Breaking Bad. The Americans. Game of Thrones. You already know the shows you're "supposed" to watch.
But what about the shows you haven't heard of? We're talking about obscure shows that ran for one season and maintain a rabidly devoted fan base years later, or cartoons you haven't thought of since watching Nick at Night in your pajamas in middle school. Or the dark drama representative of your favorite showrunner's work to come, or a criminally underrated classic.
Well, Hulu's got 'em all. When it comes to TV, Hulu is the one-stop for everything. The streaming service also hosts some hidden gem movies, too. These are the shows and movies you might not immediately think to click on, but will be glad you did.
Hulu's Pen15 was one of the funniest shows of the year
. Primarily taking place in the hallways of middle school, the tragedies of being pre-teen are brought to life by two 30somethings, actresses Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, embracing their inner-awkward. You will cringe, you will laugh, you will tell everyone in your group text to watch.
Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
Since Boy Meets World spans over seven years, you can watch the show's characters literally grow up from sweet elementary schoolers to, well, equally sweet college students. Re-experience childhood with Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong), and Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) — both theirs and yours.
Hey Arnold (1994-2004)
Arnold of Hey Arnold is a quintessential city kid. He's riding the subway and buses by himself as a fourth grader. He plays hooky and goes to a Coney Island-esque amusement park. Essentially, he was born cool. For a dose of instant nostalgia, queue up some of this Nickelodeon classic.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Mad Max and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert are both filmed in the Australian Outback, but the similarities end there. In this cult classic, drag queen Anthony "Tick" Belrose (Hugo Weaving) accepts an offer to perform at his estranged wife's casino in Alice Springs. He and his two friends, one drag queen and one trans man, pile into a tour bus for an adventure across Australia, and right into Tick's family issues.
My So-Called Life (1994-1995)
When it comes to watching My So-Called Life,
it's best to be prepared with a spoiler: The one-season show ends in a cliffhanger. Still, for its depiction of a group of Pittsburgh high schoolers actually figuring out their nascent selves, it’s so
worth the ride. Claire Danes' Angela Chase wears flannel, sneaks away with her crush Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) in school hallways, builds up grudges against her parents, and has lasting friendships with Rickie (Wilson Cruz) and Rayanne (A.J. Langer).
Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
Get to know Ally McBeal's (Calista Flockhart) inner life. Ally is a lawyer in a bind: She just got a job at the firm where her high school sweetheart and his new wife now work. To deal with workplace drama, Ally retreats into her overactive imagination. As a result, Ally McBeal is punctuated by charming and whimsical (but fictional) sequences.
This Joss Whedon show was only on the air for one season, but it garnered — and maintained — a massive following
. The show centers on the nine crew members of the Serenity, a "Firefly-class" ship hurtling through space hundreds of years in the future.
Dead Like Me (2003-2004)
Before The Good Place imagined the landscape of the afterlife in vivid and bureaucratic detail, there was Bryan Fuller's Showtime show Dead Like Me, which had an equally imaginative perspective on what comes next. When 18-year-old Georgia "George" Lass (Ellen Muth) gets killed by a piece of space debris, she's exposed to that reality. She becomes a reaper, one of the souls in charge of helping others cross over. Despite its morbid premise, Dead Like Me is firmly a comedy.
The Thick of It (2005-2012)
Calling all Veep fans: Time to shake hands with your next obsession. Before creating the HBO comedy, showrunner Armando Iannucci skewered modern British government system in the BBC show The Thick of It. The action centers on a fictional branch of the government, the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship. Within these fluorescent halls, spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) roams with a short fuse and a foul mouth, fixing PR problems.
My Super Sweet 16 (2005-present)
My Super Sweet 16
has been a staple on MTV since 2005. So, for decades, we've witnessed the most lavish parties that 16-year-olds could dream up. Some of these kids really do possess incredible vision and leadership
. Since the entire archives are on Hulu, you can watch as aesthetics have changed since the aughts. The goal of a party today? Going viral.
Bleak House (2005)
Picture this: It's a rainy winter day, and you want to curl up with a period piece. Make it the 2005 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, not only because it's critically acclaimed — but because it stars Gillian Anderson and a young Carey Mulligan.
Party Down (2009-2010)
The workers at Party Down don't want to be at your party. And yet: That's exactly where they are, while their own careers as actors and writers are percolating. Party Down is about a catering service staffed by wannabes with dreams of stardom (and some who have given up). Even if their careers in entertainment don't take off, they are very, very entertaining in their own right. This two-season show has a nearly unfathomable cast, starring Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan, Jane Lynch, and Megan Mullally, and Kristen Bell — among others.
Moone Boy (2012-2015)
Twelve-year-old Martin Moone (David Rawle) has three older sisters, a father, a mother who calls him an accident, and a very lively imaginary friend named Sean Murphy, played by Chris O'Dowd. Sean helps Martin get through the day-to-day of life in County Roscommon, Ireland in the '80s and '90s. Moone Boy is partially based off O'Dowd's own experiences growing up in Ireland. This is a charming, 18-episode coming-of-age show, perfect for those who have a favorite eccentric TV family.
Let the Sunshine In (2017)
Let the Sunshine In isn't a romantic comedy – it's a love comedy. Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) is a middle-aged woman only just now plumbing the depths of her desire. Watch as she shuttles from man to man, from revelation to revelation. Let the Sunshine In is further proof of the seriousness that can be inherent in a romantic comedy. After all, the state of our hearts is a serious topic indeed.
Who ever said that period pieces were stuffy and stiff? Harlots
refutes that reputation wholeheartedly. The Hulu original series is about two rival brothels in 18th century London. Harlots
is a juicy drama, naturally, but it's also a fascinating exploration of the realms in which women could hold power
in that era — and the prices they paid for doing so.
Better Things (2016-present)
Pamela Adlon wrote, directed, and starred in the second season of Better Things, which is about the daily travails of a single mother of three rebellious, fully realized daughters.
Marvel's Runaways (2017-present)
Being a teenager is hard enough. Add being the children of evil criminals to the list, and it's near impossible. The six teenagers in Runaways
band together to stop their parents, all members of the organization known as the Pride, from fulfilling their dastardly plans. You know to expect superpowers, alien invasions, and action sequences — but can you guess which of the members of the Runaways
will pair off?
At Home With Amy Sedaris (2017-present)
Perhaps Sedaris has been traveling toward this one-of-a-kind show her entire career. At Home With Amy Sedaris
perfectly combines Sedaris' twin primary passions of comedy and crafting
. What results is a madcap "how to" show in which Sedaris plays multiple characters, from an earnest (but totally incompetent) host to a series of intrusive neighbors. There's nothing else like it on TV.
Black Lightning (2018-present)
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) went from being the superhero Black Lightning to holding a more conventional civic-minded role — a high school principal. But when gang violence in his city escalates (and his daughter gets involved), Jefferson once again dons his Black Lightning costume. This CW show, based on the DC comic series Black Lightning, got off to an acclaimed start. Catch up now so you can follow along future seasons.
The Bisexual (2018-present)
After ten years with her girlfriend and business partner, Leila (Desiree Akhavan, who also writes and directs) realizes she's not being completely honest with herself. She's bisexual, and she wants to start experimenting. The only problem? Leila has only been with women. The Bisexual follows Leila in her first straight relationship and the many encounters with her ex, Sadie (Maxine Peeke).