The best shows on Hulu aren’t in short supply. But, with so much choice on the streamer, how do you pick what to watch next? That’s where we come in – we’ve trawled through everything the platform has to offer in order to bring you recommendations of the 15 shows that we think are well worth your time.
For starters, there’s dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as series based on true crime stories, like Under the Banner of Heaven, The Girl From Plainville, and The Dropout. Meanwhile, comedy dramas like High Fidelity, Shrill, and Only Murders in the Building provide some more lighthearted viewing. And that’s just the beginning – whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re likely to find it on Hulu. So, for all that and more, read on to find out our picks of the best shows on Hulu to stream right now.
The show: The name pretty much nails it, this is all about sex workers in the 18th century. Specifically two competing brothel owners, one poor (played by Samantha Morton) and one (Lesley Manville) who makes a pretty penny providing female entertainers for the British gentry.
Why it’s worth a watch: Intrigue, rivalry, backstabbing, and all served up with lashings of sex on the side. Not that this is softcore porn, for all the rumpy pumpy it turns out that life as a lady of the night comes with some fairly horrendous problems, including possessive patrons, the “French pox” (syphilis), and blackmail. The cast includes Liv Tyler and Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay, and with a creative team headed up by women it never reduces its cast to bawdy and beautiful set dressing.
The show: Another comic book adaptation, but this one has a twist: the heroes in this story are the children of certified bad guys, who decide to rebel against their evil parents.
Why it’s worth a watch: So many reasons. One of the Runaways is a goth whose superpowers are spooky Wiccan business, Buffy the Vampire’s Spike is in it – playing evil DILF Victor Stein – and there is an actual dinosaurs character called Old Lace. Starting to make all Netflix’s Marvel adaptations look about as exciting as two weeks in Omaha isn’t it? Sure, the cast might all be wrinkle free and young enough to get carded when they try to buy beer, but don’t hold that against them.
The show: From Stephen King, this series is based on his novel about time travel, walk-in pantries, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. James Franco stars as the classic King everyman Jake Epping, who is tasked with changing history but gets too involved with his new life in 1960s America.
Why it’s worth a watch: Like all time travel tales, the irresistible part of the show is just how rubbish Jake Epping is at it. Like me after two drinks of cider, old Jakey can’t resist getting involved in all sorts of messy drama and then trying to fix problems in his current life by fiddling with events in 1963. He should be focusing on the whole JFK getting murdered thing, and there’s lots of men in hats looking serious about that sort of stuff, but there’s also a cute librarian love interest.
The show: Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner play two friends who hate everyone in the world, except each other, and are more than happy raining verbal acid down on anyone who gravitates towards them. Come for the struggle of comedians trying to make a living in New York, stay for the withering insults.
Why it’s worth a watch: For the witty writing, Tiny Fey appearances, and an episode surrounding a beaver who sings toilet tunes. In the real world you’d be terrified to have Julie and Billy as friends – unless you possessed Charlize Theron levels of confidence and poise and skin thick enough to repel bullets – but in this show you can laugh along with them without fear. If the show had a motto it would be: “Our lives are garbage and it’s the world’s fault.”
The show: Jules, a web designer at a wellness company called Woom, uses her own imagination in order to literally and figuratively cope with the end of a long-term relationship and rekindle the female friendships she neglected for years.
Why it’s worth a watch: Kat Dennings, Brenda Song, Shay Mitchell, and Esther Povitsky are a fun, hilarious ensemble. Plus, there’s a character named Cat Lady who is literally a human woman with a cat’s head. What’s better than that?
The show: Robyn ‘Rob’ Brooks owns a record store in Brooklyn, is obsessed with pop culture, and is frequently unlucky in love. Rob’s romantic life is told through a series of ‘heartbreak stories,’ beginning with the boy who broke her heart in middle school.
Why it’s worth a watch: It’s a fresh spin on both Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel and its 2000 John Cusack-led adaptation. Cusack’s Rob was charming and hopeless, while Zoe Kravitz’s Rob is a little less heartthrob-y and a lot more grounded in reality. She’s a skeptic and curmudgeon, but she means well – and you can’t help but cheer her on.
The show: SNL’s Aidy Bryant plays Annie, who has an epiphany that she can have the life she wants, it’s not contingent on her losing weight, and anyone or anything that makes her feel that way is BS.
Why it’s worth a watch: Based on the book by Lindy West, this is a joyous celebration of sticking a middle finger up at people’s expectations and living your best life. You’ll fall in love with Annie instantly, and as a result, hate all the people in her life that try to make her feel crappy. Her awful boss at a hipster Portland alt-weekly, her mother, a bitchy personal trainer who accosts her in a coffee shop, her boyfriend who is such a dumbass he’s at risk of choking on his own tongue. This isn’t misery porn though, there’s utter vicarious delight as she builds her confidence and hangs out with her amazing friends.
Under the Banner of Heaven
The show: Jeb Pyre, an LDS church elder and local detective, has a crisis of faith while investigating the gruesome murder of a young mother and her infant daughter.
Why it’s worth a watch: The fictional series is based on Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction true crime book of the same name, which chronicles the murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her daughter at the hands of Ron and Dan Lafferty – her husband’s brothers. While Jeb Pyre’s crisis of faith is used as a sort of narrative arc to keep the plot cohesive, it also helps illustrate the crime’s cruel, horrific nature and give a voice to the victim – the latter of which is often forgotten in true crime.
Pam & Tommy
The show: It’s a biopic miniseries that chronicles the marriage of Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee – and the notorious release of their unauthorized sex tape.
Why it’s worth a watch: Lily James shines as Pamela Anderson, really capturing the star’s charm, wit, and sex appeal, and reminding us why we fell in love with her in the first place. The series is funny and downright absurd at times (Lee’s penis is anthropomorphized as its own character), but also warm and heartfelt in its depiction of Pam’s own personal trauma.
Only Murders in the Building
The show: What do a semi-retired actor, a financially struggling Broadway director, and the female friend of a young murder victim all have in common? An obsession with true crime. After a suspicious death in their affluent apartment building is ruled a suicide, the three decide to start their podcast about the investigation.
Why it’s worth a watch: The series stars comedy greats Steve Martin and Martin Short, who are joined by a funny and refreshing Selena Gomez. While it might seem like an odd ensemble, the three bounce off each other without effort and really bring the laughs. It’s a fun approach to the otherwise bleak subject of true crime and is unlike anything else on TV.
The show: Life as a teenage girl is hilarious, once you’ve actually managed to survive it. Comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play their younger selves in this show about trying, and failing to be cool, and female friendship.
Why it’s worth a watch: PEN15 is one of the more honest depictions of life as a teenager. Maya and Anna swap between playing Sylvanian families in the privacy of their bedrooms to sneaking sips of beer at the cooler girl’s house, from talking about the boys they’re crushing on to trying to solve all racism but it’s never worthy, just funny. Occasionally there are moments of poignancy that’ll have you craving the smell of Impulse body spray and Marlboro Lights, but mostly you’ll just be laughing.
The Girl from Plainville
The show: It’s a dramatization of the events leading up to the real-life death of Conrad Roy, who according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, committed suicide at the insistence of his girlfriend Michelle Carter.
Why it’s worth a watch: The series was adapted from the documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter by Erin Lee Carr, who also served on the Hulu series as a consulting producer. Much like the documentary, the show’s aim is not to sway you in one specific direction – but instead to tell a disturbing, heartbreaking true story about a strange relationship between two lonely, mentally ill teenagers and emphasize the power that our words, both written and spoken, can have over another individual.
The show: Amanda Seyfried plays Elizabeth Holmes, founder of disgraced biotechnology company Theranos, in this drama that tells the story of the CEO’s epic rise and fall.
Why it’s worth a watch: Seyfried’s Holmes is delightfully bizarre. She also nails the CEO’s exaggerated voice, which Holmes put on in front of employees and during interviews in order to appear less feminine and be taken ‘more seriously.’ Overall, it’s a gripping drama that depicts one woman’s intense obsession with becoming the next Steve Jobs – and the dangerous lengths she’ll go to achieve it.
The show: A supernatural mystery set in Castle Rock, a small town that sits squarely in Stephen King’s fictional universe. The tale of two men, Henry Deaver – who disappeared without explanation as a child in Castle Rock – returning home and of another – a pale stranger found caged in the bowels of Shawshank Penitentiary – it’s full of twists and turns and King Easter eggs.
Why it’s worth a watch: There’s more on offer here than just a game of spot the references, as Castle Rock snares you in a net of different plot threads, tightening them just enough to keep you coming back. Just when you think you know who “the kid” – the pale captive from Shawshank – is, you’re sent off on another trail trying to figure out why our hero Henry disappeared in the night decades previously. Stephen King is the master of the small town story, and the references to Cujo or The Shining help to make this feel familiar, like a trip back to your own hometown. Just a hometown where things have gone very, very wrong.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The show: Dystopian fiction that at times feel uncomfortably familiar, this series follows a Handmaiden in the fictional American state of Gilead. Despite the innocent sounding title, a handmaiden is a woman forced into captivity, regularly sexually assaulted, and forced to act as a surrogate for a powerful man, a perverse reaction to falling fertility rates and some very literal readings of the bible.
Why it’s worth a watch: The subject material will leave you reaching for the gin, but there’s no faulting the tension, drama, and clever timeline shifts of this feminist fiction. The story expands on the source novel to give you a sense of life in Gilead, and how a modern America we know now could possibly slide into such religious and moral madness. It’s a world where women are second-class citizens, whether they’re sex workers, wives, the lauded but abused Handmaidens or classed as a deviant. It’s terrifyingly believable, delivering a slow burn dread that will haunt you and a career-defining performance from Elisabeth Moss.