In recent years, streaming services have been producing a plethora of engaging and award-winning programming, adding more scripted series to the hundreds already airing across network and premium cable channels. Hulu has not been an exception. The streaming service may not have as large of a library as Netflix, but it has expanded over the years to include a number of memorable original series worthy of checking out.
From The Handmaid’s Tale to the adaptation of John Green’s Looking for Alaska, the streaming service has delivered some excellent content. To help narrow it down for your next binge-watch, we've compiled seven (in no particular order) of the best Hulu original series that you can watch right now.
This is one of Hulu’s shows that often goes overlooked and underappreciated. Harlots follows Margaret Wells, an 18th-century brothel owner in London, who attempts to secure the safety and economic future of her daughters. Harlots chronicles the life of sex workers at the crossroads of social class, wealth, and so much more. Hulu canceled the series after Season 3, but it's still worth checking out nonetheless.
Based on the book by Lindy West and starring Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant, Shrill chronicles the life of struggling journalist Annie Easton. The comedy is smart, witty, and heartfelt. Annie contends with a lot of issues — body image, a boyfriend who doesn’t see her worth, a boss who’s too focused on perfection, and more — and must come to the realization that she is just as talented and great as anyone else. What's more, anyone who's ever worked in journalism may also find Annie's plight relatable and Bryant is, of course, excellent in the role.
At the beginning of every episode, The Great informs viewers that it’s “an occasionally true story,” and it is. Of course, this Hulu original is the brainchild of The Favourite scribe Tony McNamara, who seems to relish in the lavish frivolity of royalty. The Great, which stars Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning, is loosely based on the life of Catherine the Great who, after marrying Peter III of Russia, plots to kill him. There are a lot of great wigs, wildly over-the-top characters, and scathing commentary. The series is nothing short of comedic brilliance, boosted by strong performances, and is worth every minute of your time.
Hulu’s Ramy garnered a Golden Globe win for series star and co-creator Ramy Youssef. The series is a character study that turns Ramy into his own worst enemy. As he seeks to find love, religious guidance, and purpose, Ramy's good intentions often blow up in his face. Ramy's first two seasons also explore the duality of his Egyptian-American identity and takes the time to flesh out the supporting characters as well. The series is poignant, funny, and emotionally raw. Ramy Season 2 takes things a step further and really examines the titular character more deeply through the eyes of other people, including second season addition Mahershala Ali.
Little Fires Everywhere
An adaptation of Celeste Ng's 2017 novel, Little Fires Everywhere is the limited series that perfectly embodies balanced and thought-provoking storytelling. The series, which boasts career-best performances by Scandal alum Kerry Washington and Big Little Lies' Reese Witherspoon, explores the intersection of race, economic status, and motherhood. Little Fires Everywhere explores these topics with incredible depth, complexity, a fiery passion and subtle gentleness. Washington's Mia Warren and Witherspoon's Elena Richardson start off on shaky ground and their relationship, along with the compelling dynamics they have with their children, culminates in an ending that is as explosive as it is captivating.
2. Normal People
The rise and fall of Marianne's relationship with Connell is at the core of Normal People. Based on the novel by Sally Rooney, their romance begins while they're at school in a small Ireland town and carries on through their years at college. The series is replete with fantastic and complex performances that make the series all the more intimate and crushingly powerful in its execution. One of the standouts of Normal People is that the show doesn't shy away from the messy, complicated love lives of its lead characters, which makes for an intense and wondrous binge.
We all remember our awkward middle school phase. PEN15 depicts the ups and downs of these years to great comedic effect. It’s raunchy and ridiculous in all the best ways. Set in 2000, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play fictional versions of themselves at 13 years old. Despite all the hilarity that obviously ensues, PEN15 has a surprising amount of emotion and honesty. The show is also a great reminder of the copious amounts of gel pens that I used in middle school.