Once upon a time, not all that long ago (about a decade, give or take), there weren't that many options for lovers of British television to pick from. Netflix was only just releasing its first original streaming series. Hulu was the way to watch American television shows you missed on broadcast legally; Amazon and Acorn TV had only recently started streaming their library of movies and TV shows that had previously only been for sale. For most of us, it was PBS or bust.
That all changed with Netflix's smashing success of House of Cards and its move in 2014 to import entire sections of the BBC library wholesale to help fill the gaping maw it had created. Amazon and Hulu quickly followed suit, Acorn TV was bought by AMC Networks, which also picked up BBC America, BritBox launched, and on and on. Nowadays, sites like Telly Visions work full time keeping it all straight for viewers of what is coming when and where, and whether it's worth watching.
However, it's not your imagination that keeping track of all this is not easy. Take today's news that Hulu has just premiered all five episodes of the BBC thriller series Better. Don't feel bad if you hadn't heard of it before; the show premiered in February 2023, just before Valentine's Day, as counter-programming the lovely dovey fare that usually dominates that weekend. Despite a stellar cast and comparisons to Happy Valley, it didn't make much of an impact on either iPlayer or BBC One.
However, Better getting lost in the Peak TV fray wasn't the BBC's fault. The network did its best to market it. That's the complete opposite of Hulu, which not only never bothered to announce the series had been picked up but dropped it on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, in full, without so much as a trailer or promotional image, let alone a press release. The Hulu September comings and goings never mentioned its existence. If you google "How To Watch Better," most places tell you it's a VPN the BBC iPlayer only show.
So what is this series that Hulu just sort of thoughtlessly dropped into its coffers without bothering to tell anyone? Here's the series synopsis:
We follow DI Lou Slack’s epic battle towards redemption by bringing down Col McHugh; the man she has come to love like a brother and the man she has helped place at the head of Leeds' criminal underworld. But while Col is a dangerous enemy to make, Lou’s biggest battle may yet be with herself.
19 years ago, when Lou was a young police officer at her lowest ebb and Col a low-ranking but ambitious newcomer to the Leeds underworld, their paths crossed, and they struck a deal that changed their lives forever. The bargain allowed Col to become very rich and very powerful and Lou to turn around her failing career. A complex but special bond between the pair was forged, and so began Lou’s gradual slide into corruption. But now, when Lou’s family is brought to the brink of a tragedy, she must put right the wrongs that she has spent years rationalizing and excusing, to have a second chance at a new, better life.
Leila Farzad (I Hate Suzie) stars as DCI Lou Slack, with Andrew Buchan (COBRA) as Col McHugh. The other cast members include Samuel Edward-Cook (Peaky Blinders), Carolin Stoltz (Victoria), Zak Ford-Williams (A Christmas Carol), Kaya Moore (Vera), Anton Lesser (Endeavour), Ceallach Spellman (World on Fire), Olivia Nakintu (Am I Being Unreasonable), Joseph Steyne (The Capture), Anthony Lewis (Ackley Bridge), Junade Khan (Game of Thrones), Gavin Spokes (The Ipcress File), Mark Monero (The Tower), and Lucy Black (Gentleman Jack).
Better was created by Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent (who worked together on MI-5 and Humans) and split writing duties across six episodes, with Nick Ahad (Emmerdale Farm) also credited. Directors Jonathan Brough (Wentworth) and Pier Wilkie (Is This Sexual Harassment) split helming duties 60-40.
All epsidoes of Better are streaming on Hulu.