Hulu launches major award drives for ‘Difficult People,’ ‘Casual,’ ‘The Mindy Project’

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Following up on the recent award success of Netflix and Amazon, rival streaming service Hulu is staging its first major assault on the Golden Globes, SAG and Critics' Choice Awards. Thanks to high-profile new comedies "Difficult People" and "Casual," as well as its continuation of Fox's cancelled "The Mindy Project," Hulu is seriously in the hunt. 

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Sure, Hulu has been producing original content for a few years now — my personal fave, western laffer "Quick Draw," streamed two seasons in 2013 and 2014 — but this is the first time the online network has launched such a massive awards push. Bold FYC ads are splattered on billboards and on the sides of buses across Hollywood. Veteran award consultants have been hired to assist with strategy and outreach. Thousands of industry insiders are receiving stylishly designed packages containing DVDs and codes to set up free premium Hulu accounts on line. Last night Hulu staged a glittering party at Spago in Beverly Hills where its stars, showrunners and execs swirled amidst Globes, SAG, Critics' Choice and Emmy voters plus journalists.

Oh, and Hulu has another big plus, too: Amy Poehler.

When Golden Globe winner Poehler signed with Hulu as one of the show's executive producers, she immediately brought awards attention to this project about two best friends who despise everyone and everything around them. Julie Klausner plays the crass redhead and Billy Eichner stars as her gay bestie in New York, giving the show obvious parallels to "Will & Grace" … only with venom.

While "Will & Grace" won multiple Emmys including Best Comedy Series (2000), "Difficult People" should be warned: NBC's gay-friendly sitcom became the biggest Golden Globe loser of all time, getting skunked on all of its 27 nominations.

"Casual," Hulu's new family comedy starring Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey, attracted the attention of yet another awards darling, producer Jason Reitman. Reitman is a four-time Oscar nominee for "Juno" and "Up in the Air" who now lends his signature quirky touch to this original series. Like "Difficult People," "Casual" has already been renewed for a second season.

Hulu's other big contender this year is a show you're already familiar with: "The Mindy Project." Fox cancelled the show after three low-rated seasons, but the Hulu gods swooped in and saved it. Expect stars Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina to be potential players this awards season, especially as Messina is coming off back-to-back nominations at the Critics' Choice Awards.

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