The best shows on Hulu: 25 must-watch TV shows and series

Somehow, Hulu doesn't get enough credit. The streaming service might not have the same audience of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, but it's not lacking in great TV shows to watch. From Seinfeld to The X-Files, The Handmaid's Tale to Atlanta, there's just as much to stream here as there is on Netflix – and most of it is available to watch right after it airs on live TV.

The only problem with Hulu's massive catalog of TV shows and movies? There's almost too much of it to go through. The good news is that if you're limited on time and are tired of endlessly scrolling, we've done all the hard work ourselves and have narrowed it down to a list of 25 must-watch shows – what we consider the best Hulu TV shows.

Sure, that's just a small fraction of what's available on the service, but it's more than enough to get you a weekend (or three). To discover more about the service, check out our Hulu review.

Why Hulu over Netflix or Amazon Prime Video?

If you're on the fence about signing up for Hulu, it's probably worth taking the leap. It's cheaper than Netflix by a few dollars per month, and significantly cheaper than Amazon Prime Video, though the latter does come with a few more perks. 

In terms of content, Netflix has been pouring money into original shows and movies, but Hulu still has the biggest shows from NBC, ABC and FOX. Even better, there's only a one-day delay between when they air on TV and when you'll be able to stream them – you'll never have to wait months to see new episodes ever again.

Finally, while Netflix is nearly universally supported on TVs and streaming video players, Hulu is finally getting to that point, too, with support on every major video game console, smart TV and streaming video player. There are a few hold-outs out there somewhere, but if you can connect to the internet, chances are good you're using a device that can stream Hulu.

Three decades after Hitchcock’s directorial debut came Alfred Hitchcock Presents, a series that soon became a milestone in TV history. It was hosted and produced by the Master of Suspense himself, and is perhaps best known for its iconic title sequence, with Hitchcock introducing each suspense-packed episode in his inimitable style.

And Hitchcock wasn’t the only big name associated with the series – Roald Dahl wrote six episodes, stars such as Robert Redford and Bette Davis made appearances, and directors including Disney’s Robert Stevenson (Mary Poppins) stepped behind the camera. 

If you feel like you've been getting too good of sleep recently, American Horror Story is all-too-happy to fix that for you. You'll find all eight seasons of the show on Hulu, each of which centers around a different plot line and unique set of fears. 

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.

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 what you should expect from Glover. It’s smart, funny and a fitting looks at being black and middle class in America. Season 2 got a short delay as Glover starred as a young Lando in the Han Solo movie but now that's available for your viewing pleasure, too.

Although TV has no shortage of quality adult animations, Archer is undoubtedly one of the best, and perhaps the most underrated. Don’t come here looking for PC content though, for its characters are a bunch of terrible, power-hungry, expletive-spouting egoists – and that’s what makes them great.

The show is based around the exploits of Archer Sterling (H. Jon Benjamin), a Don Draper-esque super-spy working for an MI5-like organization helmed by his mother (Jessica Walter), and the hilariously unfortunate situations he finds himself in while trying (or rather, failing) to save the world. 

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. 

Another hilarious sitcom brain-child of NBC, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a satirical look at a dysfunctional police station. The series follows the brilliant but immature NYPD detective Jake Peralta, 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 totally bingeable, and the latest fifth season is now available on Hulu.

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.

If you're sad about missing out on Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu has a rival book-based show that will scare and enthrall you: Castle Rock. Based off the books by author Stephen King, this horror anthology just got renewed for a second season – just in time for IT Chapter 2.

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 behaviour. 

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 2017. Despite being based on a now three-decades-old book, the show’s haunting dystopia remains 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. 

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.

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 and third installments venture into totally alternate storylines. Worth a watch? You betcha!

Created, written and well-loved by animation legend 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 poured into every panel year after year for over a decade.

Futurama is funny, 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.

Initially made on a shoe-string budget, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia first season had a cult following, but low viewing figures meant it was destined to be a one-series wonder. Thankfully, everything changed when Season 2 was eventually green-lit, thanks to some big-time star power. Danny De Vito joined for a 10-episode run that was extended because he loved it so much. He's still in the show that's now in its 10th season, bringing with him huge viewing figures. The antics of Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney, the show's creator), Charlie (Charlie Kelly) and Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson) won't be for everyone – at its darkest the show's 'comedy' themes range from nazism to drug abuse – but stick with it and this deliciously depraved classic will reward you.

Modern Family has been consistently hilarious for six seasons now, using The Simpsons' method of showing good ol' family values through, well, good ol' family dysfunction. Every episode hits the spot. The writing is Emmy award-winning and the acting too, even if the central idea that the Dunphy/Pritchett family is being filmed for a documentary wears a little thin after a while. 

It was hailed as one of the best, and perhaps the first, coming-of-age series, and the fact that My So-Called Life was axed after one season is nothing short of a travesty. Filmed in the early ‘90s, we met Angela Chase (Claire Danes) as she poetically narrated us through her most awkward teenage years. From her first real crush (Jared Leto, who stars as the player in plaid, Jordan Catalano), new friendships and family dynamics, to conversations around diversity and LGBT issues, this show is an honest look at teenage angst and all the baggage that comes with it. 

With a cast list that reads like a veritable guidebook to today’s comedy superstars – Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt, to name a few – the mockumentary series Parks and Recreation remains one of TV’s sharpest and funniest political satires.

Set in a fictional Indiana town, the show follows a diverse group of madcap public officials whose efforts to make their city a better place often result in chaos, as you might expect from a show brought to us by Michael Shur, a writer and producer for the US version of The Office, and former Simpsons writer Greg Daniels. Go on, treat yo’ self.

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 three seasons that promise to leave you scratching your head for days on end.

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. 

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 face-palm inducing antics. And there’s no strict overarching plot throughout its 172 episodes either, meaning you can dip in and out as you please. That’s pretty, prettty, pretttttttty good. 

After more than 30 years on the air, The Simpsons is like comfort food for many of us. It's a series that can be picked up at any time and continues to ape the issues of the day. Witty, charming and heartfelt, The Simpsons remains a cultural touchstone that we can't live without. Thankfully, because of Hulu, we won't have to.

That said, if The Simpsons is a bit too… family-friendly for you, South Park is also on Hulu to satisfy your satirical taste palate. While The Simpsons might include a few adult jokes in each episode, 99% of South Park's jokes are meant for adult audiences. (The other 1% of the jokes are low-brow potty humor.) Still, as dark as the show gets South Park is another animated TV staple that we couldn't live without.

As much as we hate to admit it, Survivor remains one of the best reality shows on TV… not that it's much of a high bar. The series that began two decades ago is now entering 32nd season – proving that it has just as much grit and survivability as the contestants it tortures week after week.

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. 

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 simple: some FBI agents come to the sleepy town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of 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 mid way through the second season, but this doesn't detract from the complete brilliance of a show that was way ahead of its time.

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 was 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.

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