Hulu (like its competitors) offers a 30-day free trial to encourage potential subscribers to sample the service. Hulu now has over 28 million subscribers in the United States alone, and presumably some of those millions of subscribers took part in the company’s free trial.
Maybe you’re confident you have the willpower to partake in the free trial and then cut ties before Hulu charges your credit card. If that’s the case, you’re going to need a few recommendations to maximize your time with the service.
I’m assuming you’re already aware Hulu has the full “Seinfeld” catalog and adds many network shows while they air, such as “The Good Place” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” This list goes beyond those popular options to recommend the best Originals you won’t be able to stream elsewhere and a few of the recent non-Original standouts the service has added.
In trying to give you the best chance at actually canceling at the one-month mark, I also refrained from recommending shows that stretch many seasons. You can feasibly binge any of these without running out of time.
So, I wish you the best of luck in your month of constant streaming and hope you succeed in gaming the system. If not, maybe Hulu will cross that 30 million subscriber threshold sooner rather than later.
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
Premise: An extremist group takes over the United States and forces a new way of life on its residents. As fertility rates have plummeted across the globe, the extremist leaders force the women who can still give birth to conceive with them.
Sum-Up: This is an Emmy-winning show and Hulu’s crown jewel for Original content. The stellar acting and production values elevate a plot that would feel relevant in contemporary America regardless.
Heads-Up: The second season gets brutally depressing. With hourlong episodes, you’ll have to carve out quite a bit of time and emotional energy to get through this.
Premise: Two adult women play versions of their younger, middle school selves in the early 2000s. The friends stick together through the awkward failures and occasional triumphs of that age.
Sum-Up: The show excels at physical comedy, with unique sight gags throughout. In between the jokes, “PEN15” portrays a difficult time in life with emotional care.
Heads-Up: The choice to have two actors in their 30s play kids (and therefore develop relationships with middle schoolers) definitely leads to weird moments. The show handles this well in a broad sense, but it can still be off-putting at times.
Premise: A young Muslim man living in the New York City area must balance urban relationships with his faith. Having a foot in both the religious world and the NYC dating scene proves endlessly tricky.
Sum-Up: Although the NYC backdrop is nothing new, the portrayal of Muslim American life certainly stands out. The show makes an effort to explain the various Muslim beliefs the protagonist holds, inviting non-Muslim viewers into the narrative universe.
Heads-Up: The basic plot of having a young man date around the city and struggle to find a career is well-trodden. You’ll have to overlook the cliches or appreciate the new takes on them.
Premise: A woman living in Portland decides that she’ll no longer wait to be thin to start living and loving her life. As she starts to create her own destinies in the work and love realms, she discovers more and more of her strengths.
Sum-Up: A funny show with a Portland backdrop that lends itself well to the charismatic characters just hanging out together. Ultimately a worthy adaptation of Lindy West’s memoir of the same name.
Heads-Up: The writing can be clunky. “Shrill” often doesn’t achieve believability for character actions and broad story elements (like the protagonist’s job).
Premise: Two best friends aging out of their youth (and their dreams) trade pop culture-themed barbs back and forth while hanging around New York City. Both characters want to make it in the entertainment industry and have the talent to do so, but they keep getting held back by ... other people.
Sum-Up: A fun show that has much to say about American culture. Rapid-fire jokes keep the ridiculous plotlines from collapsing.
Heads-Up: Hulu canceled this show after just three seasons. You really have to already be a pop culture fanatic to appreciate the show and it apparently didn’t have a wide enough appeal to keep going.
Premise: An international agent with an evolving career develops an atypical bond with a sociopathic assassin. The roles of cat and mouse blur as the two women develop a love for each other despite being at professional odds.
Sum-Up: The first season (the season on Hulu) was one of the best shows of 2018. The writing blends an absurdist hilarity with thrilling plots.
Heads-Up: The second season is still airing, so you’ll have to wait a bit to watch that on Hulu.
Premise: An up-and-coming Atlanta rapper and his crew try to make it in the world and extend their nascent musical success to a full-fledged career. Although the music plotline anchors the show, the characters often embark on unrelated, absurd adventures in the Atlanta area.
Sum-Up: I named this the best show of 2018. You can watch both seasons on Hulu and I highly recommend that you do, as the quality of the writing blows past anything else in television right now.
Heads-Up: The first season is great, but relies too much on being weird for only the sake of being weird. The second season is when the show becomes a masterpiece of creativity.
Premise: A single mother raises three children in Los Angeles while also trying to maintain a career as an actress. Finding enough energy in the day to excel in both roles is never easy.
Sum-Up: A plot in the sitcom realm coupled with exceptional writing. The slice-of-life story of parenthood anchors this, but the comedic sensibility has appeal beyond relatable parenting stories.
Heads-Up: Louis C.K. co-created this but left the project after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Despite succeeding as its own thing, the show has a similar vibe to “Louie,” so the comedian still looms over the project.
Premise: A famous baseball announcer has a drunken meltdown while calling a game and subsequently becomes a pariah in his industry. In an attempt to increase ticket sales, a minor league team in a small town hires him to call its games.
Sum-Up: A pretty straightforward comedy that relies on swear words and people acting like clowns for the jokes. A simple but fun watch, especially for baseball fans.
Heads-Up: “Brockmire” tries to get too much comedic mileage out of the protagonist’s alcoholism. That kind of easy joke seems well past its expiration.
“Please Like Me”
Premise: A group of early 20-something Australians hangs out together in the city they call home. They deal with their own emotional issues, but the friends help each other through rough patches.
Sum-Up: A solid take on the storytelling genre of young people coming of age together. Also, Hannah Gadsby had a role in this before “Nanette” made her an international star.
Heads-Up: Your interest in this may vary depending on your love for coming-of-age tales. The show has things to say beyond “growing up is hard,” but that still serves as the narrative crux.