If you’re thinking about picking up Hulu, you probably want to know what the best shows on Hulu are – not just the current shows, but especially popular, must-see shows that Hulu offers and that are hard to find anyplace else. Thanks to Hulu’s expanded original content and how it keeps up with so many of the latest buzzworthy TV, there are a lot of choices! If you want movies too, Hulu has some of the best streaming for movies and shows.
However, going on sheer quality, starpower, and must-see TV praise, Hulu’s top show has to be The Handmaid’s Tale. This gripping drama has received major awards and nominations for its edge-of-the seat, not-quite-dystopian story that’s designed to keep you uncomfortable…and waiting for more. But check out our full list for other favorites from many categories! If you want to easily watch Hulu from your home TV, take a look at best streaming device too. If you just want to go on a movie binge, take a look at 24 of the best movies streaming on Netflix for 2013.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Starring Elizabeth Moss, this Hulu original is adapted from the famous novel, but goes far beyond the original work to explore a near-future dystopia where fertile women are enslaved in a religious dictatorship that has taken over what used to be the United States. The main character, Offred, seeks both freedom and revenge in her new world. It’s a gripping tale with amazing production values, and easily the best thing Hulu has yet produced.
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Act hits hard, and then hits harder. Based on a true story, it follows a true-crime tale that explores a toxic mother-daughter relationship that shatters as the young daughter eventually discovers the extent of her mother’s lies and control. True crime fans will love it, even if it is hard to watch at times, and it’s bound to create all-new discussions for any group brave enough to follow through to the end.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Created and led by the famed Donald Glover, Atlanta was a sleeper hit that soon won huge acclaim for its insightful combination of humor, ambition, and clarity – and that can apply to the show itself as well as all the characters. It follows a tight group of family and friends trying to navigate burgeoning fame in the Atlanta rap world. Even if you don’t know anything about that scene, it’s worth a watch by just about everyone, and you’re more than likely to get hooked. The show is ongoing, with the 3rd season currently in production.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Hulu’s animated options include plenty of mainstream fare, but Bob’s Burgers stands a bit above the rest. Instead of relying on the old gags and body humor of other animated comedies (although there is a bit of that too), Bob’s Burgers focuses more on the family dynamics as Bob tries to keep his burger joint afloat while dealing with three kids and his wife, all quirky in the best ways. Excellent voice acting keeps the show worth watching, and the zany plots ensure you don’t get bored.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Any mention of the top comedy shows of the past few years surely has to include Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The show follows a mostly-functional police precinct in NYC, and is filled with favorite characters, perfect deadpans, and tons of well-placed humor and romance. Whether the team is following a case or vying for a fake trophy, every episode is worth watching. Hulu will no doubt keep up on the next season when it comes out as well.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Castle Rock is a fascinating type of horror show that explores the fictional Maine town created by Stephen King himself. As you can imagine, the show is filled by characters, ideas, and horrors that King also created, so any fan of his work is bound to like it. We can’t say too much, but it’s about a grisly secret war between two different factions that covers a lot of ground in a remarkable manner.
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s hard to imagine a show that properly explores the WW2 ultra-black comedy Catch-22 – or at least it was, until George Clooney gave it a shot and Hulu provided the investment. The story follows bomber Yossarian, an American soldier permanently trapped in war through a series of loopholes. There aren’t a lot of laughs in this satire, as funny as the situations may be, but it’s the perfect on-the-edge look at the travesties of war in all their madness, and it’s carried out with just the right tone. If you love the action of this show, you’ll also want to check out 30 of the best action movies streaming on Netflix.
WHY WE LIKE IT: A newer addition to Hulu’s line-up from FX, Devs is an ambitious sci-fi miniseries that follows a software engineer deep down the rabbit hole as her new job turns into an exploration of how software affects reality itself. It’s weird, awesome, and just the right length to watch without getting too bored or confused. Oh, and Nick Offerman’s in it, too.
WHY WE LIKE IT: There’s nothing quite like Drunk History on TV, which is the point: This show follows celebrities who get drunk and recite history, with hilarious re-enactments. You’ll learn something, but only by delightful accident.
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s hard to call The Good Place a comedy, although it certainly is. The show is more of a philosophical, high-end sitcom that follows a group of mismatched souls through the afterlife and explores what it means to be good – and why people should be. Few shows are as perfect from beginning to end, and viewers are guaranteed plenty of laughs and tears along the way.
WHY WE LIKE IT: A new satire from Hulu, The Great is about Catherine the Great…sort of. No true history is promised, but a lot of humor is guaranteed as the story follows the bungling royal family and its various attempts to kill one another. Casting is great, the plot is light enough to enjoy even if you aren’t a history buff, and the comedy dark enough to appreciate if you do remember this particular historical record.
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s incredible how long Always Sunny has been alive, renewing and reinventing itself in each season (now up to 14) even as its asshole characters remain more or less the same. The show follows a group of misfits who own a bar and get constantly in trouble because of their unflinching hubris – if you’ve never taken the time to watch it, Hulu is the perfect spot to grab all the seasons.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Comedy sketches are by their nature experimental, but Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele come exceedingly close to perfecting the formula with their brilliant take on the show. It’s mostly just the two actors and a bunch of clever ideas (as well as a lot of brilliant cultural takes), making it easy to watch in bite-sized chunks whenever you feel like it!
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s easy to see how this Canadian sitcom was inspired by the likes of Trailer Park Boys or Always Sunny, and it’s no surprise that Hulu rescued it for additional seasons. Following a small Canadian farming town, it explores all the zaniness of the culture with a cast of lovable misfits and a bunch of incredibly ambitious deadpan comedy. It’s also lighthearted enough to encourage those who don’t like their comedy too dark.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Mrs. America follows the American women pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment – and the women pushing against it. The cast is packed full of famous actors including Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Margo Martindale, and pretty much every other acclaimed female character actor in the business. It’s a great drama for exploring culture, politics, and ultimately, the 1970s.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Hulu has quite a few anime options, and what you like best will depend entirely on your tastes. However, the top choice has to be My Hero Academia, an immensely popular show that follows a team of superhero students vying with each other to become real heroes – and discovering what exactly it means to emulate their idols, both good and bad.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Pen15 is one of the most unique adult comedies ever created, following Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle as they play tween versions of themselves back in 2000, struggling to come of age all over again – with all the pain and humor that entails.
WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the top dramedies of the decade, This Is Us follows a set of triplets and their parents throughout their lives as they navigate family life in all its glory and tragedy. It’s also one of the best uses of timeskips in any modern TV! There’s a good reason that the show has stacked up so many awards and nominations, and we highly recommend giving it a try.
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Hulu original comedy follows Ramy, a first-generation Egyptian-American who’s trying to find himself in a New Jersey town that’s also struggling with its identity. The show navigates politics, humor, Muslim culture, and millennial struggles with an incredibly deft hand.
WHY WE LIKE IT: If Rick and Morty is on your list of “animated shows I wanted to see but never had time” then Hulu is a great place to get caught on this memeable series. The show follows an incredibly dysfunctional mad scientist, Rick, and his grandson Morty, as they navigate the multiverse and generally discover how little anything matters…but encounter some great dark comedy along the way.
To discover the best shows available on Hulu, we started by watching a lot of TV! Of course, opinions can be relative, so we also did a lot of research on reviews, ratings, recommendations, and what data Hulu has released about the shows that people like to watch. Good scores, lots of buzz, and starpower certainly help! We also tried to pick a variety of shows to prevent getting stuck in one genre for too long. If you’re in the mood for a movie binge instead, take a look at 53 of the best movies streaming on Netflix for 2012.
We also paid particularly close attention to original content. The shows Hulu has from other networks can be watched in other ways, or caught live if you’re a particularly big fan. But Hulu original content can’t be found anywhere else, so it gets extra points for being worth the watch.
We also awarded more points for shows that are ongoing, or have satisfactory resolutions. After all, it’s great to start a high-quality new show, but very disappointing to find that show was cancelled before it had time to end properly.