The best original shows on Hulu

Like all streaming video services, Hulu learned that reruns are no way to make a name for yourself. These are the top Hulu originals you should put on your queue.

 

 

3. 11.22.63

Everyone knows an adaptation of a Stephen King property tends to go one of two ways: down the crapper, or elevated even beyond the source material. 11.22.63 isn't all that elevated, but that's because the book was already one of King's best; extensively, meticulously researched beyond the confines of the time-travel tale within.

If anything, the TV show (produced by JJ Abrams and run by exec producer Bridget Carpenter) dumbs things down to a large extent, skipping entire swathes of the book to squeeze the story into eight episodes. At the same time, it expands on the love story that's at the heart of it all. It's not really about the time travel, though there are many clever conceits to what King does with it.

11.22.63 is about a man named Jake Epping (James Franco) who goes back in time to save Kennedy from being shot on that very date. It's about how Jake deals with the past, falling in love there, the struggle he has to fix time, and what happens after he does and goes back to the present.

 

 

2. Casual

In Casual's 2015 debut, Hulu got its first taste of what it's like to do prestige TV, when Jason Reitman's show earned critical accolades and even a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series—Comedy or Musical. Stars Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey play grown siblings Valerie and Alex, both broken by their past relationships and odd-ball parents, so they're pretty dependent on each other. It's Tara Lynne Barr as Valerie's independent teenage daughter Laura that anchors them more than anything—until she too has her own problems (ah, teenagers).

The show's take on modern dating and relationships is funny, frustrating (as it should be) and abounds with dark-comedy undertones without going too far into the maudlin. There are three seasons available now; the fourth and sadly final season arrives on July 31.

 

 

1. The Handmaid's Tale

Many services become synonymous with one show. For Hulu, that program has become The Handmaid's Tale, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, and exec produced for TV by Bruce Miller. Winner of those awards we mentioned above, like the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series (plus seven more Emmys, and a couple Golden Globes, plus awards and nominations from just about every possible outfit in Hollywood), this is true prestige TV with the queen of peak TV in the lead: Elizabeth Moss.

In the dystopian US of The Handmaid's Tale, fertile women like Moss' Offred are forced to be concubines to the country's fundamentalist dictators. The TV show goes beyond what the book—and the pretty terrible 1990 movie—could do. The second season, which arrives on April 25, will go even further, pushing the story well past what the original novel covered. This isn't just the best show on Hulu. It is the best show on any streaming service and perhaps on TV, period.

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