Hulu is no longer just a way to catch up on TV shows. The streaming giant has made inroads with their own programming and Hulu Plus. Hulu has experienced highs (The Handmaids Tale) and lows (Hard Sun). The service has also produced a handful of must-watch documentaries. Ranging from Batman to mascots, these Hulu documentaries cover vastly different topics worth exploring.
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Batman & Bill (2017)
For decades the question of “who created Batman?” was a simple one. Bob Kane. The Hulu original documentary Batman & Bill debunks the mythology of the Caped Crusader’s conception. Thanks to the film, Gotham’s Dark Knight is now known to be created by Bill Finger.
Batman & Bill goes beyond the comic strip’s drawing board. Proper accreditation is more than just pride. Finger and Kane’s fortunes (even their grave sites) are contrasted. The film also takes the subject into modern day relevancy.
A fight to properly define the credits in a DC film is harder than you would think. One of Finger’s advocates took up Finger as a personal cause célèbre. Through the fan’s eyes Batman & Bill becomes an emotional documentary. His research to unravel the real creator of Batman is a quest that should touch a nerve for any fans of pop-art.
Becoming Bond (2017)
Like Batman, James Bond is a cultural icon. The actors who played him, 007 villains, and Bond girls are indelible parts of Hollywood lure. The story about the man who walked away from being Bond after just one movie is as incredible as the secret agent character.
The original Hulu documentary Becoming Bond reviews George Lazenby’s one-off appearance as the MI6 operative. Lazenby narrates his own rise to become Sean Connery’s successor. His journey from Australia and work in modeling provide a lot of tall tales that seem too good to be true.
What makes Becoming Bond a fun documentary is the uniqueness of its subject. The idea of being plucked from nowhere to turn down the role of a lifetime runs counter to any norm. The abnormality of Lazenby’s life is a fascinating story that becomes more incredible as the film goes on.
Minding The Gap (2018)
At first Minding The Gap comes off as a skateboarding documentary with a Breakfast Club vibe. It quickly turns into a devastating film about masculinity. The Hulu original documentary centers on a group of twentysomething skateboarders in Rockford, Illinois, the toxicity of the declining Rustbelt town, and their personal problems are explored as they come of age.
At first Minding The Gap shows skateboarding as an escape for the young men’s problems. It does not take long to find that a half-pipe, weed, and beer are a cover for their troubles. Financial issues, family problems, and domestic abuse rapidly become the movie’s central topics.
The domestic abuse is the most emotional point of the documentary. Filmmaker Bing Liu interviews his own mother about his abusive stepfather. He also shoots both sides of abuse. Watching how the situation effects a skateboarder, his girlfriend, and child is tough to watch. While the least fluid of the Hulu documentaries, Minding The Gap is a powerful must-see piece that ranks among the most engrossing original content of 2018.
Behind The Mask (2013-15)
Anyone who has ever spent time in a mascot costume will tell you that it can be a smelly, thankless gig. What could possibly drive people to seek out careers as mascots? The Hulu original docuseries Behind The Mask attempts to answer that question by following seven mascots at different levels: the pros, semi-pros, and amateurs.
The two-season series shows that each mascot has their own motivations. Some feed off the performance. Others find validation in the role.
It is easy to take mascots for granted, but observing the process behind the performance is eye-opening. The extremes that Milwaukee Bucks mascot Kevin Vanderkolk goes to perform stunts is an insanity that Tom Cruise would be proud of. Chad Sepencer, Scranton Wilkes-Barre’s former Tux the Penguin, describes his deep motivations to be an NHL mascot.
After a few episodes, Behind The Mask becomes a character study of seven individuals that shows a different side of the furry, felt covered entertainers.
Too Funny To Fail (2017)
The Dana Carvey Show is one of the worst fails in television history. The ABC series boasted one of the greatest comedy lineups ever, yet it only aired seven episodes.
When Dana Carvey left SNL in 1993, he was the subject of a bidding war for his creative talents. This resulted in a prime-time variety show with talents that included Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Louis C.K., and Robert Smigel.
Despite the cast’s abilities and creative highs like The Ambiguously Gay Duo and the “Waiters Nauseated By Food” sketch, the show was a ratings dud. This was mostly due to raunchy comedy that was a wrong fit for ABC’s family friendly lineup.
The Hulu documentary features many of the show’s creative talents. They reflect on their shared moment together, but also the show’s epic disaster. Too Funny To Fail is a also a who’s-who of the funniest comedians of the last three decades. It is also a tease of what could have been and a reminder of how fleeting success can be. It is