If you’re summarizing Hulu’s current line-up in three words, it might be “more,” “more” and “more.” And then maybe a little more.
At a time (late summer) when some networks nap, the streamer has a surge. There are a few big stars – two Steves (Martin and Carell) and, later, one Oprah. There are also names — Emayatzy Corinealdi, Chris Estrada, Travante Rhodes, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai – you haven’t seen on many movie marquees.
Part of the surge is due to airing two major, second-season shows in the summer:
— “Only Murders in the Building” has new episodes Tuesdays, through Aug. 23. Its first season drew 17 Emmy nominations, including best comedy and comedy actors (Steve Martin and Martin Short, shown here with Selena Gomez).
— “Reservation Dogs” has new ones Wednesdays, through Sept. 28. Its first season won Peabody and American Film Institute awards.
Alongside them are plenty of other shows. Some are from top producers — “The Patient” (starting Aug. 30, with Carell as a therapist kidnapped by his client) is from the “Americans” producers. “Reboot” (Sept. 20, pretending to revive a lame comedy) is from a “Modern Family” creator.
And some have flashy subjects. A new Los Angeles Lakers documentary starts Aug. 15. An eight-part mini-series starting Aug. 25 has Rhodes as Mike Tyson. “You could go to any country on this planet and say the words ‘Mike Tyson’ and you’re gonna get a reaction,” said writer-producer Steven Rogers.
But some have neither big stars nor flashy subjects. They’re part of an effort to bring in newcomers, especially minorities. “We’re going to have to keep writing our own stories,” said Michelle Ortiz, a co-star of “This Fool,” which debuts all 10 episodes on Aug. 12.
That show was created by Estrada, describing his Latino world in Los Angeles. “Reservation Dogs,” centering on four Native teens in Oklahoma, has all-Native stars (including Woon-A-Tai), writers and directors. “Reasonable Doubt” (Sept. 27), a lawyer show, has Blacks as producers, directors, writers and star (Corinealdi), said producer Larry Wilmore. “And who’s the head of the studio watching all this? Black woman.”
Streaming networks tend to have shows arriving from several piplelines. Disney+ gets the mega-projects, via Marvel, “Star Wars” and Pixar. Hulu has a couple smaller, indie-style boutiques:
— FX is the longtime domain of savvy producer John Landgraf. Some of his shows go directly to Hulu; they include “Reservation Dogs” and “The Patient.” Others go to a basic-cable network (FX or FXX) first and to Hulu the next day. “Welcome of Wrexholm” (a non-fiction series with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buying a Welsh soccer team) reaches Hulu Aug. 25; “Little Demons” (an animated show with a teen unhappy to learn that her dad is Satan) arrives Aug. 26.
— The Onyx Collective aims for “culturally specific” shows, said Tara Duncan, its president. That might sound iffy, but its first film clicked. “We struck Oscar gold out of the gate, with the critically acclaimed documentary, ‘Summer of Soul.’ This film threw Onyx’s trajectory into warp speed.”
That film went from movie theaters to Hulu. Coming up are “Reasonable Doubt” and (on Oct. 22) “Hair Tales,” with Black women talking about hair and life. One is Oprah Winfrey, so the show will debut on both Hulu and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Then there are other Hulu mini-series. Not yet scheduled is one about the Chippendale dancers, complete with a murder case. And starting Sept. 7 is “Tell Me Lies,” based on a novel that begins with a couple meeting as college freshmen.
“So much happens in this show in 10 episodes,” said Jackson White, who stars with Grace Van Patten. “It’s like they are completely different people …. It builds and builds.”
So – for now at least – does the Hulu line-up.