These Are the Best Hulu Shows to Stream While in Quarantine
From Ramy to Little Fires Everywhere, catch up on Hulu's hits while social distancing.
Sometimes it seems like Netflix gets all the attention when it comes to original series, but Hulu has been putting out quality content for years—and there's no time like the present (that is, social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic) to catch up on all the great programs you've been missing. From award-winning hits like The Handmaid's Tale and The Act to more under-the-radar series, such as Difficult People and Future Man, these are the Hulu shows you should stream while in quarantine. And for more addictive series to watch now, here are the 13 Best Netflix Shows to Stream While in Quarantine.
Little Fires Everywhere
Here's the difference between Hulu and Netflix: Netflix series drop all at once, while Hulu releases new episodes every week. That might sound like a bad thing, but given that we might be indoors for a while, it's kind of nice to not burn through an entire show in one sitting (hello, Tiger King)—and to have something to look forward to every week. That's certainly been the case with Little Fires Everywhere, a dynamic new series based on the book by Celeste Ng. Watching Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon at the top of their game is a thrill we wouldn't want to rush anyway. And for more literary adaptations on the small screen, check out these 20 Great Books That Made Even Better TV Shows.
East Los High
Similar to Netflix's On My Block, Hulu's East Los High is a teen drama that focuses on an underrepresented group of people in Los Angeles—in this case, the Latinx community of East L.A. What makes East Los High so compelling and important is its emphasis on authenticity: The series was Hulu's first (and only, to date) show with an all-Latinx cast. And while it was sadly canceled after four seasons, Hulu did at least air a feature-length series finale to wrap things up for fans.
Actor and comedian Ramy Youssef isn't playing himself on Ramy, but the series (which he created and writes for) was heavily inspired by his life as a millennial American Muslim. The thematic through line—the cultural divide between Ramy's generation, his Egyptian background, and the world around him—provides plenty of fodder for drama, but the show is also deeply funny. With 10 episodes so far and a second season on the horizon, Ramy is easy to watch, whether you're already seriously invested in issues of Muslim representation or are simply looking for an entertaining diversion.
The Handmaid's Tale
At this point, you've certainly heard about The Handmaid's Tale, whether from its slew of Emmy nominations (and wins), or all the articles about the ways the dystopian series has seemed to mirror real life. But if you haven't actually brought yourself to watch the show yet—and to be fair, it's harrowing enough even during stabler times—you're missing out on a gripping, moving, and yes, often very stressful series about a world in which women are forced into sexual and domestic servitude, and the ways they fight back against violent oppression.
If you're into series about unlikely heroes called upon to save the world, you should probably check out Future Man, which stars Josh Hutcherson as a hapless janitor who is playing the video game Biotic Wars when he's recruited by two game characters to join the very real Biotic Wars. It's a silly concept that's been explored elsewhere, but Hutcherson is charming—a lot less naturally adept than he was as Peeta in the Hunger Games movies, to be sure—and the series' tongue-in-cheek tone make it at least as fun to watch as Biotic Wars would be to play.
The most remarkable thing about PEN15 isn't that fully grown adults and co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play their 13-year-old selves in the year 2000—it's that they're completely convincing, even surrounded by age-appropriate co-stars. That's just part of the magic of the series, which transports you back to middle school with the perfect blend of pathos and cringe. Sometimes the awkwardness is so intense that you'll want to hide under a blanket, but PEN15 is also one of the most moving depictions of young teenage friendship you'll ever see. Catch up on the first season while we wait for the second.
Though there have been countless Stephen King adaptations on film and television over the years, Castle Rock stands out as an original creation that's not inspired by one King novel or story, but rather by the fictional town where he has set so many of them. Oh, sure, a few familiar King names pop up—Season 2 of Castle Rock features Lizzy Caplan as Annie Wilkes, whom you might remember from Misery—but the show as a whole tells its own story, anchored by creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason. For fans of King or of genre TV in general, it's a must-see.
The title probably tells you that Difficult People is not for everyone—and honestly, that's what made it amazing. There's niche, and then there's a dark, misanthropic comedy with punchlines that combine the Real Housewives franchise with Yiddish folklore. Seriously. You'll either get Difficult People, or you won't, but if that last sentence even remotely resonated with you, go ahead and watch Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner play two of the most miserable people you'll wish had stuck around longer. And for more series that deserved more love than they got at the time, revisit these 10 Cult TV Shows of the 2010s That Finally Found Their Audience.
If you're a fan of true crime, you probably know the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. But there's reading the BuzzFeed News article that inspired this series, and then there's seeing Joey King and Patricia Arquette take on those roles—two very different but equally compelling (and horrifying) experiences. The Act isn't easy to watch, but the performances alone make it worthwhile. King earned an Emmy nomination, and Arquette picked up a well deserved trophy. Watch all eight episodes to see why.
Into the Dark
OK, this is kind of a cheat, because Into the Dark is less a TV show and more monthly horror films. Nevertheless, Hulu characterizes it as an anthology series—and if you're looking to kill time with your quarantine streaming, you could do worse than a series where each installment runs 80 to 90 minutes. The quality of Into the Dark's spooky feature-length episodes does vary, to be fair, but they're almost all entirely standalone, which means you can always skip to the ones that interest you. Just prepare to sleep with the lights on if you're watching alone. And for more scary streaming, these are The 18 Best Horror Movies on Netflix.
Whether you're fascinated by cults or by Hugh Dancy, you'll likely get something out of The Path, a three-season drama about a fictional religion, its adherents, and the family man (Aaron Paul) suffering a crisis of faith. While the show earned mostly positive reviews when it was airing, it never really got the same attention as Hulu's more popular offerings. No matter: You can now watch all 36 episodes of this gripping, sometimes heady exploration of religious devotion.
Fun fact: High Fidelity was originally intended to air on Disney+, but it proved to be a little too adult for the new streaming service, so it ended up making its Feb. 2020 debut on Hulu instead. The latest adaptation of Nick Hornby's 1995 novel—previously adapted into a 2000 film starring John Cusack—features Zoë Kravitz in a gender-swapped take on the record store owner protagonist. The Brooklyn-set series earned high marks for its fresh take on a familiar story. You'll breeze through all 10 episodes of the first season.
You don't have to be a Marvel Comics fan—or a devotee of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—to get hooked on Runaways. Yes, the series exists in that same universe, but it's very much its own thing, which has allowed creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (of Gossip Girl and The O.C.) to deliver a distinctive teen superhero series that subverts genre expectations. All three seasons of the show are now streaming, so get to know the titular super-powered teenagers taking on a team of villains, who just happen to be their parents. And for more overlooked series worth watching, here are 17 Underappreciated TV Comedies That Are Available to Stream Right Now.