Viewership of TV and streaming platforms is rising to historic heights as people are told to stay home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Even adults working from home want to try and unwind a little in the evening, which is leading to some dark humor about scrolling way down on Netflix, in search of something to watch.
But you don’t have to just stick with Netflix if you’re looking for streaming choices. This is the first in a series of posts intended to point you toward some other places where you can find terrific shows or movies to watch while you’re on the couch, doing your part to fight the pandemic.
Let’s start with Hulu, a subscription streaming service that offers movies, series from TV networks including ABC, and its own original content. The company is co-owned by the Walt Disney Company and Comcast.
Cord-cutters can choose between Hulu (starts at $5.99 a month), which allows subscribers to see originals, network or cable series a day or more after they air on linear TV, among other content; or Hulu + Live TV ($54.99 a month), which subscribers can use to watch live and on-demand programming, in addition to other Hulu content.
Subscribers can also pay extra to add such content from such premium channels as HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax. There’s also a bundle that includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ ($12.99 a month).
So what’s worth watching on Hulu? Here are some best bets:
“Little Fires Everywhere”: The limited series based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, may have some similarities with the HBO series, “Big Little Lies,” which also focused on how women can judge one another and how society judges them. But Reese Witherspoon, who starred in “Big Little Lies” is in fine form here as another uptight woman obsessed with having the “perfect” family, and home and community. Kerry Washington brings vitality as a single mother who arrives in the upscale suburban community, accompanied by her teenage daughter, and some secrets of her own. The series, which is rolling out new episodes each week on Hulu, is a watchable tale of mothers, daughters and the panful ways they clash.
“Hillary”: The well-done documentary series explores the life and career of Hillary Rodham Clinton, incorporating footage from her 2016 campaign for president, and fresh interviews with Clinton herself, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, journalists, and more.
“High Fidelity”: Zoe Kravitz stars in a gender-flipped take on Nick Hornby’s novel, and the movie it inspired, that starred John Cusack. In this series, Kravitz is the owner of a record store who is trying to sort out who she is and what she wants, not just what pop culture she loves.
“Shrill”: Aidy Bryant stars in the gently funny story of Annie, an aspiring writer in Portland, who’s dealing with her own self-image, her relationships and her job. Bryant is likable, as is the rest of the cast, and the Portland locations add freshness.
“The Act”: Another story about a mother and daughter, this limited series tells the grim, fact-based saga of Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King), and her mother, Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette), who lies to her daughter about the grave illnesses Gypsy supposedly suffers from. It all leads to, well, a true crime.
“The Handmaid’s Tale”: The series inspired by Margaret Atwood’s novel was tough viewing when it premiered, and I admit I stopped watching in Season 2 (there are three seasons streaming). But if you want to put yourself through it, Season 1 is very well done, and the cast, led by Elisabeth Moss, are consistently affecting.
FX ON HULU
The FX cable channel has been giving us some of TV’s best series for years. Now the channel has a deal with Hulu (and is included in a Hulu subscription, so no extra charge is involved), which includes FX and FXX cable shows, along with new series that will stream exclusively on Hulu.
Shows that air on FX or FXX will stream on Hulu the following day. And FX on Hulu originals include “Devs,” Alex Garland’s imaginative drama about a mysterious high tech company, which is streaming new episodes now. More originals that will be exclusive to FX on Hulu include Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly in “Mrs. America” (April 15).
Shows from the FX and FXX library available to stream include “American Horror Story”; “Atlanta”; “Better Things”; “Fargo”; “Fosse/Verdon”; “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”; “Justified”; “Nip/Tuck”; “Sons of Anarchy”; and “What We Do in the Shadows.”
Sometimes you just want a good, old-fashioned comedy, family drama, or a series featuring first responders heroically taking care of emergencies. Hulu has plenty of examples, including “The Good Doctor”: “9-1-1”; “Grey’s Anatomy”; “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; “A Million Little Things”; “Younger”; and episodes of “Saturday Night Live.”
— Kristi Turnquist
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