Superb Subtitled Series
The Best International Shows to Stream
If Americans have a weakness, it’s our fear of subtitles. Some truly incredible movies just can’t make a meaningful dent in the North American box office, and the key culprit is that Americans don’t like to read. Movies like The Raid and original Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy were doomed to limited release and relative obscurity despite being masterpieces of their respective genres.
Fortunately, the advent of streaming services like Netflix have allowed foreign movies and shows to reach a wider audience without resorting to half-baked English dubs which ruin the acting of the original performers. In 2018, movies like Roma and The Night Comes For Us have been huge hits for the streaming service, with Roma earning significant awards season love and Night delivering unparalleled action for genre fans to watch again and again. Here are our favorite foreign television series for you to watch on Netflix right now.
Finland is lucky. They live in such a beautiful region, and it plays such a large part in much of their cultural output. Most recently, we’ve been binging on Bordertown, a “nordic noir” crime drama about a cop who takes a new assignment. Expecting it to be a quiet job with little excitement, Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen) is thrown into the action when he finds there’s more at stake than meets the eye at his new post. Season 3 is coming later this year, so now’s the perfect time to devour the first sixteen episodes of this visually stunning and culturally relevant cop show.
“What if Cabaret didn’t have songs or Liza?” Okay, that’s a reductive description of Babylon Berlin, but it’s not wrong. This German show depicts the cultural dominos that slowly toppled, leading to the rise of Nazi Germany. We’ve written about it. A lot. Like, really a lot. But it’s one of the best shows around, and the show truly captures a lost era in world history, for better and worse.
“What if Riverdale, but in Spain?” It’s sassy, it’s slick, it’s dirty, it’s kinda nasty, and we love it. Who doesn’t love high school kids sleeping around and killing each other? It’s a non-stop melodrama, like an R-rated telenovela, and each plot twist is more ridiculous than the last. Still, Élite carries itself with such surefooted sincerity that one can’t help but allow themselves to be carried along by its palpably infectious energy.
Interestingly, Dark is not a German show which Netflix picked up for international distribution; this is a Netflix original series which is produced in Germany, features exclusively German dialogue, but is being displayed for viewers around the world. It’s impossible to overstate how much of a game-changer Netflix has been for the television landscape. Sure, they’ve had their misses, like airing Disjointed and cancelling The Punisher, but the coolest thing about the service is, if you don’t like a show, then you don’t have to watch it. There are no schedules to maintain. Watch what you want, when you want. We’re living in the golden age of TV, and Netflix is a big part of that.
A dark and gritty Italian crime drama, Gomorrah has earned positive comparisons to The Godfather, one of the most universally adored mafia movies of all time. It’s oppressively bleak in its outlook, without the catharsis of a hero or a facade of comedy to make things more palatable for general audiences. The setting of Naples is absolutely beautiful, but the gangsters who kill and steal in an effort to present themselves as pillars of the community make Gomorrah an uncomfortable, if thrilling, viewing experience.