The best shows on Hulu prove that other streaming services better watch their big red backs. While Netflix and Amazon Prime might be bigger, Hulu is creating some quality original content in every category, from the horribly familiar dystopia of The Handmaid's Tale, the horror of Castle Rock, and the hormonal hilarity of PEN15. Science fiction fans can fill their space boots with Dimension 404 and Future Man, and the Marvel mania lives on over on Hulu with Runaways.
So stop thinking Hulu is just a place to catch old episodes of Hoarders or to catch a new movie, because it's proved its content creation chops and then some. With so many great shows to watch you just don't have time to be scrolling endless through menus, so here's the definitive list of the best shows on Hulu to enjoy.
15. Behind the Mask
The show: Behind the Mask feels like a Best in Show-style satire at first, but slowly it dawns on you that this series is in fact a documentary. It just happens to be about the people inside the big fuzzy suits of America's sports mascots.
Why it's worth a watch: No sitcom has characters like the ones you'll find in Behind the Mask. There's divorced dad Chad, whose alter ego is Tux the farting prankster penguin, and who is fighting for his shot to mascot in the NHL. Kevin, or Bango the Buck, thought he would be dead before he was 30 due to his adrenaline junkie tendencies, but has channeled that into crazy mascot stunts. My favorite? High school student Michael who is a little awkward, until he becomes Rooty the Cedar Tree. As Rooty he's surrounded by cheerleaders, celebrated by his classmates, and performs to roaring cheers.Only on a show like this would you get lines like "I'm just a neurologist, I can't do that stuff" as one mascot wife laments as her husband entertains the kids with handstand contests.
14. The Path
The show: Jesse Pinkman joins a cult. Aaron Paul plays Eddie Lane, a follower of a religious movement called the Meyerist Movement, who suffers a crisis of faith after dabbling with ayahuasca.
Why it's worth a watch: From Scientology documentaries, to that actress from Smallville getting arrested, cults are big news at the moment. Joining one seems like a hassle though, so let this drama do the work instead. While the cult is undoubtedly into some weird shenanigans, this is a must-watch because of the psychodrama bubbling away in Eddie's family as he tries to pull away from the movement.
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.
12. Future Man
11. Marvel's Runaways
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.
10. Difficult People
The show: Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner play two friends who hate everyone in the world, except each other, and spit enough verbal acid to melt steel beams. 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."
9. The Mindy Project
The show: At first glance Dr Mindy Lahiri is your classic romcom girl, but any preconceptions you have will be blown away once she starts speaking. Smart, selfish but with a heart almost as big as her passion for breakfast pastries, she someone manages to be an inspiring and successful OB/GYN and a hot mess.
Why it's worth a watch: Creator Kaling came up through shows like The Office, movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and stand up, and her experience shows in every perfectly pitched comedy moment of this show. Mindy's co-workers are a bunch of lovable oddballs, her romantic life veers from disastrous to genuinely touching, and no matter how bad the decisions she makes are, you never stop rooting for her.
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: A fictional, behind-the-scenes look at the making of reality television. Rachel Goldberg is a producer on a The Bachelor-style show called Everlasting, and Quinn King is her ruthless but impressive boss. Together they have to manipulate everyone around them - contestants and colleagues alike - to make great TV.
Why it's worth a watch: It turns out the only thing more compelling than trashy reality TV is a show about the making of trashy reality TV. Almost everyone in the show is an awful person, but goddamn that makes them all the more watchable. The creators are Marti Noxon, who wrote and eventually became showrunner on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro who actually worked on The Bachelor. Combining their super powers means razor sharp dialogue, kickass, complex female characters and plot lines that raise your eyebrows so high it’ll break your botox.
6. The Act
The show: A fictional retelling of the utterly unbelievable story of one woman, her apparently ill daughter, and a murder.
Why it's worth a watch: It's best to go into this knowing as little of the story of Deedee and Gypsy Blanchard as possible, but it's such a huge true crime story that you've probably heard something about the crazy circumstances behind the murder. Even if you have pored over the newspaper reports and the HBO documentary on the subject, the performances of Patricia Arquette and Joey King bring real emotion to this horrifying and disturbing psychological thrillride.