There is some good news for fans of medical TV series: every episode of ER is available to stream on Hulu, as of Sunday, Jan. 14. The mega-hit '90s TV show finally made it's streaming platform debut and it's about time. The popular series premiered in 1994 and had a long run on cable television, but was a notable hold-out for the world of streaming. There are 15 seasons and 330 episodes of the drama, with the last episode airing on NBC as late as 2009. According to Variety, Warner Brothers signed a distribution deal with Hulu, and the show will be available in its entirety. In recent months several classic television series have found a home on the streaming platform, including Golden Girls and Full House. The company will also potentially benefit from the recent merge between Disney and Fox, and could pick up more exclusive television or film deals in the future.
ER told the story of the fictional emergency room of County General Hospital in Chicago. The series was created and produced by novelist Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) , it's currently the longest running medical series in television history. It's also critically acclaimed; the series won 22 Emmy Awards and received 124 nominations, the most of any drama series in television history. It also launched the career of several prominent stars. George Clooney was among the original cast, along with Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, and Julianna Margulies. The cast was switched up several times over the years, and other major television names like Linda Cardellini, John Stamos, and Angela Bassett appeared in the series' later seasons.
Michael Crichton had an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and based the series on his own experience working in hospitals. The TV drama depicted the ups and downs of working in an emergency care unit, from the high-stakes drama of having lives on the line to the frustrations. It also, of course, showed the personal relationships between the physicians and nurses, and how working in the medical field impacted their personal lives. It would be difficult to document the many ways the show influenced primetime television, and it likely inspired other medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy and House. The shows success may even have paved the way for the comedy series Scrubs.
The series will now be introduced to another generation of viewers. George Clooney, who also is signed with Hulu to appear in a new series titled Catch-22, issued a statement about ER's new home on streaming. “It was such an honor to be a part of this show. I was lucky to have worked with so many writers, actors and directors all at the top of their game,” Clooney said, according to Entertainment Tonight. “Most importantly I’ve made friends for a lifetime. I’m excited it will finally be streaming on Hulu.”
The groundbreaking and highly-rated show was bound to end up on a streaming network, and and Hulu's recent commitment to legacy television makes it a fitting home. The growing number of series offering exclusive rights to Hulu as well as their award-winning original content, like The Handmaid's Tale, will lend Hulu new credibility in the streaming world. In 2017, polls found that Netflix was still the most successful platform, and that customers typically didn't have additional subscriptions. It also found that most Hulu subscribers also had a Netflix account, showing its dominance in the world of streaming.
While the ER news may encourage more people to sign up for Hulu, it was largely an exciting day for fans of the series. Many people rejoiced on Twitter, here are some of their best reactions:
The addition of ER to the world of streaming is long overdue, and it will be a must-watch for fans of medical dramas who have never seen the series. The iconic show demonstrated that there was demand for medical procedurals, but it also influenced a whole generation of network drama series.
It's difficult not to see the impact of ER in other series, even ones currently on the air, such as Chicago Med, Law & Order, and even hit family drama This Is Us — and now fans can revisit ER once again.