Watching television in another language, with only subtitles to guide you, can be quite daunting. After all, watching tv is meant to be easy, often helping us relax or unwind after a long day. However, by neglecting the huge variety of international tv shows offered on Netflix, you’re missing out on so many fascinating plots and the chance to further your understanding of foreign languages. If you’re studying a language, what you learn in the classroom can only go so far. Watching shows in the language you’re studying can be highly beneficial for picking up on how people actually speak and learning words and phrases that are more useful in everyday life. It’s the perfect opportunity to get a little ahead in class while doing something you enjoy. Also, while having to go read subtitles may seem annoying, it actually makes you more invested in the show because you’re paying closer attention to all the little details. Although there are so many amazing foreign language films and shows on Netflix, these five are guaranteed to hook you.
Le Casa de Papel (Money Heist)
This riveting European-Spanish series should be at the top of your Netflix watch list. It will pull you in within minutes of starting and between the exciting action and complex characters you’ll want to clear your schedule to binge all three seasons. Money Heist, as the title suggests, is about the perfect plan for what would be the greatest robbery of all time. The most thrilling part of the show is that you actually find yourself rooting for the bad guys. Between the criminals, hostages, and police forces there is an abundance of complex characters whom you come to love or hate, but the crime itself is so exhilarating and clever that you want to see it work. This show will absolutely keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through and is filled to the brim with exciting plot twists. As a Spanish student, I find that watching this show keeps the language at the top of my mind and makes me more excited to learn.
For viewers who like solving mysteries, this German Sci-fi show will leave you stumped. In a small town where nothing bad ever happens (or almostnothing), everyone is devastated when the number of missing children starts rising quickly. As dead bodies start piling up it becomes clear that these aren’t ordinary kidnappings. The show takes place in three time periods, all with their own mysteries that are more connected than originally thought. Seeing the characters develop between one time period to the next adds a lot more complexity to them and really shows the impact of the past on future (and in this case, also the future on the past). The most exhilarating part of this show is that every time you solve one mystery, two more emerge.
The Rain is a Danish show that follows two siblings in a post-apocalyptic world. A mysterious virus carried in the rain wiped out most of Scandinavia, including their parents, and forced them underground for 6 years. After finally emerging from isolation, the pair encounters other survivors, but they have no idea who can be trusted. The combination of watching the relationships between characters develop and unraveling the mystery behind the virus makes an extremely captivating show; and only one thing is clear: nothing in this new world is as it seems.
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
This Japanese cooking show is much more than meets the eye. A man living in Tokyo runs quite the unusual diner: not only is it open only from midnight to 7 am, but he also serves anything requested by the people who come through his doors. Each show focuses on a specific dish that is ordered but goes much further by taking us into the lives of the person who ordered it, and the other people present at the diner. The food is guaranteed to make your mouth water, but the truly special part of this show is the people. All the different people that come through the doors of this small diner for late-night food have such complex stories that you would never guess from one glance or one conversation. This show displays the heartwarming ways unexpected people can come together and learn from each other.
Although Elite is another European Spanish show, and even shares some cast members with Money Heist,that’s where these shows’ similarities end. At a school filled with Spain’s richest, most entitled teenagers, adding three scholarship students into the mix is a recipe for disaster. However, no one expects the consequences to be quite as grave as a dead body. The show shifts between trying to piece together the events leading to the murder and showing the devastating aftermath. Despite it being part murder mystery and part high school drama, it highlights a lot of issues about sexuality, religion, and wealth that give the show a lot more depth. After finishing this show, you’ll be desperate for season three to come out sooner.
Cover Photo: Netflix