Aidy Bryant's Annie and Lolly Adefope's Fran stand side by side on Hulu's Shrill.
(image: Hulu)

15 Hulu Series You Might Not Know Are Based on Popular Books

Love the show? Then you'll love the book too, probably.

When people think of popular shows and miniseries adapted from books on Hulu, most go straight to The Handmaid’s Tale. Not only is the source text (and its graphic novel adaptation) by transphobic author Maragaret Atwood read by students worldwide, but it gets more press every time it gets banned, the adaptation sweeps awards, and lawmakers decide to police women’s bodies even more. Luckily for us, this white feminist text isn’t the only thing the streaming giant has successfully adapted. Since then, many novels, essay collections, and graphic novels have gotten the silver screen treatment. Whether produced solely by Hulu, or through partnerships like “FX on Hulu,” there are many great pairings to read and watch.

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Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Image of Mia Isaac as young Eleanor in 'Black Cake.' She is a young Black woman in a wedding dress. Another young Black woman stands beside her fixing her necklace. They're standing in a room with light blue walls.

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.

The cover of the novel 'Black Cake' by Charmaine Wilkerson. The title and author's name are in large white letters over a multi-colored background in which we can see the abstract image of a woman's face.
(Ballentine Books)

Charmaine Wilkerson’s sweeping family drama about the matriarch of a Jamaican-Chinese family has been turned into an eight-episode series on Hulu, developed for TV and showrun by Marissa Jo Cerar. Eleanor Bennett (Chipo Chung as elder Eleanor, and Mia Isaac as younger Eleanor) reveals her troubled history to her adult children (Ashley Thomas and Adrienne Warren) posthumously via recordings on a flash drive. In piecing together her story, they are also piecing together their own unknown histories.

This series will resonate with anyone who feels a sense of remove from their immigrant family’s history, but nonetheless feels the weight of that history in the present day.

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

Image of Grace Van Patten and Jackson White in a scene from 'Tell Me Lies.' Van Patten is a young white woman with long strawberry blonde hair. White is a young white man with closely cropped brown hair and a thin beard. They are in casual clothes and sitting on the floor leaning into each other romantically.

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother–whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

Cover of the novel 'Tell Me Lies' by Carola Lovering. On a red and pink background, the words "Tell Me Lies" are printed six times in black lettering. The word "lies" is crossed out in white each time, and corrected with something different like:  " love me"  " need me" "...I'm yours." "...It's not over" "'ll change"
(Atria Books)

If you like your “love stories” a bit more obsessive and borderline creepy, have we got a series for you! Carola Lovering’s novel, Tell Me Lies, has been adapted for TV by showrunner, Meaghan Oppenheimer. It stars Grace Van Patten as Lucy Albright and Jackson White as Stephen DeMarco.

And yes, according to US Weekly, there will be a season two chock full of more chaotic relationship drama.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Image of Sinclair Daniel and Ashleigh Murray in a scene from 'The Other Black Girl.' They are both young Black women walking down a city street. Daniel is wearing her hair in a medium afro and wearing a maroon coat over a maroon and white plaid blazer and maroon v-neck sweater. Murray has long black hair in tight braids. She's wearing a coat with light blue furry sleeves and a black leather torso over a blue and purple print dress. Murray has her arm around Daniel as they look at each other.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

The cover of Zakiya Dalila Harris' novel, 'The Other Black Girl.' The author's name and the title are in large white letters over the silhouette of a Black woman with natural hair in an afro against a blue background.
(Atria Books)

Hulu has been going all-in on Black woman-led stories lately. The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris, has been adapted into a Hulu series by Harris and fellow Executive Producer, Rashida Jones, with whom she wrote the pilot. The show is showrun by Jordan Reddout and Gus Hickey, and stars Sinclair Daniel (Insidious: The Red Door) as Nella and Ashleigh Murray (Riverdale) as Hazel.

As a woman of color, sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s worse: being the “only one” in your office, or being one of only a very small number. This thriller series and novel, wrestle with all those complexities.

Tokyo Revengers by Ken Wakui

A scene from the anime series, 'Tokyo Revengers.' A teen girl with long peach hair and wearing a black dress with gold trim walks down a street beside a taller teen boy with cropped blue hair with a design shaved into the side of his head. He's wearing a black coat with gold buttons over a white buttondown and a gold earring. He has a scar on the left side of his mouth.

Watching the news, Hanagaki Takemichi learns his junior-high girlfriend Tachibana Hinata has died. A sudden shove sends him 12 years into the past to face the Tokyo Manji Gang that once made his life hell, which is also responsible for Hinata’s death in the present. To save Hinata and change the future, Takemichi must rise to the top of Kanto’s most sinister delinquent gang! But things aren’t so simple when he befriends the gang’s leader, Mikey. What turned Mikey from a petulant child to the leader of the most infamous gang in Tokyo?

Image of the cover of the omnibus for the manga 'Tokyo Revengers,' Volumes 1 & 2 by Ken Wakui. The title is in graffiti font over the illustrated image of a teen boy with shaggy dark hair wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and beige cargo pants holding a green backpack.
(Seven Seas)

Most anime started its life as manga, and the time-travel crime drama Tokyo Revengers is no different. Originally written and drawn by manga artist Ken Wakui, it was adapted into an anime series that premiered in 2021, written by Yasuyuki Mutō and directed by Koichi Hatsumi.

There are currently three completed seasons of the series. As can sometimes be the case with anime, viewing it here in the U.S. can be a bit complicated. Disney bought the license to Tokyo Revengers‘ second season, which makes up the “Christmas Showdown” arc, thus making it available on Hulu. However, the first season (the “Bloody Halloween” arc) is currently only (legally) available on Crunchyroll. Neither service has the third season yet, unfortunately.

Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Image of Quentin Plair and Kathryn Hahn in a scene from 'Tiny Beautiful Things.' Plair is a Black man with short black hair in twists and a beard. He's wearing a denim buttondown shirt over a white t-shirt and has a tattoo on his neck. Hahn is a white woman with long brown hair wearing a blue and white striped buttondown open over a green silk blouse. They are looking at each other and both leaning against a blue SUV.

For more than a decade, thousands of people have sought advice from Dear Sugar–the pseudonym of bestselling author Cheryl Strayed–first through her online column at The Rumpus, later through her hit podcast, Dear Sugars, and now through her popular Substack newsletter. Tiny Beautiful Things collects the best of Dear Sugar in one volume, bringing her wisdom to many more readers.

Image of the cover of the book 'tiny beautiful things' by Cheryl Strayed. It's a simple cover with black and white lettering over a green background. The only other image is a single cube of sugar under the title above where it says "Advice from Dear Sugar."

Kathryn Hahn stars in the Hulu series, Tiny Beautiful Things, which is less an adaptation of the Cheryl Strayed book of the same name, and more a series about a version of the author herself. Hahn plays Clare, a Strayed-esque writer who becomes an advice columnist during a tumultuous time in her life, similar to the way that Sarah Jessica Parker played a version of real-life columnist Candace Bushnell when playing “Carrie Bradshaw” on Sex and the City.

The show does draw lots of inspiration from the original columns and is really about the connection between people as we all share the same human experience. It’s also about how the best way to deal with processing our own emotions is to help others do the same.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Jesse Eisenberg as Toby and Claire Danes as Rachel in Hulu's 'Fleishman is in Trouble.' They are both white and Jewish and seated on a couch at a gathering. Toby has dark hair and is wearing a grey pin-striped buttondown and dark pants. Rachel has a blonde, chin-length bob and is wearing a sleeveless black and white dress. They are mid-conversation and looking annoyed.

Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.

As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place.

Book cover of 'Fleishman is in Trouble' by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. The title is in big, white, block letters laid over an upside-down New York City skyline. The author's name is at the bottom in red caps.
(Random House)

After Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel about Xennial marriage (and divorce, dating apps, and mental health) became a New York Times best-seller, Brodesser-Akner was invited to adapt Fleishman is in Trouble into a limited series for FX on Hulu. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Toby, Claire Danes as Rachel, and Lizzy Caplan as Toby’s BFF, Libby. According to Brodesser-Akner herself, the series is a very faithful adaptation of the book, so if you watch the series, it’s as if you’re reading the book. Either is worth experiencing, as this story makes you think that it’s one kind of story, but deepens along the way and makes you realize that it’s something else entirely, inviting you into a perspective that rarely gets attention in prose fiction or TV.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Mallori Johnson as Dana and Austin Smith as Luke in a scene from Hulu's 'Kindred.' They are both Black and seated in a wagon with Luke holding the reins. Dana has her natural hair in an afro and is wearing a blue-grey shirt with buttons at the collar and dark pants. Luke is bald and wearing a pinkish-grey long-sleeved shirt and orange-ish pants. They are riding through the woods.

Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon realizes the purpose of her summons to the past: protect Rufus to ensure his assault of her Black ancestor so that she may one day be born. As she endures the traumas of slavery and the soul-crushing normalization of savagery, Dana fights to keep her autonomy and return to the present.

Book cover of Octavia E. Butler's novel, 'Kindred.' Butler's name is at the top in white caps. A Black woman with cropped, natural hair with a downward gaze in a white blouse takes up most of the cover. At the bottom, we see a row of houses in black-and-white. The title is in the middle of the book in black letters, and beneath it is a quote by Harlan Ellison that reads "Octavia Butler is a writer who will be with us for a long, long time, and Kindred is that rare magical artifact...the novel one returns to again and again."
(Beacon Press)

Octavia Butler’s prescient work is definitely having a moment, and the series adaptation of her 1979 novel Kindred for FX on Hulu was part of that. Starring Mallori Johnson as Dana, the series was made contemporary by having Dana’s present-day be ours. The harrowing exploration of her family history as she’s transported back to antebellum slavery, however, remains in tact. Sadly, the series was cancelled after one season, but you can still watch season one in all its heartbreaking glory on Hulu.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

James Franco as Jake Epping in a scene from Hulu's '11.22.63.' He is a white man with short, dark hair wearing a suit sitting in the driver's seat of a 1960s car looking out his window. There is a white man in the passenger's seat out of focus.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away–a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life–like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963–turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession–to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

Cover of Stephen King's novel '11/22/63." The top of the cover is a red stripe with black letters that read "The #1 New York Times Bestseller Stephen King 11/22/63 a novel." Beneath that is a reprint of a newspaper clipping with the headline "JFK Slain in Dallas, LBJ Takes Oath"
(Simon & Schuster)

Stephen King’s 2011 time travel novel was adapted into a compelling 8-episode limited series starring James Franco as Jake and created/executive produced by Bridget Carpenter (Friday Night Lights, Westworld) for Bad Robot in 2016.

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

Dawn-Lyen Gardner as Charley, Kofi Siriboe as Ralph-Angel, and Rutina Wesley as Nova in a scene from OWN's 'Queen Sugar.' They are all Black and seated in a waiting room. The two women are comforting their brother in the middle, who is clearly upset. Charley has long, curly, dark hair and is wearing a grey coat. Ralph-Angel has closely cropped dark hair and a beard and wears a brown jacket and a blue t-shirt, and Nova has her dark, braided hair pulled up on top of her head and wears a black leather jacket, a yellow patterned scarf, and a pink t-shirt.
(Skip Bolen/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

When Charley unexpectedly inherits eight hundred acres of sugarcane land, she and her eleven-year-old daughter say goodbye to smoggy Los Angeles and head to Louisiana. She soon learns, however, that cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley struggles to balance the overwhelming challenges of a farm in decline with the demands of family and the startling desires of her own heart.

Book cover for Natalie Baszile's 'Queen Sugar.' Most of the cover is mint green with the author's name in blue-green lettering and the title in black lettering. At the bottom is a silhouette of one person kissing another person's forehead in a sugar cane field with a yellow background.

Baszile’s family saga was adapted into a successful TV series by writer/director Ava DuVernay for OWN. It’s a compelling, nuanced show that wrestles with one family’s generational trauma while examining the wider Black experience. The addition of a third Bordelon sibling for the series (Rutina Wesley’s character Nova is not in the novel) allows for an even more multifaceted look at what it means to be Black in America. All seven seasons of Queen Sugar are available on Hulu.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Jurnee Smollett as Leti in a scene from HBO's 'Lovecraft Country.' She is a light-skinned Black woman with wavy dark chin-length hair wearing hoop earrings, a red sleeveless blouse and black pants as she stands smiling with her hand on her hip in the middle of a party.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George–publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide–and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite–heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors–they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

One of the great things about Hulu is that it allows add-ons for other streaming services, so Hulu can serve as a one-stop shop for your viewing needs. If you have the Max add-on, you can watch HBO shows, and Lovecraft Country, which was adapted by Misha Green and produced by Jordan Peele with Bad Robot Productions, is a worthwhile watch. Yes, it stars Jonathan Majors, who’s become hella problematic, and the show only lasted one season. But it was a great season, and Jurnee Smollett alone is worth your time.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Mia (Kerry Washington) works her daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood)'s hair in 'Little Fires Everywhere'

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Image: Penguin Books
(Penguin Books)

After Reese Witherspoon featured the book on her popular book club, she and Kerry Washington helped executive produce and costarred in the miniseries based on the novel.

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West


Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny. Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. […]

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. Image: Hachette Books.

While West’s book is a collection of essays with real stories (some bits of which you can read news stories about and watch videos of), the Hulu show starring SNL‘s Aidy Bryant is more inspired by the book. Bryant, West, and Alexandra Rushfield developed the show based on the book and personal experiences. Like in many cases, just because you like the show doesn’t mean you’ll like the book. This is mostly because the book can be a lot more triggering, as it tackles the toxicity of online/in-person cultural misogyny. However, if you enjoyed the book, you will probably love the show because it still retains its social humor and vulnerability.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


Love, Victor is a spinoff show based on the movie Love, Simon, which itself is based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Other books in the Simonverse (mostly taking place at Creekwood High) include Leah on the Offbeat, The Upside of Unrequited, and the novella Love, Creekwood, (co-written with Adam Silvera).

Original novel summary:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out–without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
(Flatiron Books)

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney. Image: Hogarth Press
(Hogarth Press)

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation–awkward but electrifying–something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

(featured image: Hulu)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.