Popular Culture

Broken Wings: ‘Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons’ Documentary Review

“Am I the only one in the room who knows what women want?” said a man to a group of women.

That man, Leslie “Les” Wexner, is responsible for the rise and fall of an empire that saw zero stop signs in its future—that is, until the world flipped on its axis in 2016. While from the outside looking in, it might look like the #MeToo movement effectively sunk Victoria’s Secret, the beast is the one who sunk itself.

Hulu’s newest documentary, ‘Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons,’ tracks Wexner’s crown jewel and how it went from “it brand” to shit brand. And if you thought Victoria had a secret, well, then you just haven’t heard the largest one of all, and that’s Wexner’s. The thing is, his secret was hidden right there in plain sight, and that secret was a man named Jeffrey Epstein.

The Annoyingly-Named Bra Salesman

You try saying “Les Wexner” five times fast.

Yeah, it’s annoying.

Wexner kicked off his career in 1963 by creating Limited Brands (also known as L Brands), a retail business that got larger and larger by the decade, taking on beauty, personal care, and—most notably—intimate apparel through its brands. When Wexner acquired Victoria’s Secret back in 1982, it was an aging intimates brand that was basically in the dumps and out of touch with the market. It’s funny to look back on that now, as the brand basically ended up just as it started.

While being booked as a model for Victoria’s Secret was “where models went to die” in the early ’80s, it clawed its way to becoming one the most coveted bookings a model could snag by the time the mid-’90s came around. And who is that all because of? A slimy L Brands executive named Ed Razek, who would later be accused of sexually harassing and assaulting Victoria’s Secret employees and models.

Basically, Razek was Wexner’s right-hand man—the two of them towered over the organization, calling all the shots while claiming to be making apparel “by and for women.” They were only able to make that statement because Wexner had a slew of highly-respected women working as executives at Victoria’s Secret—and they actually weren’t hired as part of an act; they were all genuinely capable women. The only problem is that despite the executive women’s calls for shapewear, maternity wear, and just generally more comfortable clothing, Razek and Wexner wouldn’t budge.

The issue with all of this is that no one said anything—not even the women. More than anything, Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons is a documentary about how silence is a disease. It creeps through the halls and fills up an organization like a stream of smoke, clogging up each person’s lungs until they’re unable to say even a word.

The thing is, it’s a disease that most likely all of us have experienced at one point or another in our lives: something’s not okay, but because everyone thinks it’s okay, we just act like it’s okay, too. And that cycle is dangerous.

Because if that cycle doesn’t stop, it ends up infecting everyone, spreading far and wide and trickling down to the tiniest of cracks. That is until a few people are brave enough to fight through the smoke.

Even if you don’t care about lingerie or Victoria’s Secret, it’s impossible to not feel connected to the story being told—and that’s where Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons truly succeeds.

On Fire

As the brand strayed further and further away from the old, more restrained version of “Victoria,” the new, perfect-bodied bombshell idea took full force in the mid-1990s, benefiting from the early 2000s culture. Sex and the City was at its height and women were “taking back their sexuality,” which opened the floodgates when it came to both the lingerie itself and the images being presented of the lingerie. Hence, the creation of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 1995 and the “angels” who came along with it.

“At this point in time, I realized that the original Victoria was dead,” Cindy Fedus-Fields, the former CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct, said. “She’d been killed off by Angels in the spaceship.”

Michael Bay was even hired at one point to shoot a Victoria’s Secret commercial, and with fiery explosions shooting off in the background, the brand was literally and figuratively hot. Those years from 1995 to 2015 were Victoria’s Secret’s golden years, defined by “angels” like Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Karlie Kloss, and Naomi Campbell.

But in the back room? Well, that was a different story.

Their little sister brand, PINK, certainly wasn’t helping convince employees that everything was all fine and dandy at Victoria’s Secret. Not only was their fashion show aimed to lure in young tweens and teens by including performances by Justin Bieber in the event, but the internal message to employees about what PINK was all about was specifically the word “FOMO,” which is a totally healthy thing to be catering to that sort of audience.

Basically, everything was a massive facade. Things were all peachy keen on the outside, but internally, many employees were uncomfortable with the messages being put out into the world. Going up against Wexner and Razek was impossible, so swallowing their own words was the only thing that ended up happening.

The Epstein Problem
Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Throughout all of this, an infamous man whom we all know now was slithering around behind the scenes; honestly, I’d say that half of the entire documentary was about Jeffrey Epstein—whether that was simply about his own personal dealings or with regard to Wexner and Victoria’s Secret.

At times, it definitely felt like Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons was just a documentary about Jeffrey Epstein, as it would often times lose track of the matter at hand, which was, you know, Victoria’s Secret. Much of the second and third episodes of the only three-part documentary were devoted almost entirely to Epstein, going off on tangents about smaller stories and incidents involving him and Wexner. While it was all shocking and fascinating to hear, it definitely distracted quite a bit from the main plot of the documentary.

Basically, the whole deal with the two is that Wexner was providing quite a bit of funding to his friend, Epstein, with Wexner even signing power of attorney over to Epstein so that he could manage his finances. This was all in an effort on Wexner’s part to get in with the high society of New York City, which Epstein was very familiar with. As Wexner was only known in Columbus, Ohio, having someone solid like Epstein around to introduce him to the culture was certainly alluring.

Epstein got real estate property, private jets, and even Wexner’s own New York City townhouse out of their relationship, all the while being involved in his own illicit affairs, which Wexner claimed to have no knowledge of, even when it was reported to Wexner that Epstein was “portraying himself as a recruiter for Victoria’s Secret catalog models.” Because, of course, after being friends with someone for twenty years, you probably don’t know much about them.

After Epstein was first convicted in 2008, it took Wexner an entire year to “cut ties” with him, and it wasn’t actually until the massive bust in 2019 that Wexner finally denounced Epstein, even accusing his former friend of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from him. But if Epstein stole that much money from him, why didn’t Wexner—who was known to be very litigious—ever sue him?

While some feel that the two might have had a romantic or sexual relationship (though there was no evidence to prove it), others are keener to believe that Epstein must’ve had some pretty serious dirt on Wexner, which would’ve kept the billionaire from pursuing any legal action.

See Ya Later, Victoria

Once 2016 hit, things for the company really started to crumble, as the #MeToo movement took off and women called for more inclusive, diverse models. The only problem? Victoria’s Secret wouldn’t budge. Instead, they doubled down on their usual way of running things, enlisting a slew of A-list performers and models to take to the runway and distract from the issues at hand.

The show was overall seen as a pretty tone-deaf event considering the graveness of the cultural climate at the time. While they attempted to slap a bandage over the issue in the shows that followed by having their models speak about the show with words like, “empowerment,” it wasn’t enough to save the business.

So, after plummeting $250 million in sales, it turned out that it might be time to seriously re-think the order of operations. After sexual misconduct allegations about Ed Razek surfaced, he eventually resigned in 2019, and later on, in 2020, Les Wexner finally retired, allowing the business a bit more wiggle room to move forward instead of backward. At that point, though, it was too little too late, and Victoria’s Secret is still paying the price for its refusal to change with the times.

Brands like Savage x Fenty and Third Love are the ones leading the lingerie world now, sporting a much more diverse array of products and models.

Final Thoughts

While the old image of Victoria’s Secret might be fading away, its effects on society are definitely here for the long haul. In the documentary, journalist Nicole Phelps brilliantly points out that the “Instagram Face” and body have taken on the “perfect body” that Victoria’s Secret had cemented in our culture years before. Even as society and brands are (slowly) adapting to celebrate different types of people and bodies, that stench of perfection is certainly still permeating through the wavelengths of social media.

Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons is streaming on Hulu.

Popular Culture

‘The Bear’ Is an Anxiety-Fueled Car Crash of a TV Show and That’s What Makes It Great

“15 minutes to open, chefs.”

“10 minutes to open, chefs.”

“5 minutes to open, chefs.”

If that sort of countdown is stressing you out, causing your heart rate and your anxiety to build, then you’re not alone. I’ve never worked in a kitchen or the restaurant industry, but I’d imagine that The Bear comes close to visualizing what it’s really like.

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The Bear follows a young chef prodigy named Carmen Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), who returns to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop following his brother’s suicide. Upon arrival, he almost immediately conflicts with his “cousin” Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) over the new direction the shop is headed in and the hiring of another young chef, Sydney (Ayo Edebiri.)

Inside the kitchen, the fires blaze, the pans sizzle, and the screams and arguments run rampant. Trying to cook and get food to customers inevitably leads to chaos, and the clash between new and old philosophies does nothing to calm things down.

Every day in the kitchen, you feel the tension go from simmering to boiling. Carmen (or Carmy as everyone calls him) has tried to institute a new system that models itself after the one he used in the fancier restaurant he used to work at. Sydney, who comes from that sort of background too, also attempts to help get it going.

The old-school cooks in the kitchen struggle to adapt, and the fights arise right from the start. Much like the chefs, you can feel your blood start to boil, and your skin crawls; you begin to sweat just a little bit, wondering how these issues will be fixed. And, like in life, many problems don’t resolve themselves easily, if at all.

Carmy returns to The Original Beef of Chicagoland to save the business and provide the people of Chicago with a great Italian Beef sandwich, which, in a town that has hundreds of places to get one, is no easy task. He tries to infuse the knowledge he’s gained from his culinary education with the shop’s traditional recipes, but the transition is anything but smooth. However, even with all the conflict, the food is always great.

FX Networks/Hulu

For the people of Chicago, it can be said that a great Italian beef sandwich is less a food and more a religious experience. The au-jus-soaked bread combines perfectly with the beef and giardiniera to form what could only be called a perfect sandwich.

An Italian Beef sandwich is almost the perfect encapsulation of what The Bear is trying to be: A mess of ingredients that somehow come together in a way that makes something exceptional. The Bear has a collection of different chefs and bakers who make some great food despite their immense differences.

As mentioned above, the chefs in the kitchen are incredibly resistant to change, whether it be the recipes or the methods of how they cook. Carmy wants to braise the beef and not roast it, he’s switching up the ingredients in the giardiniera, and he’s even changing the bread. In this world, altering recipes is as tough as healing relationships, both are something that will need time and a whole lot of work.

Even as you watch through the TV screen, you get a sense of what the beef smells and tastes like, how delicious the cakes are, and just how much goes into creating them. It’s a team effort with every person in the kitchen working on their pieces to the puzzle. And as the recipes evolve, so do the ties between chefs.

FX Networks/Hulu

One of the most impressive things about The Bear is the direction. Creator Christoper Stoler and Joanna Calo split directing duties for the show’s eight-episode run, and their vision is on display in practically every scene.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the show’s seventh episode, “Review.” A technical and emotional masterpiece, it is made to look like the entire episode was one long tracking shot, in the same vein as Sam Mendes’ 1917. If the series was designed to increase anxiety, this episode is what causes you to have a full-on attack.

To set the scene: On the same day that a great review for the restaurant is published, Sydney’s initiative to allow for online ordering begins. However, she accidentally left the pre-order option for the system on, causing hundreds of orders to pile in in just a matter of minutes. As you might expect, the reactions from the staff are less than enthusiastic, and tensions fly immediately. Stoler’s direction here is tight, claustrophobic, and deeply personal.

By the time this episode has aired, we have become invested in these characters and their attempts to fix this restaurant and their own lives, so watching them go through this disaster is excruciating to watch. It’s a thrilling watch but also a painful one too.

FX Networks/Hulu

“I feel like I’m kind of trapped because I can’t describe how I’m feeling. So to ask somebody else how they’re feeling, that just seems…I don’t know, insane?”

The acting in The Bear is superb across the board, but none more than Jeremy Allen White. In the season’s finale, White delivers a seven-minute, emotional monologue to the members of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. As he speaks, he documents everything about himself and his life that he seemingly hates but also what he loves.

All the pain, loss, and misery but also what’s made happy and how it has all led him to this point. It’s an astonishing sequence, one that resonates because it’s real. How does one reconcile with the past? How can you fix the present to prepare for the future?

Carmy, like all of us, doesn’t have an answer but all you can hope for is that you figure something out along the way.

All episodes of “The Bear” are available on Hulu now.

Popular Culture

The 35 Best Action Movies on Hulu That You Should Check Out

Movies are fantastic forms of entertainment because no matter what mood you are in, filmmakers have you covered. When you want to laugh, comedies are there for you. When you need a good cry, dramas are just one click away. When you need to see people kick butt and watch things blow up, action movies are by your side.

Hulu has a large collection of movies, but fortunately, they also have a great assortment of action movies that utilize amazing stunt choreography and special effects to completely engross viewers in each pulse-pounding moment. Whether you want to watch superheroes duke it out, soldiers traverse dangerous landscapes, or experts at different kinds of martial arts exchange blows, the action movies on this list will leave you delightfully entertained. 

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35. Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Directed by future Razzie nominee Jonathan Liebesman, Battle: Los Angeles follows Marine Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Echart) as he and a platoon of marines try to act as humanity’s last line of defense amidst a global alien invasion. Set in Los Angeles, the soldiers fight their way across the city’s famous landmarks as they try to help trapped citizens and figure out their next moves. Stylized like a war film with a lot of handheld camera actions, Battle: Los Angeles has some impressive action sequences and a stacked ensemble that features performers like Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Peña, and Ne-Yo.

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34. Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

When a nameless drifter (Nicolas Cage) suddenly finds himself with flat tires in a small town, he strikes a deal to spend the night cleaning a dingy children’s arcade called Willy’s Wonderland in exchange for free car maintenance. The night isn’t as simple as he thinks it will be though, as the animatronic robots that used to entertain the establishment’s guests come to life and attack the moody man. Loosely inspired by the video game franchise Five Nights at Freddie’s, Willy’s Wonderland is a silly, action-packed B-movie that lets Nicholas Cage shine in all the best ways.

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33. Battleship (2012)

After the commercial success of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, another Hasbro property was adapted for the big screen in Battleship. Directed by Peter Berg, Battleship follows the crew of the USS John Paul Jones as they deal with a sudden alien invasion near Hawaii. This action-packed film wasn’t successful enough to launch a new franchise, but its impressive ensemble-featuring A-listers like Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Alexander Skarsgård, and Liam Neeson- makes it worth checking out for anyone who likes watching some good old fashioned alien carnage on the big screen. 

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32. The Doorman (2020)

Hot off the success of appearing in John Wick 2 and becoming the CW’s Batwoman, actress Ruby Rose was more than ready for her own action flick. In The Doorman, Rose plays Ali Gorsky, a former U.S. marine who takes a job as a doorman at a luxurious New York City hotel. Unfortunately, things aren’t as relaxing as Ali hopes, as a group of mercenaries infiltrate the hotel and initiate a lockdown as they violently search for valuable pieces of art. It falls to Ali to take down the mercenaries in this explosive and twist-filled thriller.  

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The third film in The Mummy franchise, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, ditches the Egyptian desert and heads to China. After a now-grown Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) accidentally revives China’s Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) and his clay terracotta soldiers, it falls to him and his adventure-seeking family to stop the supernatural threat and save the world. The film isn’t nearly as entertaining as the first two in the franchise, but seeing Brendan Fraser return to the big screen as archeologist Richard O’Connell and square off with Jet Li feels like the best kind of fever dream.

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30. Rogue (2020)

A group of mercenaries is dispatched to East Africa to rescue the daughter of a politician from a terrorist cell in M.J. Bassett’s Rogue. Led by Samantha O’Hara (Megan Fox), the group has to maneuver dangerous terrain, outgun deadly individuals and even survive encounters with hungry lionesses to complete the mission and reach their extraction point. The film has a solid ensemble, but it’s really Megan Fox’s leading performance that gives the movie its sense of heart as Samantha makes tough decisions to try and get everyone home safe.

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Being a bicycle courier should be a relatively low-stress job, but things become incredibly dangerous for Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in David Koepp’s Premium Rush. After Wilee picks up a certain package, he is suddenly being chased by a crooked cop (Michael Shannon) who desperately wants the contents of the package for himself. Featuring some incredibly intense chase scenes, Premium Rush is an exciting, adrenaline-fueled ride that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats until all of the action is finally over. 

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28. Ip Man: Kung Fu Master (2019)

Starring Donnie To as the titular Ip Man- a real-life martial artist who later tutored Bruce Lee- Kung Fu Master focuses on the period in Ip’s life when he was a police captain shortly before the 1949 Communist Revolution in China. Framed for murder and forced out of the force, Ip has to discover the truth and keep himself safe in this entertaining and stunt-filled flick. For those who haven’t seen them, the core Ip Man movies, all of which are directed by Wilson Yip and star Donnie Yen, are some of the best action movies ever made! 

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27. Starship Troopers (1997)

Based on a short story by science-fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers follows Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dian) and his friends as they start out as recruits and grow into Mobile Infantry officers as humankind fights a seemingly never-ending galactic war against an alien species called Arachnids.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, who also helmed action classics RoboCop and Total Recall, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects and includes some fantastic action sequences. Unfortunately, the film was somewhat disliked when it was released because a lot of the satire about constant warfare and the impacts it has on people went over the general audience’s heads, but Starship Troopers is an entertaining film that still holds up as a cautionary tale today. 

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Starring Spider-Man and The Punisher, excuse me, I mean Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal, Pilgrimage follows a group of monks and their quiet defenders as they transport an item across Ireland before it is sent to the Pope. Set at the start of the 13th century, the group must traverse a dangerous, wartorn environment to complete their mission while also dealing with some of the spiritual challenges that come from how the group acts to ensure their survival. Directed by Brendan Muldowney, Pilgrimage is a beautifully shot film that dwells just as much on the bloody action as it does on the emotional journey of its core characters.

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25. Watchmen (2009)

No matter what you may think about the “Snyderverse” or Justice League, it’s clear that director Zack Snyder loves comic books. His star-studded adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen may diverge from the source material, but his love of the story and characters shines through with each moody shot. Watchmen is one of the most brutally violent comic book films to ever be released in theaters, but it is also one of the most thought-provoking and emotionally mature. Before the film came out, Watchmen was often called unadaptable, but Snyder’s adaptation is an entertaining and thought-provoking movie that deserves to be watched by hardcore fans and people who are unfamiliar with the original material alike. 

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In the third film in the Predator franchise, director Nimród Antal’s Predators finally moves the action away from Earth as a group of killers from across the globe is mysteriously transported to an alien game reserve on another planet. As the group comes to grips with one another and tries to develop a plan to survive the mysterious jungle they suddenly find themselves in, they realize they are being hunted by a deadly alien species that keeps adapting to every one of their moves. The film is full of intense action sequences, but the most enjoyable aspect of the film is likely its impressive ensemble, which features fan-favorite actors like Adrien Brody, Mahershala Ali, and Danny Trejo.

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23. The King’s Man (2022)

The third entry in the Matthew Vaughn helmed Kingsman franchise, The King’s Man serves as a prequel that lets audiences see the formation of the titular spy agency in the early 1900s. Starring Ralph Fiennes as Orlando Oxford, the film follows the aristocratic spy as he uncovers and tries to diffuse a global plot to lead the world into a deadly war (specifically World War 1). An entertaining film that is equal parts style and substance, The King’s Man has some fantastic action choreography and set design that makes each fight sequence uniquely eye-catching and exciting.

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22. Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu as the titular Angels, Charlie’s Angels is an entertaining and tongue-in-cheek revamp of the classic TV series. The Angels- private investigators who are sent on dangerous, globe-trotting missions where they have to rely on their brains and beauty to get things done- are sent on a mission to stop a communications magnate named Roger Corwin (Tim Curry) from stealing and deploying a dangerous voice recognition software. Director McG certainly deserves praise for how he infused the cheesy concept with a lot of explosive action and suspense in his directorial debut, but the success of the film really falls on the wonderful chemistry and entertaining performances of the film’s core trio.

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21. 10,000 B.C. (2008)

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the King of blockbuster filmmaking in the 1990s, 10,000 BC is a prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter named D’Leh (Steven Strait) as he embarks on a journey across unknown territory to help rescue his people, specifically his love Evolet (Camilla Belle), from a deadly group of raiders who attacked their village. Full of fantastical elements and battles against massive creatures, 10,000 BC is a gripping and unique adventure film that is full of action and intense challenges for its core characters. 

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20. Deadpool (2016)

In what may be his most on-brand role yet, Ryan Reynolds plays the deadly jokester Wade Wilson, also known as the Merc with a Mouth, in Deadpool. Directed by Tim Miller, the quip-filled film follows Wade Wilson as he tries to hunt down the people who experimented on him and gave him his mutant powers. The action looks great and is entertaining throughout the film, but the fight sequences are at their best when they also allow Deadpool to display his unique sense of humor and personality through his moves. For any X-Men fans out there, Deadpool is also worth checking out for the way it incorporates Colossus(Stefan Kapičić) and lesser-known team member Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) into the chaotic fray. 

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19. Man on Fire (2004)

There’s one rule in life everyone has to follow, and that’s don’t cross Denzel Washington.

In Tony Scott’s Man on Fire, Denzel Washington plays John Creasy, a burnt-out and alcoholic former CIA agent who suddenly gets a new lease on life when he is hired to be a bodyguard for a nine-year-old girl named Lupita Ramos (Dakota Fanning). Things quickly turn upside down after Lupita is kidnapped in Mexico City, causing John to do whatever he can to find the girl he’s charged with protecting. Full of intense action sequences and fantastic performances, Man on Fire is a fantastic film that showcases just how far someone will go to defend the people they love.

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18. Demolition Man (1993)

Set in a futuristic, utopian version of Los Angeles in 2032, Marco Brambilla’s Demolition Man follows what happens after Sergeant John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) and criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) thaw out of a CryoPrison and suddenly start impacting this new pacifist environment. In this future, all deviant behavior is eliminated from criminals’ minds, so when Simon starts causing mayhem, the police force at the time -who have no idea how to fight or use weapons- have to rely on Sgt. Spartan to restore order. The action and performances are great, but what really sets this movie apart from other sci-fi action flicks released around the same time is its satire about American consumer culture and its dedication to long-running gags throughout the movie.

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17. The International (2009)

Directed by Tom Tyker and written by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Eric Singer, The International is a political thriller that follows Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan’s Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) as they investigate a bank with notorious ties to organized crime and corrupt politicians around the world. As the two follow the money trail around the world in an attempt to prove they are funding terrorism, they quickly discover that they have put themselves and everyone they love at risk from dangerous people who are doing everything they can to stop the investigation.

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16. The Bank Job (2008)

Former criminal Terry Leather (Jason Statham) is ready for some excitement in his life when Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) presents him with a perfect plan to rob a bank as it supposedly undergoes some alarm maintenance. Directed by Roger Donaldson, The Bank Job is an entertaining and twist-filled ride that sees its cast of characters constantly question one another and put their particular sets of skills to work in order to get in and out of the bank without any issues. Despite the action-packed risks, Terry is willing to do everything he can for the score of a lifetime in this explosive thriller. 

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15. Green Zone (2010)

Based on journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Green Zone is an action thriller set in Baghdad during the aftermath of the 2003 occupation of Iraq by the United States. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the film follows Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his platoon as they travel across the city on what seems like a wild goose chase to discover weapons of mass destruction hidden in the town. As Miller becomes increasingly frustrated with the faulty intel that puts him and his soldiers at risk, he discovers an elaborate ruse that is intended to conceal the truth about the reality on the ground and keep the forces in the region for an increasingly unclear mission.

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14. Killing Them Softly (2012)

After a mob-protected gambling ring is robbed, enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called in to make matters right in Killing Them Softly. Directed and written by Andrew Dominik, the film follows Jackie as he works to uncover who’s behind the job as the ramifications of the missing money slowly impact the local criminal economy. An action-packed allegory for the 2007-08 financial crisis, the film has a stacked ensemble, featuring mobster legends like James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta, and features a uniquely slick style that sets it apart from so many other movies about organized crime.

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13. The Other Guys (2010)

Unfortunately, when a crisis hits the New York City area in this 2010 buddy-cop film, it’s not NYPD’s finest who show up to make things right, it’s The Other Guys. Detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are mild-mannered officers who spend more time behind the desk than on the field now, but things change when the two of them take on a minor case that unwinds into a major investigation full of intrigue. Co-written and directed by Adam McKay, the hilarious film features commentary on the 2008 housing crisis that set the director down a path of more satirically pointed films like The Big Short and Don’t Look Up. 

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12. Crank (2006)

After hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up and realizes that he has been injected with a deadly drug cocktail, he has to do everything he can to keep his adrenaline flowing and keep his heart from stopping. Written and directed by filmmaker duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Crank is a pulse-pounding and over-the-top action film that sees Chev get in multiple fights and cause mayhem all across Los Angeles as he does everything he can to survive and track down the individual who poisoned him in the first place. 

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11. Tombstone (1993)

Loosely based on historical events in the real town of Tombstone, Arizona, George P. Cosmatos’ Western flick feels like an all-out brawl in the best ways. The film follows notorious lawmen and brothers Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), Virgil Earp (Sam Elliott), Morgan Earp (Bill Paxton), and their friend Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) as they are pressured to come out of retirement to defend the town of Tombstone from an outlaw Cowboy gang. Tense and full of awesome stunt work, Tombstone has grown into a cult classic and is considered a modern Western classic full of fantastic performances.

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10. Looper (2012)

A detective story with a sci-fi twist, Looper was the mainstream moviegoing audience’s first introduction to future Star Wars director Rian Johnson. Written and directed by Johnson, Looper is set in a world where criminal organizations in the future have the capability to send individuals back in time to be whacked in the past where no evidence can come back to haunt them. Things become complicated for a young looper named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) when he is suddenly tasked with eliminating his older, more experienced self (played by Bruce Willis). Looper is an incredibly complex, entertaining movie that uses each new fight scene as an opportunity to say something about its dueling protagonist(s).

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9. Hanna (2011)

Directed by Joe Wright, Hanna is about a young girl named Hanna (Saorise Ronan) who is raised to be an assassin by her ex-CIA operative father Erik (Eric Bana). Throughout the course of the movie, it is revealed that Erik is hiding out from the CIA, specifically an agent named Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), because of a secret he knows and that he has been training Hanna as a way to help him finally escape from their watchful eye. A globe-trotting affair that sees Hanna on the run and trying to rendezvous with her father in Berlin, Hanna is incredibly entertaining and full of some fantastic fight sequences that push the young protagonist to the absolute limit. 

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8. Sweet Virginia (2017)

Directed by Jamie Dagg, Sweet Virginia is a dramatic and tense action film that pushes its characters to their emotional limits. As violence grips a small town in Alaska, former rodeo star turned small-town motel owner Sam Rossi (Jon Bernthal) bonds with Elwood (Christopher Abbott), his next-door neighbor at the motel, and suddenly finds himself entwined in a dangerous situation that seemingly impacts every person in the close-knit community. Full of twists and turns, Sweet Virginia is downright nerve-wracking during certain sequences and it features some incredible dialogue delivered by an all-star ensemble.

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7. The Nice Guys (2016)

A buddy-action comedy set in the 1970s written and directed by Shane Black? Sign me up.

Starring Ryan Gosling as a hapless private investigator named Holland March and Russell Crowe as a slap-happy enforcer named Jackson Healy, The Nice Guys follows the two of them as they are forced to work together to determine what happened to a missing woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley). The job isn’t as simple as it seems though, as seemingly all of Los Angeles’ shadiest individuals are also hunting for Amelia and making things difficult for the titular Nice Guys trying to piece everything together. Tense and hilarious in equal measures, The Nice Guys is one of those rare films that just delivers on every level and even leaves the audience wanting more.

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6. Monos

Lord of the Flies for the child soldier generation, Alejandro Lanes’ Monos follows eight teenage guerilla soldiers who are stationed on a remote mountaintop and tasked with monitoring a prisoner of war. Isolated from the rest of the world- and the war that ravages the unspecified Latin American country- the young soldiers become increasingly animalistic and cult-like as they cultivate intense social bonds with one another. A shockingly twisted film that shows just how brutal people can become, Monos is beautifully crafted and absolutely worth seeing for anyone who enjoys stories about what intense situations can do to people’s psychiatric states.

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5. Hostiles (2017)

Directed and written by Scott Cooper, Hostiles follows Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale), a veteran who fought in the American-Indian Wars, as he is tasked with escorting a Cheyenne Indian Chief named Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family back home to Montana from New Mexico. Set in 1892, Hostiles has a wonderful ensemble that elevates the film as each character deals with their own emotional journey. The film is beautifully shot and takes advantage of the wide-open spaces to create some breathtaking action sequences that perfectly show the scale and intensity of what battles during this time looked and felt like.

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4. The Princess Bride (1987)

Sure, The Princess Bride is a family drama that is suitable for all ages, but it is also a wonderfully paced adventure film that includes some fantastic action. Directed by Rob Reiner and written by William Goldman, the author of the novel the movie is based on, The Princess Bride follows Westley (Cary Elwes) as he embarks on an epic hero’s journey to reunite with and ultimately rescue his true love, Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright). Full of sword fights and Rodents of Unusual Size, The Princess Bride perfectly balances the film’s tense, action-packed sequences with moments of levity and wonderful lines from the stacked ensemble cast.

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3. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Co-starring John C. Reilley and Joaquin Phoenix as the titular Sisters Brothers, an aging bounty-hunting duo with a less than positive reputation, The Sisters Brothers is an intense and wonderfully acted film full of fantastic action sequences and quippy monologues. French director Jacques Audiard’s first English-language film, this Western tale follows the brothers as they travel across the American frontier and get on each other’s nerves as they search for an alchemist named Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed) whose newest invention has the potential to completely uproot the gold-rush. Things don’t go quite as they should though for the Sisters Brothers, and the duo is forced to use their minds and quick fingers to survive this twist-filled adventure.

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2. Akira

Set in the futuristic city of Neo-Tokyo, Akira is one of the most critically acclaimed and beautifully animated anime films of all time. Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who also wrote the original manga and screenplay for the film, Akira follows Shotaro Kaneda, the leader of a biker gang, as he tries to rescue his friend Tetsuo from a shadowy government organization that is known for performing parapsychological experiments on children. Things quickly go haywire as Tetsuo develops powerful abilities he can’t fully control and a number of different powerful forces in the city emerge to try and take advantage of the chaotic situation. Otomo chose to leave certain story elements and characters out of the anime, so anyone who watches the film and is left wanting more should check out the original manga to check out the full saga! 

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1. The Raid 2 (2014)

Directed by Gareth Evans, The Raid 2 is an Indonesian action film that heavily showcases the fighting style known as pencak silat. Picking up where the first film left off, The Raid 2 follows special agent Rama (Iko Uwais) as he goes undercover to investigate and expose the corrupt relationship between police officials and Jakarta’s criminal organizations. Unfortunately, Hulu doesn’t have The Raid for people who want to see the franchise’s first film but trust me when I say that The Raid 2 is one of the most intense, tightly choreographed action films that has ever been released and it can absolutely be enjoyed without having seen the first one. 

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Culture Movies/TV

The 35 Best Hulu Originals to Stream Right Now

The streaming wars are officially upon us and Hulu is constantly vying for people’s attention in this packed landscape. As HBO Max’s original movies and Disney+’s cinematic-universe adjacent television programs dominate the media, Hulu has slowly become one of the best streaming platforms available. Not only does it have a lot of great network and cable programs available for viewers to watch at any time, but it has a wide array of original series that appeal to different audiences.

Whether you want to watch an animated comedy or a live-action drama that will leave you shocked as the credits roll, Hulu has you covered. Throughout the streamer’s history, the platform has shifted partial ownership a few times and now lands primarily under Disney’s purview as it continually puts out great content and licenses new movies each month. Next time you’re looking for a great series, consider picking from one of these 35 best Hulu originals.

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1. ‘The Dropout’

If anyone is deserving of an Emmy nomination come September, it’s Amanda Seyfried, who plays founder and former CEO of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, in The Dropout, which just concluded its eight-episode run. Seyfried fully immerses herself in the role of Holmes, whom we track from her time just before Stanford to the downfall of herself and her company. Her claim to fame was being able to run over 70 medical tests with only a drop of blood on her trademark machines, though it turned out that it never actually worked. Despite that, she was able to make over a billion dollars and get some of the most prominent people in the United States to donate their money and become board members.

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2. ‘Only Murders in the Building’

Only Murders in the Building was an instant hit when it first aired in 2021, featuring the unlikely pairing and friendship between three neighbors on the Upper West Side, portrayed by Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short. When a suicide occurs in their building, the three band together over their love of true crime podcasts to prove that the “suicide” was actually a murder.

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3. ‘Dopesick’

Starring Michael Keaton, Dopesick is a deep look into the nefarious side of the pharmaceutical industry, focusing on opioid addiction and how Purdue Pharma played a role in getting millions of Americans addicted to their drugs. Based on the non-fiction book by Danny Strong titled Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, Keaton plays Dr. Samuel Finnix, who prescribed OxyContin to his patients and who eventually became addicted himself.

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4. ‘The Act’

Telling the infamous story of Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) and Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King), The Act quickly received critical acclaim for both the way its plot was uncovered to the sheer acting. Based on the true story of the toxic mother-daughter duo, the series is about how Dee Dee abused her daughter by claiming she had illnesses which her actually fake. Arquette ended up taking home the Emmy for her portrayal of Dee Dee.

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5. ‘Pam and Tommy’

Pam and Tommy tells the complex story of, well, Pam and Tommy—Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee—as their infamous sex tape is released to the public without their knowledge or consent. Lily James and Sebastian Stan star as the leading roles; honestly, James is practically unrecognizable in her portrayal of Anderson. Not only is the series about the aftermath of the tape, but it also focuses a great deal on how exactly the tape was found in the first place.

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6. ‘Life and Beth’

Having just been renewed for a second season, Life & Beth has really hit the ground running. It features Amy Schumer as Beth, who’s a bit lost in her life and is trying to figure out if she should start a new life for herself or stay in the same spot. Through a strange series of events, she eventually ends up finding solace at a farm, but more so in John, played by Michael Cera.

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7. ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’

Based on Liane Moriarty’s book of the same name, Nine Perfect Strangers features a very cult-like Nicole Kidman, who hosts a group of strangers at a wellness resort in California. However, while there, the guests begin to realize that the retreat isn’t exactly what they thought it would be, which leads to them learning a little too much about each other.

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8. ‘The Girl From Plainville’

There’s a fair chance that you saw this story on the news when it first broke, but The Girl From Plainville is a live version of the situation, focusing on Michelle Carter, portrayed by Elle Fanning. A much different vibe than her other Hulu original, The Great, this series is pretty dark, as it deals with a texting-suicide case that left her (mostly online) boyfriend, Conrad Roy, dead. The series follows the time before his death as well as the trial that followed it, with Colton Ryan and Chloë Sevigny starring in supporting roles as Conrad and Lynn Roy, respectively.

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9. ‘McCartney 3, 2, 1’

While not a fictional show, McCartney 3, 2, 1 is definitely worthy of a mention, as it’s a docuseries that hones in on the process of some of Paul McCartney’s hugest hits. The series also stars Rick Rubin, who stands alongside McCartney and goes through each song with him.

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10. ‘Difficult People’

Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner are at the forefront of Difficult People, which is all about aspiring comedians and the struggles they face both on and off the stage. The series was executive produced by Amy Poehler and ran for three seasons, featuring a plethora of guest appearances by people including Jessica Walter, Seth Meyers, Amy Sedaris, a few Real Housewives of New York City, and Debbie Harry.

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11. ‘The Awesomes’

Before superhero shows were streaming on every platform, Hulu gave audiences the satirical animated series The Awesomes. Lasting three seasons, The Awesomes follows a group of superheroes who step up to take over an iconic superhero team after the original members dissolve the group. Co-created by Seth Meyers, who also lends his voice to the program, The Awesomes is a silly take on caped crusaders that features hilarious voice actors like Kenan Thompson and Rashida Jones.

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12. ‘Into the Dark’

A horror anthology series from Blumhouse Television, Into the Dark, is a creepy good time with different episodes that can appeal to various types of horror fans. Each episode lasts anywhere from 80-90 minutes, meaning viewers actually get time to see complex stories unfold rather than being rushed through a series of jump scares that fill a 45-minute runtime. Each episode stars a different cast and has a different creative team guiding things forward, enabling Into the Dark to display different tones and artistic styles without ever feeling forced. 

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13. ‘Casual’

Long before the pandemic forced families to move back in with one another, Zander Lehmann’s Casual showed audiences what it would be like to force a newly divorced woman named Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) to move in with Valerie’s bachelor brother Alex (Tommy Dewey). The show is both funny and heartwarming as each member of the family has to modify their behavior around each other and figure out exactly what they want from this new chapter in their lives.

Watch on Hulu
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14. ‘Normal People’

A collaboration with BBC Studios, Normal People follows Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), two people from the same small Irish town, as they dip back in and out of each other’s love lives in their young adult years. Based on Sally Rooney’s novel of the same name, the author is actually one of the writers on the show- meaning any fans of the book should be pleased with this tender adaptation. 

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15. ‘The Path’

Hot off the heels of Breaking Bad’s finale, Aaron Paul’s starring role in The Path was enough to make people interested in the series when it first debuted in 2016. Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) and his family are all members of the Meyerist Movement, a philosophical group that is best described as a cult, and after returning from a trip abroad Eddie learns a secret that shatters his trust in the organization and the people who built it up. An action-packed drama, The Path does a phenomenal job at slowly building tension until everything snaps.

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16. ‘Crossing Swords’

Crossing Swords animation may look a bit childish, but its comedic sensibilities are anything but. A stop-motion animation series set in medieval times, Crossing Swords follows Patrick (Nicholas Hoult), a peasant who suddenly finds himself thrust into the royal lifestyle when he becomes a squire for King Merriman (Luke Evans). His excitement and honor slowly subside though as he realizes the people who lead the nation aren’t the noble individuals he thought they were, they’re just a bunch of horny crooks.

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17. ‘Runaways’

Being a teenager is hard, but it’s even harder when your parents run a criminal organization called Pride. Based on the Marvel comic of the same name, Runaways follows a group of six teenagers with special abilities who all realize that their parents have a dark and dangerous secret. Dramatic and entertaining, the show has a great ensemble and is set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe- meaning it is a must-watch for any Marvel completionists out there.

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18. ‘Woke’

A comic book-adjacent series, Keith Knight and Marshall Todd’s Woke follows comic creator Keef Knight (Lamorne Morris) as he suddenly finds himself able to see and hear inanimate objects after an aggressive, racially charged interaction with a police officer. This unique mix of live-action and animation is charming and silly, but it doesn’t shy away from larger political issues and the power of any form of art to speak to society’s woes.

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19. ‘Animaniacs’

A remake of the classic animated series, Animaniacs is a hilarious series that sees the iconic mice return in the modern-day. Starring the Warner siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot—who are all voiced by their original voice actors—Animaniacs drops the chaos-spreading kids into crazy situations like breaking into the NSA or accidentally starting the French Revolution. To make things even better, each episode of the series also features a new Pinky and the Brain short that also features the original voice actors.

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20. ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’

Co-created by Wu-Tang Clan member RZA and screenwriter Alex Tse, Wu-Tang: An American Saga depicts a fictionalized version of the formation of the iconic rap group. Set in the early 90s, when the band was first coming up, the band follows how each member of the crew came together as a way to escape the drug epidemic sweeping the streets at the time. The show has been renewed for a second season and recently cast Uyoata Udi to play Inspectah Deck as a series regular.

Watch on Hulu
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21. ‘The Mindy Project’

Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project started on Fox, but it ended its six-season run as a Hulu original. Starring Kaling as Mindy Lahiri, a gynecologist who is trying to balance her stressful professional life and personal life as she runs her own, the show is partially based on the life experiences of Kaling’s own medical professional mother. Set in New York City, The Mindy Project is a quirky, romantic comedy full of great characters and amazing comedic performances.

Watch on Hulu
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22. ‘Devs’

Devs was originally envisioned as an FX original, but it ended up being one of the first FX on Hulu series released directly on the streaming platform. Written and directed by Ex Machina and Annihilation helmer Alex Garland, Devs follows Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), a software engineer at the mysterious Amaya firm, as she tries to uncover what happened to her boyfriend and why things aren’t exactly as they seem at the quantum computing firm. Nick Offerman’s fantastic performance as Amaya’s oddly intense CEO Forest, Devs is a thought-provoking series that will grip viewers throughout its 8 episodes.

Watch on Hulu
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23. ‘Dollface’

After being dumped by a longtime boyfriend, Jules (Kat Dennings) suddenly has to adjust to life alone after an extremely codependent relationship. A comedic show that dips into some heavy visual metaphors as Jules’ imagination takes hold of her, Dollface follows her attempts at rekindling old, abandoned friendships as she continues her career as a web designer at a wellness company.

Watch on Hulu
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24. ‘Letterkenny’

Like The Mindy Project, Letterkenny started with another network but has since become a Hulu original series. A Canadian sitcom set in a small, rural Canadian town, the show focuses on brother-and-sister Wayne (Jared Keeso) and Katy (Michelle Mylett) as they go about their lives and Wayne, in particular, defends his tough-guy reputation. The hilarious and award-winning show follows the siblings and their fellow community members as they deal with their problems and get into local shenanigans to pass the time.

Watch on Hulu
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25. ‘11.22.63’

A time-traveling adventure based on a novel by Stephen King, 11.22.63 is historical fiction at its finest. English teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) is given an opportunity to go back in time through a portal to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but things suddenly become increasingly complicated when Jake becomes increasingly enamored by the life he sets up for himself in the past. As he tries to collect intel leading up to the assassination of the President, Jake establishes a new life for himself and slowly becomes wrapped in a series of time crises that threaten to ruin everything.

Watch on Hulu
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26. ‘Solar Opposites’

If Rick and Morty is your cup of tea, then co-creator Justin Roiland’s Hulu original Solar Opposites, which follows a family of aliens who become refugees in the United States, should be on your radar. Not only does Roiland lend a number of voices to the series, but his comedic sensibilities are felt in every scene of this satirical, sci-fi romp. The second season debuted on the platform in March and was just renewed for a third.

Watch on Hulu
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27. ‘Catch-22’

A mini-series based on Joseph Heller’s book of the same name, Catch-22 is a satirical story that follows Captain John Yossarian (Christopher Abbott) and his desperate attempts to stay alive while stationed in the Mediterranean during World War II. Unfortunately for Yossarian, he is stuck in a situational loop that sees him continuously flying dangerous combat missions despite his desire to be relieved of duty. The six-episode series has a fantastic ensemble, including George Clooney, and even features two episodes directed by Clooney himself.

Watch on Hulu
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28. ‘Shrill’

Starring Saturday Night Live performer Aidy Bryant as Annie Easton, Shrill is a hilarious series about self-love in a world always trying to change people. Annie is an overweight woman who wants to change certain things about her life, but she is quite happy with her weight. While working as a journalist, Annie tries to find some semblance of work-life balance as she dates and tries to assist her sick parents. An incredibly positive program, Shrill reminds viewers that everyone is unique and worthy of appreciation and love.

Watch on Hulu
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29. ‘High Fidelity’

A twist on Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, High Fidelity follows record store owner Robyn Brooks (Zoë Kravitz) as she attempts to reconnect with individuals who are on her Top 5 Most Memorable Heartbreaks list. A dramatic and funny show about romance and why certain people connect, the show has a unique sensibility and even breaks the fourth wall at moments to allow Robyn to fully express herself. The series also has a unique connection to the film adaptation as Kravitz is actually the daughter of Lisa Bonet, who had a role in the 2000 movie as someone on Rob Brook’s heartbreak list.

Watch on Hulu
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30. ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

Based on Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name, Little Fires Everywhere is a star-studded mini-series and slow-burning mystery that follows the seemingly picture-perfect Richardsons family, led by journalist and mother of four Elena (Reese Witherspoon), and the way their lives are turned upside down by the introduction of Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) and her daughter into their community. A complex and scarring story that explores mother-daughter relationships and how differing socioeconomic backgrounds impact people and their motivations, Little Fires Everywhere is a must-watch for all drama lovers.

Watch on Hulu
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31. ‘Pen15’

Middle school is always awkward, but the one depicted in Pen15 is something else entirely. Co-created by Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who also star in the series as middle school versions of themselves among an ensemble of actual children, Pen15 is a hilarious exploration of the hormones and awkward interactions that define middle school experiences. If you are happy to be far-removed from school-yard crushes and choir practices but remember how silly those days can be, then this is the show for you.

Watch on Hulu
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32. ‘Castle Rock’

An anthology series that features numerous characters and locations from Stephen King’s countless novels, Castle Rock is a psychological horror show that is extremely creepy and moody. Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, the show is both extremely intimate and character-driven while also being larger-than-life and mythic-feeling.  Executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Castle Rock won a Writers Guild of America award for Best Original Long Form series in 2019.

Watch on Hulu
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33. ‘Ramy’

Created by and starring Ramy Youssef, Ramy is a dramedy that follows Ramy Hassan (Youssef), a millennial, first-generation Egyptian-American, as he tries to live a modern life while also pleasing his Muslim family. With a fantastic ensemble that features Mahershala Ali in the second season, the show is both touching and overwhelmingly funny as Ramy tries to figure out the best way to live his life. The A24 co-production has won a Peabody Award and landed Youssef a Golden Globe for his acting, and already been renewed for a third season.

Watch on Hulu
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34. ‘The Great’

A historical fiction that takes great liberties with its real-life cast and events, The Great follows Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) before she becomes Empress of Russia. Stuck married to the foolish and cruel Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult), Catherine plots a coup and tries to assert her own independence as she plots out a better future for Russia. Created by Tony McNamara, the screenwriter behind the Oscar-winning The Favourite, the dramatic and hilarious series has been nominated for numerous awards and was renewed for a second season.

Watch on Hulu
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35. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Hulu’s signature original title is definitely Bruce Miller’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian story that follows the disintegration and transformation of American society after a second Civil War and fertility crisis. In this new totalitarian society, fertile women are deemed Handmaids, child-bearing slaves who serve the new patriarchal rulers. Elisabeth Moss leads this packed ensemble as June Osborne, a woman who is forced to become a Handmaid as she tries to rescue her daughter from this corrupt regime.

Watch on Hulu
Culture Movies/TV

Hulu’s ‘The Great’ Is Anti-Historical Perfection

If someone tells you that they are watching a show or movie with a “period setting,” your natural inclination might be to think of big gaudy Victorian mansions or palaces and over-the-top costumes. Perhaps they are based on history, maybe they are original concepts, but their ethos is tied to the setting. This idea works for some viewers but also turns a lot off if they can’t buy into it.

Whether you fall into either category, The Great, which just dropped its second season on Hulu, is the next great (no pun intended) show you should be watching. It’s a comedy-drama in a period setting and is a show made for people who hate those types of projects, as well as people who love them.

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Created by Tony McNamara, who wrote the Academy Award-winning film The FavouriteThe Great follows Catherine the Great, the longest-reigning Empress of Russia and one of the great leaders in European history, as she seeks to overthrow her husband Peter and take the throne herself.

Played brilliantly by Elle Fanning, Catherine begins the series as a typical noblewoman of the era, sent to marry a stranger in a faraway land in order to secure international cooperation between Prussia (part of modern-day Germany) and Russia.

Upon arriving, she meets Peter, played by Nicholas Hoult, and is devastated to learn that not only is he an incompetent Emperor, he is also incredibly dangerous with little regard for actually governing the country. Think Joffrey Baratheon but less sadistic and much more funny and charming.

It is then that Catherine decides to usurp the throne in an attempt to save Russia.


The show describes itself as “an occasionally true story” and inherently “anti-historical,” meaning that while some of the characters are based on real-life people, they likely weren’t very similar to their on-screen counterparts.

For example, while it’s true that Catherine was married to Peter and did overthrow him, he died almost immediately after the coup and, while it’s never been confirmed, was almost certainly assassinated.

Much like McNamara’s The Favourite, what makes The Great special is that it, at almost no point, tries to pass itself off as a true story. It flies in the face of that and, while it’s a gamble, that creative decision works incredibly well.

Allowing Nicholas Hoult’s Peter to survive the overthrow and continue to be a character on the show is perhaps the wisest decision because he is so damn good in the role. He and Elle Fanning both steal every single scene they are in, whether they’re on-screen together or not.

Its almost strict adherence to this policy of being anti-historical is how and why the show flourishes. 

In real life, Catherine was responsible for ushering in Russia’s golden age and helped make it one of the great powers of Europe. While the show has not caught up to that just yet (and it may not, as season 3 has not been confirmed), it’s clear that the narrative is headed in that direction.

In the same vein as 2017’s brilliant dark comedy The Death of Stalin, the characters, while supposed to be Russian, do not attempt accents or even pass themselves off as Russians. If they were making a strictly historical show with a dash of creative license, this might be an issue, but it isn’t here.

Why? Well, the show isn’t trying to be, and in many ways, wants to make sure you know that.


What really helps set The Great apart from other shows like it are the performances by its leads.

Given that she speaks with an English accent in the show, it can be hard to remember that Elle Fanning is actually an American. It sounds so natural, and as it’s no secret that a bad accent can instantly take the viewer out of a scene, finding someone who can put one on so well helps the show immensely.

The development of Catherine from a starry-eyed romantic who longs to win the approval of her husband to someone seeking the throne is not just well drawn out; it’s believable. She wants to take the country over not out of a desire for power but to help people.

Game of Thrones this show is not.

Fanning has said that not only does she love playing Catherine, but she also misses her when they’re no longer filming. In an interview with Collider, she said, “I miss Catherine, I really do. I’ve never had that with a character. Normally, I’m like, ‘That’s good. That’s done. Fine. That was a good experience.’ But I genuinely actually do miss Catherine.”

It’s this sort of thing that makes her such a strong character and one that you want to root for, even when she stumbles or you may disagree with something she chooses to do.


Peter’s growth as a character is in lockstep with Catherine. He spends much of the first season aloof, cruel, and has no sense of governing capability or intelligence. Basically, anything that makes a good ruler he is not.

However, by season two, Peter, upon realizing that he does, in fact, love Catherine, begins an attempt to change himself. While he does fall back on his old ways—including one particular foible toward the end of the season that is perhaps his worst of all—it’s clear that Peter wants to become a better person.

Hoult’s performance is nothing short of spectacular as he can seemingly flip a switch between “old Peter” and “new Peter” almost instantly. It often feels like he’s playing two different characters, which is no easy task.

He also plays Peter’s body double in season 2, a character of his own, so he is almost playing three different people throughout.


The Great is over the top in almost every way; whether it be its violence, language, sex scenes (and talk of sex for that matter), and while that perfect storm of excess can be over the top, it never makes for an annoying watch.

This week the show was nominated for three Golden Globes: Best Comedy Series and acting nominations for Fanning and Hoult. Given that this season has been even more well-received than the first, it’s clear that they’ll be getting plenty more nominations and awards.

So, if you’re looking for that next show to watch, do yourself a favor and check this one out.


Culture Movies/TV

The 25 Best Comedies on Hulu

With so many streaming services to pick from, we have nearly endless possibilities on what we can watch and where we can get our laughs.  Hulu, one of the OGs in the streaming game, is a top contender, with rom-coms, gross out humor, animated family fun, and classic films that might be older than we are. 

If you’re looking to keep things light, here are 25 movies you can stream tonight.

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1. ‘Big Daddy’

I’m not sure if my boyfriend has ever watched Big Daddy, so my arguments of, “But I wipe my own ass! I wipe my own ass!” largely go ignored in our apartment.  This adorable comedy stars Adam Sandler as a manchild who adopts a 5-year-old kid (check out a very young Dylan and Cole Sprouse) in order to prove to his ex-girlfriend that he’s responsible and an adult who…makes…good..decisions?  Adam Sandler has always come across as super unlikeable to me, but he’s pretty funny and sweet in this one, and you get to see Leslie Mann, Rob Schneider, Jon Stewert, and Steve Buscemi in their younger days. 

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2. ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’

Some of you may remember the 1978 book on which this movie is based; I personally was obsessed when I discovered it nearly two decades later.  Something about food falling from the sky seemed so magical to me and now, even as a grown-up, I’m enthralled.  We watch our hero, Flint, a young and idealistic inventor, try to save his hometown, located on an island who credit their main source of revenue as sardines…so the economy isn’t doing that great. 

After he creates a machine that will transform water into food, a series of missteps cause the machine to short circuit and the cheeseburgers that once rained down from the sky get bigger…and start falling faster…and in the forms of earthquakes and tornados. This is a great film if you’re feeling nostalgic, or even if you want to see some gorgeous and whimsical animation.

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3. ‘Ted’

So if you’re not too familiar with ‘Ted’, the premise sounds like a hard sell: when an 8-year-old little boy makes a wish on a shooting star for his best friend, a teddy bear, to come to life, it does…and twenty-something years later, they’re still best friends, living it up in Boston.  Come for Mark Wahlberg, who is honestly charismatic in everything he does (this being no exception), stay for the Boston accents.  Or for the cursing, drinking, partying teddy bear.  Or Mila Kunis. 

If you need to figure out whether or not you’ll like this movie, let me also add that this is Seth McFarlane’s directorial debut.  Do with that what you may.

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4 ‘50 First Dates’

I know that putting multiple Adam Sandler movies on this list may be a bit much, but the man knows how to make hits.  Silly premises, sure, but hits (Is Mr. Deeds on Hulu? Remind me to check.) In 50 First Dates, Sandler plays a womanizer (doesn’t he always?!) who meets Lucy; an art teacher played to perfection by Drew Barrymore, who suffers from anterograde amnesia after an accident so he sets out to win her heart every single day.  It even won an MTV Award for Best On-Screen Team…you know, when MTV Awards were big deals.

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5. ‘27 Dresses’

Remember the time when you couldn’t see a trailer for a rom-com without seeing the toothy grin of Katherine Heigl?  Take a trip back to 2008 where Heigl was still in Hollywood’s good graces, as she stars as an overworked, people-pleasing woman who is planning the wedding of her boss, who she is secretly in love with, and her sister (played by Malin Ackerman.) At the same time, she is unknowingly the subject of an article about “always being the bridesmaid, never the bride.”  

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6. ‘Deadpool’

Most people always describe ‘Deadpool’ as a ‘superhero movie but comedy!” as if the other films in the MCU aren’t hilarious, but few play the charismatic asshole type quite as well as Ryan Reynolds. Playing up the ‘anti-hero’ trope, the team behind this movie really double-downed on an unconventional marketing strategy: they released billboards with just a few emojis, fake movie posters, a Tinder profile for the character, and odd TV spots. Somehow it all worked because the $58M budget-film earned almost $800M.

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7. ‘The Campaign’

If you’ve been thinking, “You know, one thing my life has been missing is more politics,” then here you go; you’re welcome. The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two men competing for a seat in Congress. Ferrell plays Cam Brady, fifth term incumbent, who has an affair with someone on his campaign and leaves a very explicit voicemail on a family’s machine.  Galifianakis plays his opponent, a pure-hearted town tourism director who wants to better the city he loves but is backed by two corrupt businessmen, the Motch brothers. A bit heavy-handed, yes, but tons of fun. 

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8. ‘Get Smart’

Steve Carrell is truly America’s Sweetheart and if you don’t believe me, seeing him star as a very smart but often overlooked analyst working for a top secret intelligence agency called CONTROL might change your mind.  When headquarters are attacked, taking out all of the top agents, there’s no choice but to finally make Carrell a field agent, with his new partner, Anne Hathaway.  Well, no, not Anne Hathaway herself but Agent 99, played by Anne Hathaway. You get it. 

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9. ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’

The stressful thing about movies that involve going back in time is that there’s always the question of “Will they mess something up that results in someone not being born?!” We all know they’ll figure it out, but it still has me stressed. When three sad-sack friends reconnect when one of them goes to the hospital, they all take a trip to the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort (along with a nerdy nephew, which makes sense in the movie.)  A malfunctioning hot tub takes them back to 1986, where the guys try to not change anything by (reluctantly) making the same mistakes. 

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10. ‘How High’

Study high, take the test high, get high scores…right?  The logic might not check out, but it is the premise in this film starring Redman and Method Man as two students who prefer to smoke more than they prefer to do…really, anything.  Our heroes are visited by the ghost of their dead friend (after they smoke his ashes) who helps them pass their exams and get them scholarships into Harvard University.   

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11. ‘Down to Earth’

Chris Rock stars as a struggling comedian who dreams of making it big, or at the very least, hopes to not get booed off the stage. Just when things start looking up, he gets hit by a semi-truck, goes up to Heaven, and finds that his guardian angel, Keyes, has made a mistake.  In an effort to fix things, he gives him another body — but this time, it’s of a fat, rich, middle-aged white man…which isn’t nearly as effective when telling jokes. 

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12. ‘Shrek’

I’m hard-pressed to believe you already aren’t familiar with Shrek; the franchise is huge with 4 stand-alone movies, a spin-off movie, a television series, a Broadway musical, etc. On the off chance you don’t:: Shrek is a grumpy ogre who just wants to be left alone. He also wants all these fairytale characters who just showed up at his swamp to go away.  In an effort to get his home back, he agrees to go on a quest to rescue a princess for the evil, tiny Lord of the land. 

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13. ‘Date Night’

Is there anything more glorious than comedy mainstays pairing up together? Steve Carell and my-best-friend-in-my-head, Tina Fey, play a married couple with children who are desperate to shake up their routine life after they find out their best couple friend (Kristen Wiig! Mark Ruffalo!) are divorcing. While out on their date night, they steal a table from a couple who don’t show up. What’s the worst that can happen, right? RIGHT?!  How about two mobsters showing up, demanding to get back a flash drive that they believe the couple stole from their boss? Catch the great cameos from Mila Kunis, James Franco, Mark Wahlberg and Taraji P. Henson. 

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14. ‘Heathers’

Before there was Mean Girls, there was Heathers, a movie about a clique of four popular girls (with 3 of them being named Heather) who rule the school until a mysterious string of murders starts taking them out one by one.  This dark comedy starring a very young Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, and Christan Slater, was originally written to contrast the string of John Hughes movies that were incredibly popular at the time (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink…you get it) and ended up a cult classic. 

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15. ‘National Lampoon’s Van Wilder’

Ryan Reynolds plays a 7th year senior who never wants to graduate college – he likes the drinking, the partying, the girls.  When his father decides to no longer pick up the check for his education, he decides to earn money by creating a business, Topless Tutors. Yup, that’s the kind of movie this is.  Loved by most but hated by critics (18% on Rotten Tomatoes but with a 73% audience score), if you’re a fan of gross-out humor, this is a great pick. 

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16. ‘Hotel Transylvania’

A classic boy-meets-girl-boy-then-meets-girl’s-father-who-will-stop-at-nothing-to-get-rid-of-boy story, if the girl was Dracula’s daughter and everyone was animated.  Following so far?  Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, runs a ritzy resort for monsters. While planning his daughter’s 118th birthday, a human named Johnny (voiced by Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg, respectively) stumbles into the hotel and ‘zings!’ with his daughter, Mavis. (Watch the movie. It’ll explain it better.) Dracula then enlists his monster friends to help get rid of Johnny and hilarity ensues.  Seriously a great movie. 

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17. ‘Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle’

Is it even a list of comedy movies if you don’t have a stoner movie?  Kal Penn and John Cho play buddies who get high and find themselves needing to go to White Castle after seeing a commercial on TV. Pretty normal stuff up until this point.  It’s everything that happens after (squaring off with a raccoon, performing emergency surgery, Neil Patrick Harris being high on ecstasy, and stealing their car) that makes the journey to White Castle pretty unforgettable. 

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18. ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’

Zack and Miri are two friends and roommates who work in dead-end jobs and find themselves dangerously in debt. After their water and electricity get turned off due to unpaid utility bills, they decide to film a pornographic film to make some quick money and solve their problems. Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen, who play the title characters, are charismatic and extremely likable, which has you rooting for their sex to turn into something more the entire time. 

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19. ‘What About Bob?’

Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a good guy with a lot of neurotic tics and endless phobias that exhausts therapist after therapist.  He eventually gets referred to Dr. Leo Marvin, a successful yet cocky psychotherapist who treats him right before he goes on a month-long vacation with his family.  Bob, not feeling satisfied, tracks down his location and slowly drives his shrink insane. 

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20. ‘The Princess Bride’

Currently, on multiple Best Comedy Movie lists (American FIlm Institute, Bravo, etc), The Princess Bride became a cult classic even though it only garnered modest success at the box office when released in 1987. The movie starts with a grandfather reading a nighttime story to his sick grandson, as the film enacts the story he’s reading. With a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating, this movie is so beloved that fans have stopped any possible remake, sequel, TV series, or musical from being created. 

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21. ‘You’ve Got Mail’

The rom-com of all rom-coms, the universally loved Tom Hanks and America’s Former Sweetheart Meg Ryan (sorry, Meg, we know what you did) play two bookshop owners, one who runs a huge chain and the other a small independent store.  Unbeknownst to each other, they enter an online friendship while rivals in real life. This is one of those movies that entice, “What?! You haven’t watched You’ve Got Mail?! How is that possible?” so do yourself a favor and make this a priority. 

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22. ‘What Men Want’

Hailed a loose remake of the 2000 movie starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, What Women Want, this film stars Taraji P. Henson as a woman who is able to hear men’s thoughts after drinking a potion. Critics loved Henson’s performance, and what makes this movie fun is all the star appearances like Mark Cuban, Shaquille O’Neal, Lisa Leslie, and Pete Davidson, just to name a few. 

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23. ‘Palm Springs’

Groundhog Day movies seem to really be having a moment right now, and Palm Springs is no exception.  Two guests at a resort, played by the goofy and charming Andy Samberg and will-forever-be-known-as-The-Mother Cristin Milioti, are forced to live the same day over and over at a Palm Spring wedding. Originally premiering at Sundance, Neon and Hulu paid $17.5M for distribution rights, breaking the previous record of the highest sale of a movie from Sundance.

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24. ‘Booksmart’

Often called “Superbad but with girls”, the initial premise might seem familiar: two friends are finishing high school realizing that they might have spent too much time on academia and not enough on having fun and being young.  In an effort to course-correct, they are determined to make up for the lost time in one crazy night full of shenanigans. Who doesn’t love a movie with shenanigans?!  Directed by Olivia Wilde, Booksmart was critically acclaimed and widely praised for being funny, smart, and fresh. 

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25. ‘You Don’t Mess With the Zohan’

Just as a warning, I’m pretty sure this movie is racist and deeply offensive but it made me laugh. But also, I’m half Middle Eastern so different strokes.

Adam Sandler plays Zohan, an Israeli soldier of incredible talent and skill who dreams of one day being a hairstylist in New York City.  After he fakes his own death, he travels to NYC and gets a job at a hair salon.  What makes this movie slightly less racist (ever so slightly) is that it’s partly based on the story of Nezi Arbib, a real Israeli soldier who moved to California and opened a salon!

Culture Movies/TV

21 Best Anime Shows and Movies on Hulu You Need To Watch

The amount of anime currently available on the Internet is absolutely staggering, and sorting the cheaply made tripe out from the avant-garde gold is a gargantuan task. Netflix has curated a pretty impressive selection of original and recycled content, whereas Crunchyroll’s almost endless library is instantly overwhelming. Hulu’s selections are somewhere in between the two: there are definitely hidden treasures hidden amongst the trash.

Fear not young weebs, we’ve got you covered: here’s our (unranked!) selection of the 21 best anime shows and movies currently available on Hulu —ranging from shonen classics to classic magic girls to artsy explorations of Japanese identity.

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21. ‘Ninja Scroll’

Ninja Scroll has come to represent the Golden Age of 90s anime: it combined adult eroticis, ultra-violence, and grotesquery for a unique artistic experience equal parts nauseating and titillating. It’s easy to see director Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s influence on a handful of more contemporary animation, but almost no artist since has been able to create something as darkly compelling as this gem from 1993.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/GDLv1x2bi4I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed20. 'Afro Samurai: Resurrection'</code>
20. ‘Afro Samurai: Resurrection’

A continuation of the miniseries of the same name that requires no foreknowledge of what came before it, Afro Samurai is a humorous and bloody hodgepodge of cyberpunk, samurai movies, and shonen anime archetypes. Voice acting from Lucy Lui and Samuel L. Jackson lends cultural legitimacy to what might otherwise be cynically dismissed as silliness. It’s certainly more style than substance — but in a fun way.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/nA8KmHC2Z-g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed19. 'Akira'</code>
19. ‘Akira’

Often considered the greatest animated movie ever made, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo is a true triumph of the art form as much as it is a processing of national trauma. Warnings of another nuclear nightmare and the fear of an impending youth revolt seem even more prescient nowadays despite the movie being decades old — and the surreal, sci-fi imagery remains both powerful and deeply disturbing. It might not be the easiest movie to digest on a first watch-through, but the film will leave an impact nonetheless.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/4vPeTSRd580" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed18. 'Grave of the Fireflies'</code>
18. ‘Grave of the Fireflies’

Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki is better known for his colorful steampunk fantasy worlds than for emotionally gut-wrenching realism, but Grave obviously falls in the latter category. It’s hard to imagine the cultural devastation wreaked by nuclear warfare, but this frightening story of survival highlights the real human toll of America’s military might. Keep a box of tissues nearby while watching: only the most heartless can make it through this movie without shedding a tear.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/sCGWxQuSoDU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed17. 'Akame ga Kill!'</code>
17. ‘Akame ga Kill!’

The category is guilty pleasure! There’s almost nothing artistically redeemable about Akame Ga Kill!: the art style is amateurish, the storyline borders on nonsense, the character design is overtly misogynistic — but the show’s a lot of fun if you love all the cliches of anime action. The short series is comparable to Kill La Kill — it’s way worse quality, but it’s also strangely addictive. Some things are just so bad, they’re actually good. 

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/kgNkGohA20k" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed16. 'Assassination Classroom'</code>
16. ‘Assassination Classroom’

Although it’s certainly geared for a teenage audience, it’s hard not to be endeared by Assassination Classroom’s squishy yellow protagonist, a mysterious alien who threatens to destroy the planet unless a group of unsuspecting delinquent students figure out how to kill him. There’s a kind of monstrous sexuality throughout that’s all a bit unsettling, but somehow the kids wind up actually learning heartwarming life lessons amidst all the attempted murder. Expect some filler episodes in between the hilarious action sequences that can be skipped, but for the most part, Korosensei’s bizarre journey is harmless fun. 

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/RI08P5SaJNU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed15. 'Cowboy Bebop'</code>
15. ‘Cowboy Bebop’

Often considered the greatest anime series ever made — and widely thought of as a sci-fi masterpiece — Cowboy Bebop is a wildly successful experiment in genre-mashing: a thrilling space adventure/neo-noir with a rousing jazz score, the show traces a ragtag group of bounty hunters on an interstellar journey. Spike Speigel and his crew capture criminals as they face their own dark pasts. No short description can really capture the artistry and emotionality of this shockingly sophisticated show — and its absolutely heartbreaking ending has left audiences devastated for decades.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/VQGCKyvzIM4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed14. 'Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba'</code>
14. ‘Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba’

A hyper-stylized shonen anime that hits all the beats of classic Japanese cartoons for boys while still putting a fresh spin on all the prototypical tropes. After his sister transforms into a demon, a plucky young samurai begins his quest to save her soul as he battles a parade of devilish villains. A colorful and fun art style compliments the show’s cutesy character design and adds to the vibrant energy of the series’ fight scenes.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/2nHDi5sDJhk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed13. 'Digimon Adventure'</code>
13. ‘Digimon Adventure’

Although Digimon is often condescendingly referred to as an inferior analog to Pokemon, the original show’s first run is quite obviously a far more emotionally sophisticated journey than Ash Ketchum’s misadventures. Yes, both shows are certainly aimed at young kids, but Digimon’s cast of multi-dimensional characters tug at the viewer’s heartstrings in ways that Nintendo’s hyper-toyetic TV series never could.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/pKMzuuy_KQQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed12. 'FLCL'</code>
12. ‘FLCL’

This six-episode miniseries is an avant-garde tour de force that’s even made its way into contemporary art museums as an example of the so-called “superflat” postmodernist movement. The plot is a self-referential pastiche of anime tropes that explode in surreal and gorgeously animated sequences, soundtracked by the legendary Japanese punk band The Pillows. Don’t expect to understand what’s happening on your first watch-through, but closer analysis reveals a story about the oppressive isolationism of Japanese culture and the clashes its confrontations with the West produces. If all that intellectual blather doesn’t interest you, there are lots of explosions and outlandish supernatural battles to keep lesser sophisticated fans amused.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/RNwNA1M8A94" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed11. 'Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood'</code>
11. ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’

So this gets a little confusing: A Fullmetal Alchemist animated series, based on the original manga of the same name, started in 2003 — but the production of the TV show quickly outpaced the speed at which the books were being released. The show’s creators began improvising with the plot, leading the story into a totally different direction than what the original writer had imagined, and the series wrapped up in a super disappointing finale. Cut to 6 years later: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood rebooted the show from the start in order to keep the original plot more intact, and although the opening narrative arc is almost entirely the same as the first anime, the plot takes an entirely different — and much more coherent! — direction as it advances.

FMA: B tells the story of the Elric brothers, two magically gifted siblings who attempt to resurrect their mother in a magical ritual that goes terribly wrong. As they get conscripted by an army and dragged into international warfare, the boys hope to discover how to make things right — while battling a slew of nefarious enemies hoping to take their power.

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10. ‘Gurren Lagann’

The studio behind FLCL and the beloved masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t always producing hyper-intellectual action: Gurren Lagann brings Gainax’s signature excellent animation to a plucky and lighthearted story about giant robot battles in outer space. The tropes are all familiar, but the artistry is next-level. The bombastic soundtrack and hilarious styling make this one of the most fun 27-episode runs of any show ever created. It won’t blow your mind in the way that their other works might, but it’ll get your heart pumping.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/8Hbhtq9ugPg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed9. 'Hellsing'</code>
9. ‘Hellsing’

Hellsing doesn’t exactly hold up as much more than a fascinating cultural artifact from the early 00’s — the animation is a bit lazy, the story is not so coherent, and the characters’ one-liners are impossibly cheesy — but it’s a great time capsule of the kind of goth subculture culture that proliferated at the time. The design of Hellsing has been endlessly copied and there’s some wonderful mise-en-scene. For otaku of a certain age bracket, the nostalgia factor is unstoppable, making unbiased evaluation of this bloody vampire story almost impossible. Japanese interpretations of Western mythology are always idiosyncratic, and this steampunk spin on the legend of Dracula is no exception.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/EllmLUr39qk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed8. 'Inuyasha'</code>
8. ‘Inuyasha’

Millennials will remember the endless reruns of Inuyasha’s never-ending journey playing on Cartoon Network. It’s hard to say how much of the program holds up today, but the show’s delicate balance between shonen and shoujo styles has not been replicated since. Although there’s lots of action, Inuyasha is a magical love story at heart — but beware, there’s a whole lot of filler in between the rousing episodes that actually advance the plot.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/B98NY8Hfo7I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed7. 'Kill la Kill'</code>
7. ‘Kill la Kill’

With an almost aggressively stupid story, Kill La Kill is an example of anime’s campier pleasures: beyond over-the-top fight scenes and absurdly sexualized character design, the show is definitely offputting for audiences looking for something with actual emotional substance. Staunch critics have to admit that the animation throughout is beyond excellent, even if it’s not the smartest program ever made.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/jy0jQU2A31Y" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed6. 'Mobile Suit Gundam Wing'</code>
6. ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Wing’

MSG:W was the first series of the Gundam franchise to make it to the United States in the mid 90’s, and gained an ever greater following over here than it did in Japan. It would be easy to dismiss the show as a campy collection of giant robot space battles, but the sci-fi plotting is surprisingly sophisticated, and the characters are emotionally complex: the show is an extended meditation on the trauma of war as much as it is an adventure story.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/broyogKLs2Y" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed5. 'My Hero Academia'</code>
5. ‘My Hero Academia’

MHA is basically Japan’s answer to the X-Men: the show takes place in a near-future where almost every human has developed some kind of special power. Deku, the show’s endlessly endearing main character, enrolls in a school for young superheroes as he battles the nefarious League of Villains and other assorted underworld underlings. The fight scenes are hype beyond belief.

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4. ‘Sailor Moon’

The ultimate Magical Girl anime, the original Sailor Moon cartoon is a beautiful time capsule of 90’s girl power. Nostalgic whimsy aside, the bright and delicate art style (even the watercolor backgrounds are breathtakingly pretty) pairs perfectly with iconic character design and lovable writing. It’s no surprise this cartoon is often cited as an inspiration by drag queens and fashion designers alike.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/hficV9yr2mA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed3. 'Samurai Champloo'</code>
3. ‘Samurai Champloo’

Director Shinichirō Watanabe tried to recapture the genre-mashing magic of Cowboy Bebop with his follow-up series Samurai Champloo, which uses a hip hop score to tell a story about traveling warriors looking for revenge in feudal Japan. The experiment definitely works — and although it doesn’t quite measure up to Bebop (almost nothing truly does!), it’s still one of the most fun anime shows ever made. 

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/\/embed\/pcAigv_MQAo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>","hed2. 'Soul Eater'</code>
2. ‘Soul Eater’

If the casual misogyny of mainstream shonen anime presents a problem for you, skip Soul Eater — but if you’ve got an insatiable appetite for absurd action sequences featuring bizarre weapons and even more bizarre characters, this show is likely up your alley. The graphic design of the show is impeccably clean, and was likely an inspiration for newer, hyper-stylish shows like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer. There’s not a ton of filler either, meaning it’s not hard to breeze through the whole thing in a week. 

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1. ‘Witchblade’

Based on the Todd McFarland-adjacent American comic book series of the same name, the Witchblade anime is an erotic suspense story filled with blood, guts, and a lot of fire. Set in the same continuity as its source material, the Witchblade anime is an entirely original story about the addictive nature of lust and power. 

Culture News

Hot on Hulu: 8 Best Movies and Shows Added in November

November is an odd time for TV. Spooky season is over, but it still feels too early to start binging all those Christmas movies on Lifetime. Luckily, Hulu has you covered. Here are the funniest, scariest and downright weirdest new shows and movies coming to the streaming service in November 2019. 

And if Hulu’s not your cup of tea, check out these other streaming services.

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1. ‘Into the Dark: Pilgrim’

Available: Starting Nov. 1

⌚When to watch it: When you need to remind yourself that Thanksgiving with the family could be a lot worse 

Why to watch it: The newest feature-length installment of Blumhouse and Hulu’s original horror anthology series sees a family invite a group of “pilgrims” to dinner to re-enact the first Thanksgiving. But these actors take their roles very seriously and refuse to break character as they insist on teaching the family a lesson about the true meaning of the holiday. What’s more, this dark tale is inspired by a shocking true story.   

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2. ‘Dollface’ Season 1

Available: Starting Nov. 15

⌚When to watch it: When you need to fill the Fleabag-shaped hole in your life 

Why to watch it: Kat Dennings has finally found a comedy worthy of her talents (sorry, 2 Broke Girls) in this surreal tale of Jules, a woman who gets dumped by her boyfriend of five years and realizes she has no life of her own. Embarking on a mission to rekindle her old friendships and get back on her feet, Jules’s misadventures are interspersed with imaginary interludes—think a much lighter-heated Fleabag meets Ally McBeal.

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3. ‘NOS4A2’ Season 1

Available: Starting Nov. 26

⌚When to watch it: When you wish American Horror Story was scarier 

Why to watch it: Based on the bestselling novel by Joe Hill (a gifted writer who just happens to be Stephen King’s son, so spoopy runs in his veins), NOS4A2 is a deeply creepy show about Vic McQueen, a troubled woman who escaped a serial killer named Charlie Manx when she was a kid. Manx, played with wicked glee by Zachary Quinto, is a vampiric creature who uses his paranormal abilities to prey on children and take them to a realm he calls Christmasland. When Manx re-emerges years later and sets his sights on Vic’s young son, she is forced to face her trauma and grapple with her own supernatural gifts in order to save him.

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4. ‘Booksmart’

Available: Starting Nov. 18

⌚When to watch it: When you want to feel 18 again 

Why to watch it: Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut deserves instant entry into the teen movie canon. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever play two best friends who did everything right throughout high school: They worked hard, they stayed out of trouble and they got accepted to their dream colleges. But on the last day of school, they realize that they forgot to have fun along the way, so they try to pack in three years’ worth of partying and poor decisions into one wild night. 

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5. ‘The Accident’ Season 1

Available: Starting Nov. 22

⌚When to watch it: When Broadchurch is just too cheerful 

Why to watch it: A big new construction project offers a struggling Welsh community new hope, but that hope is cruelly snatched away when an explosion goes off at the site, killing a group of teenagers and leaving their devastated parents looking for somebody to blame. The Accident isn’t exactly light viewing, but the writing and performances in this stark British drama will keep you gripped to the end.

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6. “Love Island Australia” Season 1

Available: Starting Nov. 1

⌚When to watch it: When you’ve already binged the British version 

Why to watch it: Come on, you know exactly what you’re getting here. Whether you’re looking to binge something full of bright colors and sculpted bodies at the end of a long day or just want to put on something unchallenging in the background while you make dinner, Love Island Australia will deliver—with accents! 

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7. ‘You’re the Worst’ Season 5

Available: Starting Nov. 9

⌚When to watch it: When you like your rom-coms with bite 

Why to watch it: The fifth and final season wraps up the love story of Jimmy and Gretchen, two misanthropes who met at a wedding and started falling for each other, despite both believing that relationships are for suckers. Not many TV shows manage to successfully string the romantic comedy concept out for multiple seasons (looking at you, How I Met Your Mother) but You’re the Worst balances its love story with acerbic wit and an ensemble cast of compelling characters.

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8. “‘Anna and the Apocalypse’

Available: Starting Nov. 13

⌚When to watch it: When The Nightmare Before Christmas just doesn’t hit the spot 

Why to watch it: Sometimes you just can’t decide what kind of movie you want to watch. You’re in the mood for something scary, but also something funny. You want it to be festive but not corny. Anna and the Apocalypse mashes all of the above together to bring viewers a zombie musical Christmastime classic that’s been described as Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land.

Culture Movies/TV

Streaming Price Guide: Comparing Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+ & More

Gone are the days of cable TV and recording your favorite shows with DVR. Blu-ray movies and DVDs have lost their spots on our TV stands and instead have been replaced with candles and vinyls, which oddly, have never gone out of style. In addition to music streaming subscriptions, movie and TV streaming services are just more bills you’re forced to add to your monthly spending as a form of entertainment and self-care. 

A streaming service that bundles together our favorite networks and streaming platforms would be ideal, but that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. When Disney announced its Disney+ streaming service in April (it debuts in November), its low monthly payment combined with more networks than other streaming services, immediately put Disney+ ahead of the curve. We’ve gathered U.S. prices of the nine main streaming services—inspired by this tweet from Jon Erlichman—and laid out what they do and do not offer.

This monthly cost rundown, in no particular order, will help you figure out what to keep, what to ditch and what you’d be missing out on if you don’t dole out the dough.

Fun fact: Combined, all nine services would cost you roughly $90 every month. 

1. Netflix // Costs $12.99 for ad-free version
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Netflix is arguably the biggest player in the game when it comes to content and original programming, but it does take longer for shows and movies to reach Netflix. You can anticipate seeing a series land on Netflix anywhere between three months and a year after its initial airing or debut on the big screen. If you’re a Disney fan, you can anticipate seeing less of those movies on Netflix in the near future, and you can thank Disney’s partnership with Hulu for that.

Known for: Netflix Originals, Orange is the New Black, When They See Us, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Dear White People, Narcos, House of Cards, The Crown, Shameless (a season after it airs on Showtime) and international shows and films.

2. Apple TV+ // Costs $4.99 for ad-free version
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Apple TV+ is an upcoming video subscription service that will feature Apple original content only. Basically, you won’t find older and licensed TV shows and movies on this app. Apple announced Apple TV+ in March and it launches in November.

Known for: Original Apple TV+ content

3. Disney+ // Costs $6.99 for ad-free version
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Disney+ will debut in the U.S. on November 12. While we can’t really compare it to other streaming services yet, it is safe to assume that this will be a popular subscription among Americans. Disney owns and has partnerships with several streaming services already, and for the first time, a subscription will offer every Disney Channel Original Movie that before could not be found on other platforms. 

Known for: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic

4. Hulu // Costs $11.99 for ad-free version

Hulu’s business model focuses primarily on streaming new TV shows and original content rather than movies and documentaries. The streaming service allows users early access to TV shows from multiple traditional networks. It usually takes a week, at most, for shows to arrive on Hulu after they’ve aired. Sometimes, it only takes a day. Hulu is now also heavily pushing live sports. 

Known for: Hulu Originals, Love Island (UK), The Handmaid’s Tale, The Act, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Bachelor in Paradise, 90 Day Fiancé, Power

5. HBO Now // Costs $14.99 for ad-free version

HBO Now is perfect for anyone who is a consumer of HBO content, including sports, TV series, movies and documentaries. The service allows users to stream big premieres as they air on TV. 

Known for: Game of Thrones, Ballers, Big Little Lies, Insecure, A Black Lady Sketch Show, True Blood, Crazy Rich Asians, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born and Vice News

6. Prime // Costs $8.99 for ad-free version
Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is included in the Prime package and available exclusively through the Prime membership. The services grant members access to thousands of Prime Video titles at no additional cost. Amazon Original Movies and Prime Original series are just some of the offers through the platform as well as mobile downloads for offline viewing of select content.

Known for: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Grand Tour and Transparent, Manchester by the Sea, The Salesman, The Big Sick, The Dressmaker, Paterson, The Lost City of Z, The Wall, Human Flow and Landline

7. Showtime // Costs $10.99 for ad-free version

Showtime offers original series, hit movies, live TV, sports and more. The subscription is best for people who want to stream Showtime content only, as it is more affordable to have it as an add-on to another streaming service rather than a standalone service. The network is also offered through Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Hulu as an add-on. 

Known for: Shameless, Twin Peaks: The Return, Billions, The Affair, Penny Dreadful, Dexter, and Homeland

8. Starz // Costs $8.99 for ad-free version

Like HBO and Showtime, Starz network has its own TV subscription. A subscription allows users access to the channel’s catalog of movies, documentaries and original programming. In 2016, Starz Encore was bundled into the service and as a result, left Starz with a library of older and classic movies in addition to top hits right from the theater.

Known for: Outlander, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Power, American God, Magic City, The Bernie Mac Show, Different Strokes, The Jeffersons and Good Times

9. CBS All Access // Costs $9.99 for ad-free version

CBS All Access is the best way to stream your local CBS affiliate network. The service also offers exclusive high-production TV shows that you can’t find anywhere else and includes thousands of episodes of older seasons as well. While you can watch CBS shows online for free, they can only be viewed from a web browser and could take up to five days for new shows to air on your mobile device. The major plus of this subscription is having access to all the older episodes in the CBS vault-like Big Brother and the Star Trek series. 

Known for: Big Brother, The Big Bang Theory, Survivor, Criminal Minds, 60 Minutes, I Love Lucy, Twin Peaks, Cheers, Wings, Taxi and Star Trek