The Best Movies and Shows on Hulu Right Now

We’ve handpicked the finest movies and television shows currently streaming on Hulu in the United States. Take a look.

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As the streaming age has expanded and individual services have molded their identities, Hulu has found itself somewhat lost in the shuffle. Thought of first as a repository for new television (and, for many cord-cutters, the “live TV” option of choice), it also houses a library of indisputable TV classics, usually in their entirety.

This Disney-owned service also hosts a rotating library of movies, both new releases and recent classics, rivaling the collections of many of its competitors.

But as is so often the case with these platforms, algorithms are dodgy, recommendations are sometimes inexplicable, and it’s just plain hard to know exactly what’s on offer. We’re here to help.

We also have lists of the best movies and TV shows on Netflix, the best of both on Disney+ and the best movies on Amazon Prime Video.

ImageMorfydd Clark in “Saint Maud.”
Credit...Angus Young/A24

Harrowing and upsetting, haunted and thrilling, this feature debut from the director Rose Glass is the kind of piercing examination of faith in a cynical world that we’ve come to expect from the likes of Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese. Morfydd Clark is stunning in the title role as a nurse who believes she is a vessel of God and must personally save the soul of her dying patient (a prickly, terrific Jennifer Ehle) — whether her patient likes it or not. It’s the kind of film that burrows under your skin and settles there, and its shocking conclusion does not take any easy exits. Our critic praised the picture’s “dark, spoiled beauty” and “mesmerizing” lead actor.

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Credit...Patrick McElhenney/FXX

Countless television series tried and failed to take on the mantle of “Seinfeld,” but none did as successfully — or for as long — as “the gang” from Paddy’s Pub. The show began like a low-budget, indie riff on Jerry Seinfeld’s smash, with a similar three-guys-and-a-girl configuration and snarky, insular spirit. But the arrival of Danny DeVito in Season 2 opened up the show to wilder possibilities; it got stranger, and on occasion, nastier. But “It’s Always Sunny” has remained fresh, funny and pointed for 15 seasons and counting. Our critic wrote that the actors “are as in sync as an ensemble cast can get.” (For more comedy with an edge, try “Difficult People.”)

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Credit...Well Go USA

This white-knuckle zombie-apocalypse thriller from the South Korean director Yeon Sang-ho, set onboard train hurtling toward possible safety, is a fantastic entry in the “relentless action in a confined space” subgenre (recalling “Snowpiercer,” “The Raid,” “Dredd” and the granddaddy of them all, “Die Hard”). The set pieces are energetic, the makeup effects are convincing, and the storytelling is ruthless. (Don’t get too attached to anyone.) But it’s not all blood and bluster; there’s a patient, deliberate setup before the orgy of gore and mayhem, leading to a surprising outpouring of emotion at the story’s conclusion. Our critic deemed it “often chaotic but never disorienting,” and praised its “spirited set pieces.”

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Credit...Magnolia Pictures

“You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill,” Jiro Ono explains. “That is the key to happiness.” His 10-seat Tokyo eatery is recognized the world over and is less a restaurant than a temple. But has that perfectionism made him (or the people around him) happy? David Gelb’s mouthwatering 2011 documentary poses that question and further explores his philosophies of life and work, while also crafting a healthy dose of stunning “food porn,” painstakingly capturing the careful preparation of Ono’s culinary gifts and lovingly lingering on the results. (For more stellar bio-documentary filmmaking, try “Mike Wallace is Here and “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.”)

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Credit...Warner Bros.

One of the most quotable comedies of the modern era (“Be the ball,” “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice,” the “Cinderella story” monologue), this 1980 favorite from the director Harold Ramis (“Groundhog Day”) often feels like channel surfing between several movies at once: a W.C. Fields-style personality comedy starring Rodney Dangerfield; a wiseguy, post-“Saturday Night Live” vehicle for Chevy Chase; a slapstick farce starring Bill Murray; and an earnest coming-of-age comedy-drama featuring Michael O’Keefe. But the inconsistency and incongruity somehow mesh, due in part to the picture’s spirit of cheerful slobs-versus-snobs anarchy, resulting in something akin to a coked-up Marx Brothers movie. (For more wild comedy, try “Galaxy Quest” and “Beetlejuice.”)

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Credit...Guy D’Alema/FX

In a scant two seasons, Donald Glover’s FX comedy/drama has established itself as a true force in modern television — thoughtful, peculiar, cinematic, relentlessly entertaining. Glover (who also created the show, and frequently writes and directs) stars as Earn, a small-timer with big dreams who takes the reins of his cousin’s burgeoning hip-hop career, with mixed results. The supporting cast is top-notch, with Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz as nuanced characters interpreted with fierce precision, but the show is most dazzling for its tonal improvisations; it feels like Glover and company can go anywhere, at any time, and the results are exhilarating. (Pamela Adlon’s acclaimed “Better Things,” also from FX, is a similarly personality-driven comedy/drama.)

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Credit...Paramount Pictures

Between the first two “Godfather” epics, Francis Ford Coppola wrote and directed this modest character study, in which the proudly impersonal surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), becomes unexpectedly invested in the subjects of his work and then decides he must step in to save their lives. Like its protagonist, “The Conversation” is most riveting in its quietest moments, though its bold opening sequence — in which Caul attempts to eavesdrop on a whispered conversation in a crowded park — is both brilliant filmmaking and a riveting snapshot of Watergate-era America. Our critic praised Hackman’s “superb performance.”

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Credit...Everett Collection

“She’s smart and she’s a beauty and she’s full of lick ‘n’ fire!” So says “T.C.” Jeffords (Walter Huston) of his daughter Vance, played with electrifying vigor by Barbara Stanwyck in this thrilling adaptation of Niven Busch’s novel. It has the richness of a great story — a family saga, of inheritance and land rights and old, open wounds between ambitious frontier families — and the director Anthony Mann ties it all together with wit and rough beauty. Our critic called it a “titanic struggle between father and daughter.” (Lovers of classic Westerns should also stream “Johnny Guitar”; for a more contemporary take, try “Hell or High Water.”)

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Credit...Kino Lorber

The “transformative” writer and director Jia Zhangke tells his story of a changing China (and the lives that are altered with it) in three parts: one set just before the end of the millennium, one set in 2014, and one in 2025, each narratively and visually underscoring pivots between the old world and the new. Each period has its own dramas (a love triangle, a death in the family, an ill-advised romance), accumulating into a rich snapshot of a world in flux. And while its characters are cool and distanced, when they break, the effect is devastating; this is a low-key, character-driven drama of dazzling scope and style. (For more powerful international movies, stream “Burning” and “Shoplifters” on Hulu.)

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Credit...Warner Bros.

A young boy’s friendship with an alien robot (Vin Diesel) in small-town America provides the spine for this “smooth, skilled” animated adventure from director Brad Bird (who went on to direct the Pixar classics “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”). Set amid the early years of the Cold War, the film is a throwback to cartoons of that era. “The Iron Giant” provides thrills for the kids alongside wry humor and vintage references for their parents. (For more charming family entertainment, check out “Missing Link.”)

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Credit...20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

John Ford won his second consecutive Academy Award for best director — and the prize for best picture over the likes of “Citizen Kane” and “The Maltese Falcon” — for this searing, lyrical adaptation of Richard Llewellyn’s best seller. The time is the late 1800s and the place is the South Wales Valleys, where the Morgan family spends their days grinding out a living in the local mines and their nights enjoying the spoils of their hard labor — until a decrease in wages and a movement for unionization drive a wedge through both the family and their village. Our critic called it “a beautiful and affecting film achievement.” (Ford’s previous Oscar winner, “The Grapes of Wrath,” is also on Hulu.)

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Credit...Henrik Ohsten/Samuel Goldwyn Films

The winner of this year’s best international feature Oscar — and a surprise nominee for best director as well — stars Mads Mikkelsen as a burned-out high school teacher who finds that he and his friends are simultaneously tumbling into their midlife crises. Their solution: an experiment in carefully controlled day-drinking, which they believe will loosen up their inhibitions and make their lives exciting again. It sounds like the premise for a 1990s Jim Carrey movie, but the director Thomas Vinterberg’s innate sense of cinematic naturalism keeps the picture grounded in emotional truth. Our critic deemed it “a sweet, strangely modest tragicomedy about the pleasures of (mostly banal) excess.” (For another story of old friends approaching mid-life crisis, stream “The Big Chill.”)

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Credit...Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures

The first half of this “excursion from the sad to the sublime by way of the preposterous,” as A.O. Scott put it, is a virtuoso portrait of social awkwardness and inappropriateness, as a bride (a spectacular Kirsten Dunst) struggles and fails to overcome her overwhelming depression at her wedding reception. Her family and friends are an assemblage of human triggers far more distressing to her than the crisis of the film’s second half, in which a rogue planet is on a collision course with Earth — and our protagonist discovers that when you’ve spent your life feeling like the world is ending, the event itself can produce a strange calm. The writer and director Lars von Trier (“Breaking the Waves”) tells his dark story with bleak humor and operatic flourishes, as well as a deep empathy for the women at its center.

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Credit...Claudette Barius/Fingerprint Releasing and Bleecker Street

As the director of the “Ocean’s” trilogy, Steven Soderbergh has honored the classic heist movie aesthetic: sleek, classy and star-studded. And then he set out to subvert all of those conventions with this working-class heist comedy, in which a minor character describes its central job as “Ocean’s 7-11.” The key players are familiar (the safecracker, the computer whiz, the sexy girl, the brains of the operation), but they’re done with salty fun and earthy humor. You’ll never say “cauliflower” the same way again. Our critic dubbed it “gravity-defying” and “ridiculously entertaining.” (Fans of this one may also enjoy the shaggy-dog genre charms of “The Nice Guys.”)

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Credit...Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures/Searchlight Pictures, via Associated Press

Frances McDormand builds another nuanced, sometimes prickly performance (and won a third Oscar in the process) as a widow who roams America living “the van life,” working temporary and seasonal jobs, making just enough to get by and keep moving. The Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao uses real people who live that life in supporting roles, crafting the picture as something of a snapshot of this subculture; by its end, it feels as though you know how this scene works and how these lives are lived. But within that, “Nomadland” is a sensitive and intelligent meditation on solitude, mortality (and thus, on grief and loss) and making the best of what’s left. A.O. Scott called it “patient, compassionate and open.”

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Credit...Kerry Hayes/20th Century Fox

This gleeful, romantic and “altogether wonderful” stew of monster movie, fairy tale and Cold War thriller from Guillermo del Toro won four Oscars, including for best director and best picture. Sally Hawkins stars as a mute cleaning woman at a government research lab who accidentally glimpses, and becomes enchanted by, a mysterious sea monster with a marked resemblance to the monster in “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” As she moves from curiosity to emotional attachment, she must find a way to free the creature from his prison, and from the sadistic government agent (Michael Shannon) who wants to destroy him.

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Credit...Chris Haston/NBC

A pre-“Knocked Up” Judd Apatow and a pre-“Bridesmaids” Paul Feig teamed up for this cult hit comedy-drama, which looks back at high school life circa 1980 through the eyes of Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini), a math wiz who falls in with the slacker “freaks,” and her brother Sam (John Frances Daly), a perpetually picked-on “geek.” High school nostalgia is nothing new, but Feig, Apatow and their writers approach those years with a verisimilitude that frequently feels like an open wound, finding the quiet truth in these comic situations, and only then going for the laugh, almost as an afterthought. Bonus: a cast of future stars in their early years, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps, Sam Levine, Ben Foster, Lizzy Caplan and Martin Starr.

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Credit...Sedat Pakay

This stunning documentary concerns the life and writings of James Baldwin, but it’s less focused on tracing the arc of its subject’s life than on the potency of his words. Director Raoul Peck uses as his framework the notes of Baldwin’s unfinished book “Remember This House,” in which Baldwin was attempting to reckon with the legacies of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. Guided by Baldwin’s passages, Peck constructs an urgent and audacious essay about our past and our present. Our critic called it “a concise, roughly 90-minute movie with the scope and impact of a 10-hour mini-series.” (The riveting documentary “MLK/FBI,” chronicling the F.B.I.’s harassment of King, is also streaming on Hulu.)

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Credit...Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight Pictures

This Academy Award winner for best picture (as well as best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay) is a tough, often harrowing viewing experience, yet a richly rewarding one. Chiwetel Ejiofor (a nominee for best actor) stars as Solomon Northrup, a free Black man in the pre-Civil War North who is abducted and sold into slavery — and vows to regain his freedom, no matter what the cost. Steve McQueen’s direction is honest but merciless, dramatizing the horrors of the antebellum South in detail. But the film, like its hero, never succumbs to despair. Manohla Dargis called it “a story that seizes you almost immediately with a visceral force.” (For more historical drama, try “Tesla.”)

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Credit...Bleecker Street Media

Julia Garner is “magnificent” as the personal assistant to a TriBeCa-based film executive whose sexual harassment of hopeful young starlets is an open secret. The name “Weinstein” is never once uttered, and it doesn’t have to be; the writer and director, Kitty Green, uses what we already know to fill in the blanks. We don’t even see the monster in question — he’s just a presence and a voice, in snatches of overheard dialogue and muffled fits of rage, and Green’s beautifully controlled film captures, with brutal, pinpoint accuracy, how that presence infects a workplace, and what happens when someone decides not to play along.

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Credit...Justin Lubin/NBC

Loners at a subpar community college join in a study group to muddle through their joke of a Spanish class and end up forging unexpected bonds from their shared misery. It sounds like the setup for a crushingly typical TV sitcom, but “Community” is anything but; over its six tempestuous seasons, the creator, Dan Harmon, and his inventive writers, turned the classroom laugher into a “bracingly funny” and slyly surreal blend of sketch comedy, science fiction and metatelevision — while simultaneously creating the kind of complicated but sympathetic characters and delicate relationships it seemed too cool to indulge. (“Community” fans will also enjoy Harmon’s cult cartoon series “Rick and Morty.”)

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Credit...Neon

The South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, who previously smuggled trenchant class commentary into genre movies like “The Host” and “Snowpiercer,” takes a more direct route with this story of a household of grifters who smooth-talk their way into the home of a clueless upper-class family. What begins as a clever con comedy turns into something much darker (and bloodier), a “brilliant and deeply unsettling” examination of privilege and power, orchestrated by a filmmaker working at the top of his craft; the results were thrilling enough to win not only the Palme d’Or at Cannes, but the first best picture Oscar for a film not in English. (Bong’s “The Host” is also streaming on Hulu.)

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Credit...Travel Channel

This long-running showcase for the late, great celebrity chef, author and raconteur is a globe-trotting celebration of the cultures and cuisines of the world, a well-balanced mixture of destinations close (Maine, New Orleans, New York’s outer boroughs) and far (Vietnam, Russia, Egypt, Turkey), which Bourdain explores with both curiosity and bravado. He combines history, political commentary, observation and (of course) food appreciation into an undeniably appealing mix, often propelled by the sheer force of his personality. Bourdain’s willingness to go wherever the journey takes him gives his show an inspired unpredictability and infectious energy.

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Credit...Isabella Vosmikova/Fox

Many a dysfunctional family has graced our televisions, but few boasted as many problems as Michael Bluth’s: His father is in prison, his mother is blissfully out of touch, one brother is a blowhard, the other seems to be from another planet, his sister is a dime-store Gwyneth Paltrow and his son is in love with his cousin. This “sharply satirical comedy” steadfastly refused to make its horrifying central family lovable or relatable, save for Michael (played wryly, and winningly, by Jason Bateman), whose dry, bemused reactions make him a useful audience surrogate. Hulu is only streaming the original three seasons of the series (Netflix financed, and thus hosts, its revival), but these are the best ones anyway. (For a portrait of a slightly happier family, check out ‘Parenthood’ on Hulu.)

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Credit...ABC

When David Lynch and Mark Frost’s surrealist mystery/soap debuted on ABC in 1990, our critic wrote, “Nothing like it has ever been seen on network prime time” — and week after week, Lynch and Frost continued to prove him right. The show’s central preoccupation is the murder of Laura Palmer, a seemingly innocent teen queen, but that mystery is merely the entry point; the show’s real subject is the depravity of small-town life and the secrets that emerge when its careful veneer of normality is cracked.

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Credit...NBC

Few television series run more than a decade without losing their flavor, their laughs, or their heart — but then again, few television series are as special as “Cheers.” Set in a Boston bar owned and tended by a former baseball star and recovering alcoholic (Ted Danson, in the role that understandably made him a star), “Cheers” took the conventions of the character-driven hangout sitcom and perfected them. Thanks to consistently razor-sharp writing and a flawless ensemble cast, the result was “pure comedy that was sophisticated but not pretentious.” Running 275 episodes (without a clunker in the bunch), “Cheers” has gone on to charm subsequent generations of viewers, who have found it as comforting and reliable as … well, as a trip to the neighborhood watering hole. (The show’s long-running spinoff series “Frasier” is also on Hulu.)

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Though separated by nearly two decades, “Bob’s Burgers” is something of a “Cheers” for the 21st century — television comfort food, centering on a neighborhood mainstay and the weirdos who float through its doors (though this show’s characters are allowed to veer into even stranger territory by the animated format). But it’s also a clever riff on the family sitcom, as the establishment’s proprietor is the patriarch of a decidedly oddball family; most surprisingly, it treats that family with genuine affection, peccadilloes and all. Our critic compared it to a go-to restaurant, “reliably good, visit after visit.” (“Bob’s Burgers” fans may also enjoy “King of the Hill.”)

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Credit...Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Tina Fey co-created and starred in this long-running NBC metasitcom, inspired by her own experiences as head writer for “Saturday Night Live.” It’s written and played with the wink and nudge of knowing showbiz gossip and inside jokes, delivered at lightning pace. She came into her own as a performer over the show’s seven seasons, with the help of an unbeatable ensemble cast: Jane Krakowski as the show’s uproariously vain star, Tracy Morgan as a gleefully hedonistic superstar brought in to boost ratings, Jack McBrayer as the delightfully naïve network page, and (especially) Alec Baldwin as the gruff and cynical network executive in charge of the program. (For more fast-paced comedy, try “Broad City” and “Happy Endings.”)

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Credit...Richard Cartwright/WB

Few shows in television history sounded less promising than a series adaptation of an unloved, unsuccessful teen horror/comedy, launching midseason on a network no one had heard of. But from the ashes of the (vastly compromised, it’s said) 1992 feature film came Joss Whedon’s reimagined and recalibrated seven-season triumph, which slyly conflated the conventions of supernatural horror and high school life, and asked which was truly the fiery hellscape. Though a little bumpy early on — it took some time for Whedon and company to find their tone (and access to convincing special effects) — once “Buffy” finds its footing, it’s unstoppable. (Whedon’s short-lived but much-loved space opera “Firefly” is also available on Hulu.)

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Credit...DreamWorks Pictures

Aardman Animations, the British stop-motion studio behind the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit shorts, made its feature debut with this delightful cross between barnyard farce and prison escape caper, in which a headstrong hen enlists a cocky circus rooster to help her and her friends flee their henhouse before the evil farmer turns them into pies. The animation is, per the company’s standard, breathtakingly meticulous. But parents will enjoy this one as much as their kids do, as the directors Nick Park and Peter Lord inject copious doses of droll British wit and winking nods to classic adventure movies. Our critic called it “immensely satisfying, a divinely relaxed and confident film.” (For more stop-motion family fun, stream LAIKA’s “Missing Link.”)

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Credit...Tatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures

Barry Jenkins followed up the triumph of his Oscar-winning “Moonlight” with this “anguished and mournful” adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel. It is, first and foremost, a love story, and the warmth and electricity Jenkins captures and conveys between stars KiKi Layne and Stephan James is overwhelming. But it’s also a love story between two African-Americans in 1960s Harlem, and the delicacy with which the filmmaker threads in the troubles of that time, and the injustice that ultimately tears his main characters apart, is heart-wrenching. Masterly performances abound — particularly from Regina King, who won an Oscar for her complex, layered portrayal of a mother on a mission. (That year’s best actress winner, Renée Zellweger in “Judy,” is also on Hulu.)

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Bing Liu was nominated for a best documentary Oscar for this, his debut feature, a candid and sometimes agonizingly intimate portrait of his loose crew of skateboarding pals. He began making videos to capture that activity, recording the skateboarders’ tricks, spills and pranks; they got comfortable around the camera, forgetting it was even there. But it was, observing and chronicling their lives for years on end — and as they got older, Liu used their comfort to eavesdrop on difficult conversations and extraordinary confessions, weaving what A.O. Scott called “a rich, devastating essay on race, class and manhood in 21st-century America.” (Documentary fans will also want to check out “Apollo 11” and “Honeyland” on Hulu.)

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Credit...Shout! Factory/20th Century Fox

Few series of the 1980s were as influential or acclaimed as Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll’s seven-season cop drama, which shunned the flash and sizzle typical of police series of the era for something closer to the ground-level realism of ’70s cinema. There were sprawling, complicated narratives, messy and not altogether sympathetic “heroes” and a visual style that seemed to stumble upon scenes rather than stage them. “Hill Street” was operatic yet intimate, institutional but personal; it changed the look, feel and flavor of cop shows for decades to come.

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Credit...Annapurna Pictures

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are the delightful duo — funny, prickly and plausible — at the center of this “fast, brainy, nasty-but-nice teenage comedy” from the actor-turned-director Olivia Wilde, which both embraces the conventions of the John Hughes-style high school movie and shrewdly subverts them. Our heroines are a pair of overachievers who’ve focused solely on their studies all through high school, only to discover on the eve of graduation that their hard-partying classmates nevertheless landed at prestigious universities themselves. And thus, they must recover four years of lost opportunities in a single night of bad behavior and hard truths. (For more character-driven comedy/drama, check out “Support the Girls” and “Wild Rose.”)

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Credit...CBS

Robert Altman’s hit 1970 antiwar comedy didn’t seem like a slam-dunk for television adaptation, thanks to its raw style and bawdy humor. The series creator and TV comedy veteran Larry Gelbart sanded away most of those edges, yet found a way to ground the show in the horrors of war while keeping the laughs digestible. Much of that was because of the chemistry and camaraderie of the flawless cast — particularly Alan Alda’s brilliantly realized characterization of “Hawkeye” Pierce, the unflappable wiseguy who found, over the course of the show’s 11 seasons, that there were some things even he couldn’t manage to make light of. (If you’re looking for a more serious medical series, stream the ’90s fave “ER.”)

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The creator Rob Thomas ingeniously fused the conventions of hard-boiled private eye noir with high school drama for this clever, moody and frequently funny three-season marvel (subsequently revived for a 2014 movie and a recent fourth season), which our critics deemed one of the best TV dramas this side of ‘The Sopranos.’ It also made a star out of Kristen Bell, who seamlessly veers from tough to vulnerable as the title character, a postmodern Nancy Drew who answers phones at her dad’s investigation agency and explores the seamy underbelly of her upper-class seaside resort town. The mysteries are top-notch (frequently intermingling season-long puzzlers with one-off cases of the week), but what makes “Mars” special is the relationships — particularly the complex, affectionate byplay between Bell’s thorny Veronica and her protective pop, played by the wonderful Enrico Colantoni. (If you like the neo-noir vibe of this one, check out “Gemini”; Thomas’s uproariously funny comedy series “Party Down” is also available on Hulu.)

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Credit...Neon

This “subtle and thrilling love story” from the French writer and director Céline Sciamma is an overwhelmingly quiet film — there is no musical score, and seldom a voice that speaks above a whisper. The delicacy of that approach mirrors the story Sciamma tells, of a young artist (Noémie Merlant) sent to paint a portrait of a reluctant would-be bride (Adèle Haenel); they initially regard each other tentatively, suspiciously even, and Sciamma builds their relationship so carefully and patiently that when they finally give in to their shared desire, it’s more thrilling than any action movie.

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Credit...Mario Perez/ABC

One of modern television’s most discussed and dissected, analyzed and agonized, loved and loathed programs is this six-season story of a group of plane-crash survivors, trapped on a mysterious and (presumably?) deserted island. This simple setup proved fertile soil for shocking twists and copious fan theories, as well as for an admirably all-rules-are-off sense of storytelling, regularly veering off into extended flashbacks, flash-forwards and even the occasional flash-sideways. Some of its loose ends are frustrating, and some of the answers are unsatisfying. But it’s nonetheless a bold experiment in longform storytelling, and one whose “Wait, WHAT?” cliffhangers make for essential binge-watching. (For another unpredictable adventure, add “Killing Eve” to your queue.)

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When it began in 2009, this “outrageously entertaining” animated FX comedy from Adam Reed sounded like a one-joke premise, and not exactly a fresh one either: an extended spoof on James Bond-style spy stories, set at a secret intelligence agency during an indeterminate and anachronistic pseudo-Cold War period. And yet it took flight (11 seasons and counting) thanks to the show’s frisky writing, winking self-awareness, willingness to reboot itself entirely, and the skills of the uproarious voice cast, including Jessica Walters of “Arrested Development” as another unstable mother and the “Bob’s Burgers” star H. Jon Benjamin as the boozing, womanizing title character. (Fans of this absurd comedy may also enjoy “Futurama” and “Absolutely Fabulous.”)

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Credit...The Orchard

This riotous, high-spirited, “charming and funny” family comedy could have been played straight, as a Disney-style, kid-friendly adventure yarn. But the writer and director Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”) instead delivers a delicious sendup of action movie tropes while sneakily exploring a family dynamic that pays off with surprising warmth and sweetness. Sam Neill amps up the gruff tenderness that made his turn in “Jurassic Park” so memorable, but the real find here is Julian Dennison, a young leading man so unlikely yet so charismatic that the rest of the movie bends around him. (For more big-hearted comedy, try “Don’t Think Twice.”)

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Credit...Jordin Althaus/NBC

Sitcom creator Michael Schur mated the familial hangout vibe of his “Parks and Recreation” with the police precinct setting of “Barney Miller” to create this “loose, jokey workplace comedy.” Andy Samberg stars as Jake Peralta, an immature police detective who butts heads with his buttoned-up captain (Andre Braugher) — the old loose-cannon/by-the-book odd couple, writ large. The show’s charm, however, lies in its rich ensemble, an assemblage of familiar comic types given dimension and personality by a top-notch supporting cast. (The similarly styled sitcom “Superstore” is also worth your time.)

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Rod Serling’s innovative, influential, unforgettable anthology series married the tropes of science fiction with the humanism of morality tales, using the social shifts and rampant paranoia of the Cold War era to tell stories both wildly fantastic and uncomfortably familiar. Its theme song remains ubiquitous (ditto Serling’s hard-boiled introductions), and its best episodes have permanently embedded themselves in the common consciousness, but “The Twilight Zone” stands as more than a mere cultural touchstone. “While he hosted weekly visits to other planets and alternate universes,” our critic writes, “Serling asked his viewers to question authority, innovation and the role of faith in their lives.”

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Credit...CBS

Serling’s contemporary Gene Roddenberry likewise used the conventions of genre fiction to tell strikingly contemporary stories about the human condition. The original series is shockingly slender — it only ran three seasons and 79 episodes, yet spawned over a dozen movies and multiple spinoff series. Many of them are also available on Hulu, but this is where it all began, and where the curious viewer should start; the vital narrative elements are all in place, and the original ensemble (particularly William Shatner’s cocky Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy’s sensible Mr. Spock, and DeForest Kelley’s exasperated Dr. “Bones” McCory) is hard to top. (The follow-up series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is also on Hulu, as is the similarly beloved “The X-Files.”)

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Credit...Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Cultural constants are in short supply, but it seems like we’ll always have NBC’s impossibly long-running late-night variety program, which has been skewering politicians, the news media and the foibles of daily life for 45 seasons (and counting). Hulu doesn’t offer all of them; the service takes a giant leap from Season 5 to Season 30, which means you don’t get the glory days of Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and several other MVPs. But there’s plenty of gold to choose from — particularly those first five years, featuring the original, comically peerless ensemble and such immortal characters as the Coneheads, the Blues Brothers and Roseanne Roseannadanna. (For more sketch comedy, check out “Key & Peele.”)

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You can find the DNA of this sophisticated, influential seven-season classic in everything from “30 Rock” to “The Office” to “Sex and the City.” Moore sparkles as a newly single working woman making her way in the big city of Minneapolis, where she spends her days in a bustling TV newsroom and her nights trying to reassemble her personal life. Midway through its run, our critic wrote, “Consistently tight writing and good acting have made this situation comedy the best of its kind in the history of American television.” He wasn’t wrong. (Moore’s other beloved, long-running sitcom, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” is also on Hulu, as is co-star Betty White’s “The Golden Girls.”)

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Credit...Matthias Clamer/FX

Noah Hawley’s television adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ 1996 Oscar winner sounded like a sure-fire failure. After all, how could anyone but the Coens manage to recreate and recapture their oddball worldview and idiosyncratic characters? Yet Hawley’s series, a seasonal anthology — each year telling a new quirky crime story, in a different time period — succeeds by taking the entire Coen canon as inspiration (one of the show’s many pleasures is spotting the connections to all of their films) and telling stories that fit snugly into that same, cockeyed universe. Our critics called its first season “oddly winning,” Season 2 “sublime,” and Season 3 “an expertly made metaeconcoction.” (“Fargo” fans may also enjoy FX’s “Justified,” another wry, witty neo-Western.)

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Credit...Bill Records/NBC

When this series adaptation of the 2004 feature film — itself an adaptation of Buzz Bissinger’s nonfiction book — debuted on NBC in 2006, our critic led her review with a succinct proclamation: “Lord, is ‘Friday Night Lights’ good.” Over the five seasons that followed, this heart-rending drama, set in the world of small-town high school football (though not, in any traditional sense, solely about that world), taught lessons, complicated assumptions, and developed some of the indelible characters in modern television — chief among them Kyle Chandler as the idealistic and committed Coach Taylor and Connie Britton as his no-nonsense wife. (For more character-driven drama, check out “Queen Sugar” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

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Credit...ABC

Nostalgia tends to run in 20-year cycles, so filmmakers and television writers spent a good deal of the 1980s meditating on the 1960s — particularly the idealism of the Woodstock era, and how it faded away in the years that followed. This six-season family dramedy certainly trafficked in such wistfulness, but filtered it through a contemporary lens, as the adult iteration of its protagonist (voiced by Daniel Stern, played as a teen by Fred Savage) narrated his journey through middle and high school during this turbulent era. And the show is now seen through a prism of dual nostalgia, recalled with fondness by those who were themselves teenagers when it first aired, confirming that its stories of first love, teen awkwardness and familial rebellion aren’t confined to any specific era. (For more family-based comedy, check out “Malcolm in the Middle.”)

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Credit...BBC

Before laying waste to the American political system on HBO’s “Veep,” Armando Iannucci took his satirical scalpel to the British Parliament with this ruthless four-season comedy. Its ostensible focus is Hugh Abbot (Chris Langham), head of the fictitious Department of Social Affairs, but the showcase character is Malcolm Tucker, the inventively foul-mouthed and delightfully cruel political adviser played with scorched-earth intensity by the future 12th Doctor of “Dr. Who,” Peter Capaldi. However, as with “Veep” (and the spin-off film “The Thick of It”), the true subject is government incompetence, and the stew of ego-boosting, failing upward and general bumbling that seems to define political power on every shore. (For more sharp-witted British comedy, check out the original version of “The Office.”)

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Credit...CBS, via Associated Press

When writing about the virtues of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz family sitcom, it’s tempting to just jot down a list of its classic moments: the chocolate conveyor belt, stomping the grapes, mirroring Harpo Marx, “Vitameatavegamin.” That impulse is understandable; the series has been so fully consumed by popular culture that those moments are still immediately recognizable, well over half a century after they aired. In those years, the rules of television comedy were still being written, and “I Love Lucy” wrote plenty of them (its three-camera, shot-on-film, “live in front of a studio audience” setup was the go-to process for television comedy for decades). But beyond its considerable influence is an inarguable truth: It perseveres because, as our critic noted in 2001, “it’s fantastically, timelessly funny.”

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