In the war of the streaming giants, Hulu actually beat Netflix to the punch, becoming the first streaming service to pick up an Outstanding Series trophy at the Emmys when
The Handmaid's Tale won Best Drama two years ago. But as this list of supremely underrated TV shows on Hulu shows, the platform has more to offer than just buzzy awards magnets, old classics (like Cheers and I Love Lucy), or current favorites (like Empire and the entirety of Shondaland). Hidden within Hulu's hundreds of offerings are plenty of gems just waiting to be discovered.
Sometimes these are shows that were acclaimed in their time but largely forgotten in the years since; sometimes they're shows that were cancelled too soon, but have since accrued a loyal following; sometimes they're imports from across the pond that may be less familiar to American audiences. No matter where they came from, there's no denying that Hulu has changed a lot since the days when it was primarily the place you went to watch
Grey's Anatomy the day after it aired. (I'll never forget waiting up until 3:00 AM for that terrifying Season 6 finale to be uploaded and then watching it on my laptop huddled under the covers in my dorm room. Ah, the good old days…)
Anyway, if you're not too busy re-watching
Buffy for the umpteenth time, here are 27 shows you might not be familiar with that you could check out instead: 1 '12 Monkeys' Originally on: Syfy (2015-2018) — 4 seasons, 47 episodes
Based on the 1995 Terry Gilliam film of the same name starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, this series tells the story of a group of scientists who travel back in time to prevent the release of an apocalyptic virus.
2 'Absolutely Fabulous' Originally on: BBC (1992-2012) — 5 seasons, 39 episodes
Despite a 2016 feature film, this campy British cult classic is still relatively obscure to American audiences; but the martini-fueled misadventures of fashion director Patsy and her BFF, PR agent Edina, should be catnip to anyone with an arch sense of humor.
3 'Better Off Ted' Originally on: ABC (2009-2010) — 2 seasons, 26 episodes Arrested Development star Portia de Rossi co-starred in this short-lived but well-loved workplace comedy that skewered office politics and hot-button cultural issues. (See: the episode about motion detectors that don't detect black people.) 4 'Bunheads' Originally on: ABC Family (2012-2013) — 1 season, 18 episodes
In between the smash successes of
Gilmore Girls and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amy Sherman-Palladino crafted this delightful but overlooked dramedy about a Las Vegas who becomes a small town ballet teacher, starring the talented, Tony-winning Sutton Foster. 5 'Casual' Originally on: Hulu (2015-2018) — 4 seasons, 44 episodes
The streaming service's best original comedy series just ended its four-season run last summer, but it's not too late to catch up on the acerbic pleasures of this tale of dysfunctional siblings and their dysfunctional relationships.
6 'Dead Like Me' Originally on: Showtime (2003-2004) — 2 seasons, 29 episodes
Any Fannibal worth his or her salt should take the time to catch up on the first television series Bryan Fuller created. Before
Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, or American Gods, the auteur crafted this short-lived (like all of them) show about a young woman who becomes a grim reaper after her untimely death, charged with collecting the souls of other soon-to-be-dead individuals. 7 'Dollhouse' Originally on: FOX (2009-2010) — 2 seasons, 26 episodes
Bunheads for Sherman-Palladino, Dollhouse came between major projects for Joss Whedon: after the unparalleled success of Buffy, but before making the leap to the big screen for The Avengers. This story of a corporation that temporarily programs individuals with the means to complete a certain mission (spy, steal, assassinate) didn't last long, but it's worth checking out. 8 'Don't Trust The B— In Apartment 23' Originally on: ABC (2012-2013) — 2 seasons, 26 episodes
Before she kicked ass and took names as Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter starred as the hilariously droll Chloe, the roommate from hell who was best friends with James Van Der Beek (playing a satiric version of himself in the actor's best role to date). Two seasons was not enough time to spend with this odd-couple pairing.
9 'Future Man' Originally on: Hulu (2017-present) — 2 seasons, 26 episodes
Featuring the trademark humor of creator Seth Rogen and combining an eclectic cast including Josh Hutcherson, Haley Joel Osment, and Awkwafina, this sci-fi comedy about a nerd whose favorite video game comes to life is truly a one-of-a-kind mash-up.
10 'Happy Endings' Originally on: ABC (2011-2013) — 3 seasons, 57 episodes
Sure, it features the best chemistry between a cast of young, attractive actors since
Friends, but the comparisons with that classic show are misleading. The besties of Happy Endings are much zanier, zippier, wittier, and more pop culture savvy than Ross, Rachel & Co ever were. They never got the attention they deserve. How about a revival, Hulu? 11 'Harlots' Originally on: Hulu (2017-present) — 2 seasons, 16 episodes
Headlined by Oscar nominees Samantha Morton (
In America) and Lesley Manville ( Phantom Thread) as clashing madams — and, in Season 2, also featuring the arrival of Liv Tyler as a Lady with plenty of secrets — this Hulu original could have been a mere bitchfest, but is actually a sumptuous tale of empowerment… and, yes, catfights. 12 'Legends' Originally on: TNT (2014-2015) — 2 seasons, 20 episodes
If you're still mourning the death of poor dumb Ned Stark, then check out this series starring Sean Bean as an FBI agent who literally becomes a different person for which mission he works. Since he's the show's sole lead, you can rest assured he won't suffer a gruesome death… at least until the finale.
13 'Manhattan' Originally on: WGN America (2014-2015) — 2 seasons, 23 episodes
Why does a show called
Manhattan take place in Los Alamos, New Mexico? Because it's actually about the Manhattan Project, telling the story of the scientists tasked with building the first atomic bond, and the families they dragged with them to their makeshift town in the desert. 14 'Marvel's Agent Carter' Originally on: ABC (2015-2016) — 2 seasons, 18 episodes
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers on into its sixth season (with a seventh season already ordered), its fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe spinoff was cut tragically short after only two missions. Hayley Atwell is such a delight as the titular S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, it's hard to believe this period action-adventure didn't receive more attention at the time. 15 'My So-Called Life' Originally on: ABC (1994-1995) — 1 season, 19 episodes
Long before she started hunting terrorists on
Homeland, a young Claire Danes (she was 15 at the time) starred in this acclaimed teen drama as the precocious student Angela Chase. (A young Jared Leto also starred as her love interest, Jordan.) Despite earning Danes an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe win, the show was cancelled after one season because it was considered too risqué for the primetime network. 16 'Please Like Me' Originally on: Pivot (2013-2016) — 4 seasons, 32 episodes
Josh Thomas created, wrote, directed, and starred in this acclaimed Australian coming-of-age story, in which he played a gay twentysomething struggling to come to terms with his identity and navigate his relationships with his family, friends, and potential love interests.
17 'The Riches' Originally on: FX (2007-2008) — 2 seasons, 20 episodes
Comedian Eddie Izzard starred alongside Oscar nominee Minnie Driver (
Good Will Hunting) and a young Noel Fisher ( Shameless) in this show about a family of con artists who steal the identity of a wealthy couple and move into a gated community and try to blend in while keeping their secret and evading the law. 18 'Salem' Originally on: WGN America (2014-2017) — 3 seasons, 36 episodes
While the network has since abandoned original scripted programming entirely, this period drama was once WGN's first original series, telling the story of a powerful witch (
This Is Us' Janet Montgomery) using the Salem Witch Trials as a distraction while attempting to actually summon the Devil. 19 'Selfie' Originally on: ABC (2014) — 1 season, 13 episodes
Landing the same year Karen Gillan starred in
Guardians Of The Galaxy as the blue-skinned Nebula, this unfortunately-titled sitcom was unfairly lambasted by critics, becoming the first casualty of the fall season, being cancelled after only six episodes. But it's actually a deceptively smart modern riff on My Fair Lady, also featuring John Cho at his most charming. 20 'Superstore' Originally on: NBC (2015-present) — 4 seasons, 64 episodes
While it's been chugging along steadily on NBC for the past four years, it has never felt like
Superstore's gotten the attention that it deserves. Managing to lampoon the culture of Big Box stores while always treating its characters with respect, this hilarious but never mean-spirited comedy is a genuine treat. 21 'Top Of The Lake' Originally on: Sundance Channel (2013-present) — 2 seasons, 13 episodes The Handmaid's Tale isn't the only place you can find Elisabeth Moss on Hulu these days. She also stars on this New Zealand co-production from Oscar winning filmmaker Jane Campion ( The Piano). Both seasons feature Moss as Australian detective Robin Griffin investigating the mystery of dead or missing girls. Seasons 1 and 2 also feature legendary actresses Holly Hunter and Nicole Kidman, respectively, in major supporting roles. 22 'Trial & Error' Originally on: NBC (2017-2018) — 2 seasons, 23 episodes
John Lithgow and Kristin Chenoweth as two charming, conniving maybe-murderers? What more do you need from a workplace sitcom? How about
Glee star Jayma Mays as a hard-nosed prosecutor? Or The View's Sherri Shepherd as a woman riddled with obscure (and hilarious) diseases? 23 'Tyrant' Originally on: FX (2014-2016) — 3 seasons, 32 episodes
While it may have been lost in the shuffle of FX's recent glut of acclaimed original programming (
American Horror Story, Fargo, Legion, etc.), Tyrant is a worthwhile dive into juicy family drama and a portrait of the corrupting influence of power, all featuring a diverse cast and Game Of Thrones-esque power plays. 24 'Ugly Betty' Originally on: ABC (2006-2010) — 4 seasons, 85 episodes
Ugly Betty was certainly beloved while it was on, it had the misfortune of premiering on ABC in the wake of the triple whammy of Lost, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives, never quite giving it the room it needed to grow into a genuine hit. No surprise that it was also the shortest-lived of those series. Now's the perfect time to rediscover its quirky charms, though. 25 'The United States Of Tara' Originally on: Showtime (2009-2011) — 3 seasons, 36 episodes
What's the only thing better than one powerhouse Toni Collette performances? How about
eight powerhouse Toni Collette performances, all in one show! Before there was Orphan Black there was Tara, featuring the Oscar nominee as a woman with dissociative identity disorder, whose multiple personalities include a grizzled Vietnam vet, a perfect '50s housewife, and a rebellious teenager. Oh, and Tara also has a young Brie Larson, pre- Room and Captain Marvel. Sold! 26 'Wilfred' Originally on: FX (2011-2014) — 4 seasons, 49 episodes
See Elijah Wood as you've never seen him before in this pitch black comedy about a suicidal man who sees his pet dog as a literal walking, talking man in a canine costume. Bizarre? Yes. Profane? Definitely. Oddly heart-warming? Surprisingly so.
27 'Younger' Originally on: TV Land (2015-present) — 5 seasons, 60 episodes
There's no denying that this series about a 40-year-old mother posing as a 26-year-old in order to get a job has its fair share of passionate fans. But similar to the way
You really broke out once it moved from Lifetime to Netflix, it feels like there's an even bigger fan base out there just waiting to discover this on Hulu. Well, why wait? Dive in now!
There's a lot of content on Hulu to get started on.