The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The 10 Best Hulu Original Shows to Watch

Even without original shows, Hulu has one of the best TV streaming libraries for movies, documentaries, and shows. The streaming service hosts plenty of classic shows that fans of TV history will love to dive into, but that’s not the only thing that Hulu has to offer. Much like Netflix, Hulu has branched into original programming in recent years, and some of its shows have been enormous successes both critically and with the service’s subscribers.

The shows that Hulu has created run the gamut from high-minded literary adaptations to wild comedies. There’s something for everyone on the streaming service, and that’s part of its appeal. It may not have the brand recognition of something like Netflix, but Hulu has plenty of worthwhile content.

Related Guides

Normal People

Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People

Normal People is Hulu’s crowning achievement. The 12-episode series, based on a novel of the same name, tells the story of two people who are desperately in love but can’t get out of their own way. It’s a sexy, moving series about two deeply sympathetic characters, and it’s beautifully acted by Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. The series is beautifully shot, and it tells this story of young love with a huge amount of specificity. Even as it gets into the details of these two people’s lives, it also feels universal. Real love is rare, and Normal People knows that better than most TV shows.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale

When it first debuted, The Handmaid’s Tale felt like a series perfectly calibrated to the moment in which it debuted. Over the seasons since it debuted, the response to the show has become more mixed, but it’s hard to deny the quality of the direction and performances throughout the show’s four seasons. Initially, the show is set mostly in Gilead, a dystopian version of the United States in which the government has been overthrown by a fascist, religious sect. The series, which follows one Handmaid who is tasked with giving birth to children for wealthy men, is often horrific in its depictions of abuse and assault, even as it chillingly depicts how the world can fall apart in an instant, even when that seems impossible.


Maya Erskine in Pen15

Pen15 is, in one sense, a very high concept show. In many ways, the cringe comedy that is the show’s forte is incredibly simple and deeply effective. The show features stars Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine playing 13-year-old versions of themselves. The twist is that the rest of their classmates are played by actual 13-year-olds, which makes everything that they say and do feel even stranger.

High Fidelity

Zoe Kravitz in High Fidelity

Based on a novel and movie of the same name, High Fidelity takes the male perspective at the center of what’s come before it and flips it on its head. On the show, Rob is played by Zoe Kravitz, and she’s dealing with the aftermath of an intense breakup. Although High Fidelity features plenty of moments that directly echo the novel and film, the series really flourishes in the new territory it is able to stake out for itself. Kravitz is electric in the role, and she’s supported by a stellar cast. High Fidelity is a comedy series that believes that messy, broken people can still find love. It was unjustly canceled after just one season, but that doesn’t make its greatness any less apparent.

The Great

Elle Fanning and Phoebe Fox in The Great

The Great may be based on the events of history, but it’s about as ahistorical as historical fiction gets. The show follows the rise of Catherine the Great in 18th century Russia, and delights in all of the twists and turns that may or may not be based in fact. In lifting up some of history’s most famous figures, what The Great really does is shine a light on all of the ways these figures are as human as anybody we may know. Catherine the Great was still just a person, and as played by Elle Fanning, she was a pretty funny one. The Great features a wry wit and plenty of absurdity and manages to blend comedy and drama in exactly the right proportions.

Mrs. America

Cate Blanchett in Mrs. America

At times, it can feel like American history began with 9/11, or another event that sits in the relatively recent past. Mrs. America is a clear corrective to those ideas, and it tells the story of the fight to pass the equal rights amendment (ERA). The series features a slew of great performances from Uzo Adubo, Rose Byrne, Margo Martindale, and Cate Blanchett, among others, and it’s a smart look at the origins of the modern right-wing in America. The fight to pass the ERA wasn’t really about equal rights for women. Those who opposed it were fighting for a way of life that kept them constrained, and they didn’t realize that the people they were fighting weren’t the villains they believed them to be.


The cast of Casual

Casual was one of Hulu’s first original offerings, and it remains one of the platform’s most underseen gems. The series stars Tommy Dewey and Michaela Watkins as siblings who are both adrift in their lives and find themselves living together as adults. Although Casual is a comedy, it’s ultimately about the relationship between these two self-destructive people as they slowly inch their way toward becoming better people. Casual is often hilarious, but it’s moving at least as often, and that’s in part thanks to the central performances from Watkins and Dewey, who know their characters inside and out by the time the show’s fourth and final season rolls around.


Ramy Youssef in Ramy

Ramy is one of many shows from young comedians that allows them to play a version of themselves. In the series, creator and star Ramy Youssef plays Ramy, an Egyptian-American who is torn between what it means to be a millennial and what it means to be a faithful Muslim. What’s refreshing about Ramy is how much religion is at the center of everything that the show is grappling with. Ramy knows how to poke fun at the absurdity of religion, but it just as often takes aim at young people, who don’t seem to care about anything, religion or not.

Veronica Mars

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars did not start its life on Hulu, but it did wind up there for its fourth season. The show had an original three-season run more than a decade ago on UPN and The CW, but its return on Hulu allowed the series to be darker but didn’t make it any less smart. Kristen Bell’s portrayal of Veronica continued to be remarkably complex, and the show’s willingness to put her in complicated moral situations remains one of its many strengths. Veronica Mars was a high school show when it first debuted, but it has grown up with its main character, and the version that aired on Hulu proved that the show is totally capable of adaptation.


Nick Offerman and Sonoya Mizuno in Devs

Everything writer/director Alex Garland makes is worth watching, and Devs is no exception. The series is a discursive thriller that focuses on Lily (Sonoya Mizuna), a young woman who begins investigating her boyfriend’s former employer after he dies by suicide. As Lily winds her way toward answers, she discovers that the silicon valley tech company that he worked for may be developing technologies that could change the world. As straightforward as that description may sound, though, there’s nothing easy about Devs. The show is challenging, but in ways that ultimately make you think deeper about the implications of the story it’s telling.

Editors' Recommendations