I moved to NYC in 2007 and quickly learned three things. The city is a grid, cabs will splash you with water if you stand too close to the curb, and cable was more expensive than I realized. I was already paying 50 bucks for internet, and dropping 100 plus on television wasn’t in the cards. Could I get TV on my internet, though?
Soon, I found a website that let me watch all The Simpsons episodes for free. It was illegal as can be but surprisingly bug-free. Still, the biggest breakthrough came when I saw a commercial for Hulu. I’m assuming I saw it while I was visiting my parents. Alec Baldwin, essentially playing Jack Donaghy, promoted a new website that provided free TV.
It was exactly what I needed. I opened it and was treated by a world of wonder. Free TV and movies! There were classics, but also plenty of hidden gems. Hulu ran off Comcast’s catalog at the time, so there were plenty of wonders to behold. Thanks to early Hulu, I saw Lost Highway and Night of The Demons for the first time. (I’m not comparing those films by any means.)
Eventually, Hulu would start selling off pieces of itself bit by bit until being almost wholly purchased by Disney in 2019. Like many other streamers, the site would also find itself starting to emulate Netflix’s model. They would avoid carrying a more eclectic catalog and spend their money on original content with diminishing returns. I loved Castle Rock, and I gush over Only Murders In The Building like everybody else, but my interest in Hulu has waned significantly since its inception.
I was so enamored with it initially because of the catalog of older shows and movies. It feels that way with most streamers. They begin with a lot of licensed programming, only to pivot away from it in favor of cheaper, homegrown products. I want to avoid using the word “content,” but the executives squeezing every last dime from these services see it that way.
In their latest attempt to save money and lose personality, Hulu is removing a string of classic television shows. Arrested Development, The Bob Newhart Show, Beverly Hills, 90210, Hill Street Blues, Ally McBeal, The Practice, and 7th Heaven are among the multiple shows leaving the platform. The removal of so many shows is so shocking that it made its way onto the Hulu Reddit page.
There are some “up and coming” services that have weirder/older/more eclectic catalogs. Tubi comes to mind. Still, they’ll all eventually go the way of Hulu. At some point, someone wearing a monocle with a denim jacket will say, “You know we can make more money if —,” and everyone in the room will cut him off, stand, and applaud.