Raise your hand if you didn't know Hulu was in the original series game until 10 minutes ago. Don't feel too bad– the site I like to call the rich man's Netflix is full of surprises. I know next to nothing about the site's other original series, but when I came home over spring break and had the chance to watch, I was interested. The eight episode miniseries, “11.22.63,” is currently on its sixth episode in accordance with a frustrating once a week update schedule. Based on a novel by the great one himself, Stephen King, it follows an English teacher named Jake (played by James Franco of all people) who steps back in time in order to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy as well as a few other, lesser-known tragedies.
Setting a show in the early 1960s is always enough to get me to watch it. The soundtrack is a mixture of early rock and R&B and the costumes are cool enough to make you forget how great 2016 is, at least for a minute or two. Still, the series doesn't shy away from the problems of living in such a rapidly changing era. One character, the front seat receptionist at Jake's school, is denied service after her car breaks down because she's black. The title itself refers to the day Kennedy was shot. Issues of sexism, Cold War panic, and war aren't shied away from.
As the series progresses, Jake discovers that changing, and living in, the past is easier said than done. His first order of business is to prevent the death of a future friend's mother and siblings. During this mission, Jake meets up with a bartender named Bill, who takes the whole "my friend is from the future" thing remarkably well. The two then move to Texas and further solidify Jake's plans to prevent Kennedy's death.
Along from the occasional run-in with gaunt weirdos who insist he "shouldn't be here," things are further complicated when Jake finds a teaching job in a small town outside Dallas and falls in love with a recently divorced co-worker. Her ex is more than a little unhinged, and Jake's own secrets keep coming back to bite him. Meanwhile, Bill juggles his willingness to help Jake along with a crush on Lee Harvey Oswald's wife Marina, his desire to prove himself, and the weight of his older sister's death years before.
“11.22.63” is an awesome show. It's well acted; its source material is easily adaptable to a miniseries format; and the suspense keeps viewers coming back week after week. But therein lies the only problem- if Hulu wants to compete with Netflix in the area of original series, it needs to change its update schedule. Currently, Hulu's original series update once a week, just like standard programs. Meanwhile, its primary competition is famous for uploading seasons all at once, making the viewing experience much more convenient.
Still, any fan of historical drama, time travel comedy, and Kennedy conspiracies in the vein of Oliver Stone's JFK will love this show. So, clear out an hour and a half every Monday, mooch off someone else's Hulu account, and settle in.