Hulu continued staking their claim on the TV landscape today, announcing two original series renewals as well as a few new ventures during the New York upfronts. And the choices they’re making indicate they’re ready to take on some rivals as a destination for creators looking for more freedom than they might find at the networks.
The Mindy Project is getting a 5th season after Hulu rescued the show from cancellation by Fox last year, granting it a whopping 26 episodes for season 4.
Creator and star Mindy Kaling took the stage in New York today to express her enjoyment, saying Hulu is allowing her to make the show she’s always wanted to make:
“We moved to Hulu a year ago and at first I was a little nervous; I was nervous to leave a traditional broadcast network because I didn’t know what it would entail. But, as it turns out, the streaming life is pretty sweet. People ask me, ‘How is your show different now that it is on Hulu?’ Well, we have had the freedom to try new things that would not have flown at network. For instance, my character shot breast milk into another character’s face. … And my writers no longer have network censors getting in the way of their art or stopping us from saying works like ‘tits,’ so my parents are very proud.”
That statement could as well have been spoken by Kaling’s character, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, whose brash and slightly clueless enthusiasm cover up for her sappy romantic heart. Despite the overly long season, the show did well keeping a balance between humor and romantic drama last year as Lahiri navigated the rocky road of new motherhood and changing relationships. The addition of Garret Dillahunt and Fortune Feimster as Jody and Colette, a down-home, brother-sister, doctor-nurse, tag team greatly helped lighten the mood. Here’s hoping the entire supporting cast—one of the best around—is back for season 5.
The same mindset that led Hulu to give Kaling free reign brought the quirky drama The Path into production, and gave it a season 2 renewal just 6 episodes into its run. The series focuses on a reclusive religious group—ok, a cult—in backwoods New York as some members begin to question things like faith, leadership, and family.
Hugh Dancy stars as the charismatic, if unofficial, leader of the group opposite Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan as a married couple at odds. As if those names weren’t enough to draw viewers in, the series was brought to Hulu by creator/producer Jessica Goldberg (Parenthood) and producer Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights). Those two obviously know how to make compelling, engaging family-centered dramas.
Having grown up in Woodstock the show is loosely inspired by Goldberg’s fascination with what she described to Rolling Stone as alternative social experiments. She too sounds pleased with the show’s home at Hulu. “Look, it’s not an easy sell,” Goldberg says, describing pitching the idea to networks. “People hear the word cult and they run to the hills. But Hulu had gotten a hold of my script, they knew Jason could put together a show, and I think they wanted to make their mark in terms of edgy programming. To have a network say like, ‘Be bold, be weird, let people be ugly. Slow things down. It’s okay if things are slow’ … this is what you want to hear as a writer.”
So far Hulu’s plan is working as subscriptions are trending up, 12 million this year over last year’s 9 million according to TV.com. Next stop…full season releases?