Netflix and Hulu are locked in a bitter arms race at the moment, as both vie to be the king of online streaming. While Netflix clearly has the advantage, given the fact that it’s been around longer and is a much more established brand, Hulu has come a long way in recent years, releasing a slew of original programing to rival the current king of the streaming throne.
This war between services has ramped up considerably in recent years, as evident by the onslaught of shows and movies that are clearly made to compete with each other’s top shows. This is great for consumers, as it gives subscribers plenty of content to choose from, and gives each group a chance to enjoy equal or opposite ends of the streaming coin. Here are the 10 best Netflix shows and their equivalents on Hulu.
Last month, Netflix and Hulu each released comedies that revolve around every day, down-on-their-luck adults who are attempting to better themselves. Turn Up Charlie stars Idris Elba as a cash strapped DJ who takes a side gig as a babysitter for a friend, whose child has proven to be a nuisance in every sense of the word. Meanwhile, Shrill stars Aidy Bryant as Annie Easton, a plus size woman trying to make a name for herself, without eroding her personal identity.
While Turn Up Charlie benefits from Elba’s star power, Shrill’s message about body positivity speaks volumes. Both series offer plenty of laughs, with enough heart to keep them grounded, ensuring that audiences will find a bit of themselves in both show’s respective leads.
Puberty is an awkward and uncomfortable subject that many people would like to forget. It also seems like the last subject anyone would want turned into a TV show, but Netflix proved everyone wrong with their hit animated sitcom Big Mouth, a show that explores the tumultuous minefield that is puberty. Not to be outdone, Hulu also released a show that deals with the awkwardness and horrors of teenage life with PEN15, which explores many of the same topics as Big Mouth albeit with a different setup.
While Big Mouth’s setup is similar to other adult animated shows of its ilk, PEN15 takes on a drastically more experimental approach. The lead actresses of PEN15, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, play middle school equivalents of themselves, reliving the experiences that defined their youth. It’s an interesting concept that helps it stand out in a sea of similar programming, and time will tell if the show manages to reach the same level of acceptance that its rival, Big Mouth, currently has.
To be fair, Up to Speed started airing long before Dark Tourist ever saw the light of day. In fact, Up to Speed is one of the oldest running pieces of original programming in Hulu’s current content block. But for fans of the weird and bazaar, both shows have plenty to like and enjoy, especially for those with a case of the travel bug.
Dark Tourist is more akin to the Syfy channel’s Destination Truth, in that it focuses on locations throughout the world that have dark and paranormal elements. In comparison, Up to Speed is more straightforward, focusing on lesser-known points of interest in famous American tourist attractions. While the latter lacks the supernatural themes of the former, both would no doubt entice frequent viewers of the Travel Channel to start their free trials.
International intrigue and espionage have been hot entertainment commodities for decades, and in a society where nefarious politics have become an unfortunate side effect of 21st-century life, it would make sense that Netflix and Hulu would try tap into that social anxiety with their own gripping programs. While Bodyguard may have originally aired on the BBC, Netflix managed to bring the story of a former soldier who is hired to protect the very same politician who sent him to war to a wider audience. Meanwhile, Hulu’s The Looming Tower chronicles the true story about how America’s intelligence community failed to capture Osama Bin Laden in the years and months leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks.
Both shows deal with issues of national security in varying ways. While Bodyguard tackles the cost of recent foreign policy blunders in the here and now, The Looming Tower shows us how we got into this mess in the first place. Both are essential viewing for news junkies, armchair generals, and fans of recent historical events, and both will continue to spark conversations for decades to come.
High school is more than just parties and young romance. It can also be steeped in pain and heartache, and if recent opinion polls are to be believed, today’s high schoolers have it rougher than ever before. While many shows about teenagers gloss over these topics, treating them as superficial at best, 13 Reasons Why and East Los High manage to confront these issues head-on in ways that few have ever dared to.
While 13 Reasons Why may have generated controversy due to its graphic themes of suicide and teen violence, it sparked a debate about the mental health of our teenagers and how we as a society can address warning signs and help those who are secretly in pain. Meanwhile, East Los High deals with the pressures and struggles faced by Latino students, the setting of which takes place in a high school in LA. While East Los High may not strike the same chords that 13 Reasons Why managed to hit, it still focuses on an often overlooked aspect of the American teenage experience.
Two comedians. Two similar shows. One deeply divided country. Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman both wanted to experience post-2016 USA for themselves, in order to get to the roots of who or what divides Americans after a, particularly tumultuous decade. At first glance, both shows seem remarkably similar, almost one of the same. However, it’s the way in which both shows are produced that truly sets them apart.
Silverman, a devout progressive, spends most of her show trying to connect and talk with real people, in order to understand their point of view and hopefully gain some knowledge into how the other side thinks. Cohen, on the other hand, dons disguises and confronts political figures, in hopes of catching them saying something they’d regret later. Think of Who is America as a retooled Borat, but with more unhinged patriotism. Either way, while neither series promises to bring the US together, they can at least examine why we’ve grown so far apart.
You know you screwed up when your failed scam creates a cottage industry of exposé documentaries. The blunder that was the Fyre Festival and its creator, Billy McFarland, became the subject of countless news articles, and the butt of a billion memes, when his all exclusive music festival turned into a Mad Max-esque nightmare of FEMA tents, cheese sandwiches, and more indictments and lawsuits than you can shake a gavel at. Naturally, a disaster of this magnitude is too big to be covered by just one documentary, so it’s perfectly befitting that two be made instead.
Both Netflix and Hulu’s respective docs cover the basics of how scumbag McFarland used aggressive social media tactics to swindle young people out of millions of dollars. While Netflix's doc details more of the behind-the-scenes action of the months and weeks leading up to the festival, Hulu chooses to go a slightly different route, opting to focus on how the festival managed to entice an entire generation, with terrible consequences. While Fyre manages to slightly edge out its rival, Hulu’s offering cannot be missed for those who want to know more about the worst party of all time.
Yeah, sure, it may be sort of a stretch to compare Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale. One is a dark comedy about life in a women’s prison, while the other is a dark science fiction story about women living in a dystopian nightmare. However, in terms of thematic elements, like women being imprisoned in corrupt and abusive systems, both series find themselves on common ground.
Obviously, Orange has more laughs than the notoriously brutal and depressing Handmaid. After all, there are only so many laughs you can glean from a show about a patriarchal sex cult that force women to constantly bare children against their will. But the female empowerment in both shows, whenever those kept in chains triumph over their male oppressors, gives both shows a topical fist pump that’s hard to ignore.
True crime has seen a surge in popularity recently, and part of that is due to the success of Netflix’s Making a Murderer. The story of a man who may have been framed for a crime by a corrupt police department sparked many a fierce debate. It also convinced every network on the planet that they had to get in on the game. Hulu already has an impressive roundup of true crime content, courtesy of third-party networks. But it was The Act that proved that Hulu could make their own true crime stuff, and boy, did they pick one hell of a case to cover.
The heartbreaking true story of Gypsy Rose, who was kept in a perpetual state of sickness by her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, seems like something out of a psychological thriller. In fact, both The Act and Making a Murderer are filled with disturbing facts and revelations that’ll have viewers asking questions about what they would do if they were in the victim’s shoes. With The Act turning heads all over the true crime world, here’s hoping that Hulu has more intriguing stories to tell.
It’s no surprise that Stranger Things owes much of its premise, setting, and visual elements to Stephen King novels, and in particular the mini-series they inspired. The show has proven to be so successful that it not only spawned a new wave of 80’s nostalgia, but it also brought renewed interest to Stephen King’s work. However, it seems that Hulu, not Netflix, has managed to corner the market in Stephen King media. After successfully adapting his 11.22.63, Hulu managed to snag Castle Rock, a series set in the very core of King’s multiverse.
This creepy little town of Castle Rock, Maine, has shown up time and time again in King’s writing and is the setting of a number of his stories. Teeming with monsters and otherworldly forces, and featuring King’s iconic list of well-worn tropes, the show is everything horror fans have can ever want. So Hulu subscribers shouldn’t feel too jealous of Stranger Things and its recent success. It may be set in a King-esque world, but nothing can replace the real thing.