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Best Hulu shows: the best TV series you can stream in 2021

Best Hulu shows
(Image credit: Ollie Upton/Hulu)

Want to watch the best Hulu shows in 2021? Hulu is a pretty great streaming service, with a vast array of both old and new shows. While historically it amalgamated content from a few of the different main networks, now it's primarily a Disney-owned streamer – but it still fulfils its previous purpose to a large degree. As well as featuring its own originals, like The Handmaid's Tale, Hulu is the home of the FX cable network's vast range of great series.

The best Hulu shows, then, include everything from big-ticket original dramas like The Great to true classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's a treasure trove of great old TV – but you're never short on new series to watch, either. In this list, we've tried to capture the best of both worlds when it comes to Hulu's overall offering.

Find out why this is one of the best streaming services around right now below, then, as we run through the best shows on Hulu right now.

The New York Times Presents

Best Hulu shows - Framing Britney Spears

(Image credit: Sky/Now TV)

Best known for its episode Framing Britney Spears, this anthology documentary series from the New York Times explores a vast range of subjects across its seven episodes to date – including a teenager who hacked Twitter, and what it takes to be an influencer in 2021. Episodes release irregularly, but they're all well-informed and worth a watch.

Seasons on Hulu: 1 

Animaniacs

Best Hulu shows - Animaniacs

(Image credit: Hulu)

The classic '90s animated Warner Bros series has returned on Hulu, and it's still of a high quality, and it still features Pinky and the Brain. It's primarily about the Warner brothers, Yakko, Wakko and their sister, Dot – a series of silly adventures and non-sequiturs, basically, with amazing animation. But it really takes on the shape of an anthology, drawing in a vast range of oddball characters, with an anarchic style that predates the Adult Swim cartoons that are so huge now. 

Seasons on Hulu: 5 (and 1 of the new series)

The Great

Best Hulu shows The Great

(Image credit: Hulu/Ollie Upton)

If you've seen the terrific Oscar-winning historical dark comedy The Favourite, don't miss this series from that film's screenwriter Tony McNamara, which hits a similar tone – and also features Nicholas Hoult. It's about the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) and her relationship with the appalling Emperor Peter III of Russia (Hoult), who she plots to remove from power. This comedy is as dark as it gets – in episode 1, Peter tries to drown his new wife as a joke – but its two leads are phenomenal. A second season is on the way. 

Seasons on Hulu: 1

Dave

best Hulu shows Dave

(Image credit: FX / BBC)

Focused on rapper Lil Dicky – the titular Dave of this FX on Hulu comedy – and his uncertain rise to stardom, this series is well worth a watch. While the type of humor in the show is a little childish, the characterization of those surrounding Dave, including his friends and colleagues in the music industry, gets surprisingly deep as the show continues. This is a series with a weirdly immature sense of humor that nonetheless has a sincere heart.

This smash hit series has a second season starting this month, in June 2021. It won't take you long to burn through these first 10 episodes. 

Seasons on Hulu: 1

Justified

Best Hulu shows Justified

(Image credit: Hulu/FX)

Timothy Olyphant somehow always seems at home playing a cowboy, whether it's in Deadwood, The Mandalorian or Justified. This series has Olyphant playing Marshal Raylan Givens, a cowboy hat-wearing lawman who's expelled from the Miami law enforcement after killing a criminal in broad daylight. He's then relocated to his hometown in Kentucky, where he deals with more small-time types of crime – not to mention his childhood friend, the unpredictable and fiery Boyd Crowder.

Justified starts as a satisfyingly episodic modern Western, then becomes steadily more ambitious in telling serialized storylines. Don't miss it if you skipped the show when it aired on FX back in 2010-2015.

Seasons on Hulu: 6

Archer

Best Hulu shows archer

(Image credit: FX)

Hulu is certainly not hurting for a lack of adult animated comedies. As well as being the home of perennial Fox favorites like Family Guy and Bob's Burgers, it's also where espionage-themed series Archer lives. Essentially, it's a James Bond riff, about pompous spy Sterling Archer (H Jon Benjamin) and his numerous colleagues in the espionage business – well, that's how the show starts, anyway, before it morphs into different forms over its many years on the air. It's more Adult Swim than Austin Powers. 

Archer's not going anywhere, either: season 12 is on the way.

Seasons on Hulu: 11

Devs

Best Hulu shows Devs

(Image credit: Hulu via Twitter)

Airing on FX then releasing on Hulu every Thursday, Devs is a thriller from Ex Machina mastermind Alex Garland, who writers and directs every episode. After her boyfriend goes missing while working at an extremely successful but mysterious tech company, Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) investigates what happened to him. This beautiful-looking limited series thriller crosses both sci-fi and horror – it's slow-going but not to be missed.

Seasons on Hulu: 1

Little Fires Everywhere

best hulu shows - little fires everywhere

(Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Adapted from Celeste Ng's critically acclaimed novel of the same name, Little Fires Everywhere welcomes us into the intertwined lives of two mothers (Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington) from very different socio-economic backgrounds. Dealing with race, class, and the irrevocable pull of motherhood, this is a thought-provoking drama that mustn't be missed.

Seasons on Hulu: 1

High Fidelity

Best Hulu shows - High Fidelity

(Image credit: Hulu)

Starring Zoë Kravitz, this new adaptation of the Nick Hornby book (which was originally set in London, even though both adaptations are set in the US) follows a record store owner and music obsessive as she catalogues her break-ups. This breezy show is one of the better recent Hulu originals, and Kravitz is a compelling lead, even if it's almost implausible that people under the age of 35 would still be obsessed with 'Come on Eileen' in 2020. 

Sadly, this show only got one season on Hulu, but it's still terrific. 

Seasons on Hulu: 1

The Handmaid's Tale

Best Hulu shows - The Handmaid's Tale

(Image credit: Hulu)

An outstanding adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, and Hulu’s most acclaimed original series to date, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the best TV shows of the last decade. Despite being based on a now three-decades-old book, the show's haunting dystopia remains as relevant as ever.

Following Offred (Elizabeth Moss), we're catapulted into a not-too-distant, totalitarian and theocratic future that dictates fertile women become 'handmaids' to elite couples who have trouble conceiving. Blessed be the fruit. 

Season 4 is now available on Hulu, as of the publication date. 

Seasons on Hulu: 4

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Best Hulu shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

With more sass than you can shake a vampire-slaying stake at, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is so much more than your average undead-hunting drama series (sorry, Supernatural).

Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the no-nonsense, titular slayer, Buffy's battles against (the still terrifying) villains who attempt to take down her nearest and dearest are but a small part of what makes this show so great. Expect wit, roundhouse kicks, tears and tantrums – and, of course, myriad quintessentially '90s outfits. Seasons two and three mark the show at its best.

Seasons on Hulu: 7

Atlanta

Best Hulu shows - Atlanta

(Image credit: FX)

Is there anything Donald Glover can't do? Besides writing hits like This is America as Childish Gambino, Donald Glover wrote, starred and produced this superb show about the music scene in Atlanta. 

The first seasons charts the rise of two cousins as hip hop artists, trying make something of themselves. The show is a smart, funny and a fitting look at being black and middle class in America. It's been renewed for seasons 3 and 4 already, though don't expect those to kick off until later in 2021 at the earliest. 

Seasons on Hulu: 2

The Twilight Zone

Best Hulu shows - The Twilight Zone

(Image credit: The Twilight Zone / CBS)

The Twilight Zone marked something of a turning point in mainstream entertainment. Created by Rod Serling in the late 1950s, this anthology series introduced American homes to science fiction and fantasy; genres employed as a vehicle for social commentary on topics such as nuclear war and mass hysteria. Throughout its five seasons the show met with huge critical acclaim, and half a century later it still remains one of the most influential series of all time. 

If you want to watch the more recent revival series, you'll need a CBS All Access subscription instead. 

Seasons on Hulu: 5

Veronica Mars

best hulu shows - Veronica Mars

You could be mistaken for thinking this is a still from The Good Place.  (Image credit: Hulu / Stan)

Mystery drama Veronica Mars felt like the heir to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it debuted back in 2004. It's a smart-mouthed teen drama, but with a lot of crossover appeal, and it has a Twin Peaks-like mystery at the center of each season. After three seasons, though, The CW canceled it, bumping it off the schedule for a Pussycat Dolls reality show of all things.

Fans didn't forget the show, though, and in 2014 a Kickstarter-backed sequel movie was released. Then in 2019, Hulu surprised everyone by bringing it back from the dead for a fourth season that picks up with many of the same characters years later. Even with two revivals under its belt, Veronica Mars somehow feels underrated. This is still one of the best modern serialized dramas, though it's unlikely we'll see more seasons on Hulu. 

Seasons on Hulu: 4 (and one movie)

American Horror Story

Best Hulu shows - american horror story

(Image credit: FX)

If you feel like you've been getting too much good sleep recently, American Horror Story is all-too-happy to fix that for you. You'll find eight seasons of the anthology show on Hulu, each of which centers around a different plot line and unique set of fears. That means the quality can fluctuate depending on the season's theme, but there's plenty to like here. 

Not sure if clowns are all that scary? Watch American Horror Story. Think porous materials are harmless? Again, watch American Horror Story. Anything you love can and will be used to scare you silly.

Seasons on Hulu: 9

Castle Rock

Best Hulu shows - castle rock

(Image credit: Hulu)

Based on the work of author Stephen King but not a direct adaptation of any specific work, you'll find two seasons of this horror anthology show on Hulu. Set in King's fictional town, the titular Castle Rock in Maine, the show is bursting with references that fans of the writer will appreciate. Sadly, it won't be back for a season 3.

If you enjoyed the IT films and want something a little more mature, you might want to dig into this show next. 

Seasons on Hulu: 2

Twin Peaks

Best Hulu shows - Twin Peaks

(Image credit: CBS)

Twin Peaks is the greatest, strangest season of TV spread over two seasons. The show is both beautiful and grotesque, simple and convoluted. The premise is straightforward: some FBI agents come to the sleepy town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of teenager Laura Palmer, but the way the tale is told through both dreamscapes and fairly ordinary soap opera musings makes it unmissable. 

Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series was eventually hamstrung by annoying TV execs forcing the murderer to be revealed midway through the second season, but this doesn't detract from the complete brilliance of a show that was way ahead of its time as a cinematic serialized drama. 

Seasons on Hulu: 2

Fargo

best hulu shows - fargo

(Image credit: FX)

While its origins lie in the 1996 Coen brothers cult classic movie of the same name, FX’s black comedy crime drama has made a name for itself as a show in its own right, and a brilliant one at that, featuring a stellar cast including Martin Freeman, Kirsten Dunst and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Season 4, meanwhile, builds on that by bringing Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley and Ben Whishaw in its ensemble. 

While the first season pays homage to the vibe of the original movie, tracking a series of murders and the antics of a downtrodden insurance salesman, the second, third and fourth instalments venture into totally alternate storylines. Worth a watch? You betcha!

Seasons on Hulu: 4

Seinfeld

Best Hulu shows - Seinfeld

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Television)

Forget sentimentality, complex themes and feel-good subplots, for you won’t find any in Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's show about four narcissists waxing lyrical about life's absurdities. Without preaching or taking itself too seriously, Seinfeld amused its hardcore fanbase with relatable, self-referential humor and facepalm-inducing antics. And there's no strict overarching plot throughout its 172 episodes either, meaning you can dip in and out as you please. Season 4 is where the show really finds its voice. 

Seasons on Hulu: 9

The X-Files

Best Hulu shows - The X-Files

(Image credit: Fox)

Tackling everything from paranormal phenomena and governmental cover-ups to regular appearances from nightmare-inducing monsters, The X-Files featured special agent duo Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), with Mulder in particular convinced that the truth is out there.

And 'out there' this cultural touchstone of a series certainly was, as wonderful as it was totally off the wall. Featuring some of the most terrifying TV episodes of all time (one word: Tooms), and labyrinthine storylines, this show is a must for any conspiracy theorist or fan of great genre TV.

Seasons on Hulu: 11

Rick and Morty

Best Hulu shows - Rick and Morty

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Need your fix of black humor and sci-fi gone wrong? Hulu’s got Adult Swim's brain-pummeling, universe-stretching, animated adventure on tap. So sit back and allow the grandpa and grandson duo to teach you a thing or two about psychology, bizarre family dynamics and Adult Swim's excellent scriptwriting through four seasons that promise to leave you scratching your head for days on end. 

Seasons on Hulu: 4

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Best Hulu shows - It's ALways Sunny in Philadelphia

(Image credit: FXX)

One of the darkest comedies on TV, and destined to run forever. Launched on a tiny budget back in 2005, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has grown from a cult hit into a heavily memed sensation over the last 15 years. The show is about characters Mac, Charlie, Sweet Dee, Dennis and the latter two's uncle, Frank, who run a bar in Philadelphia. 

But really, this is a springboard for appalling antics involving everything from steroid abuse to Nazism to a musical. It's not for everyone, and it's a lot harsher than modern sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine Nine, but it's the heir to Seinfeld if you enjoy comedies about terrible narcissists doing stupid things.  

Seasons on Hulu: 14

30 Rock

30 Rock

(Image credit: NBC)

Delivering subversive satire and laughs-a-plenty, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, a show about a female TV writer trying to grasp control over backstage antics at a live, prime-time variety show, is as smart as it is downright hilarious. 

Every episode is layered with running gags, absurd plot twists and pop-culture references; so much so that you'll need several sittings to appreciate each one. Fey stars alongside household names such as Tracey Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer. 

Seasons on Hulu: 7

Broad City

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer in Broad City

(Image credit: Broad City / Comedy Central)

Ever find yourself screaming "Yas queen!" without really knowing how the term came to be? Let Broad City educate you, for Comedy Central’s bangin' lady duo – Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer – are the reason this phrase will be forever lodged in your lexicon.

Championing female friendship like no other show on TV right now (or ever, to be honest), Broad City shines a hysterically real and infinitely positive light on how ridiculous life can be… while perma-blazed on gingerbread blunts, naturally. The complete series is on Hulu.

Seasons on Hulu: 5

Brooklyn Nine Nine

Best Hulu shows - Brooklyn Nine-Nine

(Image credit: NBC)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a sitcom about a dysfunctional police station. The series follows the brilliant but immature NYPD detective Jake Peralta, and this Golden Globe-winning series is a laugh-a-minute, with plenty of deadpan jokes, physical comedy, and crackpot characters. 

With around 20 episodes per season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is extremely easy to binge, and the latest seventh season is now on Hulu. 

Seasons on Hulu: 7

Futurama

Best Hulu shows - Futurama

(Image credit: Fox)

Created by The Simpsons' Matt Groening, you might have wrote Futurama off as filler content for Fox's Sunday night programming block. If that sounds like you, you inadvertently did a major disservice to creativity, humor and passion Groening and company poured into every panel year after year for over a decade.

Futurama is imaginative, witty and has the uncanny ability to poke fun at cultural icons without sinking to juvenile mud-slinging. Each time the series got the axe broke our heart a little more, which didn't get the mending it needed until the final episode of the final season.

You might wonder why The Simpsons and Futurama aren't both on Disney Plus. Futurama is something of a darker sitcom, which might explain why – the show begins with the introduction of suicide booths, for example, and in one episode Fry's hands get eaten by a T-rex. At its peak, though, Futurama was easily the match of its more successful cousin, even if the later Comedy Central seasons are noticeably weaker. 

Seasons on Hulu: 10

Community

Best Hulu shows Community

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

There’s a reason why NBC’s Community found such a huge fanbase during its six-year run. Laden with pop-culture references and geeky, self-referential humor, this community college-set sitcom is a witty and often unpredictable series about a culturally diverse crowd united in their quest for a better education.

The show boasts an outstanding cast of comedy actors, including Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Danny Pudi, all of whom give performances that never fail to capture the nuances of bizarre human behavior. While the quality fluctuates in later seasons (skip season 4, though make sure you watch season 5), this is another NBC classic. 

Seasons on Hulu: 6 (but no movie)

American Dad

Best Hulu shows American Dad

(Image credit: Hulu)

We'd argue American Dad is the finest of the adult animated sitcoms produced by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane. Less obnoxious and dependent on shock value than its sister show, American Dad starts as a comedy with a light political layer but over time warps into more of a sci-fi, oddball series more in the vein of Adult Swim shows.  Focused on the Smith family, including patriarch and CIA agent Stan Smith, the show is eventually more driven by Roger, American Dad's disguise-obsessed talking alien. With 15 seasons to watch on Hulu, this makes a great, satisfying and laugh-filled streaming binge. 

Seasons on Hulu: 15