race-against-the-clock stakes by arriving during the height of post-9/11 terrorism fear-mongering. Good thing Bauer had enough rough days at the office to keep the show going for nearly a decade. Beginning with an assignment to keep a presidential candidate safe from an assassination plot, to preventing bombs from detonating and bioterrorism attacks, the popular political thriller hooks you from minute one, and hopes you'll stick around for the next 1,440.
United States of Tara (2009–2011)
A comedy about a woman living with dissociative identity disorder might sound like it's making a punchline out of mental illness, but this show from Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body) is one of the most normalizing and authentic depictions of it on TV. Toni Collette stars as the titular Tara, and each one of her very distinct alters, which start to resurface after she makes the decision to go off her medication when the side effects become overwhelming. Collette flawlessly transitions into each of her characters from scene to scene in a performance that's more than a sum of its parts and well-deserving of its Emmy, but rightfully steals the show as Tara, as she works with her family to process childhood trauma. It's an untraditional family drama for sure, but touching in its handling of the dysfunction.
Vanderpump Rules (2013– )
Where the Real Housewives series are Bravo's almond milk latte of drama, Vanderpump Rules is the network's Red Bull and vodka chased with a few extra helpings of pasta. It's crazed in the best ways possible, featuring the staff of Housewife Lisa Vanderpump's restaurant, SUR, fighting, fucking, and partying their way to national stardom. You'll learn to love-hate the sociopathic appeal of Jax, the shit-stirring of Kristen and Stassi, and the buffoonery of the Toms. They're the lovable, party-happy cousins you never had, and while you'll probably be glad you don't have to deal with their shit in real life, on TV you won't be able to look away.
What We Do in the Shadows (2019– )
In 2014, New Zealanders Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Concords fame and funny man director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) created a mockumentary about a flat full of centuries-old vampire roommates, and just a few years later America got the bite to make a stateside series adaptation of the very funny cult comedy. While the original stars don't appear, Clement and Waititi produced this FX series, found a hysterical lead cast in Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, and Nastasia Demetriou, and gave it an update, settling the blood-suckers in a house in modern day Staten Island. They may be undead, but this vampire gimmick show is full of life and laugh-out-loud silly.
Will & Grace (1998–2006; 2017–2020)
If you were a sitcom fan at the turn of the millennium, Will & Grace is likely up there as one of your favorites. In its original eight-season run, the series dominated the ratings, earned 83 Emmy Awards, and ushered in a style of hyperactive three-camera sitcom comedy while normalizing gay lifestyles for millions of Americans. Whether viewers knew it or not, Will & Grace was making them laugh and making them think. The cast of Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes is one you can't help but love—which people did so much so the series was brought back for a brief reboot just a few years ago.
The Wonder Years (1988–1993)
Got a hankering for nostalgia? With The Wonder Years on Hulu, you can double up on nostalgia—it's what the show is about, so you can experience nostalgia for a time when a show about nostalgia was one of the most popular sitcoms on air. Too meta for you? Relax, buddy, it's just television. Flip it on and get your nostalgia synapses firing as soon as Joe Cocker starts crooning. Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper forever streaming.
This Comedy Central workplace sitcom is like all of workplace sitcoms you know and love, and at the same time, not like them at all. The show from and starring friends and frequent collaborators Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, and Anders Holm is much more of the irreverent, stoner variety about three slacker roommates who work together as telemarketers. But don’t shy away from their outlandish brand of humor: It's not as bro-y as you'd think. In fact, just about everybody would find their misadventures through young adulthood are funny as hell.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga (2019– )
Not every musical legend gets their own biopic—and even if they do, they're not necessarily done well. Films and series focusing on rap icons are especially few and far between, but this Hulu original aims to tell a detailed and honest story about the rise of the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Co-created by the group's own founder RZA, the series tracks their formation from coming up in Staten Island in the '90s as it was overwhelmed by the crack cocaine epidemic to their first record deal. The cast is stacked with talented up-and-comers like Moonlight's Ashton Sanders as RZA and Shameik Moore as Raekwon, and fans will find themselves fascinated in Season 2 with accounts of how the group put together classic hits. Once the show hits its stride, it ain’t nothing ta fuck wit.
The X-Files (1993–2002)
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.
Introduced to mainstream viewers on Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino's short-lived Bunheads (also streaming on Hulu, also a must-watch), Broadway veteran Sutton Foster solidifies herself as the heir to Mary Tyler Moore's gleefully stressed throne in this sitcom about a divorced, 40-year-old mother who reinvigorates her old career in publishing by posing as a millennial. The big secret premise isn't as ridiculous as Bosom Bodies, but it's close, giving Foster's classic leading lady persona, and her costar Hilary Duff, actual 20-something, the chance for slapstick, romance, and the occasional earnest reflection on age. It's a warm hug of a series.