Hulu: The best original shows to stream, from Dopesick to The Dropout

·5-min read
The Handmaid’s Tale, Only Murders in the Building, Dopesick, and The Dropout (Hulu)
The Handmaid’s Tale, Only Murders in the Building, Dopesick, and The Dropout (Hulu)

Owned by The Walt Disney Company, Hulu started life in 2008 as a US streamer that allowed viewers access to cable television episodes the day after they aired. In 2012 it began producing its own original programming, beginning with mockumentary series Battleground.

The platform has since kept up a steady output of impressive original content, ranging from comedies to sci-fi thrillers to true crime. Here’s just some of what you’ll get for $6.99 per month.

Dollface (two seasons, 2019–2022)

Mixed in with fantastical elements, Dollface shines truth on the significance of female friendship. After she’s dumped by her long-term boyfriend, Jules (Kat Dennings) realises she’s neglected all other relationships, and now has to work to rebuild them. It’s full of warmth, underpinned with quippy dialogue and well-executed symbolism. Featuring familiar names like Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars) and Brenda Song (Scandal, New Girl), this is the perfect light-hearted comedy for nights in.

Ramy (two seasons, 2019–)

Ramy is an immigrant story, which gives meaningful representation to the Muslim community and highlights Ramy’s struggle to balance his faith and the desire to assimilate. It’s funny too, loosely based on actor Ramy Youssef’s life as an Egyptian-American raised in New Jersey. As Youseff told The Independent, it’s a “true emotional representation of the type of confusion I know many Arab Americans, and specifically, Arab-American men go through”.

Shrill (three seasons, 2019–2021)

Lolly Adefope and Aidy Bryant in Shrill (Hulu)
Lolly Adefope and Aidy Bryant in Shrill (Hulu)

SNL comedian Aidy Bryant leads Shrill as a plus-sized Portland journalist who reframes her body insecurity to propel her waning career. Its focus on the mundanity of life leaves a precious story of self-love and friendship, all with a healthy dose of humour. Bryant’s flawed protagonist may at times be infuriating, but by the end of its all-too-short three-season run, you’ll come to appreciate her incredible character arc.

Only Murders in the Building (two seasons, 2021–)

The title may lead you to think Only Murders in the Building is a thrilling drama, but it’s more reminiscent of Knives Out; a cosy, comedic mystery and a “perfect vehicle for a funny, sweet dive into the genre,” argues Clémence Michallon of The Independent. Bringing together the legendary Steve Martin and Martin Short with Selena Gomez, the unlikely trio join forces to solve a murder in their apartment building. It also offers a tender-hearted spoof on gawking true-crime fans.

Pen15 (two seasons, 2019–2021)

A self-proclaimed cringe comedy, “Pen15 is more than familiar; it’s cathartic,” writes The Independent’s Annabel Nugent. Lead duo Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle uniquely portray their younger selves, surrounded by a cast of actual teenagers in this depiction of real-life ups and downs amid puberty. Its use of exaggerated absurdity emphasises common themes of self-doubt, which will make you feel seen and understood in a hilariously mortifying manner.

How I Met Your Father (one season, 2022–)

How I Met Your Father cast (Hulu)
How I Met Your Father cast (Hulu)

How I Met Your Father is an adequate spinoff of 2005’s How I Met Your Mother sitcom. Starring Hilary Duff as Sophie, a naively optimistic 30-year-old searching for love, it takes the same format as its predecessor: telling its story in flashbacks. While it may lack the original’s magic, it does its best in making up for its precursor’s lack of diversity and problematic characters.

The Handmaid’s Tale (four seasons, 2017–)

The award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale took the world by storm with its powerful portrayal of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. Elisabeth Moss acts as the show’s mainstay, June Osborne, who lives in a totalitarian society where women are property of the state. Notably, its “boom in popularity came during the Trump administration, when reproductive rights (among many others) were increasingly threatened,” explains The Independent’s Clémence Michallon. Its ever-increasing parallels to current realities offer an eerie narrative that will have you hooked.

Dopesick (one season, 2021–)

Dopesick does a seriously impressive job of condensing the American opioid crisis into an eight-part miniseries. “It’s a remarkable achievement, which clearly lays out the facts of the slow-burning tragedy, with lots of helpful date reminders, without losing track of the human stories behind it,” writes Ed Cumming of The Independent. A gifted cast of Michael Keaton, Kaitlyn Dever and Peter Sarsgaard keep the show grounded and in addition to its deft storytelling, it compassionately handles the real pain brought on by addiction.

Girl From Plainville (one season, 2022)

Elle Fanning in The Girl from Plainville (Hulu)
Elle Fanning in The Girl from Plainville (Hulu)

The Girl From Plainville offers up the devastating account of Conrad Roy III (Colton Ryan), a Massachusetts teen who died by suicide, and his girlfriend Michelle Carter’s (Elle Fanning) involvement in his death, for which she was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The “empathetic series doesn’t go so far as to extend Carter forgiveness for the awful crime,” writes The Independent’s Kevin E G Perry. Rather, it offers “a modicum of understanding as to how and why this adolescent tragedy unfolded”. Upsetting though it is, you’re sure to find yourself caught up in the nuances of this horrific landmark case.

The Dropout (one season, 2022)

This retelling of real-life biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) and her failed tech idea – which put millions of patients at risk – turns a potentially tedious tale into a fascinating look at humanity. Ultimately, The Dropout’s success, according to The Independent’s Nick Hilton, is “anchored by Seyfried’s charmingly vulnerable central performance”. It may be easy to label Holmes as an ambitiously hubristic person, but one of the show’s key strengths is its ability to present an alternative view of her as a multifaceted person.

Looking for Alaska (one season, 2019)

Based on John Greene’s popular young adult novel of the same name, Looking for Alaska brings to life the story of Miles (Charlie Plummer), a boarding school’s new kid. He quickly gains a loyal group of friends and falls in love with enigmatic Alaska (Kristine Froseth). When devastation strikes, the group grows closer as they try and make sense of the loss they have experienced. It’s a sombre take on the average coming-of-age story, but also a beautiful look at first love and growth after tragedy.