In case you’re unfamiliar, the millennial generation craves constant sound. Whether cleaning the house or getting work done from home on the computer, young adults will likely have some sort of noise going on, probably from Hulu or Netflix. Background TV is like skimming a book instead of carefully reading it. You get the gist of everything that happened and some highlights but miss the fluff in the middle. Thankfully, we live in the age of nearly unlimited streaming services.
Unfortunately, the amount of streaming options can also make it difficult to decide which streaming service to pay for – assuming you’re not already using someone else’s for free. The two heavy hitters of course are Hulu and Netflix. In this streaming showdown, I will list the best background TV shows on Hulu and Netflix and decide which streaming service is best for the lovers of background TV.
Best Background Netflix Shows 2018
- The Office
- Parks & Recreation
- That ‘70s Show
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- Arrested Development
Netflix starts off strong with some excellent background TV shows. With arguably the greatest background TV show of all time, Netflix is the only streaming service that offers The Office with a subscription, which is a huge win. I know it started to go downhill with all the different bosses in The Office but getting to hear Michael Scott say, “That’s what she said,” will never get old. Some will claim Parks & Rec was as good if not better than The Office. Although I will disagree with that until my face is blue and I’m 6-feet in the ground, it’s still a great background option and an extremely rewatchable sitcom.
That ‘70s Show and Friends are both classic sitcoms beloved by many with plenty of seasons that should allow for months of quality background TV. While Arrested Development is nowhere near as funny when you’re not carefully paying attention to its subtle humor, you don’t have to pay as close attention on your second or third time watching it. Although some may find my Law & Order addition odd, sometimes you’re simply not in the mood for a sitcom – even if you’re not really paying attention. There’s not many background shows better for scratching that itch than SVU.
Best Background Hulu Shows 2018
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- South Park
- Bob’s Burgers
- How I Met Your Mother
- Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
- Family Guy
- American Dad
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
While Netflix may hold the key to the greatest background show of all-time, Hulu has an extremely deep bench of hits. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia may be the best comedy show ever made. If you disagree with that statement, the only other solid arguments would be for Seinfeld or South Park and Hulu has all three. With entertaining and rewatchable hits that require little focus such as Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, Archer, Family Guy and American Dad, It’s clear Hulu has adult cartoons locked down.
I’ll be the first to admit How I Met Your Mother was a cheesy rip-off of Friends – a show that was already a cheesy rip-off of Seinfeld. Yet in this inception of cheesy sitcom rip-offs, HIMYM had enough quality jokes sprinkled throughout the 9 seasons for worthy background entertainment. Brooklyn Nine-Nine on the other hand may surprise you in quality if you aren’t already part of the 9-9 cult that prevented it from being cancelled. To top it off, watching Guy chowdown in Flavortown in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is one of the most weirdly enjoyable background shows you wouldn’t expect.
Best Background TV Streaming Service Winner: Hulu
I’m not going to lie, choosing Hulu as the winner of the best background TV streaming service didn’t even require a second thought. I’ll admit though, having The Office is a pretty solid argument but other than that, the list of background TV Netflix shows of 2018 was simply respectable at best. Sure, those other Netflix shows are good but did you see Hulu’s lineup? I’m sure the die-hard fans for Friends and Parks & Rec will lose their minds at this but those shows are nowhere near the quality of It’s Always Sunny or Seinfeld. More importantly, Hulu has the absolute best selection of adult cartoon comedy shows, which are essential for some quality background TV.
The Hulu straw that broke Netflix’s back however was the episodes that each streaming service offers. SVU was a great addition to Netflix but of the 20 seasons the show has graced us with, Netflix only offers 15 through 18. Do you really expect me to listen to Detective Rollins when I’m doing the dishes if I can’t even enjoy Elliot first? Hulu on the other hand, doesn’t just offer a full series on their platform but new episodes weekly that are currently airing on cable. That sure beats having to wait until you already know the ending of the newest season before watching it because your friends on Twitter can’t help themselves and Netflix likes to take their sweet time.