37 Best Releases From Hulu Network
Death and Other Details
Hulu’s entry in the massive cast mystery trend starts with sexy confidence before collapsing under its own weight.
Mysteries have steadily made a comeback on screens and in multiplexes over the past several years. Kenneth Branagh offered old-school fun with his triptych (so far) take on master of the genre Agatha Christie’s works. Rian Johnson took Christie into modern times with a helping of class insight in Knives Out and Glass Onion. Things even get meta with the murder at an Agatha Christie play shenanigans of See How They Run. Series like The Afterparty and Murder at the End of the World took the genre to the small screen. With all this competition, of course Death and Other Details would try to find a new way of telling a familiar tale.
Early on, it seems series’ creators Heidi Cole McAdams and Mike Weiss have hit upon a simple but ingenious solution. Let’s get some sex in here! For all the delights of the massive cast mystery revival, each project has been noticeably short on heat. Daniel Craig can still fill out some swim trunks with the best of them, but he’s a married man with a barely glimpsed sweet hubby back home. Emma Corin’s Darby Hart had a romance with Harris Dickinson’s Bill in End of the World, but by the time we know them, those days are over. Death and Other Details, however, boldly declares that, to paraphrase High Fidelity, it’s ok to be investigating a murder and horny at the same time. Continue Reading →
The heist thriller series stays compelling even as it grows more typical.
Joe Petrus (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is a Black gay man living in a very white suburb in Washington. His neighbors whisper about how great he is when he drops off his soon-to-be stepchildren Frankie (Maria Nash) and Bud (Baeyen Hoffman) at school. However, when he applies for a permit to convert a long-abandoned hardware store on Main Street, he encounters racially charged suspicion from a cop on the beat and judgment from the town council. Both dress them up to various degrees in standard procedure and questions of propriety, but the message is clear: “You don’t belong here.”
It turns out they’re onto something, but for entirely the wrong reasons. Entrepreneur-in-love American Joe also happens to be British former organized crime heavy David Marking, who did “one last job” and actually walked away. He started a new life in the US and accidentally fell in love with Jules (Kevin Vidal). Unfortunately, the consequences of the job have finally started to catch up with him as members of his heist team begin to show up dead as Culprits opens. Continue Reading →
The crime drama returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and rediscovers its best storytelling self.
Throughout the six episodes of Fargo Season 5 screened for critics, the series isn’t exactly subtle. From opening the season with an on-screen graphic defining “Minnesota Nice” as neighbor attacks neighbor during a school board meeting to Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) staring up at a campaign billboard of himself, the show loudly states its theses at the viewer over and over.
However, it never feels like creator Noah Hawley has lost control of the storytelling. It’s methodically over-the-top. The audience is on a roller coaster, but they can feel the quality of the engineering keeping them on the tracks. In other hands, this approach can feel alienating or blunting. Fargo Season 5 benefits from meeting Hawley’s signature energy with a game cast and impressively insightful art direction. As a result, the series turns in its best offering since Season 2’s near-perfect effort. Continue Reading →
A Murder at the End of the World
Hulu’s crime thriller/environmentalist warning is less than the sum of its references, but star Emma Corrin earns viewers’ attention.
The plot for A Murder at the End of the World goes a little something like this. A wealthy tech genius invites a group of similarly impressive individuals—including a detective who seems not to belong—to an isolated location for not entirely clear reasons. A murder sets everyone on edge as competing interests suggest several suspects and impede a proper investigation. Things only get worse as more die, and a storm ensures the group has no means of immediate escape.
If you find yourself thinking back to Glass Onion, rest assured you can’t be the only one. Functionally, the series plays as a kind of Anti-Glass Onion, the film’s cracked mirror image. While it is still plenty critical of the rich, it treats them with significantly more credulity. Their reputations earned, they’re genuinely talents apart from the rabble. The big issue isn’t that they're idiots and buffoons but that they’re squirreling away their gifts from the masses. Continue Reading →
Do we need another live-action Goosebumps adaptation? After a ’90s Fox Kids series and a pair of 2010s films, one would assume that the ground of turning Slappy the dummy and other frightening beings into flesh-and-blood creations has been well-trodden. Continue Reading →
Only Murders in the Building
The surprise, sustained hit Only Murders in the Building brands itself as a comedy-mystery on Hulu. But, as season three hits the streaming service, with another murder for the Arconian trio of Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) to solve, something becomes apparent. The series isn’t going for big laughs. Instead, it provides warmth, small chuckles, and genial goodness between the triumvirate. The show remains about found family, intergenerational friendships, and murder mysteries. It’s perhaps best described as a cozy mystery, a murder show with a heart of gold, an oxymoron of concepts. Continue Reading →
This Fool's first season saw main character, Luis (Frankie Quiñones), getting out of prison and reuniting with his cousin Julio Lopez (Chris Estrada) at the Hugs Not Thugs program in Los Angeles. For many shows, getting out of the slammer would be the focal point of the drama, the end goal to build an entire season of storylines around. Instead, the series hits the ground running with Luis emerging from incarceration. Then it draws out comedic scenarios from him trying to get his life back on track. Continue Reading →
Class of '09
Welcome to the future. America is “the safest country on Earth,” as FBI Agent Tayo Michaels (Brian Tyree Henry) assures us. And it is all thanks to a program that is one part Minority Report, one part that computer Lucius Fox gets all bent out of shape about in The Dark Knight. It started as a sort of interrogation tool, but it has blossomed into a prediction machine that lets the FBI anticipate criminal activities. Comic book fans, think Force Works. Law enforcement has gotten “proactive.” Continue Reading →
Tiny Beautiful Things
If you belonged to a certain group of very online Millennials around 2011, then the chances that a Dear Sugar letter changed your life or permanently lodged itself in your brain are high. I know it’s certainly true for me. That means I’m carrying a certain degree of baggage to Hulu’s newest series, Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book of the same name--a collection of Dear Sugar’s best advice columns)--and Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed, who stepped forward as the columnist in 2012. Continue Reading →
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields
The acclaimed documentarian joins The Spool to discuss Brooke Shields, her work, her life, and her relationship to "Brooke Shields" the image.
In 1981, Roger Ebert wrote a profile on Brooke Shields in which he—quoting a press agent—said, “She will be with us for the rest of our lives.” That turned out to be remarkably prescient, but neither the agent nor Ebert could have anticipated the myriad number of ways Shields has been with us in that time. Yes, she is extraordinarily beautiful. But many equally attractive people have come and gone, while Shields remains a consistent part of pop culture’s firmament. From her early appearances in films like Pretty Baby (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1980), and Endless Love (1981) and her controversial TV ads for Calvin Klein jeans, all of which focused on her sexuality while she was literally a child, to her shift in the later Eighties to become America’s Virgin to her reinvention as a comedic actress in the Nineties to becoming an advocate for those suffering from postpartum depression (and suffering the slings and arrows of Tom Cruise in full asshole mode as a result), Shields has been a persistently relevant figure in the American popular consciousness.
While Shields has lived much of her life in the public eye, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, a fascinating two-part documentary from Lana Wilson now streaming on Hulu, proves that she still has a great deal to say. Given access to nearly a half-century’s worth of archival material, which she presents alongside contemporary interviews with Shields, Wilson paints a fascinating, eye-opening portrait that demands a new consideration of Shields and her career. Much of her story is harrowing, be it specific to her life—her wrenching descriptions of sexual assault and her tumultuous relationship with her mother—or experiences too many young women in the spotlight share. (If you think having someone inquire about the state of your virginity sounds awful, imagine having talk show hosts do so on live television.) And yet, not only has Shields survived, she is thriving. She has found peace with herself and is able to look back on her life with a sense of control over it. Continue Reading →
There’s a subset of “Will they or won’t they?” stories that are perhaps best described as “They will, then they won’t, then they will again, then they won’t again, and so on.” There are certainly fans of this kind of story. Arguably the most popular sitcom of the past 40 years, Friends, had Ross and Rachel bouncing together and apart repeatedly. Hulu’s new musical series Up Here is the latest example of that rom-com subset of a subset. Continue Reading →
Koala Man may be a brand-new Hulu cartoon, but viewers sitting down to watch its first season may feel like they’ve stumbled onto a rerun. The show’s steady stream of apocalyptic threats and graphic deaths echoes executive producer Justin Roiland’s Rick and Morty, and its animation style is disappointingly derivative of Bento Box Entertainment’s adult cartoons (Hoops or Brickleberry, for instance, though Aussie studio Princess Bento produced Koala Man itself). It may be the only small-screen program dedicated to a middle-aged dude in a koala mask fighting crime, but Koala Man is far too derivative for its own good. Continue Reading →
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Fleishman Is in Trouble, the adaptation of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel starring Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, and Lizzy Caplan, has a first-act problem. Or rather, a first-episode problem. Continue Reading →
It’s a familiar scene. A writer finds success on the independent scene with something artistic and boundary-pushing. They take a meeting and the Hollywood content machine devours them. The difference in Reboot is the writer, Hannah (Rachel Bloom), has bought into the system without hesitation. She’s after something far more compelling than art or commerce. She seeks revenge. Continue Reading →
The Patient’s Dr. Alan Strauss (Steve Carrell) is a man of ritual. One can tell it from how he cuts his fruit, interacts with clients, and even walks through his home. The deliberate editing from Amanda Pollack and Daniel A. Valverde in the pilot help emphasize this point. Ritual upon ritual surrounds him. Continue Reading →
Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers
No one mistakes HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Los Angeles Lakers for a 30 For 30 documentary. So why does that series feel more authentic to the Golden Era of professional basketball, and the team that helped elevate the NBA into an American pastime, than a ten-hour documentary about the Lakers? Continue Reading →
Season Two of Reservation Dogs opens with the aftermath of last season. Elora (Devery Jacobs) left fellow Rez Dogs Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor) high and dry as she ran away to Cali with Jackie (Elva Guerra), one of their group's sworn enemies. They’re all trying to grow up and move on from their haunted pasts, and their friend Daniel’s (Dalton Cramer) death still lingers. Will a prayer and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” be enough to lift the curse and bring the Rez Dogs back together? It’s a slow-burn season, balancing the drama and the comedy of the teens coming of age both on and off the reservation. Continue Reading →
Under the Banner of Heaven
Chances are that if you know any Mormons at all, they’re far more likely to be ex-Mormons. Despite claims that the Mormon Church is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States (source: the Mormon Church), in reality, like most organized religions in America, membership has been on a steady decline for the past decade. Along with the same issues other churches face, the Latter Day Saints also suffer from years of bad P.R., forever associated with magic underwear, child brides, and polygamy, though the latter two aren’t permitted within the modern Mormon Church, and haven’t been since the 19th century. Every church has its members who take things a little too literally, however, and that occasionally results in tragedy, as illustrated by FX’s docudrama Under the Banner of Heaven, a chilling true story about death and faith. Continue Reading →
Life & Beth
Amy Schumer made a name for herself in the comedy scene as a stand-up for whom sex and booze were cornerstones of her act. She was a refreshing performer, helping to break down barriers for women in comedy, and showing the world that female comedians can be just as raunchy as their male counterparts. Her newest venture is an evolution of the party girl in Hulu’s Life & Beth, with Schumer portraying titular character Beth, a woman “barreling towards 40,” amid an identity crisis. The series, like Beth, is also in an identity crisis, as structurally it struggles in its episodic format. However, there are some strong performances by Schumer and a supporting cast of comedic heavy-hitters that make the series an entertaining watch. Continue Reading →