What are the best documentaries on Hulu? Well, we are living in the golden age of television and the quality of documentaries has also reached platinum level.
While all streamers have upped their game when it comes to non-fiction storytelling, Hulu – launched in the US in 2007 – has particularly become home to genre documentaries that redefine “must-have” TV.
Hulu, which is part-owned by Disney and Universal, is able to pull content from a huge variety of broadcasters and studios and often gets the best of both worlds, along with its own original programming.
That gives him a huge range of great Hulu shows. (opens in new tab) and great Hulu movies (opens in new tab)and, in addition, a fantastic range of documentaries.
From unearthing long-forgotten cultural events and walking in the shoes of pop’s greatest icons to emotional and intimate stories of people at a crossroads in their lives; there’s always an engaging tale to plug in and learn from.
Here are our favorite documentaries streaming on Hulu right now…
WeWork: or the making and breaking of a $47 billion unicorn
Of all the documentaries – and dramatizations – dedicated to the wave of scammers that have emerged in recent years, one of the most impressive has to be the true story of Adam Neumann, his wife Rebekah Neumann (did she mention Gwyneth? Is Paltrow her cousin?) and their company , WeWork.
Billed as “The We Revolution” – which basically meant living, working and socializing with the same group of people in the same building… does anyone else find it ‘cult’? – this technological start-up was seen as a unicorn; valued at $47 billion as it attracted coworking millennials to drink at its in-house Kombucha bar.
But, it was all an illusion. This film documents the wild ride from boom to bust; explores the bizarre figure of Neumann (who even claims he will be the world’s first trillionaire) and is an excellent companion to Apple TV Plus’ WeCrashed (opens in new tab)the fictional reality drama of the entire saga, featuring Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway as the Namaste Neumanns.
Speaking of scammers, step forward Billy McFarland. Fyre Fraud – directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason – is the second of two documentaries released at the same time about the ill-fated event; which was totally fine with us, as no one got tired of stories about conning wealthy influencers into a music festival that didn’t really exist.
It looked like a humanitarian disaster and served that infamous open cheese sandwich as gourmet food. The schadenfreude was real, until the real human cost of McFarland’s blasphemy was exposed in this film. A nation never looked at Ja Rule the same way again.
Summer of Soul (…or, when the revolution couldn’t be televised)
Think music festivals and you’ll probably think of Glastonbury, Coachella or, if you come back, Woodstock. But director Questlove — aka Ahmir Thompson — reminded the world of a long-forgotten great when he opened up a treasure trove of musical history with his film at the epic 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.
Celebrating the event – which ran for six Sundays throughout the summer – the documentary brings together some incredible live footage from the event; killer performances from the likes of Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and The Fifth Dimension, while perfectly capturing the colors, fashions and vibrancy of the entire historic event.
Like traveling back in time to a joyous moment in history, it’s obvious why this film ended up winning Best Documentary at the 2022 Oscars, as well as other awards.
taking care of the gap
This is one of those documentaries that shouldn’t be skipped just because the initial subject doesn’t seem like it will instantly appeal to you. Why should I care about some kids who skate, you might think? Well, because this movie – directed by Bing Liu – takes the story much further.
This is a snapshot of life in America’s ‘rust belt’; of three young people who yes, are skaters, but are also dealing with racism, abuse and intergenerational trauma. It all takes place across the ramps and rails of Rockford, Illinois, over the course of a decade, but you’re unlikely to find a more poignant example of what life is like in 21st century America and how a younger generation is trying to cope.
McCartney 3, 2, 1
What more needs to be said about Paul McCartney that hasn’t already been said? If that was a dilemma for the producers of this six-part series, then it was quickly alleviated by the choice of another great record producer, iconic producer Rick Rubin, to lead this intimate conversation about the life and times of the Beatles legend.
Shot in black and white – and with Rubin deftly lifting the cover of the songs – there’s no off-limits topic with Macca, who is remarkably candid about his time in one of the greatest pop bands of all time; and even now, 60 years later, there are still new anecdotes to discover.
Who knew that a can of Ambrosia rice pudding at a camp solidified the band’s brotherhood? Just don’t expect any playback on the lighter side of Macca’s oeuvre – Rubin avoids Frog Chorus and Wonderful Christmastime; the coward…
With 1990s nostalgia currently at its height, this documentary is a must for any superfan of the era. 1980s child star Soleil Moon Frye (famous for her role as Punky Brewster) had the foresight to capture all the antics of her and her famous teen friends on one big clunky camcorder for posterity; walking so Instagram influencers could run.
What she ended up editing — with her old friend Leonardo DiCaprio as executive producer — is an intimate coming-of-age film about growing up in Hollywood as a famous child. Yes, it obviously has its perks, but ultimately all kids were trying to find their own sense of identity and self-worth in a twisted industry. It ends in a melancholy way, but as the narrative progresses, this real-life tale will really stay with you.
Known to his mother as Martin Shkreli, Pharma Bro is essentially the real-life villain for the ills of late capitalism. You’ll know him for his heinous acts, like raising the price of an AIDS drug by 5,500%, committing security fraud, and, in a minor crime but still a cryptocurrency move, buying the only copy of a Wu- Tang for $2 million, refusing to release it, essentially creating the NFT market for music.
This documentary – directed by Brent Hodge – examines the person behind “America’s Most Hated Man”; trying to psychoanalyze how he became the person he is today. Was it the Wall St internship at 17 or the interest in chemistry when a family member was suffering from depression? Who knows, really, but it’s interesting to speculate.
Sometimes it takes a Freedom of Information act to reveal the true nature of an event, and the doors were actually blown open when it was revealed that the FBI tried to destroy Martin Luther King with wiretapping and blackmail. The civil rights icon was targeted by the government agency for being seen as a threat: galvanized voices and a movement to create a more just and equal America for all.
But investigators harassed King – bugging and bugging his hotel rooms, catching him having affairs – and eventually writing a letter suggesting he committed suicide. While the documentary – directed by Sam Pollard – doesn’t linger too long on the question of who really killed MLK, the evidence presented will make audiences reevaluate what they were taught in history class.
The art of animation is truly taken to the most exciting heights in this 2021 Oscar-nominated documentary. Flee tells the story of Amin Nawabi, a refugee who escaped from Afghanistan to live in Denmark.
While the real-life voice you hear is that of Amin (pseudonym) – recorded by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen – the on-screen images fully convey the trauma and danger of his passage to a new country; but also your inner turmoil in making this transition.
A master class in handling delicate personal stories, it also pushes the boundaries of the documentary making genre.
Before Big Brother and the reality TV giant, there was Biosphere 2; a 1991 experiment that saw eight people living inside a dome (created to replicate Earth’s ecosystem) for two years in an Arizona desert. Spaceship Earth is the documentary covering this wild experience that has been largely forgotten since, using archival footage and interviews of the people who signed up for this challenge under the curious leader’s gaze; the writer and ecologist John Allen.
The fact that we’re not all living in capsules on the moon right now obviously suggests that not everything was planned and this film documents how, ironically, humanity has dashed humanity’s great hopes for the future.