Tyler Labine, Deadbeat
Hulu announed Wednesday its 2014 original programming slate, which includes new original series starring Reaper's Tyler Labine and Happy Endings' Casey Wilson, as well as new seasons of such returning shows as Seth Meyers' The Awesomes and Chris O'Dowd's Moone Boy.
After surpassing five million subscribers and earning more than a $1 billion in revenue in 2013, the streaming service is making an even bigger bet on first-run programming on Hulu and Hulu Plus in 2014, according to Charlotte Koh, Hulu's head of original programming development.
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"I think the last year was a very solid foundation for us to continue to build our original business upon," Koh tells TVGuide.com. "We're very aware that a lot of our evolution is about moving from a catch-up platform to being a first-run window of exclusive content. The slate that you're seeing for 2014 reflects the growing profile of the company. We're working with great, high-profile talent ... [and] we're really in a place where we're able to leverage the solid reputation that we've built over the years and continue to pursue shows that will have a great personality and also provide a greater eclectic variety."
The new series include Deadbeat, a 10-episode supernatural comedy from Brad Pitt's production company Plan B and Wilfredwriters Cody Heller and Brett Konnner that premieres on April 9. The series, which is a co-production with Lionsgate TV and will be directed by Arrested Development's Troy Miller, stars Labine as Kevin Pacalioglu, a hapless but gifted medium who tries to help New York's ghosts settle their unfinished business. Brandon T. Jackson co-stars as Kevin's best friend and So You Think You Can Dance's Cat Deeley plays a glamorous celebrity medium who acts as Kevin's nemesis.
"They've got this amazing mixture of supernatural elements combined with a buddy comedy combined with this sort of this doomed romance," Koh says. "I think the fun of that show is the fact that it's Ghostbusters with a bit of a twist. It has a real contemporary sense of humor, and we really pride ourselves on having a personality that is about being relevant and current."
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Hulu will also exclusively distribute seven episodes of parody series The Hotwives of Orlando. From the studio that producedBachelor parody Burning Love, this comedy stars Casey Wilson, Kristen Schaal, Tymberlee Hill, Angela Kinsey, Andrea Savage and Danielle Schneider as a a group of ladies who drink, fight, and cry as they debate shoes, plastic surgery and how to spend their husbands' money. The show is produced by Childrens Hospital's Jonathan Stern and The League's Paul Scheer and features a supporting cast including Kate Walsh, Weird Al Yankovic, Joey McIntyre and Stephen Tobolowsky.
"What's great about Hotwives is it's a parody of a genre that is already about serialized storytelling," Koh says. "So, you really get invested in following these slightly ridiculous but incredibly funny characters throughout the course of the season. It's a unique show and it's also pretty clever in the way that it pokes at the genre."
Hulu will add to its collection of internationally acclaimed series by offering the original Scandinavian version of The Bridgebeginning Jan. 14, followed by the May launch of the Canadian reality-style dance drama The Next Step from BBC Worldwide North America. "One of our real strengths has been international television," Koh says of The Bridge, which FX adapted for American TV last summer. "The Scandinavian version is a very, very high quality drama that you'll only find with us. It is in some ways different from the American version, and I think a lot of hardcore television fans want to know the source material. This gives them an opportunity to see it."
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Hulu has also renewed the teen drama East Los High for a second season to debut this summer. It will be among a host of other returning 2014 series, including animated superhero comedy The Awesomes, Chris O'Dowd's semi-autobiographical comedyMoone Boy, the mascot docu-series Behind the Mask, the Western comedy Quick Draw and Tom Hollander's Rev, which begins its third season.
"These shows have been extremely successful for us and have been shows that really have popped in terms of helping Hulu become a destination," Koh says. "The goal is always to make them even better and to help find ways to bring in new fans while you're continuing to feed the enthusiasm of the fans of the first season. Everybody wants to make it even better."
For more on Hulu's slate of progams, click here.
Which of these shows will you check out?